Part 1. EOS: Entrepreneurial No-Brainer
Updated: Mar 6, 2020
U.S. Army Ranger School is a piece of cake compared to building a company from the ground up. Thankfully, there are resources that flatten the learning curve. Enter Traction.
I’ve always been a top-down learner. If I’m going to develop any degree of mastery over a new concept or domain, I need to understand the big picture and have a readily accessible mental model. Six months ago, I picked up the book Traction which provided me with a useful framework for taking Green Hill from start-up to enterprise. This post, the first in a series dedicated to examining my experience with the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), will cover a brief overview of the EOS framework (which is Traction explores in depth) and the decision to hire a professional EOS Implementer.
"My book du jour was a running joke. Too frequently I would come into the leadership meeting expounding on some new concept or idea that was going to revolutionize the way we worked. While this was all well intentioned, I created whiplash throughout the organization and none of my ‘improvements’ (if they even resonated) had staying power. I knew EOS was going to be different." -Tripp Johnson
Entrepreneurial Operating System Overview
After reading Traction, I realized that Green Hill’s operational status quo was unsustainable and decided that we needed to adopt a company-wide system. EOS promises to be: “a complete set of simple concepts and practical tools that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses. By mastering this simple way of operating, leadership teams of growth-oriented companies systematically and permanently improve.” Who wouldn’t want that? The EOS model breaks down a business into six key components: (1) People, (2) Vision, (3) Data, (4) Process, (5) Issues, and (6) Traction.
If this model seems too simplistic, bear with me. Understand that I’ve read scores of books on business, strategy, leadership, marketing, culture – you name it, I’ve read it. Traction is different. It presents a system that can be implemented. I have tried to incorporate concepts from books such as Good to Great, The Four Disciplines of Execution, all the Lencioni books, etc. but none of them stuck. Traction synthesizes many of the “business classics” into a unified framework AND it gives you practical tools that will allow you to implement the theoretical best practices espoused in the classics.
“One of the most difficult inflection points for small businesses and entrepreneurs is transforming from start-up to enterprise. Start-ups are very cerebral. Every decision can be contemplated by the entire leadership team and while most staff members have poorly defined and ever-changing roles, it works because all hands are on deck To become an enterprise, the leadership team must set on a deliberate journey to ‘systemize the predictable, and humanize the exceptional.’” - Jake Summers, Partner, Development Director, Green Hill
Hire an Implementer
After reading Traction, my hubris took over and I thought, “Well, now I’m well-equipped to implement EOS at Green Hill.” Thank goodness I did some additional research. I learned that there is an entire community of business consultants who specialize in the implementation of EOS. I did some quick back of the napkin math to calculate how much it would cost (in lost productivity) if I were to prepare and implement EOS. I assumed that it would take at least one full month of preparation, during which time I would not be able to focus on any revenue generating activities. While I was still unsure if it made financial sense to hire an implementer, I’m glad I thought a bit deeper.
Implementing EOS without professional help would have been a disaster. There are times when you only get one bite at the proverbial apple and EOS implementation felt like this was one of those times. I knew that if I came to the leadership team with another one of my book-du-jour-inspired-bright-ideas, I risked a ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenario. After spending the better part of a Saturday morning on the EOS Worldwide website, I found a dozen EOS implementers in my area and I began making calls. By Wednesday, I found an implementer who I thought would be a great match with Green Hill, so i invited Paul Levering to meet with the Green Hill leadership team.
EOS implementation follows a fairly rigid (albeit tried and true) format. The first step is a 90-minute meeting in which the implementer meets with the leadership team and some mutual vetting takes place. The implementer discusses the implementation format and the EOS model, which sets the tone for the entire process. By the end of our 90-minute meeting, our leadership team was sold. We’re going to implement EOS.
If you’re a leader or manager in any organization – business, non-profit, government, or academia – you should read Traction. If the book strikes a chord and you think that you’d benefit from implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System, seriously consider hiring a consultant (professional implementer) to shepherd your team through the process. While this post barely scratches the surface, I will be sharing details of our implementation (Focus Day, Vision Building Day 1, and Vision Building Day 2) plus our lessons we’ve learned as an organization running on EOS.
Next Up: Focus Day