What is EOS? If you are familiar with the book titled Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, you may recognize that EOS is an acronym that stands for “Entrepreneurial Operating System”. Traction was written by business owner Gino Wickman, and it helps other business owners focus on what is really important for a small company to be successful. Wickman breaks the EOS down into six basic components: vision, people, data, issues, processes, and traction. Growing, successful companies will be able to define these components, put them in context, and align their businesses with these six parameters.
Much like a computer, or a computerized device, people tend to behave and live their lives according to their own internal value system. Who you are genetically, how you were raised, and your early and recent experiences all combine to form your personality and how you relate to others and the world around you.
It holds true in both your personal life and your professional life. Your personality and your internal value system determine how you will behave in certain situations. These behaviors take on a life of their own when groups of people get together in order to reach common goals and objectives and all of their personalities have to interact with each other.
So if your organization has hit a wall and is no longer growing or flourishing, and you and your work teammates are feeling disconnected from one another, perhaps it’s time to apply a new EOS to your business. And as a business owner or stakeholder, you may ask yourself if the risk of installing a new EOS is worth it. Asked a different way, the question might be what would happen to your computer if you decided to just stick with Windows 95 20 years ago? Do you think your computer would still work? It might still work, but it would probably run very slowly, and be prone to lockups and other system problems. Your computer would also not be very secure. It would be vulnerable to hacking by people who would look to take advantage of the weakness in your system.
So now that you understand that there is more risk in doing nothing than there is in making a change, what are you going to do? Fortunately, you are not alone. Help is available in the form of books, websites, and people with experience and expertise in small business transformation. All you have to do is decide to make the change and commit to your decision!
The Code That Sits Behind an EOS
The painful reality of organizational change is that it is usually very difficult and fraught with peril. Even the smallest companies are like battleships that can take an extremely long time to turn in another direction. People who drive change in an organization will have to convince those who are well off under the current way of doing things that things will be even better for them once the changes are made. The change agent may have some lukewarm support from those who believe that the new way will somehow benefit them, but they may need a lot of convincing in order to be loyal, enthusiastic change supporters.
As a sales professional, I know that companies will not buy a transformational solution until the “pain of the same is greater than the pain of the change”. The same holds true for implementing a new EOS.
Here are the definitions of the six basic components of an EOS:
- Vision: Clarifying and sharing the vision and convincing everyone in the organization that the new direction is the best direction and will not only benefit the organization, but will also benefit each of the individuals within the organization.
- People: In the overall vision of EOS, you must have the right people, and they must be sitting in the right seats (i.e. their role in the organization).
- Data: Too many businesses decisions are made using what I call “wet finger logic”. Wet finger logic is when you lick your finger, stick it up into the air, and choose your direction based on which way the wind is blowing. W. Edwards Deming, who pioneered the field of management consulting was quoted as saying “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion”. How true!
- Issues: Every person and every organization has issues. The most successful people and successful organizations are great problem-solvers!
- Process: Defining and creating repeatable processes helps to systematize your business and helps it become more predictable, repeatable, and efficient.
- Traction: Traction is all about successfully executing the most important processes in your business.
The EOS is the code that sits behind your business. The EOS supports the goals and objectives of your company, and gets everyone in your organization on the same page.
Putting Your EOS Into Action
Some say that EOS is like an open-source piece of software. You get your primary support from the user community. So whether you get your support from the user community, a book, YouTube, or by engaging an EOS professional, your choices are manifold:
- Change is difficult. If your business is not evolving and moving forward, it is actually moving backwards.
- The vision must be shared and understood. You can’t have everyone rowing in the same direction if your team doesn’t know which direction to go.
- Like a house, a company must have a structure. An important part of having a structure to support your organization is having the right people in the right seats.
- Systematize and Win the Prize. When you systematize a repeatable process, it frees you and others in your organization to focus on more strategic and/or mission critical issues.
- Delegate and Elevate. At some point in time, you will realize as a business owner and business leader that there are many tasks that can be handled by someone else in the company. This will free you up to be more of a long-term, big-picture leader.
VBS and EBS are users and supporters of Traction and the EOS approach to business. To learn more about these two important business principles, click here.