Self-Implementing EOS® - Advice from the Frontlines
This blog is based on one of Scalepath’s exclusive Q&A sessions on EOS® with Michael Girdley, our co-founder and a veteran entrepreneur of more than 20 years. Michael has implemented EOS® in more than a dozen of his companies and enterprises.
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EOS®, or Entrepreneurial Operating System, is a set of tools and concepts that entrepreneurs, owners, and leaders use to run their businesses. The EOS Model® is particularly beneficial for small to medium-sized businesses, offering practical tools and methodologies for overcoming common business challenges and driving sustainable growth.
Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you’ve already read the book “Traction” by Gino Wickman (if you haven’t, you can find the book on Amazon).
The book makes a lot of sense for small businesses; it's filled with new, innovative concepts and great, usable information.
Most small business leaders' first reaction about the EOS® management model is to be totally overwhelmed. A lot of legitimate questions crop up:
All good questions…
No, your business won’t fail if you don’t do everything all at once and in a rush!
This is not a test where you will be graded. There is no 100% correct EOS® implementation. Give yourself time to make mistakes. It will take time to get there and test whether you are on the right track.
Finally, if you don’t follow everything to the letter, it’s more than OK!
And in the worst-case scenario, your business will be far better off than it is today.
Some leaders recognize that although this is a lot of work, EOS® can be implemented entirely within 9 months to a year. The truth is that even after a few years, many businesses may have reached only 70% or less of the textbook EOS® implementation.
But it’s not a bad thing!
You don’t need any special tools to organize your EOS® implementation. Most smaller businesses of less than 20 people can use regular desktop tools like Google Docs or MS Word, Google Sheets, or MS Excel. Organizations larger than 20 to 25 people usually use specialized software to keep track of their EOS® implementation.
Michael Girdley’s advice is actually pretty straightforward.
Start small. Implement only a few EOS® elements to start with. Over time, take on more and more of EOS®. What you start with can change and often does.
Leave out what doesn’t work for you or what doesn’t work for you right now. Do what you can that makes sense right now. You don’t have to include every step or every nuance.
In the Q&A session, Michael repeats the mantra several times: ”Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Ideally, you want to build EOS® into your business incrementally. Don’t shock everyone by trying to implement all of EOS® at once. Michael uses the “boil the frog” analogy. Get everyone in the business used to the simpler EOS® principles at first, and then slowly turn up the heat i.e., adding in more of EOS® as everyone becomes more accustomed to it. Continue to add more complexity/depth to each component over time.
You can hold off doing things like your business’s Core Values until you are some way into the process or even months later – until you know yourselves and what behaviors are important to your business.
You can define your Core Values at any time when it makes sense for you, but not immediately. Try to define your Core Values too soon, and you could end up with a bunch of bland statements that are all too common to many US businesses today. Meaningless to you and your employees.
Michael suggests using concepts from a book by David J Friedman, titled “Culture by Design,” as a guide to help uncover your Core Values.
KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and Scorecards:
Financial statements are backward-looking. KPIs are forward-looking. Some businesses find it easier than others to set up 10 to 15 KPIs for their EOS Scorecard™.
Build your Scorecard slowly. Add in new KPIs when they make sense to your business. Eventually, you will have a set of KPIs on your scorecard that will be hugely useful to your business.
Over time you start to organize your business so that everyone has Rocks (KPIs/targets) to aim towards and to follow. Helps the management team to understand what’s going on and to predict what might happen over the coming months, quarters, and years.
Here is a suggested order of EOS® elements to implement to a greater or lesser degree.
Michael sees the following four elements providing over 70% of your EOS® implementation as far as importance and impact are concerned:
In summary, Michael advises a steady and gradual implementation of EOS®, reflecting the wisdom that "Rome wasn't built in a day" and the strategy of "boiling the frog." His approach encourages starting small, continuously refining, and expanding over time, ensuring a tailored and evolving fit for your business.
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