How Can Your Business Benefit from an Operating System? w/ Ken DeWitt, EOS Implementer
At FourBridges, we understand how difficult it can be to run your own business. Over the past year, our team has implemented a business operating system called Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), which helps business owners develop their core values, streamline communication, set goals, and plan for the future. FourBridges managing directors and founding partners, Chris Rowe and Andy Stockett, sat down with Ken Dewitt, their EOS implementer, to discuss the difficult tasks of leading a successful business, entrusting others with leadership roles, and communicating effectively with your team. Read our key takeaways below, or watch the conversation here:
Ken DeWitt, CPA and veteran business owner, was looking for a way to help other business owners succeed, and when he read Traction: Get A Grip on Your Business, he knew EOS was the best operating system for his clients. 11 years later, he’s helped over 90 businesses implement EOS, including FourBridges.
Chris Rowe, founding partner and managing director of FourBridges, first heard about EOS through his Christian CEO forum. He was drawn to the simplicity of building your business on one operating system, which then allows you to cement your success and create something that will continue to grow for the next generation.
What is EOS?
As Ken says, “Business is often way harder than it looks, but way less complicated than we make it.”
Founded by Gino Wickman, EOS uses simple concepts and practical tools to help businesses operate smoothly, grow, and achieve their goals for the future. Over the course of 24 months, the leadership team slowly implements best practices for their business, ultimately making effective communication and goal achievement as simple as muscle memory.
Vision, Traction, and Health
The goal of EOS is to improve your business through three major tenets: Vision, Traction, and Health.
To start, you clarify your vision for the business. That means diving into your core values, big goals, marketing strategy, and three-year picture. Once you’ve laid out these ideals for your business, you then set a one-year plan and your rocks (quarterly goals). The goal here is to know what you want to do with the business and put in the necessary steps to achieve your vision.
For traction, the goal is to filter through the hundreds of things going on in a business owner’s mind and compartmentalize them. The disciplines are having effective meetings, tracking the important KPIs, and prioritizing your rocks. This allows you to focus on the execution of the things you have to do to succeed — and helps you focus on the key task at hand.
Health is all about dealing with the interpersonal relationships within a business, especially among employees. Once you’ve solidified your vision and started to gain traction, you tend to see healthier relationships among partners, between bosses and employees, and between employees.
One of the things that we certainly subscribe to is a change in our meeting formats, and we’ve adopted the L10 meeting format that’s recommended by EOS.
At the beginning of each meeting, our team members share a personal best and business best, which breaks the ice and gets everyone talking. Then, we go over our rocks and discuss if we are on track to achieve them. If not, we put out an issue, meaning we will solve it at the end of the meeting. At this point, we also share anything that might be going on with our clients or employees. Next, we go over our weekly to-dos. Again, if they haven’t been completed, we add it to the issues to discuss at the end.
Finally, we go through the issues, rank them by importance, and solve them as a team. It can be a pretty direct conversation, but you leave with everything resolved. We all then rank the meeting on a scale of one to 10.
Setting the Meeting Pulse
The goal of the L10 meeting format is to make sure everyone knows what to expect each meeting and to ensure that everyone is able to check in with each other.
“I have people tell me all the time, ‘We used to sit right next to each other. We talked all the time. Why do we have a meeting?’ But this is how you involve other people on your leadership team, not just two people,” says Ken.
It’s a disciplined ritual that requires honesty in your visions, open communication, and knowing how to adjust to achieve your goals. As an implementer, Ken knows that sometimes you talk until there’s no more to say — and that’s alright. You simply stop, knowing that you’ll have another opportunity to discuss it soon.
Prepping for EOS
As a business owner, EOS is supposed to help you develop your leadership team, so not everything is on your plate — but it can be tough to hand over the reins. In order to prepare for EOS, business owners have to become a coach of a team, as opposed to trying to do everything yourself and be involved in every situation. When you put the ball in your leadership team’s hands, you start to trust them not to fumble it.
Right Person, Right Seat
Your best salesperson or operations employee may not be trained as a leader — so be patient with your team members as they adjust to their new roles. However, it also takes discipline to know when someone isn’t meant to be in leadership. You’re looking for the right person to be in the right seat: someone who shares the company’s values and is perfectly suited for the role.
Your first leadership team will probably change a lot over the first two years of implementing EOS. Sometimes people realize they’re not leaders and are happier in a technical role, and drop. Others may not share the company’s core values and vision, ultimately making them incompatible with working at the company. All kinds of changes can happen, almost all of them for the good. None of them are necessarily without pain.
EOS can be simple, but simple does not mean easy. As former business owners, implementers coach people to deal with the really hard issues. They help you have hard conversations, and most owners feel a burden is shared.
As Ken puts it, “I never was in the military, but I always respected those guys who could tote around the big log on the beach. When it works right, there are more shoulders under the weight. And thus the owners and top managers can elevate to do other things that they’re particularly good at.”
Is your company a good fit for EOS?
EOS is for entrepreneurial, privately owned companies, usually meaning the founders are still involved. This is for companies where the decision makers are in the room and in the weekly meeting, fighting to make the business better to build their culture. EOS works best when it’s used by people that are open-minded, that are willing to learn, respectful of one another, appreciative, and growth-focused.
If you just want to stay where you are, EOS may not be for you. Most of the companies that are entering EOS are tired of hitting a ceiling, tired of having people issues they can’t seem to solve, and tired of not having enough profit. They’re willing to be open, honest and vulnerable and they value their employees.
Interested in implementing EOS at your business? Reach out to an implementer like Ken for an informational session.