1 Vision Thoughts
Advice and Insight For Entrepreneurs and Leadership Teams
Walt and Roy Disney. Henry Ford and James Couzens. McDonald’s Ray Kroc and Fred Turner. All polar opposites. One saw the future while the other made it happen.
By structuring their companies with these two vital roles at the helm, the visionary and the integrator, these entrepreneurs were able to propel their organizations to greatness – literally changing our world!
I have a confession to make.
As both an EOS Implementer® and a longtime user of the EOS Process®, I have a history of blowing off my Clarity Breaks™
In recent years I’ve gotten better. As they say in the recovery business, the first step is admitting you have a problem.
I am not alone.
A group of explorers was working its way through a jungle, hacking through thick underbrush.
Exhausted after several hours, they stopped to rest. Looking around, the brush was so thick they could only see tree trunks, leaves, and vines as the tunnel they had cleared curved out of sight. It was so thick they hadn’t even realized they weren’t traveling in a straight line.
One young explorer said, “I have an idea. Why don’t we climb a tree so we can see where we’ve been and where we are going?”
The audience sat in stunned silence. A panel of Minneapolis ad agency CEOs had just been asked how long they expected to keep new employees. “One year,” “two years,” “three at the most” came the answers. Then it was Media Bridge Advertising CEO Tracy Call’s turn. “That’s crazy,” she said. “I want lifers! How can you feel any other way?”
It was a moment that told you everything you need to know about the successful entrepreneur and EOS® enthusiast.
Every leader should ask:
“What verb describes how I most frequently impact our company’s Issues List?”
The only great answer to that question is “Solve.”
Put simply, great leaders and managers solve issues. They’re comfortable raising their hands and admitting they have an issue. They’re good at IDS™ing it – identifying its root cause, discussing it briefly, and then solving it by agreeing on a plan of attack that will make the issue go away for the long-term, greater good of the organization.
Sub-par leaders seem to be good at everything but that, but why?
“I don’t know an entrepreneur without a business operating model that doesn’t live in chaos,” says Adam Radulovic, President of XL.net in Park Ridge, IL. “EOS offers a path out of the chaos you’re probably in today.”
In September 2020, Adam and XL.net were accepted into the Forbes Business Council, the foremost growth and networking organization for successful business owners and leaders worldwide. It’s a testament to their hard work and perseverance, as they made their way through the chaos.
Adam describes what running his business was like before EOS.
“It was nothing for me to put down several energy drinks every day just to sustain myself,” he says. “I was putting myself under constant pressure. I’d say that for every day I worked in the business, I was aging five. I wore every hat in the company which was emotionally overwhelming as I was accountable for everything. It was like, ‘Let me grab this. I’ll just do it myself.’”
“Jim, it has been just a messed-up quarter. I would grade it a ‘C’ at best,” said the operations leader.
“I have to agree. Things are just off with us and the team. I give the quarter a ‘C-’,“ said the integrator.
The feedback went on in a similar fashion from the rest of the team and I have to say, I was baffled.
This was a great team that rarely had bad quarters. They had their struggles with clients and staff like everyone else, but nothing like “just a messed-up quarter.”
The crazy part was that the team and I really didn’t know what the cause was.
A cornerstone of the EOS model is using the discipline of measurables and scorecards for leadership and departments to proactively track performance and hold employees accountable. Every company’s scorecards are unique to you and your processes. And, you probably put a lot of work into finding the right set of indicators to track weekly so you can make better decisions.
When done right, your scorecards are a proactive tool, helping you anticipate problems before they actually happen. But are you still using paper, spreadsheets, and emails to organize and share your scorecards?
Catholic Charities is a nonprofit organization supported by generous individuals, foundations, businesses, and faith communities, serving people across the heart of Central Minnesota.
“Stressed and Blessed.”
That’s how Steve Pareja, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, responds when asked how he is feeling about all the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There is no leadership training, there is no MBA program, there’s nothing that can prepare leaders to lead organizations through a pandemic,” he says.
To help make the most of all the changes and challenges brought on by the pandemic, Steve credits EOS for bringing a discipline to his team that has helped point everyone in the same direction.
I worked with an entrepreneur who had no defined plan for his business. He was looking forward to just one day at a time. When I questioned what he wanted from his business, he shrugged. “I’m not sure? I just want to grow.”
It was no surprise to find that the rest of the team offered a similar response. The business was drifting on a directionless path. Their aimless behavior of working towards nothing, with no future target in mind, was clearly hindering their ability to grow. They were like a rudderless boat, floundering and going nowhere.
As Henry Kissinger once said, “When you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.”
As Steele Benefits continues to grow, that growth has uncovered some issues for Wes that need to be resolved.
“We’re growing so fast that I don’t know how I would survive without EOS,” he says. “But I’m also, unfortunately, still at a point where I start my day at eight o’clock and I don’t turn the laptop off until six. Then I turn it back on at nine after the kids go to bed and it stays open until eleven. I even find myself opening it up again on Sundays to make sure I’m ready to go on Monday.”
As the saying goes, EOS is simple, but it’s not easy. And for Wes, one of the biggest challenges has been in letting go of the vine. Or in his case… ‘vines.’
Imagine you’re playing a sport but you can’t see the scoreboard. You don’t know the score and you don’t know how much time is left on the clock. You’re not sure if you’re winning or losing, and the frustrated coach tells you, “Just play harder.”
I know that sounds crazy, yet that is how a lot of companies operate. No one knows what the targets are or how they are doing in terms of achieving those targets—they don’t know if they are winning or losing. They are just working hard.
This results in wasted time, poor resource allocation, weak overall performance, and ultimately, terrible results. Just like playing that awkward sport above, the people in the company have no idea how they are doing and as a result, perform poorly – or at a minimum are frustrated, confused, unmotivated, and rudderless.
In contrast, imagine a workplace where everyone knows exactly how they are doing.
KAI Design & Build provides architecture, MEP engineering, interior design, construction management, program and project management services for public and private entities.
In 1980, Michael Kennedy’s father started KAI Design & Build from nothing in the basement of his house in St. Louis, MO. In 2008, Michael took the reins as president of the company then became the owner and CEO in 2017.
From a humble beginning, KAI and its family of companies have grown to some 400 people as Michael continues to build out the organization, attributing a lot of that successful growth to EOS®.
The global health crisis has caused many entrepreneurial companies to seek new ways to deliver services within the current constraints and limitations. So how will your organization continue to engage prospects, leads, and customers in our new, socially distant society? We recommend taking a look at these marketing strategies and committing to a marketing program for the long haul.
The second week of February.
According to U.S. News & World Report, that is when 80% of the people who SET New Year’s resolutions GIVE UP on their New Year’s resolutions. The reasons (and purported cures) are numerous, but this inability to sustain effort and commitment toward one or more big goals is simply human nature.
This is also true in business, as Gino Wickman discovered while observing his own leadership team (and those of many other entrepreneurial companies) and wrote about in Traction. No matter how aligned he and his fellow leaders might have been after a great Annual Planning or Quarterly Pulsing™ session, Gino noticed that 90 days later “you will get far off track, start to lose great people, lose sight of your vision, and end up right back where you started – in chaos.”
As businesses grow, so does their complexity. For example, the more staff you hire the more complex everything gets.
I had one new client where the head of sales said that he had deliberately stopped selling because he did not have confidence that the operations division had enough resources to deliver what was being sold to customers. The head of operations, on the other hand, was shocked to hear this for the first time. He responded by saying that he had just laid off five operations staff members because he wasn’t confident that there were enough new sales coming through in the pipeline.
These two leaders had never effectively communicated with each other about their misperceptions. Their circles were not connected. They had created an unnecessary and dangerous level of complexity that should have been easily avoidable. This disaster demonstrates why leaders need the skills to simplify everything.
Simplify, simplify, and then simplify further.
Whether an employee is working from home (WFH), remotely, or from your office, there’s a simple way to determine if they’re a highly accountable top performer.
Watch as Certified EOS Implementer® Mike Paton shows you how to better judge an employee’s or a team’s ability to consistently contribute to what you’re trying to accomplish in your business.
I’ve had several new clients take the first step on the journey of becoming their best by implementing the simple, proven tools of the EOS Process®.
A common theme from all of them is that they don’t have enough time capacity. They have so many things they’re trying to get done, there never seems to be enough time in the day. This is one of the first signs of burnout.
Whether you’ve hired family members in the past or if it’s your first time considering it, the decision to hire a family member can be a huge one.
Recently, a family business owner called me to talk about whether she should hire her daughter to run operations in the business. The owner and their sister have run the business for over a decade and are a well-matched integrator and visionary team.
The business has been a successful one. Both owners have had a lot of fun building the business and they are both ready to retire. Now they’re considering hiring a member of the family to take over the Integrator role. With this, there are many things to consider.
Now in her third year as president of ERC (Employers Resource Center) in Highland Heights, OH, and as the first female president in its 100-year history, Kelly Keefe credits EOS for helping her become a stronger and more confident leader.
“As a female President, I was certainly faced with challenges I never expected in today’s world. But I am thankful that I had the tools and skills to deal with them.”
“EOS has helped me organize my thoughts and better lead the organization. I knew that we needed a system that would last.”
This week, I sat down with Aubrey Huff, the Campaign Development Manager, Hero Squad at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She shared her wisdom about how professionals in all industries can live out their core values, what it means to find meaning in your career, and how The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) makes a lasting difference for cancer patients and their families.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a perfect example of an organization with a well-defined mission and a clearly defined set of core values. The people they attract, like Aubrey Huff, are those who create an aligned and unified culture, and drive success for the organization.
In Chapter 6 of “Traction,” Gino Wickman shares ten “commandments” of a team that’s great at solving issues.
Because solving an issue often requires one or more decisions to be made, they are also referred to as the “Ten Commandments of Good Decision Making” in the eBook, Decide!
One of the core EOS® Tools for helping a leader determine whether someone is in the right seat is GWC, which stands for Get it, Want it, and has the Capacity to do it.
When evaluating whether someone GWC’s their job, you must ask three questions and answer either “Yes” or “No” to each one.
“Maybe” is NOT an option
Technology has taken over our world.
Everywhere you look, people are looking down at their various devices. They are checking email, text messages, and social media on their smartphones, checking notifications, and health data on their smartwatch while taking notes on their tablets. During this flood of information overload, the ability to be present and focus on what’s going on around us completely disappears.
Leaders of entrepreneurial companies are usually being pulled in many directions at once. When everything feels so mission-critical, it can be difficult to know what to tackle first. That’s where data comes in.
Referring to the data on your company Scorecard can help you get clarity on what you need to focus on right now.
Your company Scorecard is more critical than ever, so we’ve dedicated an entire Lead Now session, as well as this blog, to be a class in “Scorecard 101.”
Bonfire Engineering and Consulting is a network and technology services organization located in Denver, CO.
Like most entrepreneurial companies, Bonfire Engineering and Construction has high aspirations both in purpose and in product.
They believe all Americans should have access to high-speed internet that will drive economic health and vitality of their communities by increasing job opportunities, improving education, and making healthcare more accessible.
During its four-year journey as a company, they’ve gone from the lows of losing a co-founder to some amazing highs of growing by 50%, building a culture of people that truly care about their purpose, to diversifying their revenue.
Bottleneck, logjam, impasse, run aground – there are lots of ways to say that things are not moving forward – you’re stuck.
We’ve all been there, and once you realize it’s happened, you immediately start looking for ways to get UN-stuck.
While there are many ways that organizations get stuck, it is often the result of an organization outgrowing whatever systems, resources, or people that brought them to where they are. Implementing EOS® helps you gain traction so you can begin moving forward again, allowing you to get what you want from your business.
All companies running on EOS® follow the practice of having a weekly Level 10 Meeting™. I’ve seen many companies do these meetings, and one huge mistake keeps rearing its ugly head when clients get to the Customer and Employee Headlines, and again when they get to the Issues List. They launch right in and wind up missing the real stuff.
Typically, visionaries hold titles like company founder, president, or CEO.
But that’s just a title.
A visionary tends to be a great leader with lots of big ideas, is a relationship builder and salesperson, and tends to operate more on emotion.
The book Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Waters explores the role of the visionary in-depth and says, “If you are a visionary, you are one of only 3% of the population that create two-thirds of the new jobs in our economy.”
Now, more than ever, the world needs visionary entrepreneurs – they’re the ones that will solve our current problems and pull us all forward.
But they can’t do it alone.
Several of my clients recently asked for help in putting together company or departmental scorecards. For many organizations and leaders, finding the right set of 5 to 15 leading indicators that provide an absolute pulse on the business (or the department) is a difficult challenge. Often it takes several months or longer to truly fall in love with your scorecard.