Tools Before Vision
We take an unexpected path with leadership teams who implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System. One might think that getting right to work on discovering and setting the vision for the company and then getting clear on the tactics to execute the vision would be the best approach.
However, proceeding in this order is like building a state of the art rocket and space vehicle with no way to get it to the launch pad.
In an EOS implementation we work on Foundational Tools first. This is like ensuring we have a functioning “crawler-transporter” (like the one in the photo above) to get the rocket from the “Vehicle Assembly Building” (VAB) to the Launch Pad.
Foundational EOS Tools
The Foundational EOS Tools consist of the following:
“Hitting the Ceiling” Leadership Abilities
Individuals, teams, and entire companies inevitably hit ceilings. Hitting and breaking through ceilings is simply the path all organizations take to grow! We ensure leaders know what it looks like to hit a ceiling and then have a toolset to break through the ceilings that come. Leaders are equipped to take the business through the turbulence of a ceiling and grow to the next level.
Different than an “Org. Chart”, The Accountability Chart gets an organization crystal clear on the functions that must be executed to deliver value through the entire customer journey. When one individual is accountable for a function or “seat”, and the roles defined for that seat, we see several things more clearly: Are leaders spending time in too many seats? Where do we have opportunities to delegate roles and enable team members to grow into new or bigger seats. Are delivery problems in the customer journey caused by people issues that become visible in the accountability chart? Learning how to use this tool early in the EOS implementation journey is key to empowering the right people and getting them in the right seats.
Rocks are the most important things for the company to accomplish in the next 90 days. By learning this tool and building the skill to create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) Rocks, Teams and individuals get good at predicting what needs to be done and what it will take to do it. They get in a cadence of execution on important things and grow out of the habit of spending all their time putting out fires. Learning this early in the EOS implementation journey creates teams that execute with discipline and accountability.
We teach leadership teams how to have amazingly productive meetings! Checking in on the company scorecard, Rocks, customer and employee headlines, and to-dos from the last meeting, leaves the bulk of the meeting for teams to work on issue resolution. With tools and disciplines we teach for issue management, teams get really good at active engagement in identifying root cause of issues and coming up with solutions that will make the issue go away forever, rather than sweeping it under the rug to be dealt with later. Learning to run a good meeting early in the EOS implementation process gets teams collaborating, innovating and problem solving in ways that just don’t happen in most small business meetings.
We build a scorecard with 5-15 measurables that quantify how the business is doing. Focused on lead-measures, the leadership team learns to run the business “looking out of the windshield” rather than relying on the “rear-view mirror” of standard monthly financials. Armed with the scorecard, leaders have a pulse on the business and can see where issues are coming up in time to do something about it.
Tools = Crawler/Transporter
We take a full session day to teach the tools described above and spend a significant amount of time in the next two session-days reviewing and tuning up the understanding and use of these fundamental tools. Over the first three EOS sessions (nearly one quarter), the leadership team is practicing their use of the tools. Sort of like they are building and learning to operate the crawler-transporter in anticipation of building a rocket they will soon launch.
Vision Building = Rocket
With familiarity and skill developing with these Foundational Tools, the team can now turn its attention to creating the Vision for the company. When the 8 Questions on the Vision / Traction Organizer (V/TO) are answered, the leadership team knows where the company is going and how it will get there.
The 8 Questions in Your Vision
You and your team are empowered with rich Core Values and a Core Focus that brings meaning to the work you do, and a cause for employees and customers to enlist in. You can see the long-term objectives in your 10-Year Target, or BHAG (Big-Hairy-Audacious-Goal) for the company. You are clear about your Marketing Strategy, knowing which prospects to focus on and exactly what to tell them. You have a 3-Year Picture and can describe where the business will be and what it will look like in 3 short years. You have a more detailed 1-Year Plan with specific goals that must be achieved in the next 12 months to stay on track toward the 3 Year Picture. You have Rocks defined for the next 90 days and are focused on a handful of the most important things. You know you can make solid progress on 3 to 7 things, not 37 things. You know what the Issues are, and you are actively working near-term issues and tracking longer-term issues for work at future quarterly planning sessions.
Tools First Means We’re Ready to Rocket
Can you see how consistent practice of the Foundational EOS tools provides a solid platform to move the Vision forward? Without the tools, teams might create an amazing vision but get frustrated to see it fizzle when they don’t have the tools to help them execute and move the vision forward! Sort of like building a beautiful rocket in the “Vision Assembly Building” that you can’t get to the launch pad.
Bringing It All Together
I am always thrilled to see leadership teams cross the threshold of completing the first three session-days consisting of one Focus Day about Foundational Tools, and two Vision Building Days answering the 8 Questions on the V/TO. Throughout the period of the first three sessions, teams continue to tune up understanding and use of the Foundational Tools. This is where it all starts to come together for leadership teams! They can see how EOS tools and disciplines have already strengthened their business and will enable them to powerfully move ahead and get real traction toward their vision.
Reach for the Stars!
Here’s to getting your Rocket to the launch pad with solid, reliable Foundational Tools! And here’s to launching your Rocket with a solid V/TO! As you polish up Foundational Tools throughout your journey and tune up your V/TO every subsequent Quarterly and Annual Planning session, your Big-Hairy-Audacious-Goals will become your new reality!
Coach, Facilitator, Speaker
Professional EOS Implementer