No matter how successful, every business faces challenges from time to time — and there’s no shortage of management experts, leadership coaches, and how-to guides that promise transformative results.
Entrepreneur and author Gino Wickman’s business management classic and bestseller, Traction, introduced the Entrepreneurial Operating SystemⓇ (EOSⓇ). Unlike so many management guides that focus directly on specific problems and solutions, EOS helps leaders introduce structured systems and tools that foster company-wide ownership thinking to improve business performance.
Business owners might not think of company growth as an issue or a problem to solve, but among the risks of organizational growth is a loss of control to effectively steer toward the company vision.
Success with EOS depends on every employee’s participation to identify and resolve issues and maintain close alignment with that shared vision. And the first step is to achieve alignment within the leadership team.
Small to mid-sized companies that commit to a disciplined application of EOS principles and practices can use the tools to:
- Identify and address obstacles to growth
- Foster company-wide ownership thinking
- Develop effective succession planning strategies
- And more
What is EOS in Business?
EOS is a holistic business operating system that cultivates (and demands) in all employees an inclusive, entrepreneurial mindset to identify and address obstacles in a company’s path toward achieving leadership’s vision.
Wickman created EOS with entrepreneurs in mind, and the approach typically works best for companies with about 10 to 250 people. These business owners are often so entrenched in the day-to-day demands of keeping things running smoothly that they risk losing sight of the vision that drives the company in the first place. Instead of shepherding the team toward SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) growth goals, they end up running from issue to issue, wasting time and resources and losing out on important opportunities.
The EOS ModelⓇ is a complete business operating system built on getting the Six Key ComponentsTM to serve as a strong foundation for growth and success:
- Vision – clarify and articulate the values driving the business
- People – recruit, hire, and retain the right person for every role
- Data – measure and track to make well-informed, rational business decisions
- Issues – see them, solve them, learn from them
- Processes – identify, streamline, document, and follow key processes
- TractionⓇ – discipline and accountability on the path toward goals
Principles support a regular cadence of productive meetings at every level to support all employees’ ability to think more like owners. This empowers them to identify and solve issues quickly — before they become resource-wasting problems and obstacles to success.
What Makes the EOS Model a Powerful Tool for Growth?
Reason 1: A Clear, Shared Vision Helps Align the Work
An overly complex approach to strategic planning can make the process more daunting than it needs to be. Even so, plenty of organizations still have trouble articulating the vision toward which they’re supposed to be driving growth. EOS tools help streamline strategic planning so leaders can get right to it, using simple templates with built-in deadlines. And when the vision is transparent and clearly articulated, it’s easier to get teams pulling in the same direction.
Reason 2: Successful Teams Put the Right People in the Right Roles
Plenty of business owners get in their own way when it comes to people-focused decisions. A rational assessment of employees using an evidence-based rubric clarifies capabilities, organizational fit, and shared values — so you know you’re entrusting responsibilities to people who support the vision and can do the work needed to achieve it.
Reason 3: Accountability & Ownership Thinking Empower Everyone
Traditional organizational charts often illustrate a cultural issue that gets in the way of growth: the focus on reporting relationships, rather than accountabilities. Instead, EOS calls for an Accountability Chart, which articulates each team member’s roles and responsibilities, and puts the focus on the work, not the egos or personalities.
Reason 4: Better Organization Supports a Better Organization
When every department, team, or even individual employee has their own way of doing things, disorder soon follows. The EOS model provides a set of simplified processes, meeting cadences and expectations, issue-solving protocols, and people management tools that everyone can follow. You don’t have to waste a lot of time coming up with (and knocking down) your own ideas about structure and organization; that saves time and energy for the work of achieving the vision.
Reason 5: No Free Pass on Tough Conversations
A busy entrepreneur can be tempted to hide behind the frenzy of day-to-day operations and avoid hard questions and conversations — about employees, customers or clients, successes and failures, and whether teams are effectively working toward the vision.
EOS’s built-in structures bring visibility to every corner of the business, and tools like the Issues Solving Track™ help cultivate agreement, even when it’s hard.
Getting Employees to Think Like Owners
Individual empowerment and accountability to solve the small, day-to-day issues that arise in every workplace can have a transformative effect on a business. Think about it: when a business owner can trust that every employee will act with a high level of integrity and care, it’s a lot easier to delegate tasks and responsibilities. That empowers everyone to get the work done. It’s what ownership culture is all about.
Business leaders have plenty of options to consider in terms of incentivizing and rewarding accountability to cultivate a culture of ownership, too. Among those options, an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) can offer unique advantages to business owners, companies, and employees. You can learn about how employee ownership through an ESOP can help you build a strong, entrepreneurial-focused organizational culture and achieve your business vision. Click below to download your free guide to ownership culture.