an image of a circular cloud formation from above

GOOD PROBLEM SOLVING IS LIKE FLYING THROUGH THE EYE OF A HURRICANE

I often remind my clients that an issue is just that… an issue.

In other words, there is nothing they can’t solve. It’s simply that some issues are bigger and more emotionally charged than others.

People issues usually top the list as the toughest to take on. Many leaders delay addressing these problems because they fear they will be painful and result in unpleasant outcomes. Good problem solving is like reaching the eye of a hurricane.

Enter The Danger

Most of us would not willingly hop aboard a hurricane bound flight. That sounds crazy!

Working through your big issues is like taking a flight through the hurricane. It can feel dangerous, you may encounter strong turbulence, and the outcome could be catastrophic.

But the truth is hurricane flights are quite safe. What begins as very turbulent quickly shifts to beauty and tranquility as the airplane reaches the eye of the storm. Most of the turbulence is in the eye-wall, which must first be penetrated before reaching the eye.

Experience The Tranquility After The Turbulence

Good issue solving starts with the willingness to fly through the eye-wall with confidence that you will reach the eye. The EOS Issues Solving Track™ (IDS™) will get you there:

  • Identify
  • Discuss
  • Solve

Ninety percent of the battle is the willingness to take on the storm. This is true whether confronting hurricanes or getting through your most difficult issues.

Trust the process and experience the exhilaration of getting to the other side filled with beauty, tranquility, and clarity!

Written by Randy Taussig on November 21, 2019

two people in a meeting room talking

IS YOUR BUSINESS GUILTY OF DYSFUNCTIONAL PARENTING?

My son didn’t like what he heard from me, so he went to his mom and got the answer he wanted. We call this “the end-run,” — it also happens in business.

For example, have you ever experienced dissension in your organization where employees sided with one leader over the other? It’s like a reality show where alliances are created to overtake the other party.

How Are Your Business Parenting Skills?

As “parents” of the organization, the leadership team has to be on the same page and speak the same language, especially the Visionary and Integrator.

If they are not, similar to children in a family, the troops will divide and conquer. For a company to be healthy, the Visionary and Integrator have to be on the same page. It’s a Process issue and it starts with communication. 

In EOS®, we recommend the Same Page Meeting™. 

As the Visionary and Integrator, this could be the single most important thing these two individuals can do – to represent a united front so the vision is crystal clear. Then the team can determine how to get there and what everyone’s role is in getting there.

Getting on the Same Page

The Same Page Meeting has a simple agenda with the main objective of ensuring the Visionary and Integrator hash out differences and getting on the same page instead of arguing in front of their team or giving mixed signals.

As illustrated in this video by Gino Wickman, the three agenda items in a Same Page Meeting are:

  1.     Check-in: Start on a personal note and see how each of you are doing
  2.     Build An Issues List: Be open and honest on what the issues are and list them out
  3.     IDS™: Follow the Identify, Discuss, and Solve process

When you follow this simple process, it helps to resolve any open issues that are creating friction in the company, resulting in more alignment across the organization and a clear direction for the team.

Written by Don Maranca on November 25, 2019

a dart in the bullseye of a dartboard

WHY YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR BUSINESS’S “SWEET SPOT”

Harry Beckwith says, “people don’t lead, purposes do.”

Recently, I worked with a client who became a firm believer in this statement. He is the son who inherited a successful 20-year-old family business and is now struggling to pay the bills. He has been drifting away from the company’s core business and has become distracted.

During a conversation we were having, I asked, “Why do you do what you do?”

“I do it for the money!” he replied.

After continuing to probe, he could not come up with one reason as to why he took over the business other than money. It became very clear to both of us that he had no passion or purpose in running this business, hence the direction it was going.

When Focus Gets Lost

One thing is certain over the course of time: companies and people lose focus. Occasionally, it’s because the people in charge aren’t passionate about the business. Other times it’s because they are hungry for revenue, looking for a new challenge, or maybe they’re just bored.

Whatever tempts you, your job as a leadership team is to determine what the organization’s Core Focus™ is and stay laser-focused on it. To do that, you’ll need to agree on two things:

  1. Your Purpose/Cause/Passion (your reason for being)
  2. Your Niche (your superior skill)

Your Business’s “Sweet Spot” is the Key

When you work within this “sweet spot”, the company will be more effective and more profitable, and you’ll have more fun. When you don’t, you’ll become distracted by “shiny stuff”, lose focus, and the business will suffer.

Written by Duane Marshall on December 2, 2019

a woman jumping from one ledge to another

FACING THE UNAVOIDABLE WITH UNCOMMON COURAGE

Recently, one of our client teams found themselves facing a difficult decision.

They realized that two functions they’d always kept separate really belonged under one leader. Keeping them separate created unnecessary complexity, causing extensive debates about overlapping resources, workflow and priorities. Combining them would eliminate confusion, increase speed and quality, and make the company more responsive to its customers. That part was easy.

The hard part?

The people who ran the separate functions were both terrific. They were both long-time team members, great fits with the culture (absolutely “right person” for the organization), and fully capable of running the combined function really well (absolutely right for the seat). And they both wanted the job. A classic “how do you split the baby” moment.

If you were in this team’s shoes, what would you do?

Use Uncommon Courage to Make Great Decisions

What they did was to demonstrate uncommon courage. Instead of dodging the issue, deferring it, or trying to split the baby, they made a decision. None of them wanted to make it, but they all realized it was in the company’s best interest.

They combined the two seats into one and put one of the candidates in it. With genuine love and respect, they told the other candidate that he was very important to the company and that they would find a great seat for him, but it wouldn’t be a seat on the leadership team. They acknowledged unanimously that it was a very close call – one that easily could have gone the other way. And they did all of this openly as a team, with everyone – including both candidates for the combined seat – in the room.

Great Decisions, Great Results

As a result, their leadership team is leaner, more nimble, and more effective. Decisions get made faster and better. The entire leadership team agrees that it was the right thing to do.

They also agree that it actually wasn’t as hard as they thought it would be, which has made them even more courageous.

A month or so later, it became clear that another member of the leadership team – who also is a part-owner of the business – was struggling to do his job. The rest of the team told him that what he offered as explanations they saw as defensiveness. They made it clear that they like and care about him personally, but that their first obligation is to the company. They promised to support him in every way they could, but made it clear that if he didn’t turn things around in 90 days, they would remove him from the leadership team and put someone else in the seat.

Again, they did this as a team, combining love and respect with absolute openness and honesty, and with the best interest of the company at heart.

Never Fear the Unavoidable Again

These are bold examples from a team that is strong and getting stronger. But we find ourselves in this situation all the time – facing issues we’d much rather avoid.

Are you and your team facing – or avoiding – one of those issues today? If you are, don’t worry. It just makes you normal. What will make you uncommon is finding the extra bit of courage that lets you deal with it. You’ll be glad you did!

Written by Dan Wallace on December 5, 2019

 

car driving down a road next to the verge

LISTENING TO YOUR RUMBLE STRIPS

It has almost certainly happened to each of us – you’re driving down the road on cruise control. You’re not doing anything reckless, but your mind is on a million things besides the stretch of road you’re on. You’re thinking about your destination, how long it will take to get there, whether you have enough gas, what’s for lunch, and why no one seems to know how to use a turn signal anymore.

The next thing you know, you’re literally shaken back into focus by the rumble strip just on the other side of the white line. You’ve drifted a bit, so you make a slight course correction to straighten things out and continue on your way with a more focused direction.

No big deal, right? Right. But things could have gotten really dicey if it weren’t for that rumble strip.

The rumble strip was there to serve a purpose: it let you know that you were off course before you barreled into the ditch. It nudged you into making a small adjustment so you could avoid disaster.

There are rumble strips available to your business. Are you using them? 

Those rumble strips are called Scorecards.

Scorecards provide weekly, leading-edge, activity-based metrics that predict the financial future of your business. Your Scorecard is a tool that lets you know if you’re on track, or if you might be drifting off course. If you are drifting off course, reviewing a Scorecard weekly lets you make small adjustments to get things back on track.

Hitting a rumble strip doesn’t mean you’re in trouble. It means you will be in trouble if you keep going the way you’re going. The same goes for uncovering an issue via your weekly Scorecard.

Without a weekly Scorecard alerting you to potential problems, you lose the ability to make a small course correction as you go along.  Many companies don’t stop to evaluate the course they’re on until the end of the month or end of the quarter. Unfortunately, by that point, it’s often too late to make a small course correction, and instead, they’re stuck calling a tow truck. (Or, worse, an ambulance.)

All too often, business owners who avoid weekly Scorecards are surprised when they end up in the ditch. They ask, “What happened?! It’s not like we had a scandal. No one embezzled anything. We didn’t have a recall or a PR crisis or a massive inventory shortage or a termite infestation. How could things have gone so wrong?”

You don’t need a giant crisis to end up in the ditch. Some people land in the ditch by swerving to avoid hitting a deer, and in that case, it’s pretty obvious what happened. But for most of us, it’s not about a crisis. It’s about drifting off, ever so slightly, in the wrong direction … and not noticing it until it’s too late.

Long story short: Scorecards help you stay out of the ditch and on course. Better yet, they can help you make small adjustments that’ll put you on an even faster, smoother course. And who doesn’t want to get to their destination easier and sooner?

Written by Joel Swanson on September 16, 2019

a hiker standing on a cliff edge looking out over a vast view

ROCK ON!

In a recent EOS® Quarterly Meeting, the leadership team was proud to report that they had completed each of the ten Rocks (key priorities) that they had committed to getting done. They had gotten close in previous quarters, always exceeding the goal of 80% completion but this was their first “100% quarter”. In fact, I’ve conducted hundreds of sessions with leadership teams over the years and none has ever completed all their Rocks. So, I asked the Integrator and his team, “What did you do differently this quarter to complete all your Rocks?”

Here’s what they shared:

1. We started early by identifying any obstacles that needed to be overcome and the resources we needed to complete our Rocks
2. We set high expectations by agreeing that ALL our Rocks needed to be completed
3. We set benchmarks and reviewed them in our Level 10 Meetings to ensure that we were on track
4. We worked as a team, communicating often, holding ourselves and each other accountable and helping each other stay on track
It’s important to note that this client began implementing EOS earlier this year.

A healthy and cohesive leadership team makes commitments carefully, accepts accountability and wins or loses together. And, winning becomes an all-the-time thing.

What is your attitude toward setting Rocks? Do you go into quarterly meetings well-prepared, thinking about the most important things that must be accomplished? Have you thought about obstacles that must be overcome and the resources you’ll need? Do you start early so you’ll finish early? Are you being completely open and honest in your weekly Level 10 Meeting™️ about the progress you’re making on your rock? And, are you willing to call out a peer if you sense that they’re not really on-track?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then Rock On!

Written by Rene Boer on September 19, 2019

5

THE MAGIC AND CURSE OF PUTTING YOUR BUSINESS ON AUTOPILOT

The autopilot can be an aviator’s best friend. It’s precise, alleviates workload, and provides good peace of mind. All positive factors, but if the pilot isn’t careful, it could lead to big trouble!

Take the case of Eastern Airline Flight 401 where the crew was preoccupied with diagnosing a gear light problem and didn’t notice the autopilot was inadvertently set for a gradual descent, causing the plane to crash (CFIT) and kill 86 on board. The crew relied on their autopilot system as they had done thousands of times before. Only this time, their reliance turned into a deadly mistake.

I fly the Cirrus SR22, a high performance/complex single-engine aircraft, operated through multiple layers of automation, including a really sophisticated flight control system! The one big challenge with all this great automation is keeping up basic flying skills, since I rarely need to fly the plane manually. But if the system fails – then what?

Is Your Business Running on Autopilot?

Are you getting too comfortable with certain aspects of your business? Sometimes it’s not obvious. For example, one of my clients recently got out-bid on a long-standing contract they had been servicing for years. It was a shocker. They had become complacent and then, one day, it was gone!

In hindsight, there were signs of this coming, including more competitor bids, subtle hints from the client to cut costs, and the initiation of a new bidding process. But none of this made it to the top of my client’s issues list, and therefore was overlooked.

When things are running smoothly in your business, it can be like flying on autopilot. You get comfortable until blindsided by a sudden failure that you may not be prepared to handle.

How to Recover from Autopilot Failure

Pilots frequently practice emergency procedures with instructors to build confidence and proficiency in the cockpit and prepare for the unexpected.

You can do the same within your business by holding weekly Level 10 Meetings™ and focusing on solving your most pressing issues through IDS™ (the Issues Solving Track™).

Be pro-active to avoid your own preventable crash (CFIT)!

Written by Randy Taussig on October 21, 2019

7

IS HIRING A FAMILY MEMBER THE RIGHT CHOICE?

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.

Separate Family Issues, Ownership Issues, and Business Issues

Despite having a clear accountability chart, a strong scorecard and an effective Vision/Traction Organizer™ for decision making, the owner started asking me about how this might affect other members of the next generation.

She was worried about a number of issues including the new Integrator lacking a few important skills, possible issues with vendors, and whether or not they should change the plans for who inherits the business.

She was also worried that the new Integrator:

  • Might be overwhelmed and not ready for the role
  • May feel responsible for the financial success of her siblings and cousins
  • May begin to have a strained relationship with the other owner (her aunt)

This is not uncommon.

Even when family businesses run on EOS®, it can be easy to blend family issues, ownership issues, and business issues together. It can also be easy to forget that you have valuable tools meant to help you make these decisions.

Use the Tools to Get You Through

Here are a few tools that can help you make better decisions when hiring family members in your business:

  • Separate decisions about who runs the business from ownership issues. As we teach in EOS, when defining the Accountability Chart, only those with a seat working in the business are responsible for running it. Remember that just because you own the business doesn’t mean you need to run it. The opposite is also true: just because you run the business, doesn’t mean you need to own it.
  • Handle family issues with the family and business issues with the business. Typically, if people don’t get along outside of work, they will have a hard time getting along at work. Similarly, if things go well at work, they can keep relationships at home strong. If you already have strong personal relationships, keeping your relationship at work strong will support that family relationship.
  • Lean on your tools. You have a People Analyzer™ to help you decide if someone is the right person for the seat. When you’re in full agreement about what the seat looks like, what your core values are, and what it means to GWC™ the seat (get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it), you’ll know if someone is right for the job.

Use these tools and you’ll have the confidence you need to know you’ll be making the right decisions.

Written by Sara Stern on October 14, 2019

 

6

CONFLICT CREATES CLARITY

Some of the best meetings that I’ve been in lately are the ones where members of the leadership team challenge each other.

There’s debate and pushback and the discussions are heated. Each person is actively engaged, putting the greater good of the organization ahead of personal agendas. Sometimes the feedback they give each other stings a little. But, when the dust settles there’s clarity around the root cause. Conflict creates clarity.

Conflict, although messy, is all about going deep

Think about your meetings. Are you comfortable with conflict? What do you do when things begin to heat up? Do you attempt to smooth things over? Have you found yourself playing the peacemaker? Don’t do it.

It takes a while for a team to come together. Within the EOS® Meeting Pulse™, conflict is bound to happen sooner than later. Why? Because every week you’re in a structured meeting where the objective is to solve issues (the real ones) and get things done. There’s no place to hide. You can’t solve the real issues without some conflict – a willingness to go deep, to “enter the danger.”

Conflict creates clarity… embrace it!

Too often we seek harmony when we should be creating some conflict. Don’t be afraid of a little conflict, embrace it. Conflict creates clarity. Without clarity over the underlying issue, we’re at risk of making poor decisions. And, as Patrick Lencioni points out in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, healthy conflict is a necessary step towards gaining commitment.

Written by Rene Boer on October 17, 2019

 

9

YOUR CORE BUSINESS PROCESSES

The Entrepreneurial Operating System’s (EOS) model has 6 key components. One of them is the Process Component.

Companies who use EOS document their 6-10 Core Business Processes – HR, Marketing, Sales, Operations (how you deliver your product or service), Finance, and Customer Support are chief among them. They document the steps in the processes in an entrepreneurial way – using the 20/80 rule. Then they insist that these core processes are followed by all employees – no exceptions.

Horizon Services, Inc. of Wilmington, DE (http://www.horizonservicesinc.com/) is great example of a company which exemplifies this best practice.

I was blown away two weeks ago when I was dealing with a malfunction in my home furnace. I decided to reach beyond the firm I had used in the past who always completed the work but never wowed me.

Horizon impressed me at every turn. It started with the person who answered my initial phone call. After I told her that I needed a furnace problem diagnosed, she asked if I was a current customer. When I said no, she asked my permission to mention a few things about Horizon which I might find interesting – that Horizon is 23 years in business, that they have a “AAA” Better Business Rating, and so on.

Every interaction was a pleasure. Next up was the “comfort consultant” who diagnosed the problem, then the sales rep, and finally the installation team. By the way, I bought a new furnace. Each person who entered my home put on “hospital footies” each and every time so as not to track dirt in from outside. Each was polite. Each was knowledgeable. Each was on time. No exceptions.

This doesn’t happen by chance. All their key processes must be documented and followed as a part of being a Horizon employee and they have more than 300 employees.

Are you documenting the Core Business Processes in your business? You should be.

Written by Ed Callahan on December 6, 2010