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6 KEY DRIVERS OF SUCCESS

Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash

An article by New York Times business columnist Adam Bryant poses this question, “In your experience, do these six ‘success drivers’ make sense?”

The article summarizes extensive interviews Bryant conducted with leaders of successful companies whose names you would recognize. He was looking, he says, for “the things that, if done well, have an outsized positive impact, and if done poorly or not at all, have an outsize negative impact.”

If you’d like to read the entire article, you can see it here: Management Be Nimble.
Or we can save you a little time. Bryant’s six success drivers are:

  1. Have an extremely simple plan (narrow, with an exceptionally clear focus on where you’re going, supported by a small number of key goals)
  2. Be clear about the ‘rules of the road’ (a small set of core values that are authentic, which means they truly define and differentiate your culture, and that you really live by them)
  3. Treat people with respect (so that they feel free to challenge each other and pursue the greater good of the business)
  4. Build a strong team (roles are crystal clear, right people are in right seats, and the team embraces a culture of trust and accountability)
  5. Have adult conversations (an outcome of the two previous points – the ability for people to speak openly and honestly, without fear of repercussions)
  6. Deal with difficult issues face-to-face, not via email (or other technology that makes misinterpretation and distrust more likely)

Those principles are timeless. They’re described in dozens of business books from authors like Bryant, Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, and many others.

And of course, they make sense. If your company has a simple, clear plan that everyone understands, a strong culture based on a few key principles that everyone embraces, a rock-solid team, and an environment in which you’ve replaced politics with open, honest conversations focused on the greater good of the business, how will you not do better?

The question is whether you know how to make it happen – to do these things really well so that you enjoy the ‘outsized positive impact’ Bryant describes.

The good news is that you don’t have to figure out how to make it happen by yourself – explore the EOS Model™ and experience Vision, Traction and Healthy in your business. We are here to help.

Written by Dan Wallace on March 3, 2014 – with edits by Richard Price

a maze showing a red arrow through it

BE PART OF THE 8% WHO SUCCEED!

It’s that time of year when there’s a lot of buzz about New Year’s resolutions. But with all the excitement and possibilities of the new year, a commonly held statistic is that only 8% of people actually keep their resolutions. That means that 92% of people fail each year!! Yet we know there is great power in goal-setting. People who have defined, measurable, written goals outperform most others.

What Makes a Good Goal?

Traditional goal-setting wisdom has taught us that a good goal must be SMART:

Specific. It’s always best to write down your goals – either on paper or digitally – breaking pieces of the goal into smaller steps.

Measurable. Put a number to your goal. Set it to hit it. Find an accountability partner for encouragement and set reminders to keep yourself on track.

Attainable. You must believe it’s possible, or you won’t be motivated. Be sure you think through any obstacles and the tasks needed to overcome them. Make sure it’s possible for you to have control over the outcome.

Realistic. Be sure the odds are good for you to accomplish your goals. Otherwise, you might set yourself up for overwhelm or frustration.

Timely. Always put a deadline to your goals. Typically, people have about a 90-day attention span for goals. At EOS®, we call these Rocks – the 3 to 7 most important things that must get done over the next 90 days.

While we might have a handful of annual goals or long-term priorities, shorter timeframes build good follow-through habits and reward you with quicker gratification. By having more frequent victories, you’ll build a strong track record and create more momentum. On the other hand, long-term goals force you to grow, keep you headed in the right direction, and provide a sense of greater purpose with something exciting to work toward.

A mix of short- and long-term goals is ideal. To apply this concept to your business, we use the Vision/Traction Organizer™ (VTO™).

Here are some examples of goals with a well-defined action plan and specific deadlines:

  • If you’re trying to lose 10 pounds, get specific about your diet, workout plan and deadline, say for an important event or wedding.
  • If you’re trying to reduce stress, get specific about what you will do to make that happen and by when. Maybe your measurable is to reduce your blood pressure by 10 points.
  • If you’re trying to increase sales by 20% in the next quarter, then create a 90-day plan to get you there.

We really have two choices: either we can leave things up to chance and react to life as it happens, or we can take action toward creating the future we envision for business and life. The more successful we become, the more we can contribute to making the world a better place!

So dream big, set good goals, and take action!

Written by Chris Naylor on January 3, 2019

a picture of The Beatles, the rock band

A GREAT HABIT IS HARD TO BREAK

After a client’s recent EOS session, an owner of the company made a comment about the importance of repetition in mastering a skill. Specifically, he was talking about the weekly Level 10 meeting and, after just six meetings, how much better his team was becoming at identifying, discussing and solving issues, getting things done, improving communication and team health. He told his team, “Imagine how much better we’ll be after 52 weekly Level 10 meetings?”

Good Habits Yield Great Results

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell challenges the impact that intelligence plays in determining success and points to repetition – putting in the hours necessary to succeed. He mentions the “ten-thousand-hour rule” … that it takes about 10,000 hours of doing something to truly master it. He retells a well-known story behind the Beatles “sudden” success. By the time they played the Ed Sullivan show, they had completed 1200 live performances. In Hamburg, Germany, they played 270 nights during an 18-month stretch, often playing 8 hours per night – talk about “A Hard Day’s Night!”

Gladwell also points out that the child prodigy Mozart, who began writing music when he was six, developed late in life, producing his greatest works after he’d been composing for over 20 years. To become a chess grandmaster takes about 10 years. To become an expert at anything requires about 10,000 hours of practice.

So, whether you aspire to be a chess grandmaster, an elite athlete, an artist, a welder, a baker, a chef, or a successful entrepreneur and business owner, you must develop great habits and repeat them often. Combine repetition with a pursuit of what you truly love doing and you’re on your way towards mastery. And, the longer you repeat great habits, the harder they are to break.

Written by Rene Boer on December 26, 2016

a woman on a dock looking towards the sky and birds flying

BE WHERE YOU ARE WHEN YOU’RE THERE

Are you proud of your ability to multi-task? Can you close a deal, hire someone, attend a video conference AND make dinner plans – all while driving your car?

Many entrepreneurs are not only capable of keeping all those plates spinning, they’re fiercely proud of it. Yes, it is true that cramming 20 pounds of productivity into a 10-pound bag can be an important skill when you’re building a great business from scratch. However, it’s also true that all frenetic multi-taskers reach a point of diminishing returns as their businesses and teams grow.

The fact is, none of us do our best work when we’re not fully present. If you’re a visionary entrepreneur, much of what you’ve built started with your ability to think and create something from scratch. This work is best done without distraction, without the inevitable pull of “stuff” that needs to get done. When you’re fleshing out one of those big ideas, you then need to research, test, and learn from your successes and failures – all stuff that’s best done when you can slow down, tune in, and really observe and learn.

Are You Fully Present and Engaged?

As you hire and empower other capable people, they also need your undivided attention from time to time. They need to clearly understand your vision, get your feedback on a company Rock or important hire, maybe just get to know what’s going on inside that visionary brain of yours. All these things require you to be fully present, to eliminate distractions, and to show up as your best self.

How many devices are you connected to right now? Are you racing around from one fire to the next? Are you reading this blog post while on the phone with a client, employee or family member? Did you check email, text or voice messages under the table during a meeting today?

If so, you’re just not present. You’re not fully engaged in the task at hand or with the people in the room. You’re not focused. And no matter how good you are at multi-tasking, you can’t do your best thinking, strategizing, leading, and deciding without being present. And we can tell. Your family, your leadership team, even your employees and vendors can tell.

Slow Down and Give Your Best Self

So, don’t be afraid to slow down. Consider taking a regular Clarity Break™ to give yourself time to think and to ready your best self for what’s ahead in the coming week. It’s okay to keep doing lots of stuff. Just try to do it one important thing at a time, with 100% of your focus and attention.

Being where you are when you’re there will make you AND those around you better, smarter, faster, and healthier.

Written by Mike Paton on December 28, 2017

Five professional people smiling both male and female

WHY MILLENNIALS WILL LOVE EOS® – PART 2

In Why Millennials Will Love EOS® – Part 1 we said that millennials, who were raised in a different time than we Boomers and Gen-Xers, think differently. They have very specific expectations for information and for their work environments. TheVision/Traction Organizer™ and the Accountability Chart provide the vision, big picture, and culture that millennials need to understand and to be engaged.

In Part 2 I want to share specific EOS Tools that will help you lead, manage, and hold millennials accountable, as well as the rest of your team.

Quarterly Rocks

Millennials need to see progress, completion, and evidence that they are building new skills. Setting priorities for the few most important things that must get done each quarter at the company level, by department, and for individuals creates clear alignment that everyone is rowing in the same direction. This quarterly rhythm shows completion of tasks more often, develops job skills and can provide a variety of work. It also provides an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to lead without changing positions.

Weekly Level 10 Meetings™

Maintaining human connectivity is critical for digitally native millennials. The weekly pulse of reporting, holding each other accountable, and problem-solving is frankly the lifeblood of any healthy team regardless of the ages of its members. For millennials, using the IDS and the Issues Solving Track™ during this weekly problem-solving session gives the team opportunities to be creative, share, and be exposed to new ideas

Scorecards

A powerful currency for millennials is flexibility — when, where, and how to get the work done, as long as it gets done. Working remotely and flextime don’t work for everything, but they can work for certain roles. The key is how to hold people accountable. A weekly scorecard of activity-based metrics that track specific job responsibilities will provide the tool for many to self-manage their results and keep their boss and teammates plugged in.

Process

Documenting your handful of Core Processes brings consistency and scalability to how the work gets done. When followed by everyone on the team a consistent process also gives additional autonomy.

In addition to these tools, you need to master the Five Management Practices™ that speaks directly to the kind of feedback and direction millennials need to get.

  • Practice 1. Keeping expectations clear – yours and theirs
  • Practice 2. Communicating well – more listening than talking
  • Practice 3. Maintaining the right Meeting Pulse™
  • Practice 4. Having Quarterly Conversations – 1:1 meetings to talk about what’s working and what’s not
  • Practice 5. Rewarding and Recognizing – within 24 hours, open and honest, be their boss, not their buddy

Written by Clark Neuhoff on August 14, 2017

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WHY MILLENNIALS WILL LOVE EOS® – PART 1

The impact these 76 million people born between 1980 – 2002 will have on the workforce is well-documented. Stereotypes aside, their numbers, creativity, passion and knack for technology make them a critical asset to any organization. However, they do think differently than we Baby-Boomer owners and many Gen-X leaders and managers.

When you look at articles about millennials, a handful of themes keeps showing up:

  • passion and meaning
  • understanding the big picture
  • culture
  • work-life alignment
  • projects with clear expectations
  • being creative
  • frequent and regular feedback
  • connectivity with the boss and company

Good news! Much of what millennials are looking for in an organization and how they are best-managed maps directly to the specific tools of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®). Two of those tools that you’ll find discussed in Gino Wickman’s book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Businessare the Vision/Traction Organizer™ and the Accountability Chart.

The Vision/Traction Organizer, V/TO

This two-page business plan with only 8 questions defines where an organization is going and how it will get there. Your Core Focus™ clearly spells out the company’s reason for being by linking your passion – why the organization exists – with your niche, what you do. Core Values define your culture or who you are as a people. This whowhy and what is essentially the soul of the organization. The 10-Year Target™ points to a bigger-than-life, energizing goal and the 3-Year Picture™ lets everyone know exactly what the organization will look like just three years out. The 1-Year Plan and Quarterly Rocks break it down to specific goals and priorities that will get you there in the near term.

Referring to the V/TO in regular company meetings and throughout the interview process, as we teach our EOS clients, will satisfy most millennials’ need to know, and make sure your vision for the company is shared by all.

The Accountability Chart

Showing who is accountable for what across the entire organization does several things for millennials. First, it provides a crystal clear focus on roles and responsibilities. Second, it shows opportunities for development and advancement as managers delegate accountabilities to their teams. Once accountabilities are defined by the five key roles in each seat, you now have a common language to discuss whether or not an employee gets it, wants it and has the capacity for a specific seat. Do they align with this job?

Millennials want to be clear on what is expected of them and what they can expect from the company. They are also looking for regular feedback on their performance. Clear roles and responsibilities are the foundation for this ongoing dialog.

In Why Millennials Will Love EOS® – Part 2, we’ll talk about EOS tools for leading, managing, and holding millennials accountable.

Written by Clark Neuhoff on August 10, 2017

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HOW TO RIP THE BAND-AID OFF

When someone is Wrong Person (doesn’t fit our Core Values and Culture), Wrong Seat (in a job they don’t GWC®; Get It, Want It, Capacity to do it and we can’t fix it), or both, the reality is that they have to go.

As a leader, you’re there for the greater good of the business. Sometimes, helping someone to the door is what the greater good requires.

I need to ask for a little blind faith here, too. It’s also for the greater good of the person who needs to leave. Being stuck in a company where you don’t fit, or in a job at which you can’t excel, is a terrible way to live. It’s your duty as a leader to make that conversation safe and to do everything you reasonably can to help the person who doesn’t fit make a good transition.

How Do You Coach Up or Out?

There are three things you need to do well in advance of any specific conversation.

  1. Get your head in a good place. Remember that there are very few truly bad people in the world. If you have one, you should fire them immediately and have security walk them to the door. Bad people are rare, but bad fits happen all the time. When it does, it’s just an issue that needs to be solved. (It’s also an issue that you created by putting this person in their seat. So let’s get over the tough-guy stuff and stop being angry at the person who needs to go. If you need to be angry at someone, look in the mirror.)
  2. Create an environment in which it’s safe to have conversations about fit and possible departure. People who don’t fit almost always know it but are afraid to talk about it for fear that they’ll get fired on the spot and lose their income. Get rid of that fear by making sure your people know you care about their well-being. This includes caring enough to be honest with them and helping anyone who needs to go exit with their dignity intact.
  3. Provide feedback along the way. It should never come as a surprise to someone that they are falling below the bar on either Core Values or job performance. The EOS Tool The 5-5-5™ (quarterly feedback on values, GWC and Rocks) is a great way to do this.

If you do those things, the actual conversation is relatively easy. You need to be prepared with some data – at least three specific examples of performance deficits and feedback from other employees about Core Values violations.

Then start the conversation like this: “This doesn’t seem to be going very well. I’m not happy, from what I can tell, I don’t think you’re happy, and the company isn’t getting what it needs. Living with this isn’t an option. Our only other choices are to fix it or end it. What do you think we should do?”

Remember, you’re here for the greater good of the business.

Written by Dan Wallace on May 30, 2019

A middle-aged woman on a laptop looking out a window

NO MORE ‘GUESS WHO’ WITH GWC™

When was the last time you asked yourself: “Is everyone on my team in the right seat?”.

To paraphrase Jim Collins from his book ‘Good to Great’, making sure that you have the ‘Right People’ (Core Values Fit), in the ‘Right Seats’ (Job Roles), is fundamental to the success and growth of your company. Having any number of people in the wrong roles is a defining factor of whether any business grows or stalls in the long term.

How do you know if someone is in the right seat?

You may have inherited, hired or even promoted people into your team, only to get the feeling that they don’t have what it takes to be successful and deliver results. You may get feedback that evidences your feelings, and yet perhaps you are so invested by way of time and energy to make this relationship work, that you hesitate to act upon it – hoping that things will take care of themselves. Ultimately, we owe it to the company and to that person to make a change.

Get it? Want it? Capacity to do it? 

‘GWC’TM is a tool from The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®), that enables leaders to solve this issue quickly and objectively. The tool simply requires you to ask three questions of your people: 1). Do they Get it? 2). Do they Want it? and 3). Do they have the Capacity to do it? – with the answer to each being a non-negotiable Yes or No –“kind of” is not an option! When you answer these questions openly and honestly, if any one of the three questions are a No, then that person is in the wrong seat. It’s a very powerful exercise that can highlight the real issues a company may be facing.

“Do they Get it” is about a person having a deep, meaningful understanding of the seat they have been hired for. When someone gets it, they have that intuitive feel, the natural aptitude for understanding what is required to deliver. A No simply means that this position isn’t suitable for them and the company to get what it wants, and it’s time to find someone else for this seat.

“Do they Want It” is about whether the work positively motivates them on a daily basis. Can they bring their whole self to the game every day, over and over again, with enough energy to move them and the company forward at the pace you require? If this work isn’t what they truly want to do, they may find a way to do other things.

“Capacity to do it” is four-fold. Do they have the mental, emotional, physical, and time capacity to do the job – and do it well? Mental capacity relates to their abilities and knowledge. Emotional capacity is their understanding of how ‘what they do’ impacts others. Physical Capacity relates to the amount of endurance and dexterity that is required for the seat. Time capacity is tied to the amount of days, hours, minutes, and seconds the seat will take. Capacity is the only one of the 3 GWC questions that can be worked on – if the business is prepared to invest the effort in doing so.

Leaders Need To Take Action 

When people don’t GWC their seat, they may be self-aware and yet choose to suffer in silence until it gets so painful that they leave or are pushed out. As a leader, doing the difficult work and helping your people to make the move to a ‘Right Seat’ could be the difference that makes a difference for all. So, thinking about your people right now, is anyone sitting in a seat who doesn’t truly get, want, or have the capacity for what they do? If so, then what would be the impact to them, to you, and to the company, if you made one people move this quarter?

Written by Dean Breyley on June 4, 2019

 

 

a hand holding a magnifying glass over rocks

MICROMANAGING ROCKS

Some leaders and managers have been tempted to deviate from the 5-minute rock review we teach in the weekly Level 10 Meeting™, desiring something more detailed than a simple, on track/off track, report. The concern that team members are inappropriately reporting rocks to be on track when they are not has led some teams to create elaborate “rock crushing systems” that include breaking rocks down into smaller action steps, plotting those steps out across a timeline, tracking completion of those steps and reporting the progress in weekly meetings.

While I understand the motivation behind creating such systems, I urge you to treat the root causes rather than the symptoms. Not completing rocks and inappropriately reporting rock progress are symptoms with an underlying cause.

A person who exhibits the symptom of not completing his or her rocks doesn’t get it, want it or have the capacity to do what needs to be done. In other words, if someone can’t set and achieve proper rocks for their seat, you have the wrong person in that seat. Solve that root cause issue and you won’t feel the need to micromanage human activity in your organization. You also won’t need to waste valuable time in your weekly meetings. When the right people say a rock is on track, you can believe it. Trust them and get the heck out of their way. Don’t slow them down by adding complexity to their lives.

There are lots of project/task management tools/apps available in the marketplace. Do you really need to create another one? Is that your company’s Core Focus™? Let your people choose the productivity tools that work best for them and use your creative time and energy to build something to bring in an additional million dollars of revenue.

Simplify, don’t complicate. Trust your people, don’t micromanage.

Written by Don Tinney on August 12, 2019

A woman drawing on a transparent board in a meeting room

WHAT’S YOUR SECRET SAUCE?

No one cares what you do.

I know this seems a bit harsh but it is a reality. There are many other companies that do what you do and can fulfill the need your company currently fills.

But can they do it HOW you do it?

It is not the “What” that your customers care about, it is the “How you do what you do” that makes you special. So, why is it that so few companies have documented their “How”?

It’s All In The “How”

There are a few of you right now who are saying, “Well that isn’t a problem at our company. We have very detailed standard operating processes.”

Then there are a few others that are thinking, “So what? My team generally understands our approach.”

We find that most of the businesses we work with are in one of these two camps:

  1. Overly-detailed processes documented
  2. Nothing at all documented

Or worse, they have both.

We find that the right approach is in the middle: Document the 20% that gets you 80% of the results.

That 20% would be the high-level steps for your handful of core processes. Not the 100 steps for each of your 20 “core” processes. This high-level approach is what ends up dialing in your secret sauce. This is the “How you do what you do.”

Keep It Simple

Taking this simplified approach is how you get the most return on your buck. If you are too detailed when documenting your processes, they will be difficult or onerous to follow and if they aren’t documented, they are impossible to follow.

Once you get your core processes down, then you need to start the hard part and get them followed-by-all. But understand that it is impossible to take this step if you haven’t taken the time and documented your secret sauce. So, get your handful of core processes down and start truly taking advantage of your How.

Written by Jim Coyle on November 14, 2019