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EOS – Get a Grip on Your Business

By: Jim Socci, Certified EOS Implementer

Dan Crowley:

Welcome everyone! My favorite topic for a webinar, EOS. Jim Socci has been so kind to give us his time to present today. Jim is a business coach, facilitator, and entrepreneur in Pennsylvania. He’s a family man, father of three, flag football coach, and former CPA, which I’m sure people probably still lean on him quite a bit. He spent 20 years working in and on businesses before becoming a professional EOS implementer. Jim is a true implementer, and he teaches the common language to the business owners and leadership team so that they can get more traction on their vision. He is going to be presenting on the topic, “Get a Grip on Your Business” where he is getting back to the basics, giving you a simplified look at your business, along with practical, proven tools to help strengthen your business right this minute.

Jim Socci:

We have a pretty simple agenda, and it’s gonna start off with getting real. My promise is to keep it simple. I want to give you guys some simple things that can help move your business. Let’s face it, business is complicated. There’s a ton of moving parts, but EOS was designed to help you simplify the way you look at your business.

My hope is to give you a new lens for how you see and look at your business. Through
simplifying that lens, I want to help you get real results. I’m going to show you some simple, proven tools that are gonna help you get more done. Starting off by getting real, I’ll share with you a little bit about me and my story. I’ve always loved business. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and decided to pursue a degree in accounting before going into business for myself. Purchased a multimillion dollar stuffed toy manufacturing company, and quickly realized that being a CPA did not qualify me to be a great business owner. I like to say I got my real education in business when my clients didn’t pay me, my employees didn’t listen to me, and my life was no longer my own. After five years of working in my business, all I had to show for it were a bunch of recurring net losses and about a million dollars in debt. But that’s when I got obsessed. Obsessed with figuring out what makes businesses truly succeed. So, I hired business coaches. I read every business book I could get my hands on. I even frustrated my employees at times but ultimately, I figured it out.

I figured out how to work on my business. I grew the business, made it profitable, and easy to understand. Everyone could see themselves in the vision. So much so that I sold the business seven years later. One of my key employees and I got the opportunity and the pleasure of coaching and transitioning that new leadership team over about a two year period. And that’s why I’m excited to be here with you, the busy entrepreneur, and share with you some of these timeless principles and concepts. So, that’s just me getting real with you guys for a second.

EOS is not for everyone, this is for organizations that are entrepreneurial in nature, meaning they have between 10 and 250 employees whose owners and leadership teams,
growth-oriented, open-minded, respectful, appreciative, frustrated, want help, and are willing to be open, honest, and vulnerable with themselves and with the people around them. The system, the processes, and the tools I’m gonna share with you are universal in the sense that they work with any organization, any group of people that have a common goal.

Gino Wickman is the founder and author of the book Traction. What Gino discovered is there’s two types of business owners out there. He said, there’s the kind that are getting everything they want from their business, and there’s the kind that are not getting everything they want from their business. And so the ones that are getting everything they want from their business, what do they look like? Well, they just sort of seem to be at peace. They have enough time for family. Their business seems to be growing. They know exactly where their unique ability is and they spend 80% of their time doing that thing and it adds the most value for the business. They have a lot of fun. They have more energy at the end of the day than they do at the beginning of the day. That’s what it looks like to paint a picture of what it would look like to get everything you want from your business.

Now, on the other side, there’s those that are not getting everything they want. What we
discovered is there’s some common frustrations. This is what drove Gino, because his research and his discoveries has had only 1 out of 20 business owners getting what they wanted or getting everything they wanted from their business. So, as you can imagine, that creates a huge opportunity for this system that Gino went ahead and developed. He was obsessed over this. So in his obsession, he uncovered five frustrations. Now, if you’re gonna write anything down, I would not write these down.

Most business owners that are not getting everything they want from their business, they feel like the business is running them. They’re wearing too many hats and maybe things are going great, but they just feel like they’re running behind the truck going down the highway, just trying to just keep up with their business. So that’s frustration number one. Frustration number two is profit. For the amount of time and energy that you’re putting into your business, you just don’t seem to be getting the return that maybe you had anticipated for the level of energy and resources that you’re putting on the line there. There’s lots of other ways to generate that amount of money, and you’re saying, “yeah, I just don’t think we’re getting the necessary return for the amount of time we’re putting in”.

Next is people. The idea here is that you’ve got good people. They just don’t seem to listen, follow through, see the bigger picture, right? People can be very frustrating. You feel like there’s that moment you’re like “oh, we need to add people in that solution”. Then you add the people and you’re stressed beyond belief because they just don’t get it. They don’t work out. We gotta replace them. It’s just this never ending battle of people.

The next frustration is hitting the ceiling. So this is this idea that your business is kind of sailing along, everything’s going great, you’re growing year after year, and then boom, you hit that ceiling, you’re trying to get to the next level. And for whatever reason, it actually leads to the next frustration: nothing’s working. You’re trying everything to get to that next level. But, at the end of the day, nothing’s really getting you over the finish line. So those are the five common frustrations of business owners that are not getting everything they want.

Now that I’ve got you mildly depressed , let me help simplify things. Let me show you a
mechanism to help you get more of what you want, and hopefully be able to eliminate or
conquer some of those frustrations. So I’m gonna take you on a journey, this is an EOS model for simplifying your business. This model was developed out of a discovery that business owners are faced with about 136 issues simultaneously just coming at them. But what we uncovered is that to the extent that we can simplify and reduce your business to something we call six key components. All those 136 issues, they’re just symptoms of a weakness in one of these key components. So I’m gonna walk you through the six key components.

The first key component is the vision component. Where are you going and what’s your plan to get there? It’s not that your organization doesn’t have a vision, it’s just that you and your leadership team are seeing different things and you’re not on the same page. So I’m gonna give you some tools to help you improve on that.

Next key component of your business is people. It’s hard to achieve a vision without great
people. The challenge is how do you define what a really great person is for your unique
organization? And I’m gonna show you how we do that with some tools a little bit later. Next is data. This is running your business on the hard facts and figures versus sometimes that subjective or emotional information that we sometimes see being used in entrepreneurial organizations to make decisions.

Those are the first three components. What’s very interesting is when an organization gets stronger in each of these three components, all of the impurities and perfect challenges, opportunities start to bubble up to the surface, which creates the fourth key component, which is the issues component. This is about setting your issues up as they arrive, getting them out of your head, setting them up, prioritizing them, knocking them down, and making them go away forever.

The reality of it is that most leaders are not very good at solving problems together. It’s sort of an epidemic. Next is the core process. What are your core processes? It’s what makes your business more scalable, more profitable, and more fun to be a part of and manage and operate. Last but not least, the final and six key component of your business is the traction component. This is about bringing that vision down to the ground and executing on it with real discipline and accountability. This, my friends, is where most entrepreneurial dreams go to die. A lack of traction. I think Gino Wickman said it best, vision without traction is hallucination.

So that is the EOS model. This is the simplified way of looking at your business, and you got these six key components. Now, what’s fascinating about this system is we actually measure our progress. And you can measure your progress. And I’m gonna give you guys some tools a little later to really see where you are on this journey. Our goal, so remember, there’s business owners that are getting everything they want out of their business, and there’s those that are not. Well, when you are getting everything you want from your business, typically you are in each of these six key components.

We have a very subjective and scientific way of measuring this, which again, I’ll show you what that looks like towards the end to see exactly how strong you are in each of these six key components. Truth be told, when we start with most of our clients, they’re somewhere down in that 20% strong. This is otherwise said, succeeding largely in spite of themselves. So this is just open and honest, being real where you are. Your health and strength as an organization in each of these six key components and therefore getting everything you want out of your business.

Now I’m gonna give you some things that are gonna get you some real results in your business, and we’re gonna go through each of the six key components at a deeper level. We’re gonna start with the vision component. And again, I said this was simple. Just answering eight simple questions is all we need to do. We answer those eight questions as something called a vision traction organizer. VTO for short, this is where we document the answers to the eight questions. This is your two page business plan right here. It’s all revolving around these eight questions. This was the revolutionary tool that Gina Whitman created. This is all in the book in the traction book as well.

So what are the eight questions? What are your core values? What’s your core focus? What’s your tenure target, your marketing strategy, your three year picture, your one year plan, your rocks, your issues list, blah, blah, blah, tons of information. I’m gonna unpack each one of these things for you because again, I want you to be able to use this tool in your business. So what are your core values? These are just those essential guiding characteristics of who you are at the core. Just to be clear, not everyone in your organization may necessarily be the right person in your organization.

Understanding and using your core values, I apologize because I think core values have been overdone. These aren’t things that are just on your website. These are things you actually have to use. Every MBA program in the world is telling you you need to have these core values, but they’re not necessarily showing you how to use these core values. And as we get a little later here, I’m gonna show you how you can use these core values. So your core values need to be discovered. We like to say you reek of your core values, they need to be defined with clarity so they can be communicated to your employees and you need to live and breathe them. We always say, within five minutes of spending time with someone you know, you understand mostly what their core values are. So that’s your core values.

Second question is, what’s your core focus? This is also known as your sweet spot. We like to say your purpose, your cause, your passion, why you get up in the morning. Then determine the niche, that area that you’re gonna stay laser focused on to help you know your clients. We call it the core focus because it comes from your core and it’s where you need to stay focused so that you can have the biggest impact for your clients. Next question is your tenure target. Where do you want to go long term? What is that number one business goal?

Next is the marketing strategy. So you can imagine, you know who you are at the core, you know where you wanna go long term, you know what you’re best at in the world. Now where do we spend our hard earned marketing dollars and resources? So let’s describe that target market, that ideal client. Then once we know exactly who we need to talk to accomplish that 10 year target such as, what is it and what is unique about us that’s important to that target market? And we need to make sure we express that in a very simple, clear way of what makes us better and different than our competition. Next, your marketing strategy should include your proven process. This is typically a one page visual illustration of what it looks like from the time that your ideal client starts.

You start a conversation with them by the time they become longtime satisfied business
partners of yours. People like to be in the hands of an expert. So if you have a proven process, this can be something that also differentiates you. Last is your guarantee. This is a revolutionary pledge or promise to your ideal client. It’s something that helps overcome a fear.. Maybe it helps your salespeople overcome an objection in the sales process that is your marketing strategy. So now you know who you are at the core, you know what you’re best at in the world, where you’re going long term, who and what you’re going to say to that ideal customer. Now we need to take a giant step forward into what is it gonna start to look like?

What is this organization gonna look like three years out? We’re not talking about a 5 to 15 page strategic plan here. We are talking about, “hey, let’s pick some dates, numbers, revenue, profits, a measurable or two of what it really looks like as we start to accomplish our goals”. Then we are gonna answer the question, what does it look like?

You can’t see what you’re saying. You have to show them, you have to describe, you have to get it out of your head. You’ve gotta get it on the paper and show them what it looks like. How many employees, how many locations? Maybe there’s certain awards that you guys will have won. Just dreaming in your way and getting it in your mind’s eye and getting in the mind’s eye of your leadership team to imagine what your business will look like three short years from now.

We always say in this process, less is more. You’ve got to understand that in order to be great. There’s gonna be a lot of good things. You’re gonna have to probably say no, not now. And I’ll show you where to put those as it turns out. But you as a leadership team gotta agree, these are the top 3 to 7 goals for the year, and this is what we’re committed to. Then we’re gonna move into the 90 day world. This is the rocks again, the future date. You’ve got a 90 day window and it’s been proven scientifically that people start to fray. So this whole idea that we’ve gotta set some priorities.

You’re gonna have somebody on that leadership team who is accountable for driving the results in that top priority in that rock. We’re gonna put their name right there in the document. And ultimately your leadership team will also have some rocks as well as individual employees as this continues to roll out through your organization. The eighth and final question is, “what are your issues”?

I’m gonna explain to you how we prioritize them and solve them as a team. So that is the VTO that is answering the eight questions. That’s the first tool in the vision component. So there’s one more tool, it’s called shared by all. Now this is gonna probably surprise a lot of you. There’s only one. So again, just answering those eight questions as a team, getting your leadership team on the same page is huge, but ultimately to get to 100% strength in the vision component, your vision needs to be shared by everyone in your organization. So how do you do that? Well, again, I promised you it’s simple. You’ve got to tell them, and you’ve got to tell them every quarter, and give them time to internalize it.

You have to give them time to decide if they want to be a part of it. You have to tell people seven times before they hear it the first time. That’s just human nature. They have to understand this is not a flavor of the month, this is how we’re gonna fundamentally operate and drive the future of this business. So you have to have that, what we call the state of the company address, where you’re getting all your 10, 24, 40 employees in a room on a zoom, and you’re telling them, “hey, this is where we are right now, and this is where we’re going quarter after quarter after quarter”.
You share with them the entire VTO and you make sure it’s updated and you’re giving them that very important state of the company. So, that is what is getting you to 100% strong in the vision component.

Now we’re gonna look at people. I’m gonna show you guys a couple of tools here to help you consistently measure and manage your people to make sure the right people fit your culture like a glove. That really comes down to the core values, right? EOS has five core values, humbly confident, grow or die, help first, do the right thing, and do what you said.

So, in an organization that has five core values, we recommend setting a bar that’s high but not unattainable. We would say any combination of three pluses and two plus minuses would be an employee in this culture of five core values of what it means to fit your culture. And when you’re below the bar, there’s some conversations that can be had. But again, you can’t really do this with your employees until you’ve communicated these core values on a very consistent basis so they know what they’re being measured and managed based on.

Now, we have to get people into the right seats. What’s a right seat person? A right seat person does not necessarily need a lot of handholding. They understand what needs to be done. They get it done and they hit their numbers. They’re just really good at what they do. We have to make sure that you have both right people and they’re in the right seats. We take a structure first, people second approach. The way we do that is through a tool called an accountability chart.

There’s different terminology and feelings based on the size of your company. We don’t really have a hierarchy, we don’t really have a structure. Well, that could be part of the problem. This is where a lot of challenges are faced in small organizations or big organizations. Now notice I’ve called these, what are the functions at the highest level of your organization? What EOS discovered is there’s typically three to seven top leaders or top seats in your organization, and they are functions. There’s a marketing and sales function, operations function, and a finance function at the highest level.

That integrator is that person that beats the drum in the organization. They’re helping remove obstacles of challenges and problems and they’re helping drive results for the organization. Then what sits on top of the integrator is what’s known as the visionary. This is that big picture person. We like to say that they love to manage big relationships. They don’t like to get into all the fine details. They don’t enjoy accountability, they lead more on emotion. That’s the visionary seat.

We need to start with just building this structure for the leadership team and getting everybody to see it and then start to agree on what each of these seats look like. What’s the function name and what are the five roles? Again, simplify. We have to identify what the five major roles are in each seat. Let me give you guys some examples here of what this looks like. So you have a marketing and sales seat. You are trying to evaluate, do we have the right person in the right seat? Alright, so when we look at this person and we name this person and we say, “this is what we expect from them on a very high level, very simplified, high level, they have to lead, manage, and hold people accountable”. They have to handle the marketing, hit the sales number, and they have account management for this particular company. That’s what it looks like. That’s what they need to accomplish. Those are the five major roles on a very simplified basis. Now imagine doing that, building that out for your entire organization.

But now this is where it gets real. When you look at that function and you look at those five roles, you want to make sure that the person sitting in that seat gets it, wants it, and has the capacity to do it. So when you look at win’s, face offs, like you’re answering that question, do they get it, want it, have the capacity to do it, yes or no? Do they create scoring chances? Yes or no? This is an example from a hockey team, right? So again, this works in businesses. Wherever you have a very specific role, you want to really be open and honest and you and the leadership team are really evaluating that person in that function, in that seat, do they really get it?

So now we’re gonna come back to the people analyzer. We first evaluated them on core values. Now we’re going to evaluate them for the right seat – get it, want it, capacity to do it. And then we say the bar is non-negotiable. That’s a right, that’s a person who’s in the right seat. So you’ve got the right people in the right seats. Obviously this creates two kinds of people issues. You’ve got the right person in the wrong seat. Well, that’s not as challenging to solve because based on a lot of organizations, there’s other seats. So you can, possibly move that person into the right seat. You got the wrong person in the right seat. That’s a little bit more challenging. And that’s where communicating on core values and then ultimately maybe having to make a tough decision with that wrong person that’s hitting their numbers.

The next component is the data component. What we want to do is boil your business down to 5 to 15 key measurables. On a company level, then maybe individually, you have a company scorecard. You’ll have an individual and department scorecard. Then each of your employees ultimately has a number or measurable. This is about being predictive. These measurables are behaviors. These are things that you want to be looking at on a weekly basis. You want to have a weekly goal for these measurables. You want to have someone on that leadership team where it’s their responsibility to keep that measurable on track. Then you’re going to look at 13 weeks of history every week. You’re updating these measurables, looking for trends, looking for challenges, looking for opportunities through this data so that you guys can be proactive in some decision making.

There is a long-term issues list, a department issues list, and a leadership team issues list. This whole idea is you want to get these issues out of your head. You’re building a culture where you are encouraging people to get these issues, these things that are slowing them down onto paper. It’s a list so that it can be prioritized. And then we take you through the issue solving track, which is called IDS, identify, discuss, and solve. Very rarely is what’s stated on the issue, the real issue. You have to do some digging and discussing.

The challenge for most organizations and leadership teams is they just discuss things. They never really identify the real root cause of the problem, nor do they really move to solve anything. So we teach this IDS process where you have to prioritize, get everything on the list, and then you have to prioritize the three most important things that you have to tackle first. This is a time saving mechanism. Look at your entire list with your leadership team. Then you go through IDS, you get that first issue. You identify, discuss, solve. We like to say you rinse, you repeat, you rinse, you repeat, and you get through all your issues. This is a very critical tool that takes time to master but it gets you to a hundred percent strong. When you have an issues list in every area and you all are solving your issues as they arise and making them go away forever for the greater good of your organization, that’s getting you to a hundred percent strong in the issues component.

Next is the process. Again, those handful of things, gonna surprise you, and this is gonna hurt a lot of entrepreneurs in the room. You have to get your processes documented. Now, good news here for the entrepreneurs, we believe that 20% of the documentation gets you 80% of the results.

We’re talking about the very highest level core processes in your organization. You have a
people process, sales, operations, customer service, accounting. Imagine this becomes like a table of contents. These are the core processes. Then as you can see with the document, it’s all about simplification. It’s more of a checklist of things that need to be done. If you can imagine just a manual, a quick little handbook that you can go to and everybody in your organization, anybody that touches any one of these processes can quickly flip to that. You have to train your people, measure and manage them. You have to update your core processes at least on an annual basis so that you can get all of your core processes followed by everybody in your organization.

Last but not least is the traction component. The rocks are really about creating a 90 day world and it’s also about meetings. Having the right meeting pulse for your organization. People cannot stay focused on anything longer than 90 days. We need to take time to celebrate what we’ve accomplished in those last 90 days. We need to agree and really bring the high to light. For all your meetings and getting the right pulse in your organization, it’s going to be on the same day, same start time, end on time, and it’s going to have the same agenda. This is what’s going to create traction in your organization, when you can have effective meetings in your organization and successfully rate them a 10.

First topic is good news, a segue. You’re going to recognize that we’re human beings, and we have to transition from working in the business to on the business. This is an opportunity to share something personal as well as something business that’s really going well and get your energy up for this meeting. This is the most important meeting of the week for you and your leadership team. This is a 90 minute meeting, and I know that seems unheard of. But the idea here is we’re just going to check in, hearing some good news. Remember the scorecard we talked about the rocks? We talked about, “hey, those employees that are demonstrating your core values and those that maybe aren’t”.

Next is our to-do list. Now this is really neat because this to-do list actually is generated from the next section of the meeting, which is issue solving. So typically when you solve issues, you’re going to spend about 60 out of the 90 minutes solving issues with your leadership team on a weekly basis. Typically, a to-do or two is gonna come out of that. What’s nice about this is your promise to your leadership team. We like to say 90% of those to-dos are getting done on a weekly basis. This just reinforces accountability for your leadership team, and you get a lot of the most important things done.

This relates to solving the key issues facing your organization. We already talked about IDS and then you’re gonna move to conclude. You have five minutes left in the meeting, you’re gonna wrap it up. Are there any cascading messages? Are there any, “let’s review the to-dos”. Making sure that everybody is clear on who’s doing what as we leave here today. Then let’s rate the meeting. Did we give our best today? Was this a 10? And then you guys open an honest rate, and move forward. So that is a weekly meeting. This is the kinda the general prescription, if you will, for leadership teams. Those top 3 to 7 leaders in the organization meeting weekly. That is level 10 – getting you traction that’s getting you a hundred percent strong.

You’ve created that 90 day world. You’ve set the top priorities in rocks for the organization you’ve celebrated. Hey, I wanna challenge you guys. Go get some results, right? What I’ve shared with you today are the foundational tools, the vision traction organizer. The accountability chart we’ve talked about, rocks, meeting pulse, scorecard, those are the tools.

If you implement these tools in your business with real consistency, real discipline with your entire leadership team, just these five tools – you will be getting more of what you want from your business. If not, you will be getting to the 80% strong. 649 professionally trained EOS implementers around the globe. We’ve conducted over 130,000 full day sessions in over 25,000 organizations. We have found that these foundational tools are the ones that will get you 80% of the results and implementing them in your business all the way down through. There’s resources out there, eos worldwide.com. You go to my website, there’s a traction library, some books, downloadable tools and videos. There is also something called Basecamp.

If you are a self implementer, we have a help first philosophy, that’s our core value. We want to help business owners. There are professional implementers like myself out there that can help take your team through this process. We’re around the globe and there’s someone we can connect you with.

~ Jim Socci, Certified EOS Implementer

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