Ever since reading Traction by Gino Wickman I’ve been a sort of evangelist for the book and the Entrepreneurial Operating System that the book describes.
In short, EOS is a playbook for how to run your business and manage a team. Being very opinionated and giving details to everything (even how to run a meeting) it gives those who follow it clear guidance about how to structure their time in the business and with team members.
Since beginning to implement the program at both Castos and PodcastMotor we’ve seen some really interesting shifts in how we work, how individual team members contribute, and how the businesses overall run.
Coincidence or not, in the 6 months since implementing EOS our revenues across both businesses are up 35%.
Surely some of that is a coincidence, but I do believe we’re working more efficiently and everyone on our teams feels more empowered to succeed in their roles.
Here I’ll walk through how we’ve started rolling this out in modules into the businesses. I think this progressive, modular approach is nice so as to not overwhelm team members, and introduce too much structure too quickly.
A Starting Point
Right or wrong, we decided to start rolling out EOS with the weekly ‘Level 10’ team meetings.
For us, these are 60 minutes long, mostly just because I can’t sit through a 90 minute Zoom call, and pretty much follow the outline that Gino has in the book.
We start with a bit of housekeeping, then any announcements that I as the founder/CEO have. This takes 10 minutes max.
The one exception to this is the first meeting of each month where I review our company metrics from the previous month. These are the same numbers I provide to our investors at Castos, and are things like MRR, new trials, churn, etc. and some internal metrics we track like support ticket volume.
From the overview segment, we start on the Issues that the team needs to discuss.
This is the area that I think we’ve progressed with the most in recent months.
It’s easy to view this as an Update section, but that’s not what it’s about (for us at least).
Instead of people giving updates as to what they’ve been doing team members are instead encouraged to bring problems to the agenda.
If I’m honest the area here that we have the most room for improvement for is me as the founder not bringing all the Issues to the table. In an ideal world, each individual team member would bring the issues they’re seeing in the business/team to the agenda so we can talk about them as a group, create Action Items, and work towards a resolution.
As it stands today (and again, this is all a work-in-progress and will be changing over time I’m sure) the Issues section and their resulting Action Items take the rest of the hour.
The one thing we don’t currently do consistently is have defined ToDo lists for everyone at the end of the meetings.
This is largely implied and everyone knows what they need to do, but we “should” be writing this all out in a list for everyone, each week.
The goal with a ToDo list is to have accountability for each person to take the action items that came out of the Issues discussion and make progress towards resolving them in the coming week. Ideally ToDo items should not carry on for multiple weeks, or they are larger Issues anyhow.
We started EOS in earnest in the first part of Q4 2019. So we had a solid 2+ months where the Rocks we were defining weren’t for an entire Quarter. Working on a partial month made estimating our timelines for accomplishing bigger picture projects within a shorter timeframe was easier than thinking in an entire 3 month block of time.
However going into Q1 2020 we had official 3 month Rocks.
Rocks are the big pieces of work, or company objectives, that we want to accomplish in a quarter. For a software company this could be shipping a big feature, revamping a customer success process and rolling it out, or a larger marketing campaign.
The last week of each quarter I (as a solo founder, but would be any founding team members in other companies) review our previous quarter’s Rocks, see where we came up short and what we achieved, and then plan out the subsequent quarter.
The goal for me with Rocks is to have a big picture idea for everyone in the company on what we’re going to be doing in the next 90 days.
Having a window relatively short like this through which to look lets us all forget about the big picture on a day-to-day basis and only focus on what is in that 90-day Rocks document.
As quarterly Rocks are meant to guide the bigger picture of what we’re doing as a company in the next 90 days there are a few intermediate check-in periods during that time to make sure everyone is on track.
We do these monthly at the beginning of each month to ensure that the vision is clear, people have what they need to be successful, and that me as the founder are enabling the team to meet their quarterly Rocks goals.
If during these monthly check-ins everyone is on pace to accomplish their Rocks at the end of the quarter, then great. If not then it’s time to discuss why, and what we can do to course-correct back to being on track.
This will be the next installment in this series, but for now suffice it to say that the Scorecard is a one page document that gives an overall look at the health of the company.
Every metric that we track internally is in one place so at a glace I as the founder can look at things and say whether we’re on track or if there are issues.
Common things to be in a scorecard can include:
- Cash in the bank
- New revenue this month
- Individual team metrics
At Castos we have all of this piped into a Google sheet that is for the most part completely automated, just for our marketing activities, and I gather the rest of this data into a spreadsheet manually to pull some of the softer numbers or things that aren’t as easily connected via APIs.
I know we have a long way to go in terms of fully implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) but the progress we’ve made thus far has been really encouraging and I think that everyone on our teams will say that it’s been a positive impact on them professionally, and us as a group.
Have you implemented EOS in your organization? If so and you have insights you’d like to share please drop them in as comments below.