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Get a grip on your business

by | 10 Dec, 2018 | Alister's Musings, Process

Updated 14th May 2020

As a CEO, your job is about providing clarity and vision. Ensuring that vision becomes a reality involves leadership, where you empower your team to make it happen in the best way they know how.

The trouble is in reality, all businesses have issues, whether it’s a lack of control, people not listening/understanding/following actions, not enough profit, growth has stopped, or nothing seems to be working and now your staff are growing skeptical of new initiatives. It’s these issues that interrupt business-as-usual activity, delay your plans for growth and stop you creating that vision.

Understanding EOS®

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) is documented in a wonderful book called “Traction®” by Gino Wickman. It’s a book that holds great significance to us because it’s the book through which Alister grew and eventually managed to sell his previous business. It’s also the book we now run our business by at Process Bliss.

The book builds on the premise that you want a business that is strong and well-run so that you can take it to the next level.

To do this, you need to overcome your business issues by implementing a set of tools, which together comprise the EOS. A holistic, self-sustaining system, it addresses the Six Key Components™ of your business.

The Six Key Components are:

1. Vision: successful business owners get everyone in their organisation seeing the same clear image of where the business is going and how it will get there.

2. People: identify those who share your core values, and simplify how you hire, fire, review and reward them.

3. Data: learn the key metrics to focus on, so that on a weekly basis you can predict future developments and quickly identify when things have fallen off track.

4. Issues: tackle them head on and create an open organisation where there is nowhere to hide – you’ll smoke out the issues that have been holding you back.

5. Process: the blueprint for your organisation – it documents your ‘way’ of doing business. Implemented properly, it can enhance your troubleshooting abilities, reduce your errors, improve efficiency and increase your bottom line.

6. Traction: you need rocks – the things that have to be done no matter what if you’re to achieve the vision. And a weekly meeting, to ensure you’re on track and hold people to account.

How does Traction make the difference?

By following the EOS detailed in Traction, you’ll reduce needless complexity, troubleshoot any problems, keep you and your people engaged, and ultimately focused on a single vision. It’s a procedural way of working that makes you a truly agile organisation. Now you can make quicker decisions to change people, strategy, systems and processes where necessary, in order to drive your business forward.

Process Bliss & the Process Component™

Process Bliss is our embodiment of the process component of Traction. It’s a tool we built based on our experiences of implementing EOS and reflects the lessons we’ve learned in doing so. 

Traction refers to a business’ processes as your “Way” and focuses on two key elements: having your key processes documented and followed by all. This is broken down into 3 stages:

This is exactly what Process Bliss allows you to do, simply and without any expert process mapping knowledge. Indeed, by documenting your processes directly into Process Bliss, you are also tackling step 3.

We know that your team may not have the time to document these processes, especially if you’re implementing the other EOS components. That’s why we offer a full hand holding service that wraps up the Process Bliss software and our experience to get process actually working for your business.

Documenting your core processes

We’ve written lots about how to document processes, but this is how Traction recommends you go about it:

  1. Define who is accountable for each core process. This is also the person who’s in charge of documenting it
  2. Follow the 20/80 rule – document the 20% that produces 80% of the results. The process should be mapped at a high level, not listing every tiny detail
  3. Simplify. Question if all the steps need to be there – it might be a case of “we’ve always done it this way”. Eliminate unnecessary steps and clarify confusing ones
  4. Create checklists. These create consistent results and are a key part of quality control
  5. Technology. Software can be used to realise efficiencies and streamline operations

(Of course we highly recommend Process Bliss as the technology component!)

 

We actually slightly disagree with Traction on the second point. It depends whether the process is one that is going to be used or not. This links to the fourth point about checklists. If it’s a process that would just be used for reference, or that doesn’t need a checklist creating every time it’s used – for example “opening the office” – it doesn’t need to be documented in detail. (Although I’d question if a process can be a core process if you’re not interested in monitoring its execution).

We believe the process should contain enough details to actually be useful to the staff who are using it. If it’s a complicated process where you need a lot of guidance to perform each step, add that guidance in. Having all the instructions and files needed to perform the activity makes the process a usable thing in its own right, not just a documentation exercise that is never looked at again.

Followed by all

As the Traction book itself says “When everyone follows their process, it’s much easier for managers to manage, troubleshoot, identify and solve issues, and therefore grow the business.” This second element, called followed by all, is one of the trickiest and may require a mindset shift within your company. 

It means that the whole leadership team should be committed to following your process system, and managing everyone to ensure they all make the adjustment to working in this way. Once leadership have bought in to the system, your staff need to buy in as well. You will need to show them how these processes will make their work easier. One way of doing this is to make the processes useful for your staff (as mentioned above). Another is to demonstrate how the processes connect together and how that links back to individual people’s roles. Visualising the dependencies between different parts of the business can motivate people to work together to make the system successful.

One of the benefits of having your processes systematised and used by all staff, is that you can better resolve issues that arise as these are often related to process. With Process Bliss, you can spot issues through trends and patterns on the template reports.

We’re also currently working on a way of being able to track the 3 process phases from within Process Bliss – whether the process is documented, whether it’s being used, and whether it’s performing well for your business. This will give you a ‘dashboard’ overview of how well your business is operating in relation to process, and will highlight the processes or departments that need more attention.

Weekly Level 10 Pulse meetings

We use Process Bliss not only for the process element of Traction, but for running the weekly pulse and quarterly meetings. This is how.

We create a recurring task for the Weekly Level 10 Pulse meeting, which lists all the steps we need to cover (the below agenda is credit of EOS). Certain steps include links to our spreadsheet where we document everything: the Rocks, Scorecard, Issues, Actions and for reference, the 10/3/1 year plan and the Accountability chart.

In our meetings we display the task on the screen, ticking off each step as we go. The agenda keeps us on track, makes sure we don’t forget anything and highlights if we’re spending too long on a certain section (the majority of the meeting should be spent on resolving issues).

Scorecard

We also have a recurring weekly task on Process Bliss that notifies everyone the day before the meeting that they need to update the Scorecard with the figures that they’re responsible for. The task has a link to the spreadsheet where the numbers should be added.

Actions list

Issues and actions must be performed within the week and we record when it was resolved. We also assign it to an individual, who is responsible for completing the actions, and who is held to account at the following week’s meeting.

7 days issues list

Anyone in the business can raise an issue, which is then discussed at the meeting. First we ask clarifying questions so we all have a common understanding of what the issue is. Then we all put forward suggestions for overcoming it. Actions are then decided and added to the actions list, and the issue is closed.

 

Every meeting has a strict 1.5 hour time limit, which we always stick to. Everyone has their say. And our business runs better because of it.

Quarterly Rock Setting

Every 90 days there should be a Quarterly Rock Setting meeting. This allows your leadership team to assess the previous quarter and work out what needs to be done for the next to achieve your 1 year plan.

We also use Process Bliss to run this meeting, which usually takes the whole day. The main focus is establishing the priorities for the next 90 days (the Rocks) and tackling any larger issues that can’t be addressed in a weekly meeting.

Again, we create a recurring Process Bliss task to use as the agenda for the meeting. We set this up so it is automatically created every 3 months so we never forget to hold it.

If you’re currently implementing EOS or are considering doing so, we’ve made our template processes for the weekly and quarterly meetings available for free. Click the button below to gain access to these processes (you’ll be prompted to sign up for a free Process Bliss account).

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