Tag Archives: Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)

Solving Issues: The Magic of Simply DECIDING

The Magic of Simply Deciding

Last week I had the pleasure of moderating a quarterly planning session for a team that discovered the magic of solving issues by simply “deciding”. It was so transformational for them, it struck me that this simple “tool” is something worth singling out to share with other teams looking to gain traction.

We ran the meeting much like the quarterly planning sessions they were already comfortable with, with one notable exception. We added in the “Identify, Discuss, Solve” or IDS process from the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).

While the IDS process may not sound like rocket science on the surface, it’s a truly transformational tool. Why? To start with, many issues aren’t dealt with until they get to be a big deal, leaving them with an undeserved negative connotation. An issue is just an issue, as reiterated by Mike Payton in the EOS blog last week. When an issue is identified and tackled early on, before it grows or is rehashed ad nauseum, it simply gets solved and everyone keeps moving forward.

So how does the IDS process work? As part of the quarterly meeting agenda, we listed out every issue anyone could think of, picked the top three priorities and started solving them one by one. It was fun to watch the excitement build as issues which could have been time-consuming to handle were whittled down to the core issue and decided on right then and there. Shoulders grew lighter. Projects were collectively declared “good enough”, giving permission to be done and celebrate the accomplishment. Confidence grew with each issue solved, and the team left the session with every high priority issue solved, clearing the decks to focus on company rocks and rocking out great projects for customers.

With just a couple of hours of practice, this team experienced the power of IDSing issues and left excited to continue the process during routine meetings in the future.

What’s your experience with the magic of deciding?

Do Your Meetings Rock? If Not, Try a Level 10 Meeting


Creating truly effective meetings isn’t a mystic art – it turns out there’s a pretty simple formula that gets the trick done. It’s called the Level 10 meeting, and it’s part of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) by Gino Wickman. Below is his suggestion to make Level 10 Meetings your 2013 resolution – along with a great walk-through of how to hold Level 10 meetings, and a link to a sample Level 10 agenda. Without further ado, here’s the how-to, straight from the horse’s mouth.

Make “Meetings” Your 2013 Business Resolution

Having world-class, rock-solid weekly meetings will make a difference in achieving your goals in 2013, as well as saving you time and building team health.

While this may seem a boring topic with little sizzle, it is the one discipline that is the moment of truth for leadership teams (departmental teams as well).

I ask you suspend disbelief and humor me for a brief five minutes as I intend to convince you.

Picture your team in the following weekly meeting:

The Level 10 Weekly Meeting

Your leadership team comes together every week, on the same day, at the same time and with the same agenda.

Segue (good news) – 5 Minutes

The meeting starts on time – what a concept (if you start all of your meetings five minutes late, that’s 2000 minutes wasted annually for a team of five people … do the math) – with a quick sharing of personal and business good news (this is a great segue and builds team health).

Reporting- 15 Minutes

From there, you report on the three most important items in your business: (1) your numbers being on track (Scorecard – containing a handful of weekly activity-based numbers), (2) your quarterly priorities being on track (Rocks – the three to seven most important objectives for the company and each individual), and (3) your customers and employees being happy (quick headlines so everyone is in the loop regarding people).

To-Do List – 5 Minutes

From there, you review your To-Do List to make sure that every action item from last week’s meeting was accomplished. As a rule of thumb, 90 percent of to-do’s should drop off every week; if not, there is something wrong somewhere. You will get at least 100 percent increase in productivity from this one simple discipline; we are human beings and we need to be held accountable. To-do’s are baked right into the agenda.

Issues Solving – 60 Minutes

You then go to the magic of the weekly meeting. This is where you solve all of the relevant issues for the week. You first have everyone take a quick pause to think about and add any issues to the list, which already includes any issues from last week’s meeting that you couldn’t get to and the issues you added from the above reporting-numbers, Rocks and people issues. The issues are baked right into the agenda.

You then quickly decide on the three most important issues by picking 1, 2, and 3 (never start at the top and work your way down). Start with issue number one and IDS it. Click here for the Issues Solving Track (IDS).

The owner of the issue quickly identifies the issue (hitting the nerve/root or looking into the eyes of the person who created the issue or who is responsible for solving it). Once identified, everyone then discusses the issue, only once because discussing it more than once is politicking, and when everything is on the table, you then move to solve. You then capture the conclusion as an action item on the To-Do List with the owner’s initials and move on to issue number two. Work through the Issues List in this fashion until there are five minutes left in the meeting. In some meetings, you will only solve one issue, in some meetings, you will solve ten. That’s okay as long as you are taking them in order of priority. On average, however, you should be solving five to ten issues per week.

Conclude – 5 Minutes

With five minutes left in the meeting, you then conclude with three things: (1) Decide if there are any cascading messages to share with anyone else in the organization based on what you discussed and solved in the meeting, (2) recap the to-do’s and (3) rate the meeting on a scale of 1-10. You should always be averaging an 8 or better. Where it’s not an 8, this gives you an opportunity to self-correct by asking what would have made it an 8 or better.

Doing this meeting both as a leadership team and departmentally will improve communication, solve problems, and help you gain more traction. You will accomplish more in 2013 as a result. In my experience, the 90 minutes you spend each week saves each leader two to three times that amount of time in avoided train wrecks, miscommunication, and the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. It’s a time-management tool (departmental meetings are typically customized and shorter than 90 minutes).

Click here to download the Level 10 meeting agenda and also read pages 189 through 197 in Traction for a deeper recap of the Level 10 meeting.

Pick the ideal day and time for your team and get your first Level 10 meeting on the schedule for the first week of January to hit the ground running in 2013.

Stay focused,

What Operating System Does Your Business Run On?


An operating system for my business, you ask? But I thought only my computer needed an operating system?!

Aha! Well, now you’ve learned one of the secrets of successful second stage companies – many run on a particular operating system. And just as you’ll find advocates of many operating systems for your PC, you’ll find enthusiasm for many different operating systems for business.

The key with choosing an operating system for your business is to avoid getting lost in the process of choosing one – the important part is USING one. Luckily, there’s a great primer on 4 of the most popular systems being taught by GLEQ, and we’ve arranged for Beyond Startup members to attend at no charge.

The workshop is being taught twice in October:

  • 10/16/2012 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm at SPARK East in Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • 10/23/2012 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan

The session will introduce four business planning models:

  • Jim Horan’s “One Page Business Plan”
  • Kaufman Foundation’s “NewVenture Program”
  • “The Business Model Canvas”
  • Gino Wickman’s “Entrepreneurial Operating System” (EOS)

Participants will hear 20 minute orientations to the models and will have an opportunity to ask presenters questions about the models, tools and processes. For registration information, email catherine @ beyond-startup.com.


Note that there is one other popular system not being covered at this event: Rockefeller Habits.

Do I Really Need A Business Plan?


Last week I sat down with someone pondering whether they needed a business plan. At the risk of being lambasted, I don’t recommend business plans. At least, not the kind of long, detailed business plan affectionately known as shelf-ware. Rather, I recommend taking a page from Nike – Just Do It.

If you go out and get customers, and start generating revenue, you’ll learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Eric Reis has popularized the term Lean Startup to describe this general approach in his recent book of the same name.

What you do need is a clear picture of where you’re headed and how you’ll benchmark your progress, and you can do that effectively with a one-page plan. Both Rockefeller Habits and the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) offer versions of the one-page plan. I’ve used both and personally found the EOS version most helpful. You can download a free copy of the EOS one page plan template on the EOS site – they call it the V/TO or Vision Traction Organizer.

Looking for a Second Stage Roadmap? Look to EOS.

Traction-bookOne of the early systems we implemented at Pure Visibility was Rockefeller Habits, which taught us about the importance of building meeting rhythms, and dedicating time each quarter to setting goals. We implemented the Rockefeller Habits one page plan successfully on our own, using the book. However, we eventually hit a wall where we could see what Vern Harnish (the author) wanted as an end-product, but the process of getting there was not nearly as clear. We wanted more specifics – or what you might call a “second stage roadmap”.

About this same time we ran across the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) – a perfect next step in our case. They are very similar systems; EOS simply resonated with us and answered the “how to” questions which had previously tripped us up. (As an added bonus the author, Gino Wickman is from Michigan, and many of the case studies in the book were already familiar to us. This made it easy for us to check in with others using the system, and trust that it was working well enough for them to be worth the switching cost of changing systems ourselves.)

We worked with Duane Marshall, an implementor of the EOS system, and the experience positively rocked our world. We clarified roles, where we were going, what it would look like… the list goes on and on. It’s no coincidence that the EOS book is called “Traction”, as that is exactly what the system delivers.

Curious to learn more about this system? Check out the EOS blog, the book Traction (download the first chapter free), and Gino’s free ebook “Decide!” If you’ve only got time for one, start with the book Traction, as it’s the foundation of the system and an easy read. After reading it, you’ll know right away if the Entrepreneurial Operating System feels like a fit for your company.

For more articles on this topic see: “Entrepreneurial Operating System.”