About five years ago, Bluleadz was home to just 10 employees. It was at this pivotal moment in our agency’s history when we committed to growing our team. And as we continued growing, symptoms arose showing that we needed something in place.
But we didn’t have any framework or model to make this growth efficient. We needed a system for setting goals and direction and to earn buy in from our staff.
Then, I found EOS.
What the Hell is EOS?
The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) acts as a roadmap for the direction of your whole business. We use it to keep on track and stay consistent.
For example, it completely transformed our leadership team and influenced how we conduct meetings. The best part about this framework is that it can be duplicated for the next tiers of leaders.
EOS is a grassroots movement for small businesses looking to scale to medium organizations. Without systems in place, many companies make it up as they go. Simply winging it isn’t scalable, but EOS is – and it encourages teams to be proactive on a weekly basis.
I found EOS after reading excellent books by Gino Wickman, including the following:
- Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business
- Get A Grip: How to Get Everything You Want from Your Entrepreneurial Business
- What the Heck Is EOS?: A Complete Guide for Employees in Companies Running on EOS
Essentially, EOS helps you and your leadership team improve the following:
- Your company vision
- Your traction
- Your leadership team’s health
The Role Company Vision Plays In Your Organization
Authors Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer put it perfectly in their book, the aforementioned What the Heck Is EOS?:
A company’s vision, simply put, is a matter of defining who you are, where you are going, and how you will get there.
In other words, your company visions gets everyone rowing in the same direction.
Unfortunately, misalignment on vision within companies is quite common – 33% of employees aren’t reminded of the mission often enough.
When you have a company vision documented and shared throughout your organization, there are a few key benefits you can enjoy:
- Unity – All teams know what to focus on and how to align their work towards a specific goal.
- Consistent decision making – The vision guides all decisions every employee needs to make, reducing guesswork and wasted resources.
- Morale – Keep employees inspired and motivated by showing them the potential of your business growth.
The last benefit is one of the most impactful. Your staff needs an oasis to look forward to as you lead them through the desert.
If they see water and cold margaritas waiting for them in the oasis, they’re more likely to work harder and overcome obstacles. They won’t just wander aimlessly.
You have to face the facts – the nature of business is tough. It’s a battleground.
Every day, you can lose clients, miss deadlines, and fall short of revenue goals, but this is where the company vision comes in handy the most. It rallies your troops to push through these obstacles.
And to build your company vision, you need to use a crucial part of the EOS process.
The Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO)
This is one of the most impactful elements of the EOS toolkit.
“The V/TO aligns your leadership team around the answers to 8 essential questions about your business," Wickman and Bouwer write. "[It] helps the team get their vision out of their heads and down on paper so it can be shared with the whole company.
“A clearly defined vision shared by everyone in the company is like having that map. It helps you see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going.”
The eight questions in the V/TO, or as Bluleadz calls it, the Vision Summary, address the following aspects:
1. Core Values
Core Values are a timeless set of guiding principles … They define the behaviors you expect from each other. They define your culture and who fits and who doesn’t. They define what makes your company different and unique.
As a rule of thumb, according to Wickman and Bouwer, you want to list three to seven core values.
Our team defined our five core values, which drive everything we do in our daily operations. This includes how we hire people, how leadership guides teams, and how employees commit to their strong work ethic.
2. Core Focus
Whereas Core Values define who you are as an organization, Core Focus defines what you are. Core Focus is about keeping your company and all of its people focused on the areas where your business excels.
This aspect of your Vision Summary keeps everyone from being distracted because it is developed from knowing why your company exists and what you do in the world.
Your core focus consists of:
- Purpose – This is your company’s overriding belief that is larger than goals. It's the main reason your employees get out of bed every day.
- Niche – This is your what, the space in which you do business and what you do better than anyone else.
When you know your core focus, you will see that you're part of something bigger than yourself. And this clear focus is what helps you ultimately commit to only great ideas, not just good ones.
Wickman and Bouwer write, “All effort, people, systems, processes, and even products will be designed and aligned to keep you true to what you do best and propel you toward your vision.”
3. 10-Year Target
I like to call this our big ass goal. As Wickman and Bouwer describe it, your 10-year target is your “long-term, larger-than-life goal. It unites everyone around one common objective.”
It's your “guiding light by which everyone can steer. This focus will direct your energy, resources, and decisions to help you grow faster and reach your 10 year target more quickly.”
It's important to note that our 10-year target isn't our purpose or our rallying cry. Our purpose statement (or mission statement, as some organizations call it) is what drives us.
Our 10-year target is a measurable, attainable goal. In our case, we want 500 inbound clients. This isn't why we do what we do; it is an objective we are excited to achieve.
4. Marketing Strategy
This portion “requires crystallizing who your ideal customer is and clarifying the most appealing message to them. Doing this will create a laser-like focus for your sales and marketing efforts.”
In our Vision Summary, the marketing strategy section helps us identify our perfect fits and understand who isn’t a great fit. This way, we eliminate who we don’t want to work with and can continue moving forward toward our 10-year target.
The V/TO breaks the marketing strategy down into:
- Target Market – List the characteristics of your best customers.
- Three Uniques – Write out what you do better than your competition and why customers come to you. It’s ok to have a few shared with competitors, but you don’t want to have all three uniques the same.
- Proven Process – This acts as a visual of what you do to deliver value throughout your whole relationship with customers. It lays out how marketing, sales, and service operate. We document these processes and distribute them to the team in the form of playbooks.
- Guarantee – Write out a message that aims to take away your customers’ biggest fear when it’s time for them to buy. This is the promise you make to all customers.
5. Three Year Picture
This is when you paint a vivid picture of what your company will look and feel like in three years.
It consists of a few items that illustrate the kind of company you want at the end of three years:
- Future date
- A bulleted list of other elements to illustrate what your three year company looks like
Your measurables can include anecdotal elements. For example, we wanted glass offices with a water view, and we achieved this before our three year mark.
Once your three year picture is completed, leadership should then share this with employees.
“It’s important that you ask questions once this is rolled out," Wickman and Bouwer say. "By challenging anything that isn’t clear, you will ultimately understand the big picture and then decide if you want to be a part of it. Once clear, it will give you the context in which to set goals for the next 12 months.
This portion of your Vision Summary then directly influences the next section – your one year plan.
6. One Year Plan
Similar to your three year picture, this portion includes:
- Future date
Then, list your goals for the year. Include actions items you want in place to help you hit your goals.
As entrepreneur, author, and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk explains, there are two aspects every business owner and leader must focus on – clouds and dirt.
Your three year picture is “the clouds – the high-end philosophy of what you believe.” And your one year plan is “the dirt — the low-down subject matter expertise that allows you to execute against it.”
Then, cultivate a narrow focus on everything in between the clouds and the dirt.
7. Quarterly Rocks
This section of the Vision Summary also includes the same elements, but the goals are identified as rocks for the quarter, and they’re assigned to people.
These rocks are three to seven goals for 90 days. They are great to use because they break down annual goals into bite-sized chunks that feel manageable.
Wickman and Bouwer emphasize the importance of creating this 90-day world.“Human beings tend to lose focus, get off track, and fray about 90 days into any project" they write. "Rocks get everyone refocused right on the 90th day as the unraveling begins, avoiding the coming fray and maximizing everyone’s efforts and energy.”
8. Issues List
The last piece of your Vision Summary is a list of things your team can improve on. These long term issues that you list should be able to be fixed over a month or a quarter.
This is arguably the most important thing you can do when you're trying to scale your business. When you admit all of your company's obstacles, you can find opportunities to overcome them to fuel continuous growth.
Every company has problems, but the main mistake business owners make is they either never admit those issues, or they do admit them but just talk about them without doing anything.
As you build your issues list, you can also include ideas and opportunities to help you grow faster.
While the Vision Summary takes a good amount of time to answer all eight questions in a thoughtful, comprehensive way, you are left with a tool that will continue to serve you as you scale.
This simple, two-page document that fully defines your company vision is your ultimate roadmap to success.