EOS has helped over 100,000 businesses worldwide, but is it a good fit for your business?

Organizations adopt the Entrepreneurial Operating System, commonly referred to as EOS, for a variety of reasons. Some seek to resolve persistent challenges, improve goal setting and bring efficiencies to operations. Others need long-term planning assistance or help correcting org chart issues and confirming the right people occupy the proper roles.

Regardless of why a firm adopts EOS, the business system offers many benefits and advantages. But there are a few drawbacks, too. No methodology, after all, is perfect. With years of experience running Louisville Geek using the system, here are what we’ve found to be the pros and cons of EOS.

The pros of EOS

Many advantages arise from the thinking and planning EOS requires and the practices the system establishes. Here are the primary benefits we’ve noted from our experience.

EOS divides focus into six key operational components

When running a company, numerous topics demand attention. You have your own products and services to maintain, as well as continually changing markets and public-health concerns to navigate. There are competitive pressures. You must monitor and adapt to customers’ changing needs, while also managing financial pressures. Employee needs require top-of-mind awareness and attention, too, as do complications arising from changing work patterns.

EOS assists managing these myriad challenges by dividing them neatly into six key components the system then provides the tools and processes to manage. The six key EOS components are:

  1. Vision – Simplifies strategic planning by translating leadership’s vision into simple data points defining the organization, its mission and the milestones for getting there.
  2. People – Emphasizes the important of placing the right employees within the right roles.
  3. Data – Involves tracking key metrics weekly that monitor an organization’s true health and performance.
  4. Issues – Prioritizes identifying errors, failures and conflicts and surfacing effective resolutions.
  5. Process – Stresses the importance of identifying, addressing, documenting and sharing key processes to ensure the organization can continually perform those functions efficiently and productively.
  6. Traction – Directs attention to achieving synergy, the phenomenon that occurs when leaders bring focus, accountability and discipline to a company and make vision a reality.

EOS provides an effective operational structure

EOS, implemented properly, provides a reliable framework for running meetings, determining who attends, setting agendas and tracking tasks, goals and responsibilities. The subsequent structure removes guesswork and saves harried leaders time.

For example, Meeting Pulse principles and Level 10 Meeting guidelines define the weekly meeting format and agenda, both for the leadership team and individual departments. The Company Scorecard ensures key performance metrics are monitored and prioritized each week, while 5-5-5 Meetings ensure managers and direct reports remain in contact and working toward the same goals.

These key templates and processes, needed to effectively navigate routine business operations, equip managers for the basics of business. Managers are, subsequently, freed to investment more time and energy working the specific nuances of their own company and industry.

EOS confirms the right people are in the right seats

Companies that enjoy sustained success typically don’t just hire qualified personnel who share the organization’s values. Successful organizations also place the proper people in the correct roles, a critical step EOS refers to as having the right people in the right seats.

Two key EOS templates assist the process. The People Analyzer helps managers objectively determine whether an employee is a good fit for the organization and its values. The Accountability Chart, meanwhile, replaces a traditional organizational chart and appends important functional information for each role, providing further clarification throughout the organization as to each person’s function and responsibilities.

EOS ensures everyone is on the same page

The Vision/Traction Organizer, also known as the V/TO, ensures everyone knows the company’s core values, focus, one-, three- and 10-year targets and marketing strategy. The template, which assists guiding annual and quarterly off-site meetings in which the organization’s leaders distill these elements, captures this information in a way that can readily be shared with all employees to ensure everyone understands leadership’s vision, the company’s goals and the roadmap for getting there.

EOS forces difficult conversations

EOS thrives when leaders, managers end employees can safely surface and resolve issues. The system provides an effective framework for navigating disagreements and conflicting priorities, including among leadership.

Whether correcting errors within functional roles, forcing difficult conversations regarding potential “bad fits” or navigating competing objectives, EOS emphasizes the importance of identifying, discussing and resolving conflicts. Look no further than the system’s Level 10 meeting agenda, which dedicates two-thirds of its time to the IDS portion of the session, when participants are to identify, discuss and solve the company’s issues.

EOS capably assists setting tasks and assigning responsibility

Some of the biggest challenges throughout any organization involves assigning and tracking who needs to do what. EOS effectively addresses the challenges of setting the right goals, assigning responsibilities to the proper people for all the underlying tasks needing completion to reach those goals, tracking progress for each of those tasks and holding individuals accountable for the corresponding responsibilities.

By interconnecting such critical components as the targets set within the V/TO to Rocks tracked within weekly Level 10 and regular 5-5-5 Meetings, as well as weekly To-Dos tracked within both leadership and departmental Level 10 meetings, EOS continually focuses attention on tasks that need doing. A continual, efficient method for getting things done, and holding the correct staff accountable, results.

The cons of EOS

Just as with any business strategy, EOS is not without disadvantages. While EOS Worldwide operates conferences and training events and offers books and tools designed to ensure EOS maintains pace with ever-changing business environments, anyone adopting the system should be aware and on the lookout for these potential problems.

EOS is deceptively complex

Learning a new EOS vocabulary–annual planning adopts a V/TO emphasis, weekly staff or departmental meetings become Level 10 Meetings, the traditional organizational chart becomes an Accountability Chart and S.M.A.R.T. goals replace Rocks–poses no significant hurdle. However, adopting new goal-setting and meetings processes, defining core values, confirming a company’s focus and mission and bringing a management team to consensus on one-, three- and 10-year goals are sophisticated challenges. Then there’s the issue of reviewing individual staff members to determine whether everyone remains a good fit for the organization.

Competing priorities and competition for resources become immediate threats to management harmony. Politicking remains another vulnerability, as does the risk one or two strong leadership personalities will bend others to their will.

Many organization’s adopting EOS invest in the services of a professional Implementer, a trained EOS consultant familiar with the system’s nuances, processes and components, versus managing the EOS fundamentals themselves. For the first couple years, until EOS processes are well understood and entrenched, working with an Implementer is advisable.

Tapping such expertise is a critical consideration. The Implementer will help guide your business through the process of adopting the system’s fundamental routines, including three one-day quarterly meetings and one annual two-day planning session.

There’s simply too much at stake to permit foundational errors to occur and potentially taint performance and results. While an Implementer’s expenses are likely to approach or even exceed twenty-thousand dollars annually, it’s a small price to pay for an, ultimately, smooth-running and profitable firm.

EOS is slow to deliver major results

Today’s business world is infamously impatient. Owners and directors, not to mention employees and customers, expect results quickly.

In Traction, Gino Wickman’s book that describes and documents the EOS strategy, the author notes the process requires time to get all the pieces and processes in place and “each company moves forward at its own pace. Forcing it to move any faster could be damaging.” Completely adopting EOS could take up to three years within larger companies. That’s a long time and not every organization can wait that long.

Fortunately, not all companies are large behemoths requiring such time. Smaller, nimbler firms–say those with 100 employees or less–should find they can propagate EOS throughout their entire organization faster and begin reaping rewards sooner.

Everyone must be onboard and vulnerable

EOS founder and author Wickman notes in Traction, “you have to let your guard down to see your organization for what it is” and “invite openness and honesty.” Is that really something your organization wants to do? Or, does senior management really prefer to just proceed using whatever beliefs and philosophies it thinks best?

Roll out EOS without accepting input from other managers and directors or with disagreement among leadership as to what the organization’s true values and goals are and you’ve got a recipe for a spectacular disaster, the kind that results in layoffs, business closures and bankruptcies.

A business and its products, services, employees and customers are all at risk, so everyone–from ownership and management to front-line workers–must be onboard and willing to be open, honest and even vulnerable for the system to work. That’s a lot to ask, so be sure to contemplate the necessity before committing to EOS.

True organization penetration requires energy, collaboration and stamina

For an organization to maximize return on its EOS investment, EOS must proliferate throughout the entire organization. Owners, directors, managers and front-line staff must all understand the EOS principles, the organization’s vision and mission and the one-, three- and ten-year goals. That means the system’s principles must be adopted throughout each department, including Human Resources, where emphasis must typically be placed on injecting EOS elements into everything from the organization’s very structure to every employee’s performance review.

In addition to everyone needing to be onboard and open and frank with their expertise and opinions, employees need to see leaders behaving according to EOS principles, too. Staff will soon sniff out any gaps between the actions EOS prescribes and simple business as usual. Thus, true EOS adoption requires a genuine commitment and patience, a willingness to change and challenge previously held assumptions, consensus to ensuring core processes are followed the same way by all employees and sometimes even removing long-standing users from key positions where EOS has shown they’re just not good fits.

Wickman, the founder of EOS, understands faith and stamina are required. As he wrote in Traction, sometimes you’ll feel the process isn’t working. That’s when you need to “stay the course. Mastery requires total commitment, and gaining traction requires a complete operating system.”

The choice is yours

EOS provides a reliable framework for running a business. Implementers can help ensure the system is properly employed. But, ultimately, a leadership team must be fully committed to implementing the system for EOS to generate rewards. Even then, there’s much work to do getting everyone else on board, and conflicts will arise. Fortunately, EOS emphasizes the importance of surfacing and resolving issues, so you’ll at least have the tools at your disposal created for just such events. Good luck with whatever you choose.

Related article

For more information on technologies you can use when running EOS, see the Louisville Geek article What Technology To Use If You’re Running EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System).