In early 2021, Blue Chip Partners’ management team began the journey of implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®). EOS, created by Gino Wickman, is a set of simple concepts and tools that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs around the world run more efficient businesses, experience better work-life balance, and achieve higher levels of employee satisfaction.
I joined Blue Chip Partners in September 2021 as Chief Operating Officer and was asked to take on the role of EOS Integrator™, which is the person responsible for implementing EOS across an organization. I have found this role to be like that of an orchestra conductor. I am responsible for ensuring all sections of the orchestra (departments with distinct functions), which have their own individual sounds (issues, needs, skills, etc.), come together harmoniously to please the crowd (provide a positive client experience). Like the orchestra conductor, I see myself as the director of our common vision and hold firmwide accountability.
For businesses that are growing rapidly like Blue Chip Partners, the task of ensuring organizational harmony can be challenging. Between 2021 and 2022, we added 12 employees (including me) to a starting base of 14.
Of course, growth is a good thing for a firm like ours. However, it can also be incredibly disruptive and overwhelming if not managed carefully. Using EOS® as our guide, we now have significant structure, accountability, and open communication in place that has greatly assisted our ability to navigate our expansion without breaking stride. In fact, notwithstanding a difficult investing environment, we are on track to have our best net new asset year in the firm's history, which I attribute to the positive influence of EOS®.
EOS is a set of simple concepts and tools that is best suited for businesses with 10 to 250 employees. The EOS Model® breaks businesses down into Six Key Components™: Vision, Data, Process, Traction, Issues and People.
Each component has various concepts and tools designed to strengthen an organization. I want to focus on the three components that have had the greatest impact on our operations.
The Vision Component™ required us to do an honest, in-depth analysis of the business. We used this analysis to prepare a strategic plan with specific goals for the next one, three, and seven years. What do we stand for? How are we different from others in our space? Who do we want as clients? What specific goals do we want to accomplish? What traits do we want in our employees?
The results of this exercise helped us to articulate our vision, which is documented in a two-page tool called the Vision/Traction Organizer™ (or V/TO™). The V/TO™ serves as an internal reference guide. It is the sheet music for our organizational orchestra.
Next, we articulated our core values. This is particularly important when identifying the specific attributes that are critical to our corporate culture and the types of employees who are likely to be a good fit with that culture.
Finally, we defined the three ways our team consistently describes our value proposition to the marketplace, our 3 Uniques™. Consistent language is a critical part of the Vision Component™, which makes it easier for our organization to sing from the same songbook as we grow.
An orchestra is carefully organized; for example, the oboes are not sitting in the middle of the trumpets. The People Component™ requires having the right people in the right seats. The right people are those who consistently demonstrate our core values. The right person is in the right seat if they “GWC™” the seat. GWC™ stands for Get it, Want it and (have the) Capacity to do it. A person must check the box for all three of these requirements to be in the right seat.
Having tools and concepts like GWC™ has been incredibly helpful in identifying the right cultural fits for our organization as we have expanded over the past 18 months. In addition, having these tools has fostered productive staff development conversations.
EOS requires an Accountability Chart™, which has allowed us to design the organization that we want to become and identify the various roles that will be required to achieve that vision. This chart identifies the seats being occupied in the business, who occupies each seat, and for what they are accountable. In a growing company, it is common for individuals to be in multiple seats. By including all the important positions that the organization will eventually need, a company can maintain a long-term perspective as it adds employees.
The Traction Component™ ensures that our business takes the short-term steps necessary to achieve our longer-term strategic vision. An orchestra is not ready to play their final performance on day one. It must practice, refine its approach, and make tweaks each day to get things opening night ready.
Setting Rocks, or 90-day goals, ensures that we move closer to our long-term vision by taking short-term action. Each quarter, the Blue Chip Partners management team identifies the three to seven most important things (or Rocks) that must get done over the next 90 days. Each Rock must have an owner who is accountable for its completion and is expected to leverage departmental resources to do so.
A key tool in managing the meetings necessary to run an organization is the EOS Meeting Pulse™, which defines a set of meeting types, frequencies, and agendas. Using this tool has resulted in the most intentional meetings I have ever been a part of over my entire 20+ year career. For example, our management team holds a Level 10 Meeting™ once a week for 90 minutes on the same day, at the same time, and with the same agenda.
The goal is for each participant to give each meeting the highest possible rating on a scale of 1-10 upon conclusion. This is the earliest morning meeting of my week, but it is also my favorite. It is incredibly beneficial to meet so often as a management team to ensure issues do not linger, and to clearly identify who is responsible for completing short-term tasks.
At our weekly Level 10 Meetings™, management is expected to report whether each of their Rocks are “on track”, “off track,” or “done.” A quarterly Rock completion rate of 80% or greater is considered successful. We have had two consecutive quarters in a row where we have completed more than 90% of our Rocks. Music to my ears!
Implementing EOS has been instrumental to Blue Chip Partners’ ability to successfully manage its significant growth. EOS enables us to accomplish more in a shorter period by focusing on the specific steps required to achieve our long-term goals. It has helped improve internal communication and accountability and resulted in a shared long-term vision in which all employees recognize the vital role they play in the organization and its success.
We are working on our version of our great symphony. Get ready for the magnum opus of Blue Chip Partners!