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EOS Implementation Chapter 8: Passing Down the EOS Model to the Team

Picture of Connor Wilkins
Connor Wilkins

CMO, Direction.com

Implementing the EOS Model

After completing two Vision Days and our first three Quarterly Sessions of EOS with our coach, Byron, we decided it was time to pass down what we’ve learned to other departments in our organization.

As the company’s Integrator, I took on the task of educating our team and inserting the program into their departmental structure. Fortunately, our track record of failing and restarting the program equipped me with a solid understanding of what to focus on first and what errors we could avoid right out of the gate.

To recap some insights from Chapter 4: Going At It Alone [The First Mistake], when we originally started EOS — before hiring Byron — we had a lot of trouble understanding the core principles outlined in the system. Without proper coaching, we encountered a few issues, most notably:

  1. Setting up our Scorecard
  2. Assigning and measuring Rocks
  3. Teasing out and resolving Issues

I knew our team might also encounter similar challenges, so this is where I decided to focus my attention. My job was now to mirror Byron’s lessons and help the team further understand the inner workings of the EOS program while instilling the same leadership mindset in them that Byron had taught us to embrace.

The Lesson Plan: Commitment, Time, and Consistency

Revisiting my relationship with long distance running has reminded me of a valuable life lesson: with time, consistency, and dedication, even the most demanding challenges can become enjoyable and rewarding. 

I genuinely appreciate my father for instilling this habit in me at a young age and helping me to learn the importance of perseverance first hand through the exercise of running — especially when things get hard. 

Running used to feel like a chore (I’m sure many people can relate). And when things feel like chores, it’s easy to make excuses and let the weak internal voice turn you away from actions that are demanding (whether physically or mentally, or both) for something less taxing. 

Through commitment, time, and consistency, however, you can quiet that voice. Running is now an activity that brings fulfillment to my life and no longer feels like a chore.

The concept of building a mentality applies to running a business, as well, and something that EOS helps to develop in business owners. 

Simply put, going through the EOS process has helped us to rethink our core understanding of how we should work — redefining the way we perceive and approach our business development. This was the lesson plan I would pass on to our team.

For this to work, we had to encourage our team to embrace a mental reset, which would allow us to develop and apply a new, improved business model; one with a defined focus on systems, processes, and accountability (something that is still very much in the works but that we have made great improvements on since our first two Vision Days and three Quarterly Sessions). 

Don’t get me wrong, living up to this attitude is still tricky at times — some tasks still seem like a chore and reminding the team of this shift is a constant effort, but we’re making real progress and already seeing how this is positively impacting Direction.com.

Passing Down the Level 10 Meeting

While the team knew what EOS was and why we were implementing the model, they had yet to experience it first hand. We decided the best way to teach EOS was through hands-on practice, starting with the Level 10 Meeting.

The first team to adopt the EOS model was our SEO department since they were staffed with the most team members.

Asking Thought-Provoking Questions to Empower Your Team

Not being a professional EOS implementer, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do the same job Byron had (and still is doing) for our leadership team. 

I made provisions and asked all the questions I could during our Quarterlies and Annual with Byron; one of them being, “What’s the best way to go about bringing this same process to the team without having them feel as if I do not trust them?” 

I told Bryon I wanted to be as successful as he was teaching us the process. He said, “Ask thought-provoking questions and allow your staff to answer — let them know we’re all here trying to do the same thing – that conflict is good as long as it is respectful, and to trust and follow the process.”  

He continued, “Your job as a coach is not to answer the question(s) for them, but instead to allow them to answer for themselves through better questions. If they cannot solve the problem themselves, instead of interjecting right away and solving it for them, ask them, “do you need help here?” If the answer is yes, add it as an issue to IDS and discuss it there. If it needs more time, set up a separate meeting to go through how to do what they’re asking.”

Starting and Finishing Meetings on Time

The first standard of the Level 10 meeting that I explained to the team is that we must begin and stop on time every week on the same day. 

From there, I explained that each person has an important role to play, and that their unique point of view is how healthy conflict is created.

This is something we’re still working on mastering; however, after we got the whole team together in Austin, TX for our first annual, I feel like we’ve made really healthy progress in setting the tone for good, constructive conflict. 

These were the first two lessons I made a point of hammering into the team before we met for our first official SEO LvL10.

The First Level 10 Meeting

I was proud to see the entire team join the meeting online and on time with smiles. Yes, it could have been more organized, but I remember how disconnected we were as a leadership team when we first started, so I gave them some leeway.  

I asked if they needed my help – they said nope, it would just take a second. It wasn’t all the team’s fault; the previous meeting template needed to be reorganized and reset to accommodate the new team members that were added. Despite this minor issue, we got started on time.

To start, we began with the meeting segue; this portion is timed for 5 minutes and begins with each person giving a quick personal and business win – this ends up being a great way to start the meeting with positivity and get a quick pulse on how everyone is doing.

Breaking the Time Limit to Support the Team

One takeaway we got from Bryon is, if you or a team member has an issue that is going to keep you from being present, you’re allowed to break from the time limit and discuss it; after all, we’re people with real emotions. For example, suppose you or a team member found out the previous evening that a close friend or family member recently became terminally ill or passed away. In that case, your team should know about something this impactful. 

To be a great team, everyone needs to know how to support one another – so if something has happened in your life, you can use the segue time to chat about what’s going on – sometimes, it will push past the allotted 5 minutes – and that is okay – it’s better to be there for the team, figure out how to help and make a plan, then to ignore it and allow it to fall apart for that team member.  

The team all gave their business and personal wins and quickly brought up another issue – I interjected and mentioned we should add it to IDS to discuss the matter there, so we could stay on track.

Using the Scorecard to Identify AoI - Guided by Gino Wickman's Desert Island Process

In EOS they teach, what gets measured, gets improved. For this reason, you must have a scorecard. The team had an issue trying to make a scorecard that allowed them to achieve the high level of information needed – I knew they would need help here, as we also struggled with this as a leadership team. They had around 12 different metrics on their scorecard, with some items being very close to others. 

I explained to the group the concept of the scorecard. Gino Wickman explains it very well – so I decided to read his process of understanding what needs to be on the scorecard to my team. 

He says, “Imagine you’re on a desert island somewhere. None of you can talk to anyone, access e-mail, or talk on the phone. All you have is a piece of paper with a handful of numbers on it. These numbers must allow you to have an absolute pulse on your business or the area of the business you’re responsible for. What are all of the numbers that must be on that piece of paper? If you were to see only numbers, would you know what’s going on?”

After reading Gino’s Thought process, I heard team members saying, “Yeah, my scorecard metrics wouldn’t help me understand that currently…. or ugh, that wouldn’t help me understand what’s going on either.” One after another, they started correcting what they needed on the scorecard. We brought it from 12+ metrics down to 6. These new stats were what the team now used to understand what was going on and now had a pulse on their department. 

It was great to see our team understand this so quickly – and my initial worries of being unable to pass the information down to them now seemed silly. I must admit, it felt great to see them pick it up so quickly!

Celebrating Achievements with People Headlines

Once we finished up with the segue, we moved straight to people headlines. We once again have 5 minutes on the clock during people’s headlines. Everyone on the team has a moment to shout a team member out for something they have achieved, or bring up a client that may have an issue. Following the process, it allows you to continue teasing out issues to discuss further during IDS.  

The team all did a great job here. It was great to see everyone participating and shouting out team members and great clients. They also brought up a client issue that was added to IDS. Again, the team did a great job and finished on time. 

Aligning Organizational Traction SMART Goals

Next up on the agenda was company Rocks. Company Rocks are quarterly to-do’s that help push the company forward. Everyone should have at least three rocks – But, like anything, with guidance, creating Rocks is easier to understand. So we revisited what a rock should be and the process you should run through to decide if it should be a rock or a weekly to-do.

I explained the SMART methodology – an easy to remember acronym described below. When you understand this, you’re able to run an analysis against whether or not the Rock is aligned. which is described below,

SMART goals

Directly following, I could see the team’s wheels turning. The second Ah-ha moment had initiated. They started talking to each other about what they could change or remove from their list of Rocks. We went down everyone’s list, asking whether or not the Rock followed the SMART methodology. Some rocks sounded good at surface level but weren’t specific or timely, so they were either removed, or combined with another Rock – some were moved to the weekly to-do list.  

I explained to the team how they were to operate and how they were to review their Rocks in the 90-minute meeting. They were not to waste time talking about the rocks but to go down the list and declare whether they were on track or off track. If on track, continue – if off track – create an issue in IDS and discuss it at that time.

We then reset rocks and continued with the meeting. Everyone had a new understanding of what a Rock was and was not, as well as how to develop rocks moving forward.

Optimizing Weekly To-Dos for Maximum Efficiency

Next on the agenda was the weekly to-do’s. To-dos are weekly tasks that need to be completed within the week. If a task stays on the weekly task list for multiple weeks, it is most likely not a to-do but, a Rock. This also allows you to understand and tease out issues. For example, a team member may be overloaded and unable to finish all the to-dos – this could indicate there is too much on that team member’s plate, and responsibilities may need to be adjusted to alleviate the team member and promote success.  It could also mean they’re not doing their job – either way, it allows you to look into the issue and understand what or why something is not happening. If a task stays on your list for weeks and does not move – it may be time to delete it or turn it into a ROCK. We went over their to-do’s and then moved on to the fun part.

Identify, Discuss, and Solve: This is the way!

Moving into IDS, I was a bit surprised to see there were only two issues on their Identify, Discuss, and Solve. I also knew they hadn’t been doing this meeting very long, so we discussed it. I said, “either we’re doing a great job, and there are no issues, or this is being done wrong.” I explained the importance of adding issues as they came up – and that if there are no issues, it’s because the other sections of the 90-minute meeting are not being followed. I explained that everything following the IDS section was to find the issues that existed. We talked about the issues at hand, and the team all confirmed, moving forward they would add issues throughout the week.  

Reaching a 10 with Every Meeting

Last up on the agenda for the level ten meeting was the meeting conclusion. In this section, you rate the meeting and finish on time. If you rate it under an 8, you have to give a reason why – if you rate it a 10, it means you all crushed it, and everyone leaves with a smile on their face. 

Everyone rated the meeting at or below an 8 – and had their reasons why – either they felt like they had bad Rocks or didn’t have ideal scorecard metrics. I reassured the team that it was okay – that they had just started doing it, and that, at times, as leadership, we rate our meetings below a ten as well. I could tell everyone felt relieved after hearing that, but they also felt they could do better than an 8.   

I felt relieved as well – I had successfully brought our understanding of how EOS was supposed to work to our team, and they welcomed the process with positivity, a sense of empowerment, and appreciation. 

EOS: Optimizing Company Culture and Achieving Goals

Our entire company has been completely integrated and is currently running on EOS. Since full implementation, we have seen an increase in both employee and customer satisfaction, project completion, and systems and processes to back it up for future scaling and growth.

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