What the Heck is EOS®? A Book Review

What the Heck is EOS®? A Book Review

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If you’ve never heard of EOS® — the Entrepreneurial Operating System® — before, obviously a book with the title “What the heck is EOS®?” might be a good place to start your learning journey. And in this case, it definitely is.

The book, co-authored by Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer, two of the major business minds associated with the EOS® model. It’s designed to give you a 35,000-foot view of what the whole ecosystem is. For example:

  • While EOS® works in companies of all sizes, the “sweet spot” is companies of about 10-250 employees that are open-minded and growth-oriented
  • There are 50,000+ global companies currently using EOS®

Because we live in a very tech-focused time, you can think of the words “operating system” solely in the context of what you use to do work on a computer. But many entrepreneurs need the same set of rules that, say, Google Drive has. Without those rules, they waste time when trying to meet more effectively, communicate better, define priorities for employees, etc.

As this book is designed as a 35,000-foot view, you’ll be introduced to six core components of EOS®, those being:                                       

  • Vision
  • People
  • Issues
  • Data
  • Process
  • Traction®

The book goes through each component one-by-one. In each case, there is then a specific EOS® tool that helps you improve on the core component. Let’s use “vision” as an example here. In this book, one customer support rep from Houston mentions that he was constantly being told different things by his direct manager and the owner of the company. That would imply a less-than-coordinated “vision” of what’s happening at the company. “We were running around in circles and making the same mistakes,” he admits.

When that company used EOS®, they used a tool called “Vision/Traction Organizer™,” or V/TO. V/TO is comprised of eight questions:

  1. What are your core values?
  2. What’s your core focus?
  3. What’s your 10-year target?
  4. What’s your marketing strategy?
  5. What’s your three-year picture?
  6. What’s your 1-year plan?
  7. What are your rocks?
  8. What are your issues?

EOS® companies work through the V/TO questions to understand their vision better — and to align employees with the decision-making levels. That’s exactly what happened with the customer service rep in Houston. After his company used EOS®, he reported that day-to-day work efforts were much more “aligned” and that people “aren’t repeating the same mistakes.” The company grew.

That’s the point of EOS® at the broadest level: it applies systems and processes to ideas that we too easily lose focus around, i.e. communication, alignment, employee engagement, especially as our focus is more financial and product in growth stages. By providing a system to focus on these areas we often lose focus on, EOS® is extremely helpful towards ensuring that growth remains consistent, as opposed to being the result of 2-3 good quarters.

A similar area of importance in this book is “rocks.” Rocks are what you might imagine — the big things you need to focus on in a quarter, a year, etc. For example, one pharmacy client mentioned in this book needs to fill all prescriptions by 6:30 pm each day. They keep missing that target. That becomes “a rock.”

Now consider this: remember above, when we mentioned 10-250 is the optimal size for EOS®? Imagine a 50-person company. Imagine everyone has two “rocks” per quarter. That’s 100 rocks per quarter or 400 per year. If even 75% of “rocks” are achieved, that’s 300 major employee goals checked off in a year simply by narrowing the focus and bringing systems in around that focus. 300 employee goals will drive forward business, almost without question.

The value of this book is in seeing the simplicity of the systems and processes and where the whole ecosystem could take your business. If you know you need to reinvent around certain areas, definitely grab this and give it a whirl. It’s a quick read — about 150 pages — and the appendixes have questions to ask yourself and your manager about aspects of work. It’s a valuable cheat sheet.