Leading a business isn’t for the faint hearted. Even before 2020’s unique challenges emerged, getting a business off the ground, and then keeping it there, took a combination of planning, insight, and timing, as well as the blood, sweat and tears of those taking the plunge.
Making a business work isn’t just about luck. The University of Technology Sydney estimates that three-quarters of businesses don’t make it past the first five years, but at TechPath we have found a way of working that helps to stack the odds more firmly in our favour.
There are plenty of experts around the world who will tell you how to run meetings, or how to conduct strategic planning, but at TechPath, we have adopted a comprehensive framework called Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). It is a system well-proven, and consists of six key components: vision, people, data, issues, process, and traction. We find it tremendously helpful in creating a consistent, effective way of working.
The EOS Journey
Most organisations start their EOS journey after reading a book called Traction. Some pick elements that best apply to their organisation, while others, like us, implement the entire approach. After attending a workshop, one of the things that particularly appealed to us was the way that EOS fits so neatly with the Microsoft 365 tools we already use. When Microsoft offered us a two-day implementation session with EOS consultants, we didn’t hesitate – we are fortunate that they really look after partners like us who invest our time and energies into their technologies. Our entire leadership team read that book before our initial two-day offsite strategy session. It meant that we were all ready to build out our quarterly plan, as well as a one, three and ten-year plan for growth that aligns to our company vision. At that time, we could have no idea that a global pandemic was about to put our new philosophy to the test in such extreme circumstances, but we were fortunate that we were able to fit a first quarter of progress before the lockdowns hit Australia.
In any organisation, sharing information with the whole team is vital; they need quick access to information that is easily found. We set up an intranet page on SharePoint, where any of our people can find everything about the business – for example, our vision, purpose, core values, accountability chart, and our marketing strategy. They can see the type of clients we are seeking, learn about our ten-year target, or our plan for this year. One of the great features is that anyone new to our organisation can go to a single page where they get a neat snapshot telling them what we’re all about. It is a good way to share information that would otherwise exist on a selection of Word and Excel documents that would take time to hunt down.
Microsoft Teams is where it really gets exciting. We already used Teams for collaboration, so it is easy to pin information such as our EOS ‘issues list’ where everyone will see it. What is an issues list? In EOS, if anyone notices something about the business that needs addressing, they can write it on the issues list, and when the team meets weekly, the issue will be discussed, with actions and timelines allocated. It can be easily put on the most relevant list, so if it is a sales issue, it will be put on the sales team issues list. We want them to solve issues using the power of teamwork, where everyone contributes to a collective effort. This is incredibly effective.
Solutions and Insights
The issues we list are varied. Recently, we have brainstormed how to plan a Christmas party in the current COVID situation, for example. Anything that happens within a business can be up for discussion if there is an opportunity to improve, or an obstacle to overcome. Sometimes the magic happens when we involve somebody not typically consulted – it may be that a receptionist has insight into a problem affecting the sales process, or that an engineer has heard a snippet of information that will improve our COVID-safe plan. EOS encourages this collaboration, and it works. During those meetings, a to-do list is created, with agreed actions and deadlines assigned to the relevant team members. These are reviewed weekly in the meeting agenda.
Also, in Teams, each person has ‘rocks’, or goals, that they strive to achieve each quarter. One of our Microsoft technicians may commit to achieving a specialist Azure certification, or one of our business leaders may have a target for introducing a new CRM system. These are the big tasks that must be prioritised, so that they are not buried beneath the smaller, everyday tasks that can otherwise take over. This is a really helpful way to get people to think strategically, and schedule the important things in their diary.
Teams supports us using a ‘scorecard’ system, where we can track results by person, by team and as a business. Everyone has a metric – usually two or three – they can measure their performance against. Again, this helps everyone to focus on what is most important about their role – from answering the phone promptly to meeting a sales target. Everyone reports in weekly, and if they meet an issue, they have a team equipped to help them to overcome it.
Our success to date has been significant and we have been able to integrate many of our existing tools as part of the process. We use Teams for meetings anyway, so it takes remarkably little effort to do things better. When you make it easier and less time-consuming to collaborate effectively and work to a higher level, the buy-in is 100%.
Thinking of introducing EOS in your organisation? We’re always happy to chat about our experiences. For more tips, tricks, and insights into getting the most from Microsoft 365, connect with us on LinkedIn or chat to one of our friendly experts.