I created this article series for companies running (or seriously contemplating running) EOS® Traction, Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System® for small-business owners. I run my company on it and found that, while EOS® is extremely effective for management and scaling, the core EOS® materials don’t provide the depth of guidance for the financial component so critical to small-business growth.
These posts are for entrepreneurs who want to polish and improve the implementation of EOS® in their companies by enhancing that financial lens. It can also help accounting and finance professionals be impactful leaders within their EOS® company.
Articles in this series can be found here.
I recently spoke to the CEO of a $4 million marketing agency about all of the work she was doing/owning for the company. In addition to her many other responsibilities, that CEO was coordinating employee timesheets and preparing client invoices. It wasn’t the type of work she enjoyed, nor was it the best use of her skills.
While these jobs had served her well and kept her on top of the financial end of the business, when she talked to us, she wanted out. We identified key processes – the timesheets and invoices – that she wanted to hand off to others.
It was a small but meaningful first step forward.
It’s a problem that I see all too often – leaders bogged down by the minutiae of daily roles they took on early in the process and have never managed to get rid of.
Another CEO I worked for parroted this quote: “I see more good companies fail due to indigestion than starvation.”
Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of occasionally biting off more than we can chew and then choking on the opportunity of the business. While most CEOs would prefer to focus on strategic issues and less on the operation side, when they try to operationalize it, they don’t know where to start.
EOS® reminds us to break tasks down, simplify and let go of the vine, right? But it is psychologically easier to let go of one piece at a time. Tackle the process of letting go by breaking it down. Find the digestible, bite-sized chunks that you can swallow.
The Value Model
This is exactly what we did when I decided to start taking steps to get away from day-to-day operations at AVL. We started by creating our “value model” with a breakdown of our core processes. The model included what we did as a company, who was doing what and where they fit into the organizational chart. From there, we identified the things that needed to be handed off.
EOS® talks about this with core process charts. Identify, simplify and document all of your core processes.
What proved valuable for us in this exercise was identifying our 14 core processes and then determining the additional 80 or so subprocesses. We labeled them, and this one-page roadmap for our operations provided me with the focus to identify which of the core processes I was spending my time on.
And for us, it does fit on one page. It is a higher level, but that’s kind of what we’re looking for to start, to simplify what it is that we do.
With your value model in place, here are several other critical steps to take:
#1 – Document your time
This can mean analyzing your calendar for a week or two to see where you are really digging in and where you are simply buried.
#2 – Use the 2×2 matrix
Spend some time identifying what you love doing and are great at and what you love doing but are not as good at. Then do the same for what you hate doing. This and step one are both a function of time and identifying where the low-hanging fruit is.
# 3 – Focus on time and effort
Where are the bottlenecks occurring in your organization? Start at the bottom and move your way up. Have the leadership team agree on what is consuming your time and consider where the bottlenecks may develop in the future. This is where your value model can help. What effect is your attention to other items having on the organization’s momentum?
Related: When Do I Need a CFO in My Startup?
#4 – Leverage the accountability chart
Once you’ve identified the key responsibilities you want to divest yourself of, start to shift them. Take a look at the accountability chart and consider how you can move some of these things to other parts of the accountability chart or to new hires.
#5 – Sequence the handoff
What you will have in the end is a roadmap that lays out what needs to be handed off. From there, you build a sequencing plan to do it. That can also include a plan for who to hire first, second and maybe third. The other steps can determine this sequence.
For example, a CEO may decide to divest herself of both accounting responsibilities and the company blog. The jobs involve different subprocesses and can’t be bucketed, but the blog takes her more time and is more of a bottleneck for the company. The sequence is then to hire a junior marketing writer first and secondly, an accountant.
Setting Up for the Next Step
These steps will put your core processes in one place and allow you to know who is doing what and what is taking time. Then you can begin to prioritize what needs to move. With the simplification process complete, you can begin the next step: the delegation process.