Business consultant Don Schlueter wore wire-framed glasses, a sporty polo and a huge smile the day he walked into our 3Points leadership team meeting at the Mid America Club in 2011. He came to educate u
s on the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (otherwise known as the EOS Process). The mood was upbeat, with a perfect view of the blue skies over Lake Michigan and the Loop’s mammoth skyscrapers. Positive energy was passed around, right along with the coffee — until midway through the meeting when Don looked at us and said: “Be prepared. This is not going to be the same company in a year from now.”
What???!!?? Thinking back, we thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. That year our company got clear on where we here heading. We figured out who were, and who we wanted to be. After that, we found out quickly who was on board with our vision and our values.
Not the Typical Mission Statement on the Wall
The EOS Process made all of this possible. (see this cool video featuring Gino Wickman), EOS doesn’t produce the typical mission statement you might see hanging in the lobby. Instead, it’s a whole cultural shift. We explored tough questions like: What set us apart? What values defined us? Where did we want to take the business? What really mattered to us as a company?
As people adopted our core values, our vision, and a strict focus on our target market, we began to operate as a well-oiled machine. The collective team became stronger, more capable, and more efficient than the individuals had previously been. We held group meetings with the entire staff, celebrated milestones, and recognized individual accomplishments.
Year two was smoother as our employees became empowered. Things were changing. We were changing.
Core Values Tops the Bucket List
A major gamechanger for us was understanding how to live our core values. It’s an area I think a lot of small business owners struggle with. Our team’s daily decisions became guided by statements like “do the right thing,” “practice personal accountability,” “be a lifelong learner,” and “be client-centric.”
We began hiring, promoting and rewarding using these values, and our team transformed. They believed the same things, creating an environment where everyone could succeed and advance.
It’s easy to be complacent when it comes to living your core values. It takes real work to hire, promote and reward around them. Trust me, I know. Think about it though: Recruiting people based on strong values, one that you live every day, attracts the best of the best, so it really pays off.
When you focus on your values, and rally people around them, you gain traction. All that led to growth, which has allowed us to hire even more people.
Where Are We Now?
Four years later, our leadership team is rock solid. Our business model is aligned with our values, making us responsive, competitive and client-focused. 3Points has increased revenues by 60 percent over the last four years, and has a professional staff of 40.
This year, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce ranked 3Points one of the 2015 Best Places to Work in Illinois, in the small company category. I really think our approach to hiring, promoting and rewarding around core values has a lot to do with earning that recognition. We’ve got the right people on the bus, we are focused on our core values, and we are heading in the right direction. In simpler terms, we have Traction.
What You Can Do Today:
1. Consider your company’s core values. Gather your leadership team and get their input. Then, identify the most important values that define your organization – the way it is now, and the way you want it to be in the future.
2. Consider your vision. Where do you want to be in one-year, three-years and five-years?
3. Define your marketing strategy (in 100 words or less!)?
4. Determine the three or four big things you will do each quarter this year to achieve your vision.
5. Read the book Traction by Gino Wickman. It will take you through the entire process. You’ll love it!
Kevin Doyle is president and cofounder of 3Points, LLC (www.3points.com), a full service technology provider for Chicago small businesses with 10 to 50 computers. He invites readers to contact him at (708) 491-0300 to chat about the EOS Process.