A Lesson In Business Operating Systems
Being involved with the Small Giants Community has given me the opportunity to interact with some great entrepreneurs. Through sharing our experiences, I have learned a lot about creating a values-based culture, about being a better leader, about having a shared vision and about the importance of community.
However, looking back, the greatest lessons I have be able to take from the community and apply successfully to my own business are about critical numbers and the importance of a business operating system.
As entrepreneurs we’re really good at hacking our way through the startup jungle, we even do well navigating the bumpy road through the mountains, but when it comes to the growth superhighway, the wheels tend to come off if we don’t have good systems in place.
Uncovering the Importance of Critical Numbers
The first part of this lesson came from a visit to Citistorage, where I learned about critical numbers from Norm Brodsky. He shared the importance of having a handful of critical numbers you can use to monitor your business on a daily basis – if a critical number moves in the wrong direction you need to quickly figure out why.
The second part of the lesson came at our first Small Giants event in Konstanz, Germany. I was fortunate enough to be at the same table as Jack Stack from SRC Holdings. Jack shared his experience in using critical numbers to help educate employees, to create a more transparent organization, where performance is more visual and there is a sense of ownership. Jack views business as a game that you “gotta want to play” – his “Great Game of Business” helped SRC back from the brink of bankruptcy.
I started observing how critical numbers and scoreboards were playing a pivotal role in the success of many successful Small Giant companies, including: Zingerman's, Tasty Catering, Motawi Tileworks. And while I understood the value of the scoreboards and critical numbers, I realised there was still something important missing from the mix; the ability to use the critical numbers to identify issues and then effectively execute a solution to solve that issue.
A Company Operating System Can Help Identify and Solve Issues
During a Small Giants passport event, Rob Dube from imageOne and Marisa Smith from The Whole Brain Group introduced me to the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) – a simple operating system to help entrepreneurs get the business traction they need to create successful companies without killing their staff, their families and themselves in the process.
So, I read Get a Grip and we started implementing EOS at our own company. We were already using a scoreboard to monitor our critical numbers, but by introducing EOS we became more focused on the issues affecting our critical numbers and, more importantly, we began to effectively deal with those issues.
The combination of things learned has given us the tools, processes and discipline we need to grow our business in line with our values. Our planning is aligned with our vision, allowing us to focus on quarterly milestones, hold more efficient meetings to identify and deal with issues, and, best of all, have more quality time for family, friends and customers.