While working with clients to implement EOS, we demonstrate that the 136 things leadership teams wrestle with are really just symptoms of root cause problems that they have been unable to effectively solve. The learning here, which is at the heart of the EOS model, is that there are only 6 key components of any business. To the extent we can help clients learn the tools and disciplines necessary to strengthen those 6 components, is the extent to which they can ultimately run a better business, and give them what they want.
Component 5 is the Process component. Often overlooked by entrepreneurs and viewed as unnecessary in small businesses, strengthening the process component is the key to efficiency, manageability, and scalability, all of which leads to running a better business, having more fun doing it, and ultimately earning more profit.
We always take an 80-20 approach when teaching this discipline. In other words, we attack the 20% of the activities that deliver 80% of the results. When the Process component is strong, all of the core processes are clearly documented and then followed by everyone in the organization.
Process is confusing for many leaders. When the word first surfaces, I often see eyes rolling as team members think about the last time they attempted to tackle this project. If they ever completed the effort, that 30-40-page binder of detailed steps and procedures is buried in their file cabinet collecting dust. It’s rarely used and essentially wasted their time.
In his recent book, “The Checklist Manifesto” Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon in Boston, describes his effort to find a way to simplify the complex and unpredictable nature of surgical procedures. He discovers to his surprise, that the use of a checklist is the common denominator in complex operations like construction and aviation. His research ultimately leads him to Boeing’s Seattle training center where he sees first hand how the aviation industry has boiled the most complex processes of operating commercial aircraft down to simple checklists.
Boeing has perfected the art of the 80/20 rule. For every major process, a checklist exists that essentially guarantees a successful outcome. The checklist covers 20% of the routine tasks, freeing up the flight crew to use their training and skills to mitigate complex or unexpected events. As most of us who travel by air know, the aviation success rate despite millions of flight miles is close to perfect.
The EOS method of documenting and following the core business processes is exactly like the aviation checklist. It’s completed in three simple steps:
Step 1: Identify the 6-10 core processes that are the foundation of your business model. Give them each a name. Obtain buy-in and be 100% on the same page with what they are.
Step 2: Break each process down into the five to seven critical steps. Once those critical steps are agreed upon, break each of those into three to five sub-bullets.
Step 3: Once all the core processes are documented in this way, compile them and publish them. This becomes “Your Way” of doing business going forward. A common best practice is for the team to review them at established intervals to ensure they are all refreshed on a regular basis.
If this resonates with you, take the first step and tackle process number one. Create your checklist and start using it. See for yourself how less is always more.