I’m Too Creative

Entrepreneurs, leaders and solopreneurs often claim their creativity is stifled by process and discipline. “My inspirations are too vital to be stymied by a set of rules.” “I need chaos to be inspired.” “I thrive with a messy desk.” There are one hundred verses to this song. Yet they’re all out of tune with reality. We need structure, process, and discipline for long-term success. A savvy EOS Implementer and colleague, Tip Quilter, shared an analogy explaining the relationship between the results you want and the operating system driving those results. Think of football. The game provides goal posts, chalk lines, points and penalties. But you play the game. You choose the coaches, the players on the field, and call the plays. There’s also a referee, watching that you follow the rules. Ultimately, winning or losing is up to you. The rules of the game are the operating system for football. EOS® is the operating system for your business. The referee is your EOS Implementer. You’re still the one who plays the game; you’re responsible for the results. The more aligned you are with the rules, the fewer the penalties. The more you practice, the greater your success. Winning any game is a function of understanding how to play, practicing hard, and being disciplined. Not Hail Mary passes. Suit... read more

Slow is OK

As leaders, we work to inspire confidence, demonstrate mastery, and create a compelling vision. This tempts us to react quickly and showcase (or show off?) our business acumen. It’s human nature, especially in a world that demands instant gratification and quick solutions. However, this doesn’t always produce the best outcome. Seth Godin writes a short daily blog about leadership. Last week he poetically spoke to this issue with an important reminder: The quick comeback. The clever repartee. The ability to, in the moment, say precisely what needs to be said.As the world gets faster, more of us feel the regret of the staircase. The perfect remark, often cutting, comes to us just a little too late.Don’t worry about it.Because as the world keeps getting faster, there’s actually a shortage of thoughtful, timeless ideas that are worth sharing an hour or a week later. Each Godin blog post is a short read — 60 seconds or less. It’s well worth the time you’ll invest... read more

No Quick Fixes

Turmoil creates a cry for change, always with a sense of urgency. Get sales up fast. Change how we process orders. Fix a problem right now. Unfortunately, it’s easier to call for change than it is to make it happen and/or to lead it. The best leaders are both patient and urgent when fostering change. Not an easy combination. Systemic change requires patience and a relentless commitment to make it happen. That’s why repetition is built into the EOS® system. Resistance to change has many sources: Biases. We see the world not as it is; we see the world as we areEntrenched processes. “This is how we’ve always done it”Embedded cultural norms. “This is just the way we are” To be an effective leader for change: Challenge and clarify your own vision and biases on a regular basis: ask questions, demand feedback, ask for insight about your potential blind spotsHire, fire, and reward people on their values as well as their capabilitiesMake decisions based on data, not subjective criteria, or worse, politicsDemonstrate confidence by recognizing issues and resolving the most important onesCreate a culture of accountability driven by documented processesHave the fortitude to set priorities and meet regularly, week in and week out, year after year And remember, change isn’t always initiated by leaders, but it’s always achieved with... read more

A Bridge for Crisis

“Crisis creates leverage to change” — Bruce Rauner (American businessman, philanthropist, and 42nd governor of Illinois) Today the best leadership teams are on high alert. They are paying close attention, learning some hard lessons, and making changes — some large and some small. Shorter deadlines, more trial and error, and daily huddles are some of the more common ones. Some of those changes will remain in place, others will not. Patrick Lencioni just wrote an insightful article in Chief Executive. It highlights four positive aspects of where we are and which lessons to remember as we lead people into a “new normal.” It’s a quick read with good nuggets. On the topic of “Over-Engineering,” Lencioni says, “Our goals become clearer and the stakes become higher during a crisis, allowing us to ignore silos and find ways to create and implement solutions without overthinking, nitpicking and fear of failure. We’re not insisting on perfection but focusing on the essential elements of a product or program and moving quickly.”Focus, clarity, discipline, and “less is more” – all are hallmarks of EOS® . The current reality provides a constant reminder of their... read more

Hanging On

A crisis like the current pandemic requires we assess, respond, and adapt. Sometimes we have to simply hang on. No one can predict what the new normal will be. Getting to the other side will take a lot of creativity, discipline, and probably new ways of conducting business. Equally important and often overlooked are the fundamentals. Whether your company has to reinvent itself, regroup, pivot, or adapt in some other way, the time-tested tenets of good business don’t go away. Twenty years ago, Jim Collins wrote his classic Good to Great. Chapter Four is a primer in leadership and management during a time of chaos and change. It’s a short, powerful read. Collins’ four basic practices: Lead with questions, not answersEngage in dialogue and debate, not coercionSearch for understanding and learning — without blameBuild red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored Fellow EOS® Implementer Mark O’Donnell recently suggested I re-read the famous Chapter Four. I’m glad I did and suggest you do the... read more

Weathering the Storm of Chaos

Turbulent times require that leaders stay grounded. Most of us have help to do that – from a spouse, a friend, a peer group, prayer or our disciplined routines. There are many sources. I just read a book that helped me – I know I’ll read it again more than once. The book is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Pausch was a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University until retiring to fight his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The book is a collection of his thoughts before and after his famous last lecture.In his book and lecture, Pausch shares an inspirational perspective on achieving your childhood dreams, living life to the fullest and reevaluating what is important. In EOS we ask leaders to be clear about three things: their company values (the “who”), the purpose of what they do (the “why”), and what they do better than anyone else (the “what”). The same three questions apply to us as individuals. Pausch opens the door for us to reflect on all three. It might be a revelation for you or just a reminder. Regardless, it’s a terrific read. Treat... read more


One of the Foundational tools of EOS® includes a process to solve issues once and for all. It’s called IDS™: Identify, Discuss, and Solve. In the Identify stage, the universal challenge is to be disciplined. To repeatedly peel the onion, uncovering the exact root of the problem. To get there, we typically do a root cause analysis, such as asking “why” five times. Here are some common reframes: Another option is to reframe an issue. “Reframing” is simply stating the problem in a different way. By looking at an issue from a different perspective, we can be more creative addressing it. What is the issue from another person’s perspective? Look at the issue through a different lens.What is my role in creating the issue? We tend to think of the problem as something being done to us, but we also play a role.What data is available to confirm the issue? When you examine the data (vs. the conclusion), new insights evolve. Reframing takes additional time and effort – and it’s worth it. Here’s a great article with suggestions and insight: Harvard Business Review:  Are You Solving the Right... read more

Making an Impact

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Leaders in the EOS® system ask themselves ten important questions. These get to the heart of how you manage, lead and inspire your team. The questions also become the foundation of your ongoing relationships with your direct reports. They include: Are we on the same page about the vision of the company and your position?Is there clarity about the expectations each of us has of the other?Is the frequency of regular meetings right?Do you receive enough support from me?Are things being delegated appropriately?Is feedback given and taken well? The reward for this time with employees goes well beyond the information itself. It conveys the critical message that you genuinely care about them. When employees feel your appreciation and respect, they feel valued. In turn, they become more engaged with you and with the... read more

Top Speed is Overrated

Seth Godin’s last blog for 2019 struck a chord for me. It was very timely for beginning a new year, as we revisit our goals, activities and commitments. Godin shares two stories about how traveling the “fastest” way may not actually be the fastest way. Factors other than maximum speed or power often yield a better outcome. His blog is a current take on a classic message. Remember “The Tortoise and the Hare?” Or the “Little Engine That Could?” Consistent, disciplined effort creates sustainable results. Random bursts of energy are spectacular in the moment. They are also difficult to harness and predict. Home runs are exciting and seductive. But winning teams do it with singles and doubles, day in and day out. EOS® delivers this approach to your business. Specifically: A compelling visionValues that drive behaviorAn open and honest cultureControlling your business with metrics (not politics!)Resolving issues effectivelyConcise processes followed by allRegular, disciplined meetingsClear priorities and accountabilities Over time you’ll get the results you want. Like the tortoise and the little engine — consistency and discipline ultimately... read more


I recently saw “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. It’s a powerful movie – about forgiveness, which I totally didn’t expect. Forgiveness is a huge topic. Emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. An application in business is learning from our past and moving on. In my work with EOS® clients, we often uncover baggage. Resentment going back months, or years. Unresolved issues impacting morale. Misunderstandings that are now a barrier to moving forward. In many companies it’s a long list. In EOS, we have an unrelenting focus on the essence of forgiveness — letting go of the past and moving on to the future as a cohesive team. On a personal level, take some quiet time to identify and understand where forgiveness would benefit you. Think about team members, family and friends. Identify what’s stopping you from letting go. Maybe even enlist some help in moving on. Mr. Rogers’ messages are as relevant now as they were when we were... read more

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