You probably already know what AEC stands for, but you might be wondering what that has to do with EOS. What does EOS even mean?
EOS stands for “Entrepreneurial Operating System” and is defined in the book “Traction: Get a grip on your Business” by Gino Wickman. In a nutshell, EOS is the system for running a business. The system was developed out of the author’s experience helping companies transition from startups to successful operating companies capable of scaling up.
All businesses employ some sort of operating system. Some are very fluid and loose and some are very structured and rigid. When a company is very small, the rigor and consistency of the operating system is less of an issue. Operating can be done somewhat by “feel” with only a few people involved. The problem is that this form of operating starts to break down and become less effective as you add more people, variables and complexity to a company.
That’s where EOS comes in. It is a clean, clear, and effective way to operate a company. EOS breaks the operation of a company into six aspects and provides supporting tools to employ for each. The six aspects of EOS are:
I read Traction while serving as the CEO of a mid-size AEC firm. The firm of about 275 people, 14 offices and around $100 million in annual revenue was arguably on the larger side for implementation of EOS. Familiar with our operating system, I did an overlay of the EOS system over top of the existing system we were employing. This exercise shone a light on some gaps in what we were doing.
For the next three years, I experimented with implementing aspects of the system and scoring our performance. During that time I discovered two things. First, the system definitely works in the AEC environment. Second, implementation brings more than just a financial business return. I observed a marked improvement in what I would call “quality of work life”.
“Quality of work life” is a term that signifies the culmination of reward, stress, balance, and performance that a person experiences in their job. In today’s era of recruiting and retention challenges the value of this quality of work life is magnified.
My recommendations for anyone considering implementing EOS in their company are as follows;
Most importantly, do this first! Most businesses have a dozen initiatives either being implemented or on deck for implementation. A functional, productive company operating system makes every other initiative you decide to take on more achievable and more impactful. As much as you may be excited to tackle this strategic project or that, my recommendation is do this first.
There is probably a lot of what you are currently doing that will coexist with this system. Employing EOS does not necessarily negate everything in your current operating system. For many aspects, it is about organizing, clarity and accountability to the way you do it.
Don’t go it alone. I don’t recommend the approach that I took to using EOS. It limited the positive effects of the system. Do Not employ EOS without an implementer. An implementer is your guide to employing EOS and is best not a current employee or leader. An outside implementer is free of company political shackles and can better guide you through the inevitable conflict that will arise in employing any operating system.
All in all, employing EOS is an excellent way for an AEC firm to break through a ceiling or plateau and move to the next level. Typical businesses employing EOS have between 10 and 250 employees and revenues from 2 to 50 million dollars although there are exceptions to this rule on both sides.
Stu Haney has over 35 years of experience in the AEC industry. His journey has taken him from engineering designer to CEO of a $100 million dollar national design and construction company. During that time he has participated in and managed just about every aspect of the AEC business. A teacher and a coach by nature, what’s most rewarding for Stu is to helping others reach their full potential.