Written by: Paul Sparrow, Area Managing Partner & CMO, Chief Outsiders with Samuel Kniseley Ballesteros of The Advantage Solution and a Professional EOS Implementer
There’s a reason that unexpected success is credited to a “shot in the dark.” Because the tiny percentage of entrepreneurs who have succeeded this way managed to do so without the most essential trait of business success – vision.
The rest of us will need the lights on and a great set of binoculars – not just to see what’s ahead, but to use that visualization in creating sustainable success. And for 66 percent of CEOs, you are going to need clear vision to avoid joining the pile of failed small businesses that couldn’t survive past their first decade.
You may recall in our last blog, we introduced you to the Entrepreneurial Operating System, or EOS -- a methodology employed by corporate leaders to align the moving parts of their business. When implemented correctly, EOS can give you the tools you need to excel well into the future.
While though the proverbial cream rises to the top, it’s also said that effluence tends to run downhill. That’s why the EOS journey must start with a wide-open sense of shared vision among the senior leadership team.
Indeed, every engagement you undertake should start with that important fundamental question: What is your vision? Don’t put any parameters around that – you simply want to determine:
Though the answers tend to vary, we find that the typical entrepreneur can’t clearly answer all three. They have generated revenue and have clients – but often they don’t have a clear grasp of how and why it happened, and, importantly, whether it’s sustainable.
In the process of replacing those Coke-bottle glasses with crystal clarity, we recommend employing a three-pronged system that helps the leadership team bring the future into laser focus. The elements include:
EOS won’t work if your leaders aren’t playing well together. Their cohesiveness – or lack thereof – will affect the entire organization, so getting everyone from the janitor to the vice president to embrace the vision is the key.
So how do you manage, and measure, the efficacy of the vision? EOS implementers have a tool in their arsenal called the vision traction organizer (VTO for short). It poses a series of questions that represents the foundation of the vision strategy – things like:
Identifying – and clearly articulating – these answers will help you and your leadership team to always stay laser focused on your sweet spot, so that you're not getting distracted by the shiny things.
It’s only after this aspect of organizational focus is attained that we can turn our attention to the marketing strategy – digesting our vision and communicating it to the marketplace.
If you are like most small/mid-sized business CEOs, you could be a “ready, fire, aim” type when it comes to marketing. With market share at risk, it’s tempting to put the marketing plan ahead of the vision. But that’s what leads to random acts of marketing and wasted dollars.
Here’s an example from Paul: Just the other day, a colleague and I were on a discovery call with a prospective client. This company -- a technical services organization -- had a rather jaded view of marketing. They had spent a lot of money with a bevy of charlatans, frankly, conducting tactical marketing and not getting a measurable return on their investment. They had fired three or four marketing firms over the storied life of the company and were fairly desperate at this point. During the call, one truth became evident: They had failed to connect the vision to the strategy. That’s why EOS and marketing should be connected at the hip! The synergy is undeniable.
Is this beginning to make sense? EOS methodology leads to strategy, which then leads to marketing alignment. Skip a step along the way and you’ll run the risk of disconnection – among your troops, and in the eyes of the public. We hope you agree that a solid strategic foundation can make all the difference.
In our final blog in this series, we’ll take a closer look at how to best layer marketing strategies atop the EOS plan in order to achieve the best results.
Paul Sparrow, Area Managing Partner & CMO, Chief Outsiders