Rules are what separate a boxing match from a fist fight. Sure, some fighters don’t like each other, and sometimes they land illegal blows, but there’s still a common understanding between them about how things will go. Two people beating each other to a pulp only to embrace as friends afterward is a testament to the power of rules.
The Entrepreneurial Operating System®, or EOS for short, is a set of rules for running a business. Thermal-Vac started running on EOS since April 2019 and it has made a big difference in how we resolve our differences.
Fighting like siblings
And we’ve got our share of differences.
Thermal-Vac is a family business through-and-through. Our founder, Steve Driscol, started bringing his kids to work when they were still in diapers. Now the grown-up kids are running things, along with a mix of their kids, cousins, and the rest of the crew—some of whom remember those babies under desks like it was yesterday.
“We’re a big family,” is a cliché lots of businesses use to wrap a warm n’ fuzzy exterior around a boring, conventional corporate environment. Not Thermal-Vac. When we say it, we mean it all the way down. Because in any big family, it’s not all snuggles and sunshine: people who love each other can be far apart about how to tackle a challenge.
In the Thermal-Vac family, with so many strong personalities at play, things sometimes get heated. We all are passionate about making Thermal-Vac into the best partner for our customers and the best workplace for our team. When two paths open in front of us, we can have drag-out arguments about which way to go.
The EOS rules of boxing
Before we adopted EOS, big arguments sometimes stopped short of arriving at solutions we all could agree on. EOS gives us the framework to keep us all accountable, even if we were ready to strangle each other.
In our industry, successful businesses tend to fixate on constant process improvement and development. The problem with focusing only on the “business end” is it tends to neglect the business itself.
EOS provides a set of tools and a clearly defined process for fixing that. It forces the team to set concrete goals—for the year, for the medium-term, and even for a decade or longer—and systematically analyze how to get there. It also opens space for a team to tackle issues that otherwise might feel easier to avoid.
Businesses don’t need to figure out EOS on their own. We owe our success with EOS to Certified EOS Implementer® Josh Holtzman of EOS Worldwide. The guiding hand of a skilled Implementer is especially important for a team like ours—one full of personalities that like to fly off in every direction at once. If you’re looking for a great Implementer, look no further than Josh! He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From arguing to collaborating
One of the EOS rules we’ve loved is the concept of putting the right people in the right seats. Understanding the roles that need to be filled sounds like basic stuff, but diving into the details revealed ways we could improve as managers and as a team. It also brought into focus how many of us were trying to wear the same hat.
Ever tried wearing the same hat with an opinionated sibling? It doesn’t go well.
Everybody knowing their place gives us a shortcut to solving problems, even if the shortcut involves a saltier version of, “Stay in your seat.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t figure things out together.
EOS provides a bunch of strategies for resolving our differences without throwing wrenches across the room. For issue solving there’s IDS™, which stands for Identify, Discuss, Solve. It sounds simple because it is: first define what the problem is, discuss what’s causing it, and assign someone to take responsibility for a solution. When everyone agrees from the start that each issue needs to be attacked the same way, meetings get to the point.
The bottom line is to get better
In this industry, it’s understandable why businesses like ours spend most of our developmental energy on mastering the technical side of our craft. But improving as a business has big benefits on the shop floor, too. Better structure, better management, better outcome.
We’ve appreciated what EOS has done for Thermal-Vac and we’d love to introduce other businesses in our industry to the system. Call us at (714) 997-2601 and let’s talk shop.