As a strategic planning facilitator, I’m often asked, “What do you think about the Entrepreneurial Operating System®?” I always answer the same way: “The key is having a strategic planning process or system that works for you.” You’ll know you have a good process for strategic planning if:
- You regularly stop the day-to-day to work on the company.
- Your process includes a review of the current state.
- You plan for both the long term and the short term.
- You have built-in accountabilities in place which measure progress.
Not having a planning process in place is just hoping. And hoping is not a strategy.
EOS Meeting Structure
Let’s get back to the question at hand: What do I think about EOS?
One of the benefits of EOS is that it includes what I refer to as a meeting rhythm. Now, before you go all, “Not another meeting…” on me, hear me out. EOS users implement a focused meeting structure that keeps leadership working on the business regularly. They use two kinds of meetings: The EOS Level 10 Meeting™ and quarterly meetings.
Level 10 Meetings
The EOS Level 10 Meeting is a weekly meeting where leaders focus on the following:
- Metrics: This is done by a regular review of the Company Scorecard, where certain quantifiable metrics are documented weekly.
- Rocks: This is a check-in and status update of the quarterly initiatives.
- Issues List: This is where issues are identified, discussed, and solved weekly.
At the end of the EOS Level 10 Meeting, each participant is supposed to go around and rate the meeting itself, giving it a score from 1–10, with the goal of having each one rate the meeting a 10, hence the name. (Some say this is a little cheesy, but if done right, it works.)
EOS Quarterly Meetings
The EOS quarterly meeting is designed to look at the company from a higher level. During the quarterly meeting, the team:
- Reviews the previous quarter
- Reviews the current vision and strategy
- Establishes new quarterly goals
- Addresses current key issues
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the Entrepreneurial Operating System (and the EOS quarterly meeting and Level 10 Meeting) is a good system if it fits your company. As a matter of fact, I use many of these components within StratOp, the system I use.
The StratOp Process
StratOp (which is a combination of Strategy and Operation) is a comprehensive planning system. It begins with a two- or three-day off-site leadership meeting. During this multi-day session, the team comes together as a cross-functional team to think and discuss what’s best for the business. Revelation happens on retreat, which is why getting away from the day-to-day is imperative for effective strategic planning.
Leadership Team Retreat
During the initial offsite, a team will walk through the following StratOp phases:
- Perspective: “Perspective before planning” is key to success. If you have the right perspective, the core plan almost writes itself.
- Core plan: Once a team has perspective, then they have the wisdom to develop a living core plan, answering the question, “Where are we headed?”
- Action: This is one of the key benefits of the StratOp process: Breakthrough becomes horizontal (cross-functional) and involves the whole team. The team-developed core plan serves as the basis for creating a unified action plan.
- Structure: Structure should follow substance. The overriding purpose of structure is to ensure that the right people, processes, and systems are in place to execute the plan (this is where EOS fits in).
- Management: The StratOp process affords a way of providing ongoing, regular feedback to help manage implementation. Asking, “How are we doing?”, teams learn how to manage the plan.
- Renewal: Recognizing when an old strategy is simply worn out, teams consciously embed renewal into plans and operations for progressive adaptation.
Once the plan is set, teams come together regularly to review the plan. This often is a regurgitation of what has been discussed weekly throughout the quarter. In this review, we:
- Review the core components of the plan
- Get updates on Action Initiatives
- Gather a fresh perspective
- Review both leading and lagging indicators, as well as potential risks
- Identify any new Action Initiatives
- Determine what’s most important for the next 90 days, then plan those Action Initiatives
EOS vs. StratOp: Which Is Better?
I think that may be an “apples and oranges” question. Perhaps the right question is, “What are the core differences of each system?”
Benefits of EOS
EOS identifies one of its focuses in its name: Entrepreneurial OPERATING System. If you are looking for emphasis on getting a better handle on operation efficiency, this may be the system for you. EOS provides:
- Structure: As explained above, the regular rhythm and detailed meeting structure of EOS can be a helpful discipline .
- Process: Another advantage of EOS is that it provides a tightly defined process for many aspects of an organization: hiring, organizational structure, metrics, finance, etc. This process “template” approach is helpful for many companies.
- Action-oriented: Effective EOS implementation is about what’s getting done.
Now, you may now be asking, “Then why don’t you use EOS?” It’s not necessarily about what EOS is lacking; it’s about how much more StratOp can offer.
Benefits of StratOp
After reviewing many of the top systems to bring to my clients, I chose StratOp for a few reasons:
- It helps teams gain perspective: Unlike any other system out there, StratOp helps a leadership team get the most comprehensive, detailed perspective on where the company stands. I see it every time I install a new StratOp system: After the Perspective phase, the leadership team knows what the plan should be. It’s almost as if the plan is writing itself.
- It’s comprehensive: StratOp is not just a leadership thing or an operational tool. StratOp leads a team through a deep dive into long-term strategy, current day operation, and financial realities. Once leadership identifies these issues, StratOp has a unique process for cascading the strategic plan down through the organization, ensuring that the entire team is on board and rowing in the same direction.
- It’s results-oriented: The Strategic Dashboard in StratOp is the heartbeat of the planning process. Results are measured and discussed regularly. Metrics are not just lagging, but also leading. Specific front-end drivers of success are identified and reviewed on a constant basis.
- It’s flexible: One of my favorite aspects of StratOp is how it provides “flexibility within a framework.” I often hear EOS companies talk about how, over time, the rigid structure of EOS becomes confining. One of the key questions we ask in StratOp on a regular basis is, “What must change?” This allows for—and even encourages—any necessary adaptation.
Combining Strategic Methods
As alluded to above, I have found that using the key EOS operational tools and imbedding them into a broader StratOp process has had a tremendous effect. I have seen significant movement and growth for the companies for which I do this (as of this writing, 23.94% year-over-year growth over the last two “pandemic” years alone). This may be something for EOS “operation”-minded companies to think about if they want a deeper strategic component to their planning.
Start Your Strategic Plan
I’m always happy to chat and provide my thoughts on how you can get going with your strategic planning process. If you’d like to do so, feel free to contact me and we can set up a time.