Building the best Operating System (foundation) for your Business

Building a strong foundation

How many Operating Systems does your business use?  In our tech driven world when you hear “Operating System” it immediately leads most to think iOS (Apple),  Windows, Linux, or Android.   But in this context of the question asked, it will only be as metaphor to help make a point.

If you want your business to operate smoothly, have limited “glitches” and “crashes” you must decide on one Operating System and everyone needs to be using it.  Just know, that your fundamental Business Operating System has nothing to do with computer software or hardware, it is about getting everyone on the same page and talking the same language. Think of it as the foundation for a house…there are a million ways to design and build a house, but without a strong foundation it’s not going to last very long regardless of how you build the rest of it.

In his book Traction, Gino Wickman introduced the acronym EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) for the process he created.   Think of your Business Operating System as the baseline set of components that ties together your company’s vision, your core values, and how you communicate with each other.   Developing and implementing this Operating System starts with the owner and the leadership team, but for a business to have long-term success everyone in the company needs to agree on and operate under the same operating system.

Imagine this….

Imagine how many computer related issues a typical small business (maybe yours) would have if there was no standardization in the computer operating system, some running iOS, some on Windows, a few on Linux, and so on.   Running independently any one of these computer operating systems may be perfectly fine for the business, but when you try to run them all together, share software, data, and have multiple users you are asking for trouble.   Some of you may have actually experienced this!  Actually doing this would be a huge pain for all and kill productivity.  It isn’t by accident that one of the first courses of action after a business merger is to get both businesses on the same computer operating system and business software system.

In the same way, you may have a group of very capable managers and leaders in your business.   What typically happens is when the business is small the communication is more individualized and focused; the probability of effective communication is greater because lines of communication are shorter.   Then growth starts, you get busier, silos develop and there isn’t a single Business Operating System in place, but several. Each created by a different leader.  The leaders are each using their own interpretation of the company’s business operating system.  No one is intentionally trying to sabotage the business, but it certainly plays out that way.  By not having everyone on the same page, you end up with chaos, conflict, confusion  – all of which not only costs the company money in productivity, but often costs businesses quality employees they were counting on to facilitate future growth.

Where to start…..

A consistent, effective Business Operating System – with Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System as a great example, generates 3 things for your business:  Vision, Traction, and Health.

  • Vision: All the leaders of the business are on the same page.  That includes your why?  who?  what? and where you’re are going.  These ‘softer’ intangibles define your value system and gets everyone to buy in and fully engage.
  • Traction: This is accountability and discipline and consistently executing the company vision. Growing and developing leaders.
  • Health: Getting your leadership team to be a cohesive team.  They trust one another and both challenge and complement each other as a group.  As a whole they achieve more than they can individually.

Once the leaders of your business understand and follow a single business operating system for your company, the rest of the organization can be introduced to it.  Your entire team will operate on the same business system…the same page.    Even your customers will become familiar with it, even if you never directly tell them about it.

What are your thoughts?  Our experience is that most business owners agree in the general message of this post, we often see the challenge or struggle being more about not knowing where to start or finding the time to do so.  If this sounds like you or someone you know, we would be welcome the opportunity to help get it into motion.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach