One night this holiday season, my wife and I were wrapping gifts for our family. When a large pile of brightly colored packages sat beside each of us, we stood back to admire our handiwork. Kate’s packages were beautiful – crisply wrapped, carefully secured with beautiful ribbons that matched the wrapping paper, each package festooned with tidy little bows. My packages were technically covered (mostly) with wrapping paper and tape. But they didn’t really look…finished.
I’ve worked with dozens of entrepreneurs who started their EOS journey wanting, among other things, more “buy-in” from their employees. While I understand how rare and precious it is to have team members who share and want to achieve your company’s vision, the term “buy-in” itself has always troubled me.
After all, if you have to “buy” someone’s allegiance, does she really share your vision? Can you really count on her to help you achieve that vision? How about when the going gets tough? And, how much are you having to pay, anyway?
“The Peter Principle” is a term coined by Laurence J. Peter in 1969 to describe the recurring phenomenon of employees being promoted to – and often beyond – their highest level of competence. While hilariously illustrated in the comic strip Dilbert, both versions of the television show The Office, and the movie Office Space – the consequences for a small, entrepreneurial company aren’t funny at all.
When we begin implementing EOS with a company, we always ask the leaders to commit fully to the journey ahead – the journey to become their very best as a leadership team. One of the specific things that requires is to take responsibility for everything that you and your fellow leaders have created in your organization. Like a lot of things in EOS, that sounds easy – but it’s hard and very rare.
What we’re talking about is avoiding the blame game, which is so common in lean, fast-moving organizations. Most readers of this blog know the feeling well – you’re sailing along, growing and prospering, and then all of a sudden you hit the ceiling. You’re stuck or derailed by a major problem, or by hundreds of little ones. It’s frustrating and scary – and when you’re frustrated and scared your emotions can get the better of you.
Before a leadership team begins its EOS journey, we ask each member of the team to rate the company from 1-10 (with 10 being best) in answer to three questions. The second question is, “How aligned is your organization around the company’s vision and plan?”
The average answer to that question is 4, and it’s not at all unusual for the owner/Visionary to offer a score several points higher than anyone else on the team.