Many crises are unavoidable, unpredictable, or outside the control of the average business owner. In recent years, the business community has been forced to deal with the physical devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the financial devastation of the Great Recession of 2008. Many have been crippled by data breaches. Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 and the challenges that followed.
The coronavirus pandemic is the latest test of the business community’s resilience. The problem with this particular crisis is that we had no idea how bad it would get or how long it would last. We still don’t.
As President and CEO of DPK and a strong advocate of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), I knew I had to be the lighthouse for my team and our clients. This meant staying focused, communicating clearly, instilling confidence, and maintaining accountability.
Most importantly, my job was to protect the business and enable DPK to emerge from the pandemic on stable footing. After all, if the crisis ends but the business is gone, employees and clients both suffer. Survival was the top priority, but I also needed to focus on activities of value that would continue to drive the company forward.
What Is EOS?
EOS is set of concepts and tools designed to help leaders become better at creating and gaining support for the organization’s vision, building traction towards that vision, and developing a more functional, healthier leadership team.
There are six key components in the EOS model that need to be managed for an organization to be successful.
1) Vision. Get the entire organization on the same page about the direction of the organization.
2) People. Identify key positions, or seats, and fill them with the right people.
3) Data. Use reliable information and metrics to accurately assess the state of the organization.
4) Issues. Identify and solve problems in a way that prevents chronic issues.
5) Process. Implement systems and procedures that are consistently followed to reduce risk and enable growth.
6) Traction. Get better at executing your vision every day.
To be clear, this is very much a high-level summary of the EOS methodology. DPK adopted EOS because it provides us with a foundation and blueprint for sustained improvement and growth. We’ve also seen firsthand during the COVID-19 pandemic how EOS has made our organization more resilient in the face of an unforeseen crisis.
“Great Leaders Are Forged in Crisis”
As the coronavirus hit our area, we were told to stay at home and do nothing. Let the storm pass. I refused to accept that. I had too much motivation to not only keep our business alive but to keep It moving forward.
I started each day by reading the quote above. History has taught us that the world needs leaders in moments of crisis more than ever. As the leader of DPK, I knew I needed to step up and be the aforementioned lighthouse.
This involved everything from monitoring and sharing government updates with employees to inviting them to contact me with questions about their specific circumstances. We kept our lines of communication open and consistent. I personally kept everyone in the company updated on the status of DPK, whether they were still working or furloughed at home.
One of the biggest advantages of EOS is that it allows the CEO to focus on CEO-level responsibilities. It affords leaders the time to reflect and build upon important relationships. I reached out to clients on a weekly basis, not just see how their businesses were doing, but to check on their families. We launched the DPK Cares initiative in which we distributed facemasks and bottles of hand sanitizer to as many employees, clients, and families as we could.
I received emails and texts from clients who said these were the most appreciated, useful packages they had ever received. Will they lead to more business? Honestly, I’m not concerned about that because generating business wasn’t the point. This was an investment in relationships, which are always worthy of our time and resources.
The Road Ahead
It feels somewhat surreal thinking back to where DPK stood in March now that we’re back to managing a full slate of projects. When the pandemic started shutting things down, we were putting in twice the amount of time and effort to keep the business going. We continue to evolve and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. We understand the value of keeping our employees working and moving our clients’ projects forward.
We’re able to do this because we keep our vision in front of us and our integration process at our side. You have to stay true to your process and systems, even as you adapt to an unpredictable environment.
Organizations have a choice. Either structure operations and implement systems in a way that can survive a crisis, or simply respond to events as they happen and deal with the chaos that ensues. At DPK, the strength of our culture and our commitment to relationships have kept us on track during the pandemic.
I would encourage all senior executives to evaluate your own systems and processes and explore EOS as a tool that can make the organization more resilient in times of crisis. Most importantly, take action to address areas of weakness and position your organization for stability and long-term growth.