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EOS Part 1: Tools and Strategies for Business Growth – Jeni and Nick Clift – Episode 104





business, leadership team, people, EOS, implementer, Nick, scorecard, absolutely, strategy, clients, VTO, tools, running, question, big, structure, Jeni, number, vision, building


Debra Chantry-Taylor  00:00

So, hello and welcome to a special edition of Better Business Better Life. This is actually the first part in a two part series, where myself, Nick and Jeni Clift will get together and actually answer questions about EOS. Nick and Jeni joining us as podcast hosts on this series. And so this will be a chance to get to know us a little bit more in detail and have your questions answered about EOS. Welcome to another episode of Better Business Better Life. Today I am joined by my soon-to-be co-hosts, Jeni Clift and Nikki Clift Welcome, guys.

Nick Clift  00:31

Hello, how are you doing?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  00:33

Well, thanks. Yeah, good to see you, too. Hey, look, it would be thought to be really cool. If you could actually introduce yourselves. I know you’ve been on the podcast as guests. But given you’re going to be coming on and doing some of the podcasts yourself as Co- hosts, tell us a little about your yourself. We’ll start with Jeni, because you’re the first on my screen.

Jeni Clift  00:47

Okay. So Jeni Clift, fellow EOS implementer, based near Melbourne, in Australia, been an EOS implementer for almost four years, and actually ran EOS in our business prior to that. So Nick and I have worked together in our businesses for 26 probably coming up 27 years now in IT services and a couple of other sort of business consulting and coaching areas, but really, the longest business and industry that we were in was IT services, did a merger, a number of acquisitions along the way, a merger to get us up to 35 staff and then exited that business last year. And probably one of the biggest, I guess, highlights that was doing a fairly major merger with another business, right in the middle of the pandemic, and, you know, sort of taking, you know, 15 staff and 13 staff bringing everybody together when everybody was working from home, over quite a sprint geographic area and, and a couple of different countries. But I guess the we can touch on this as we go through the journey of EOS and how that helped us take us through that process and come out the other end intact, I think was a real credit to to us as leaders, but also to EOS. And that sort of, I guess, pushed me along on my journey to become an EOS implementer.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  02:18

Cool. Now for those of you who are actually watching this, rather than just listening, you will see that Jeni and Nick are actually in different rooms. But they do actually I’m married, they do work together. They don’t live together. They’re just in the two separate houses at the moment. So Nick, tell us your side of the story.

Nick Clift  02:33

Sure, I suppose. Just adding on to what Jeni said, I started working in it over 40 years ago, and worked in the corporate world and got really disillusioned with a couple of things that happened in there. So we kind of started our first business back in 1996. And Jeni and I had a 12 month old son at the time and moved from Sydney to Melbourne to Tasmania in six months. Then back to regional Victoria. So we moved four houses in in 12 months. Which is ironic because we’ve moved every time every year for the last seven years as well. But in the middle of that we were really stable in a regional country town called Dukkha. And Victoria, were there for 20 years, and we built our business up and we acquired another one. And then we moved to Melbourne about probably seven or eight years ago. And went through that journey of tried lots of different things with business, peer groups and mentor groups and coaching and just tried a whole lot of different things. And eventually, at a couple of conferences in the US we we heard about this traction thing. And that kind of was what piqued our interest in the EOS. And on the way back on the flight back, we read the book and said right we’re gonna do this. So we go online, found an implementer and get been working with EOS in our own businesses, but also, just 12 months ago, I did my training to be an implementer as well. And now I primarily work with other MSP IT service providers around Australia and really loving it could change. But there’s a lot of things that happened in between all that from that’s for sure, for sure.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  04:08

That’s a really good, nice summary. That’s great. So, Jeni and Nick and I actually worked together during some of us mastermind classes, but also we are working with the Oh together as well. So we’ve we’ve got a fairly good rapport between us. We thought we’d use these these sessions to actually answer some of those questions that we often get asked by our clients and also share some experiences that we’ve had with clients in the session room without giving away obviously client names or any like that but giving you just some some tips and pointers about you know how EOS can actually help in your business. So, I’m going to pose the first question we’re gonna take it in turns but the first question is, I often get asked you know, because if you search on EOS here in New Zealand, it comes up with shoes, number one, lipsticks number two and cameras number three, and only if you’re really lucky, will you actually find anything to do with EOS the offer? Oh, of course a blockchain has come into it as well. So you’ve actually got all of those before you To get to the entrepreneur operating system, so just keen to hear, you know, if somebody says, you know, what is EOS? How do you answer that? I might get given that Nick gophers this time?

Nick Clift  05:09

Yep, sure, it is a common question. And for those that don’t know, they say, What is this thing? I’ve heard of it. And I basically lead off with saying, Well, it’s a, it’s a business management methodology to build a really strong leadership team. And especially to help the owners or the founders of that business, get what they want out of it. That’s kind of where I start from. So we don’t get involved in day to day operational stuff, or how to build your widget or even how to sell your widget. It’s really about building a really strong leadership team. And once once people understand that they are okay, that makes sense. So yeah, I get it, because it seems to be a little bit of confusion out there as to it’s the same as a couple of other products that are out there, like a marketing strategy or a sales tool. It’s not that at all, it’s all about the people side of it. And that’s what really was the key thing that was missing for us back in 2016, or something when we first implemented in our own business.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  06:01

Perfect, Jeni?

Jeni Clift  06:03

Yeah, for me, I probably I talk a lot about our experiences and how we came to come across EOS. And then why we made the decision of Eos. And we tried a few other things as well. And they just weren’t not the right fit for us for various reasons through complexity or the size of the business that we were at the time what we were looking for, but often I’ll talk about Nick and I being stuck in our business. And we were looking for something to always had this vision of being a an employee led business so that, you know, Nick and I could be in a happy place, whether that be Greek island, and we could phone back on a Monday to the business and say, Hey, team, how’s it going, and they say, you know, everything’s on fire or God better, best book a flight home or, you know, everything’s under control. Fantastic. Talk to you next Monday, that was our vision. And we’d never found anything that allowed us to do that we were too much in the weeds, everything that came back to us. And we created that. So we were looking for something to a structure to put into place to allow us to get out of our employees way. And the other thing I talk about is, you know, vision, where’s the business going, how you’re going to get there, traction, are putting all of the structures and, you know, sort of meeting cadences and those sort of things, you know, what do you actually need to do to achieve that vision. And then, of course, the third one healthy, which is, as Nick touched on healthy, strong leadership team who are willing to say what needs to be said for the good of the business, and always be moving towards that, that strong, cohesive leadership team and have a bit of fun along the way.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  07:40

Absolutely. That’s one of most important things. It’s interesting, because we actually have quite different backgrounds in many respects. So you were running a business and came across EOS. I was running businesses, for other people and coaching at the time that I came across EOS and running my own event space. And I really fell in love with the simplicity of the EOS tools. And it kind of brought together for me all the things that I’ve been doing naturally in running businesses, but without knowing what I was actually doing the stuff that you kind of learn an MBA, because most of it is completely useless. But you know, there was some, the good stuff is captured in the in the EOS tools. And it gives enough structure for entrepreneurs, I think to to give them some frameworks they can work with in a nice simplistic form without taking away the stuff that they’re really good at, which is envisioning, we are much bigger things making the world a better place. So I kind of fell in love with it without having used it. And now I’m using it in my current business and just just love it love teaching other people how to use it as well. But it is it’s that I think for entrepreneurs, they’re nervous, are you going to put some kind of structure in place, and suddenly, it’s going to be so rigid? I can’t do what I want to do. But in actual fact, I find it quite freeing when people actually have a little bit of a framework to guide them on the way through that journey.

Nick Clift  08:47

Yeah, and I think the, the any successful business is using a methodology today. Yeah, they’re not then back in the old days. For me, you know, 20 years ago, I really did just wing it. It was all about closing a deal and getting more money in the bank. And that was that was my entire strategy. Anytime the bank balance got to be low, I just get on the phone or get out and see clients and get close more deals. But there was no no kind of methodology, no way of building a leadership team that way of empowering your staff and their way of growing the business. And clients I work with today I find that they have have got some plans and they’ve got some strategies and the OS doesn’t make all that redundant. It just helps me really refine it and get that leadership team 100% laser focus because quite often you’ll find the owners or the directors or the senior people aren’t on the same page. But as you work your way down the organization there’s all these varying versions of what are we actually here for and yeah, it can be quite challenging and those first few sessions that we run I really love it because it really hope that helps people see well actually we’re not completely hopeless but my god there’s a lot of opportunity here to get better and that’s what really makes me get now I get a lot of energy out of that want to come out of the recession and go while these guys eyes Alright, predominantly, I’m ready to get going. Yeah.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  10:03

And you’re absolutely right. You said before, you know, we’re not here to tell you how to sell, we’re not here to tell you how to make your business better, we’re actually here just to, to enhance it if you like and make it, I would say make the wheels go faster, or just make sure that you don’t get lost and and take too many detours along the way. I have a couple, I have some people who actually asked the question, is EOS a software system? Because an operating system tends to make you think of a phone operating system or a business operating system? You ever get that question?

Nick Clift  10:38

As in the IT industry, which is where I spent my time and a lot of my clients are, they’re pretty up to speed with that. And they know all the operating systems, so they don’t go down that path. So I haven’t heard that a lot myself. But I can imagine if you’re in a completely retail Lolly shop business, you could kind of think, oh, an operating system. I wonder what that is.

Jeni Clift  10:58

And I guess I preempt that I often say to people, this this is a structure to run your business, it is not software, although there is a software available to help you run it. But it’s more about bringing tools and that structure and meeting cadence and a methodology into running the business in a consistent way that is transferable on to other people. So it’s not always things coming back to you. But an awful when I do preempt that question I’ll often get okay, because I was going to ask about that. Because people now tend to think that something like this will be software based. And then you get they sort of start thinking in that, Oh, my God, it’s another system, another tool that we have to learn that we have to try and get people to engage in. And we already have so many why would we want to take on another one?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  11:53

Makes perfect sense. And you’re absolutely right, there is some software that can help you with running those meetings and keeping track of the data and doing all that something, but it’s it certainly is the framework, that is the important part. Yeah. What’s your favorite EOS tool? What’s the favorite tool? From your clients perspective? I suppose what do you sort of see that has the biggest impact?

Jeni Clift  12:14

For me two things, certainly that level 10 meeting and, you know, an often I’ll help clients along sort of the initial part of the journey in just helping sort of bring the structure in and understand what the terminology means. And, you know, get them tight, so that people are not getting, you know, lost into detail, or you’re spending too much time on one thing when they don’t need to. And the other one would be the scorecard, the consistency of looking at those determining what the important numbers are, and then that consistency of looking at those numbers every week. And to me, yeah, having run their own business on a bigger red flag to me than a red number was a blank space. If somebody was not filling it in, had you chosen a number or a measurable that you can’t measure? And we did that? You know, something that in theory, it sounded really good. But we actually couldn’t measure that number. So we we replaced it. But if a number is continually left blank, because somebody on a team somewhere in the business doesn’t want to report on that, to me, that’s a big red flag. And as I said earlier, you know, an opportunity of for an improvement on a right person in the right seat or, you know, something that’s going on in a time or it could be around manufacturing, whatever it may be that you do.

Nick Clift  13:41

Absolutely. Yeah. For me. The Yeah, the medium the level 10 meetings and scorecards are pretty quick wins on operationally. But the bigger impact I believe is, is the people analyzer, the right people right seat, getting ensuring that the team members you’ve got are absolutely doing what they’re passionate about and understand why they’re doing it. That whole GW see, do you get it? Do you want to do the capacity? That to me is probably the number one. And overall I’d say the VTO  that one page, or two page plan that brings the whole thing together? And every quarter when we go back and look at that and say yeah, this is we really where we’re going in the next 10 years, three years. Why is that? That’s, you know, at the comments I get from my clients. That’s the most the biggest value is having, forcing yourself to spend that time to do that review on where the heck we’re going. Every 90 days is just changes everything. And it’s a bit clunky at the start. You’re getting everyone. Everyone bites off too many rocks and oh yeah, let’s do all this. We’ll do 10 things each and we can do it as a whole like I didn’t really get it until one of our Entrepreneurs Organization, forum meetings, we had a brainstorm and you neurologists, brain, scientists come and talk to us about the the brain chemistry or in the logic of making decisions. And he ran through this whole program with us. And he proved to us that the human mind cannot analyze more than five things at once. So you can’t hold more than five items in your brain that you’re analyzing at one time. So, so that and when he did an exercise with us absolutely nailed it, because out of the eight people in the room, no one got past five. And so there’s a logic in this three to five things that keeps coming up in ALS, time and time again, three to five, less is more, and I couldn’t really, I heard the words, but I didn’t really get it. But once I did that exercise, because if you give people, eight things to focus on, they can focus on any of them. And that so I really am an advocate of getting things down to three, five Max, if you can get down to three things to focus on for the quarter, and then you’ve got a 90% more chance of getting it completed setting.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  15:56

Yeah, no, it’s absolutely right. And I’ve shared this story with you guys before. But you know, I think when I was doing my own VTO, I would think, Oh, I could do seven, because, you know, I’m like, super smart and super quick. And it took me close to two years to actually realize I kept setting myself six or seven goals and kept achieving three. And so actually, why don’t I set three? And then I’ll know 100%.

Nick Clift  16:16

I think so we have to, I think it was that third year of running us in the IT business, and I was the visionary and everyone made a decision, I got zero goals a quarter.

Jeni Clift  16:28

 And then you achieve 100% of those zero.

Nick Clift  16:31

One or zero for visionaries probably not a bad thing.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  16:36

Well, I think we actually we actually say that visionaries probably shouldn’t have rocks unless they’re holding another seat. So if they’re sitting in another seat, they might have to have some rocks. But generally, we’re not so great at actually kind of getting things done. So one of the things that I fell in love with EOS. And I think you both touched on this was the fact that in that first session, when we work with clients, we don’t do the big, you know, the two page plan, the vision, the values, all that wonderful. So which is really important. But we actually go if we did all of that, and we could leave this room with all of these questions answered about who we are, how we operate, who we deal with what our big, hairy, audacious goal is. But we go back into the environment, and absolutely nothing has changed. And so all the rah rah from the day just completely disappears, because we’re back to fighting fires, and back to the same old thing. And I love the fact when I saw the ers proven process that the first day is all based around first of all structure, what structure do we actually need to have this business run the right way, and where’s the accountability for each of those areas within there, and then we get into teaching the tools like the level 10 meter like the scorecard like the rocks, which means when you leave that first day, you haven’t got the big plan that you thought you’re going to walk out with, but you actually go back into the business with some stuff you can actually use. And you can actually start to get some results with and to me, that was like mind blowing. And now I see it time and time again with my clients is that actually, they’re expecting to come in and do a big rah rah session about the vision, the values where they are, and they leave with all these things. And I think sometimes they might feel a little bit disappointed because it wasn’t what they’re expecting, when they come back 30 days later, they’re just so excited by the progress they’ve made in 30 days and how much has changed.

Nick Clift  18:09

They’re definitely that that accountability chart and structuring the business to what the business needs for the next 12 to 18 months is a real powerful, powerful tool. And I find that a lot of people have team members that are there because of seniority, because they’ve been around for a while or they they’re in senior leadership roles just because of the timeframe, nothing to do with their ability or their passion. And that can be a tough conversation. But boy, it makes all the difference when people were we have the right people in the right seats. And we in our business, we had people join and leave the leadership team over periods of time, but because the company needed to focus for six months, we absolutely had to focus on this project. We needed someone to step off the leadership team and go and focus on that technology issue over there and solve it 100% Then when they finish that, then they came back onto the leadership team in their in their normal role. So it’s, it’s not a thing I love about the whole process is we review everything every 90 days. It’s not set in concrete forever. That was one of my early challenges as a business owner was I would engage with a coach or read a book or go to a seminar and I do this massive planning. Yep, that’s it. And I tell everyone, that’s the plan, get them all started sell it to the team, get them on the page, but I’ll never update it. And two years down the track, we’re still doing things that are not even relevant to our customers anymore. So that was a big aha moment for me. Sure. Yeah.

Jeni Clift  19:37

And I think Nick, you said about, you know, people coming, being on the leadership team stepping off the leadership team and coming back and I think having a culture where people can do that and because it hurts, you know, when you know, the the leadership team has been, you know, reviewed and you’re not on it. It hurts. It’s a big hit to the ego and the having a that healthy cohesive team where you can have those adult conversations. And so we understand how you feel, this is not ideal, and certainly wasn’t our intention. This is what the business needs right now. And we’ve had people that, you know, had been through that came back on the leadership team. And then, in future meetings, having a conversation with somebody else who was in the same situation, one particular person comes to mind who actually had a conversation with the person who was about to step off leadership team and said, This happened to me. At the time, it absolutely sucked. And in hindsight, it’s the best thing that happened. You know, it was the right thing for me at the time, I wasn’t quite ready to be on the leadership team. But it’s what the business need. And I was able to make a real impact in that space, and then come back onto the leadership team when the time was right. And, you know, it’s unique to be able to do that, because normally, people will get very hurt and upset, and they’ll just leave the business. And, you know, having that always in, you know, what’s best for the business, and having those open and honest conversations with people. There’s so much power in that for our business.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  21:11

Yeah, I completely agree. And I think that’s the difference in the accountability chart and an organizational chart, organizational charts tend to get kind of stuck in, written in stone almost hammered into little stone bricks. And that’s what it’s always going to be. And that is a business changes, and we work with fast growing, or companies that wants to get growth, they’ve actually got to do things differently and focus on different things at different times. So it’s important, you can actually do that. And it isn’t, it isn’t about a title. I mean, that’s what I love about that, that I also the leadership team, the term we use as leadership team, is about the team that is working together to look to the future of the company to ensure that company meets its future goals. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be head of a department and be looking after an area that you absolutely adore and love. But you don’t have to be on the leadership team. If that’s not the focus for the leadership team at that point.

Nick Clift  21:57

Absolutely. And that that leadership, LMA, the leadership management and accountability piece that we we teach and we talk about, it’s really important to distinguish the difference between leadership and management. And I got very confused about that in the early days as well. So that’s, that’s another. Yeah, one of one of our toolbox items, they’ll be used to help.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  22:21

Yeah. I have another question. I’m going to ask you guys as far as aggression is that it too, but I was actually I was having a conversation with somebody about a day and they’d looked at the EOS model and the six key components, and obviously, we’ve got the vision, we’ve got the people the data, the issues, the process, and then the traction part of it. And they said, Oh, it doesn’t have cash on there, it doesn’t have strategy on there. So are you really a holistic kind of model, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on that.

Nick Clift  22:46

Like to me, kept the cash component is definitely embedded in the scorecard. And you decide what you need to measure on a weekly, monthly, quarterly annual basis. And there are compartments in the model for all those different measurements. So there’s specific cash, typically, there’s two or three numbers on the scorecard, the leadership scorecard that deal with cash, cash of bank, receivables, debtors, etc. And then there’s a month we normally a monthly cycle as well. So not everything is, should be measured on a weekly or can be measured on a weekly basis. And then you’ve got your quarterly and annual. So that’s kind of how I’ve seen that dealt with the strategy side of it. I mean, the VTO is a document that captures strategy. So we’re not here, we’re not doing a five day strategy plan and designing your business, your market and all that kind of stuff. We’re refining the way you look at the industry and how you want the market to see your business. It’s not necessarily building building that strategy up. So I can’t really touch on a bit. Yeah. I’m not sure if that answers the question, but that’s what I’ve come up with.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  24:03

Yep. So let’s hear from Jeni.

Jeni Clift  24:06

Yeah, and I respond something similar that the VTOL is effectively your strategy, because, you know, you’re saying that you know, in your long term strategy, your 10 year, then your three year they want and then your one year and then your quarterly so you are sort of breaking down, you know, to if you want your business to be like this in 10 years, what does it need to look like in three years one year? And then what do you need to do this quarter that is working towards that so to me the to is is effectively your strategy? And absolutely, with what Nick said about the the finance side of the business as well, because you have your leadership weekly meeting and you do have some numbers on there from the finance side of the business.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  24:47

I agree. I mean, it your scorecard is absolutely the point where all the leadership team actually looking at the numbers. So in actual fact, we have more of a focus on on cash and cash flow than than any other sort of methodology if you like, but also, we do have things like we recognize was an issue with cash flow, we have tools like the cash flow drivers and things to actually help people deal with that. So the thing I love about EOS is there is the, what we call the foundation or tools, which gives them the basics and the foundations for, for building that the business structure and framework. But then there’s all these other tools, you can pull money doing a merger and acquisition is a merger or acquisition tool, got some cash flow challenges, here’s the cashflow drivers. And so there’s you know, it’s not just, we just do the basics. And that said, there is a whole raft of tools in that toolbox, which I absolutely love. And strategy wise, again, like you’re dealing with a whole team. So, you know, you’ve got usually four to eight smart people sitting in a room. By bringing everybody into those meetings and having those discussions together, I think you get a far more diverse thought process, you get a much more rigid or not like a rigid, much more sort of like Word and much more robust kind of decision making processes. And therefore what comes out of it as your strategy in your video is actually I think, the best it possibly can be.

Jeni Clift  25:58

Absolutely. And I think back to when we first started working with our implementer, back in 2017, or 16. And we all sat quietly and wrote down what we thought, you know, the business would look like in 10 years time and then went around the room. And I think from memory, there were five of us on the leadership team. And we all said the same thing. But we said it in different language. And it was really, it was interesting, but it was also quite, I guess validating that five of us that have worked together for quite some time in the business. And Nick and I as owners, we were all working towards the same goal. But we’d never articulated that before. And the power of having that down. And then I use that as sort of a guess part of the strategy was really around our sort of recruitment. Nick carried that VTO round, or we carried around, you’re laminated in our laptop bag. So when somebody says, Oh, you know, so what’s your business? You know, what are you trying to achieve? Well, here you go, here it is, here’s our strategy. And people be like, holy cow, this is really cool, you know, what you’re trying to achieve, you know, why you’re here, you know, what’s important to you. So again, that BTO that the actual physical document became part of the strategy because it was, you know, we, I guess taken a little bit more seriously, in that we, we knew exactly where we were going and how we’re going to get there.

Nick Clift  27:22

We would also use that VTO document for recruiting as well. Like if you’re trying to recruit for a senior position in your business, and you’ve can show demonstrate that you’ve got a plan and where you’re going and what the what the action plan is and the growth plans. People go, oh, okay, this, this looks like a really cool place to work, and actually work really well.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  27:41

That’s the end of part one of this series that we’re doing. It has been cut, we actually recorded the whole thing as a one piece podcast, and we broke it down to two parts just to make it easier to digest what we do in the next part next week. So please do tune back in again next week to get the second part of what is EOS and common questions about EOS with Debra, Nick and Jeni. Thank you.






Debra Chantry-Taylor 

Professional EOS Implementer | Entrepreneurial Leadership & Business Coach | Business Owner

#betterbusinessbetterlife #entrepreneur #leadership #eosimplementer #professionaleosimplementer #entrepreneurialbusinesscoach

Professional EOS Implementer New Zealand

Professional EOS Implementer  Australia

Professional EOS Implementer UK

Professional EOS Implementer NZ

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