The Traction Book Isn’t Working: 3 Mistakes People Make Self-Implementing EOS

You’re Not Keeping Up Accountability

Accountability is the easiest concept in Traction to wrap your head around. At the same time, it’s one of the hardest to actually achieve. The basis of Traction® is that accountability is broken into scaling goals. If you’re self-implementing EOS already, you’re probably familiar with the following goal structure:

And you’re familiar with the idea of an EOS Scorecard™, and how it gets you the predictive data you need to know how your business is running.

If you’re here, it means that, despite having all of these in place, one or more of them just isn’t getting done. Well, why is that?

In a word: desensitization.

Self-Implementing EOS Usually Looks Like This:

  1. Week 1: Everything gets set up. Everyone is on board.
  2. Week 2: A couple of to-dos got missed, but we understand everyone is busy.
  3. Week 3: A lot of to-dos got missed, and a few Rocks were off-track, but I’m sure it’s fine
  4. Week 4: Half the stuff we were supposed to do didn’t get done.
  5. Week 5: Breeze through the scorecard, to-dos, and Rocks. They’re all off anyway

Looking at that, it’s easy to understand why this team things the Traction book isn’t working. They are desensitized to to their lack of accountability. No one gets every to-do done every week forever. That’s impossible. But in a business that runs on the Entrepreneurial Operating System, you hold people accountable for not meetings goals.

How Can You Fix It?

The first step is setting realistic goals. Unrealistic goals (usually ones that don’t take into account the time capacity of the team) are doomed to failure, and each failure desensitizes you to the next.

After you’ve looked at your goals more carefully, examine how you discuss when somone doesn’t meet a goal. In an EOS business, we use the L10 Meeting Agenda™. During that first 20 minutes you have to report on your Scorecard, Quarterly Rocks, and to-do’s. If any one of those has any problem at all, it goes on the Issues List™ and it gets talked about that day.

This is important for two reasons. First, it may be the person with the off-track task needs something from the team. If so, you need to figure out exactly what that is and give it to them or they will never succeed. Second, if a task goes undone or a goal is off-track, that’s an issue. In EOS we don’t just let issues fester, because that’s when an issue just becomes part of the company culture.

Short version: have that conversation right then and there. Why is this off-track? OK. Let’s figure out a way to get it back on track right now.

The Right People Aren’t In The Right Seats

When you start self-implementing EOS, it’s easy to say you’re going to really work on your Accountability Chart. You go through the GWC and try to have the discussion about people being in the right seats. It goes like this:

  • The team defines a seat and what success looks like for that role
  • The person sitting in it agrees
  • We ask the person, “do you get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it” and they say yes.
  • Done
  • Three months later the same problems are coming from the same places in the business.


Well, you didn’t actually enter the danger there. Sure, you asked the person (let’s call him Ed) if they were right for the role. But that was all you did, and let’s face it, Ed isn’t about to say, “no. I’m the wrong person for this job,” when his check is on the line.

What needs to happen is a lot more dangerous and a lot less comfortable. Right there in front of everyone you should be asking each member of the team if they think Ed is the right person for the job, and making sure they feel 100% OK with saying no he isn’t.

You aren’t doing Ed any favors (or anyone else) by putting him in a job he either doesn’t want or doesn’t know how to do. You’re setting Ed (and everyone else) up for failure, because your team is being polite at a time when they need to be honest.

Businesses that succeed in EOS are the ones that are able to have conversations that would make other teams uncomfortable. Let’s be honest.


The Shadow In The Room

The shadow I’m talking about is the one the CEO, president, or other top-level person casts when self-implementing EOS.

If you’re the person at the top and you are asking the people in your business to call each other out on issues, they are gonna be tripping all over each other to avoid calling you out. It isn’t their fault, you write their paychecks. They will choke back criticism, hold back complaint, and call into work dead before they tell you how much you’ve screwed up.

If the de facto leader of the company is also acting as the EOS Implementer, the shadow that “the boss” casts is one that shrouds every aspect of your attempt to implement EOS. A lot more than you think will stay hidden, and you can’t get Traction driving in the dark. Well…you can, but you’re just as likely to run into a tree as get where you’re going.

You need someone to call you out.

Plain and simple. Everyone needs to be held accountable, even the boss. One of the many things a Certified Implementer does hold the top level person accountable. Beyond that, though, someone like me, who has years of experience in conflict resolution, also helps the team by dragging those issues out into the light and helping a team to feel safe to call each other (or even you) out.


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Whittle & Partners is a consulting group that provides EOS™ Implementation in the United States and beyond. We offer in-person and online solutions to fit your business and schedule.Visit our about us page to learn how and why we love bringing Dallas Traction.

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