If you follow my blog, you understand that the Entrepreneurial Operating System® isn’t for people who are sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. Real entrepreneurs are out there making the opportunities happen. They are looking for places to grow their business, building strategies to make that growth happen, and executing.
Easy as 1,2,3, right?
But even success comes with problems.
One of the biggest problems I see otherwise successful EOS® teams dealing with is getting distracted. Or as we call it in EOS Shiny Stuff / Shiny Things. These EOS Shiny Stuff are one of the most dangerous problems a team will face for 3 reasons:
- They will eat up your precious resources (time, money, even patience) and produce little to no result in return.
- You may not even know you’re dealing with EOS Shiny Things.
- They distract your business from its true EOS Vision™.
Today, I’m going to give you the tools to understand, identify, stop EOS Shiny Stuff right in their path.
Read this guide and I promise you’ll see real results.
What Is EOS Shiny Stuff?
The short version is that Shiny Stuff is anything that is taking your attention away from your Core Focus™.
In a business that runs on the Entrepreneurial Operating System every member of the team knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing, what their true long and short-term goals are. The problem is that even good people, without guidance from a system like EOS, can get distracted.
A Shiny Thing can be anything. It can be the social media account you think you need, but never actually converts a customer. It can be the trade show that seemed like a good idea but take money away from your proven marketing process. A Shiny Thing can even be an entire product line.
I can’t tell you exactly what the Shiny Things in your business are. That’s something only you can decide. But, if it is taking more of your company’s time and money that it’s worth, it’s probably EOS Shiny Stuff.
Not Always A Bad Thing
See EOS Shiny STuff isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead, a Shiny Thing seems like a good idea. It catches your eye and steals your focus. At best, it slows down your progress. At worst, it can seriously damage your business, especially if Shiny Things are prevalent in your business.
In the book, Get a Grip, authors Gino Wickman and Mike Paton talk in-depth about the dangers of Shiny Things, how they can worm their way into your business so deeply that they seem inseparable. In one case, there was a business that had a Shiny Thing so embedded in their business model that they had a whole division for it. This company, which made only 20% of their profit from this division, was spending over half their time and money running it. That’s a bad return. That’s an EOS Shiny Thing.
[bctt tweet=”It is not the daily increase, but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” username=””]
Once You Identify Shiny Stuff, Why Eliminate It?
I could spend all day and then some talking your ear off about the virtue of eliminating EOS Shiny Stuff. I could quote statistics on businesses that I have personally guided through the EOS Process™ and how they have improved by eliminating Shiny Things. Or, I could tell you parable after parable of minimalist business success stories.
Instead, I’ll leave you in the hands of the master, Bruce Lee, who said, ” It is not the daily increase, but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.“
This simple saying tells you everything you need to know about what of the greatest martial arts masters of modern times. It reveals a philosophy that is as powerful in his daily life as it is in your business: less is more.
Businesses that spend time on projects they don’t really need are doomed to always lack the resources they require to grow in their most essential functions.
If you can’t identify how a process, function, or expenditure ties directly into your EOS 10-Year Target™, why should you waste your time or money on it?
Short answer is you shouldn’t.
Eliminating Shiny Things
OK, so you’ve identified your Shiny Things and believe me when I say you should eliminate them. We’re on track.
Now comes the hard part. We need to actually eliminate this EOS Shiny Stuff from our business.
Some of them will actually be quite easy. Your whole team will agree that it’s a Shiny Thing, throw it on the chopping block, and bam. No more Shiny Thing. Others…well others will take convincing.
The four step guide below will help you through the process. It isn’t like having a Certified EOS Implementer on site to walk you through, but it’s the next best thing.
1) Build Your List
First you need to get a list of truly dangerous Shiny Things built. You’d be surprised how quickly this will go, if your team knows how to communicate and discuss issues. If your team struggles with openness, you may have to do a bit of massaging to make this work smoothly, but you’ll get there.
Get your leadership team together. If you don’t have an executive level leadership team, just bring in the people you think are the important decision makers in your company.
Once your team is together, start building a potential Shiny Things list on the whiteboard / projector / whatever. This isn’t the time for discussion, instead it’s totally open. There are no wrong answers and no disagreements. If someone says, “baseball”, you put it on the board. Of course, you want to make sure everyone in the room understands what they mean by “baseball”, but once they understand, no one is allowed to say, “I don’t think that baseball is a Shiny Thing.” Not yet, at least.
2) Thin The Herd
As I said, a small part of this will be easy. Start running down your list and scratching the things off that are clearly not real EOS Shiny Stuff. Sometimes someone says something, and after a minute to reconsider, just changes their mind. Scratch it off.
It’s not always that obvious, though. So, here’s a quick list of possible reasons you may decide this isn’t really a Shiny Thing:
- It’s not at all important: Turns out, this is a distraction but it isn’t even a shiny one. Everyone at the table says “kill it” and you do. This is the ideal here. You are freeing up your resources without even having to think too hard.
- The Zero Effort Argument: Sometimes something on the list requires so little in terms of resources that the team decides killing it would take more effort than letting it run its course. This isn’t the best possible solution, but it’s good to see the team agreeing.
- The Bat Signal Effect: Some Shiny Things are so shiny they are down right blinding. Your team looks at it, and it just seems so amazing that you can’t help but be awed. But that’s because you’re blinded. When you get together and bring the truth of the matter out, you shine your light on that Bat Signal. And when you do, you realize it’s flat and empty with no real substance. These are the least likely Shiny Things to get called out during step 2. If your team is crossing these off the list without discussion, you’ve got an amazing group of people. More than likely, you’ll be having it out over these, though.
These three aren’t a comprehensive list, but the majority of EOS Shiny Stuff that can be killed in step 2 will fall into one of these categories. If they don’t, it’s on to step 3.
3) Have It Out
By now you’ve probably got a good number of the potential EOS Shiny Stuff eliminated. The ones that remain are the ones people have different opinions on. This is the time you let everyone express their opinions, facts, and stats on each issue on the board.
Give everyone the chance to speak, but remember:
[bctt tweet=”Say it once. Anything else is politicking. ” username=””]
Everyone get’s their chance with the conch, but don’t let dissolve into repeating the same opinions over and over again. You’re not here to “converse about an issue”, you’re here to make a decision.
Things are sure to get heated here. And, if your team doesn’t have healthy communication, people may get offended when their pet projects get called out. These are projects, plans, or issues that SEEM like such a wonderful idea on the surface. But, when you get into the details you learn you’ve got little to gain and a lot to lose. The people most heavily invested in the project are going to defend it..hard.
But remember, this stuff wouldn’t be on the list if it didn’t SEEM like a great idea. Your colleague isn’t stupid or wrong, they are just invested. It’s your job as a team to determine if the resources they have invested in it are worth the gain, given the potential cost in the long run.
Think about this in very real terms. You and your best friend own a small chain of restaurants. It started as a food truck, it took off, and now you’ve got 3 locations. Your buddy really has their heart set on a fourth location. They want to grow. They see that shining light of being the next big chain in the distance.
But, you know you aren’t ready. The first 3 locations need to be sorted out first. They need management that can handle being left alone.
Your buddy has already invested tons of work into scouting a new location, talking building permits, everything. Killing it now would feel like such a waste. But if you don’t…you may lose the whole restaurant.
That 4th location is a perfect example of an EOS Shiny Thing. It’s so blinding you’ll walk right over a cliff while you stare at it.
4) Final Cut
The likelihood is that this process hasn’t been easy. But, you came here for a reason.
For each thing on this list you need to make sure there is a solid take away. You can’t just “talk about it” and never do anything.
So, for each item I want you to assign it one of the following categories and hold yourself and your team responsible for acting accordingly.
- Dead: This EOS Shiny Thing is getting killed. We will take the actions needed to kill it ASAP.
- More Info: We can’t make a final decision on this project until we have more information. We will gather that information and discuss again on a specific date that we name today.
- Keep It: This isn’t an EOS Shiny Thing. We thought it was, but the information provided today has convinced the team that this is worth keeping.
A Final Note
One last thing. It’s the responsibility of every team member to hold themselves accountable for honesty. Without open, honest communication you’ll never make it through this exercise effectively. If you are the team leader, it’s your job to create that culture of honesty either through your own means or by bringing in a professional.
If you’re not the team leader, make it known that without honest communication your team will never solve these issues. A good boss will always value honesty, as it gives a company clarity on how to best proceed. A bad boss will hate it. And, well…you don’t want to work for a bad boss. Life is too damn short.
Meet the Founder
Jeff Whittle founded and launched Whittle & Partners in 2011. Before that, Jeff practiced law in Dallas for 15 years and has an additional 20 years of executive business experience. He has run businesses ranging from startups to 300-employee operations.