After we acquired Diligent Commerce, we realised that we had doubled in size overnight and that our organisation structure, processes, and systems were holding us back a lot. There was suddenly a lot of confusion regarding accountability and which processes people should follow. We felt like we could no longer support, coach, or recognise all our staff either, as virtually everyone - over 50- reported directly to our two directors.
Having two different brands did not work either because people could not identify with either of them anymore, which thwarted sales and our growth. We needed to create a new brand identity that reflected both companies equally and create an organisational structure, processes, and systems to help function as a well-oiled machine. We were unsure how to approach re-branding, coming up with an inspiring vision for the combined company or re-inventing our operations – we needed help.
EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) was a perfect all-encompassing yet straightforward framework that Mark had heard mentioned a few times at Agency Hackers events. EOS helps you to look at your business in a whole new way – through the lens of their "Six Key Components". It seemed to tick all the boxes; it looked like a saving grace to get everything under control again and ensure we could support our growing team. We chose to adopt the EOS system to change our organisation from the inside out.
"It's very common that acquisitions destroy value and this happened to us as well in the short term. We underestimated the complexity of the post-merger integration and the impact on both companies. However, with the help of EOS we were able to not only regain the control over the combined businesses but also come up with an inspiring vision that employees can identify with. We have re-captured the value we lost and have created a stronger, Unified company"
Karolina Haller - Director
In this article, we will discuss how we implemented the EOS Process in our agency, and how it can benefit your organisation.
The EOS Process® Provides a proven way to put all the pieces together in a spaced learning environment.
Getting started with EOS
You can either "self-implement" or reach out to an implementor to deliver EOS. Not only were we struggling to make time to try and drive key initiatives forward, but we also didn't want to be self-implementing beta version 0.1 for ourselves - we wanted someone who knew this really well and could deliver with confidence.
Looking back to early 2022, we reached out to Dean Breyley, EOS Community Leader for Europe. Dean has helped over 80+ leadership teams to implement EOS throughout the UK & Ireland. Before having our initial EOS introduction with him, he asked who was part of our leadership team. Leadership team? Well we didn’t have one! We quickly realised we were missing a group of key leaders who could help the directors reinvent the business. After we chose our new leadership team, we invited Dean to do the initial introductory session for all of us.
We had our initial 90 minute introduction to EOS in early March 2022 and decided to go for it.
We had our focus day shortly after in April 2022. We had to score ourselves on all the six Key Components of the EOS system and commit to working on all of them simultaneously to succeed – all of the six components need to be working well for the company to be working well. It’s a bit like a bicycle wheel where each spoke needs to be strong and placed at exactly the right angle to give the wheel the perfect performance.
The EOS Model® provides a visual illustration of the Six Key Components of any business in any industry that must be managed and strengthened to be a great business.
One of the areas that we spent the most time on in the meeting with Dean was identifying our organisational structure. In the EOS process, it’s called the Accountability Chart. It was hardly surprising that ours was lacking because of the ongoing post-merger integration happening at the same time.
With EOS, every business has a ‘sales’ arm, a ‘delivery’ arm, and the ‘business support’ arm. At this point, we noticed that we were missing whole departments! We realised that we have never had account managers in the true sense – all our account managers were project managers. So, we divided all departments among the leadership team members and started hiring for the Head of Account Management.
EOS is excellent at providing a system for identifying and resolving issues quickly. It was clear that one of our issues was that we were missing some vital roles that would grow the company and, consequently, needed to recruit some fantastic new employees pretty quickly to fill the seats of the bus with great experts.
Another significant takeaway from the focus day that we struggled to come up with was ‘measurables’ for the different business areas because our time tracking was inconsistent. After that meeting with Dean, we put a lot more emphasis on revamping our time tracking for the whole company, without exceptions, to understand where our time was going in much more detail.
Vision building with EOS
Vision building was quite an eye-opener for us. One of the first exercises that we did was to identify what our company values were. Our coach Dean asked us individually to pick three people that were not in the room. These people needed to embody our company so that if we could multiply those three people alone – we could achieve anything. Dean said that if we could populate all the ‘seats’ in the company with those three people, what would our values then look like to enable us to dominate our industry and make anything happen?
So, we started talking about what values and characteristics these people possessed that were already embedded in the business, which we would like the whole team to emulate. These were then condensed and streamlined, and we selected the results as the core values we wanted the entire company to live by. Later, we would use these values to hire and reward our employees and select our clients and suppliers.
During our vision building, we also discovered our core focus was to help our clients win and grow online. This meant our core niche, our playing field, became defined as ecommerce strategy, design and tech, and we decided our core target was to be Europe's most loved ecommerce agency by 2030.
"Our goal is to be The Most Loved Ecommerce Agency in Europe. Not the biggest nor best - but the one where amazing clients flock and stay long term, where staff come to be happy and grow, and where referrals and recommendations flow."
Mark Haller - Founder and Director
After we shared our vision with the broader business, it seemed to work not only with our employees but also with our clients and suppliers. We purposely did not select being the ‘best’ or ‘biggest’, nor did we select a revenue target – we wanted to choose something inspiring for a vast group of people that could have many meanings. For example, a most loved agency would treat their clients and employees well, contribute to the open source community as a subject matter expert, run graduate programmes and internships, write white papers, and be a B-Corp certified sustainable company etc.
We wanted everyone to be able to pick something that really mattered to them and run with it to help us achieve this multifaceted, infinite goal. Infinite because there are always more inspiring things to do to become even more loved that keep us on our toes and striving to be even better!
After defining the long-term vision, we tried to pull it towards us in time and thought about what the 3-year picture would look like. What would the 1-year plan have to be to take us towards this vision? What were the short-term goals? These short-term goals in the EOS system are called Rocks – the fewest and most important priorities we could focus on in the next quarter to bring us closer to our 1-year plan, our 3-year picture and, ultimately, to being the most loved agency in Europe.
Quarterly planning with EOS
After the vision-building workshops, we went into a more ‘business as usual’ quarterly planning cycle. We planned to meet with our coach for one day every quarter, review our progress and define our new company rocks. We share these rocks later with the business in the all-hands meetings, which in EOS terms are called ‘State of the Company meetings’ and invite all the departments to develop their personal quarterly rocks too.
We still have more to learn; each quarter, Dean is introducing more and more tools to our EOS portfolio to help strengthen our business. We are probably three-quarters through the toolbox at the moment, and the new tools seem to be introduced precisely when we need them.
The EOS Toolbox® is a complete set of simple tools you can use to strengthen each component of your business.
We introduced EOS to our broader team in the summer of 2022 and rolled it out as a set of tools to the whole company in October 2022 through our first State of the Company meeting. The entire business embraced our vision – they thought the values were great and got inspired by the ‘most loved ecommerce agency’ core target.
Where are we now?
Each department is now making sure that they are keeping an eye on the ‘people’ component and ensuring that they have the right people in the right seats in their part of the organisation
We have started codifying our processes to keep the ‘process’ component in check
We have improved our ‘data’ component, and each department is making sure that we are time tracking and making use of this data for measuring our performance and driving our business decisions
Each department has embraced both the ‘traction’ and the ‘issues’ components by setting their quarterly Rocks, and we are all having regular weekly meeting cycles to discuss and address the problems
We are all aligned to keep moving the company forward towards being the most loved ecommerce agency
"It has been such a pleasure to help the team at Unified to implement the tools and disciplines of EOS. As a Leadership Team, they have embraced the work and truly always have the best interests and greater good of the business and its people at heart. As students, they have put their heart and soul in to learning how they can take the right actions to deliver on their vision and have worked tirelessly to make it happen. If every Leadership Team was like the Unified Team, the world would be a better and far more well-run place! I can't wait to see what the rest of our journey has in store."
Dean Breyley - EOS Community Leader for Europe
Benefits of Implementing EOS in a Digital Agency
When we rolled out EOS we were hoping to get these three benefits that other companies were raving about:
Clear vision and focus
Better efficiency and results
More support for people and more accountability
The other unexpected benefits that we are able to enjoy are:
Increased ownership and energy from the whole team – every week, we have new initiatives and suggestions from the team in terms of what else we could be doing to forward our vision
Less work – by giving people clear areas of responsibility and letting go, we were able to reduce the workload and let more people meaningfully contribute to the company's success
Better decision-making – by putting more emphasis on data and measurables, we are in a better position than ever to be able to make sound commercial decisions
Improved employee satisfaction and retention – people really own their departments, their team and their rocks and feel a sense of pride and achievement when they can achieve what they set out to accomplish at the beginning of the quarter
Implementing EOS in our agency improved teamwork, increased productivity, and led to better decision-making. By following the steps outlined by EOS, you can create a healthy and cohesive team, clarify your vision, and achieve your goals.
Remember, getting everyone on board, identifying core values, and creating a vision, are essential components of implementing EOS successfully. In today's digital age, implementing EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) in a digital agency can be a game-changer. We are one Unified team with one unified goal, so EOS helped us ensure that the team stays on track together.