Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.  Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger.  Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  Michael Eisner and Frank Wells.  Many uber-successful organizations have been led by two leaders whose skill sets and talents strengthen and complement each other. 

This “ying and yang” approach to organizational leadership is at the heart of the Entrepreneurial Operating System or EOS, a framework for building and operating a business.  

Getting better at getting better is what Rise With Drew is all about.  Monday through Thursday we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations.  On Friday, I share something we are doing at PCI in our quest to earn a spot of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

For the past four years, PCI has operated using the EOS framework.  Adopting EOS is one of the best decisions we have ever made.  It has been a significant contributor to the explosive growth and success we have experienced.

With EOS, organizational leadership is divided into two roles: the Visionary and the Integrator.

The Visionary’s passion, drive, and creativity are essential to launching the business and fueling its growth.  Often times, the Visionary is the original entrepreneur.  “A Visionary is a person who has lots of ideas, is a strategic thinker, always sees the big picture, has a pulse on [the] industry, connects the dots, and researches and develops new products and services,” writes EOS founder Gino Wickman in What is a Visionary?

Visionaries are the “dreamers” in the organization, writes Mike Paton in his article Visionaries and Integrators: Why both are essential . A Visionary is that person who is always coming up with a list of ideas every week for the business, and who is a natural creative problem-solver. Visionaries tend to operate more on emotion than on logic and strongly value the company culture.”

There is, however, a downside to this personality type.

“Unfortunately, he or she also can create chaos, has limited patience for details, gets distracted by shiny stuff, and wants to implement every single one of his or her ideas immediately,” states Dean Breyley in Visionary & Integrator: the ultimate dynamic duo.

This approach can lead to confusion inside the organization.  The answer?  Combine the Visionary’s talent set with that of the Integrator.

“An Integrator is the person who thrives on putting systems and processes in place to bring order to the chaos.  He or she is a great taskmaster and manager, is good at holding people accountable, creating consistency, and integrating the leadership team,” Dean writes.

The Integrator excels at problem solving.  This role integrates the three major functions of the business – Sales and Marketing, Operations, and Finance – “into one harmonious group.”  The Integrator is the glue that keeps the team together.

“Visionaries offer Integrators a creative insight to the business, while Integrators provide the logical and structured approach that is also needed,” writes Mike.  

The “genius” of this structure is it frees up the energy and creativity of both people so each is able to focus on their strengths and where they like to spend their time.

The downside of this structure is if each person is pulling in a different direction.  Hence, it is critical that the two leaders agree on the vision for the organization and the strategy and tactics to achieve that vision.

One important EOS tool is the monthly “Same Page Meeting” where the Visionary and the Integrator meet for two hours.  The meeting is designed to eliminate needless indecision and dysfunction within the leadership team and throughout the organization.  When the two leaders are on the same page, everyone is able to focus their energy on achieving metrics, completing objectives, keeping clients and associates happy, and solving issues.

This “same page meeting” is one of my favorite times of the month.


Reflection: How might the EOS framework help my organization or team?

Action: Spend some time investigating EOS.  Share what I learn with others in my organization.

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