How does driving a Porsche relate to the Entrepreneurial Operating System® ( EOS®)? Bob Danko, Controller at Highland Solutions, recognized that both require drivers and implementers to keep their “eyes up” in order to chart the way forward.
I guess you would call me a “Car Guy.”
My father owned a variety of sports cars while I was growing up: a beautiful brown 356 Cabriolet and an orange 912 Targa. He had an affinity for Porsches and his admiration rubbed off on me. I learned to drive a stick shift on the 912. He was active in the local chapter of the Sports Cars of America. We attended several races at Daytona and Road America, a road course where Porsche factory teams compete. Looking back, I have fond memories of shivering during cold Florida nights and taking in the beautiful scenery as I walked the Road America race track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Several years after losing my father, after coming back from an overseas assignment, I decided to get my own Porsche. I joined the local chapter of The Porsche Club of America and started attending events. I gravitated to the driving events — namely, High-Performance Driver Education (HPDE), often referred to as simply Driver Education.
What I learned from behind the wheel
The mission and purpose of the Porsche Club of America’s Driver Education Program is to provide a safe, structured, and controlled teaching and learning environment for drivers.
“The PCA DE Program is designed so that participants can improve their driving abilities and acquire a better understanding of vehicle dynamics and driving safety. Participants will experience first-hand the capabilities of high performance automobiles in a controlled closed-course environment and acquire skills that will enhance safer vehicle operation in all driving situations.”
Through Driver Education, I learned important driving concepts, like the driving line (the optimal path around a racecourse) and braking techniques from the practiced expertise of seasoned driving instructors. One of the key concepts Drivers Education teaches you is to keep your eyes up and forward — your hands follow your eyes.
This may sound simple, but inexperienced drivers often find themselves too focused on the track immediately in front of the car. This concept emphases forcing your eyes up — to look through the corners to the corner exit. Your hands and your steering input will naturally follow where you are looking. This results in a smoother driving line and allows you to apply the throttle more evenly and sooner, which translates into faster laps.
Mark White, semi-pro race driver and owner of Accumoto Motorsport provides the following perspective:
“Eyes up” is arguably the most frequent and definitely the most misunderstood coaching tip in high performance driving. Many fall prey to “looking up” only to have their eyes “stick” on what they are looking at. The goal is not to focus on any fixed point, but to keep your eyes constantly moving ahead. This allows you to absorb information earlier, thus diminishing the amount of input required to keep your vehicle moving efficiently on its desired trajectory. Every correction scrubs; the smaller the correction, the faster the lap time.
How “Eyes Up” can be applied to EOS®
I believe the concept of keeping your eyes up at all times applies to the business environment. Over the past several years, Highland Solutions has been following the EOS Traction® methodology. EOS identifies Six Key Components™ of every business:
Getting everyone in the organization 100% on the same page with where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
Simply put, we can’t do it without great people. This means surrounding yourself with great people, top to bottom
Boiling your organization down to a handful of objective numbers that give you an absolute pulse on where things are.
Becoming great at solving problems throughout the organization — setting them up, knocking them down and making them go away forever.
Getting everyone on the same page with what the essential procedural steps are in your core processes and then getting everyone to follow them so you create consistency and scalability in your organization.
Bringing discipline and accountability into the organization — becoming great at execution — taking the vision down to the ground and making it real.
As we’ve implemented EOS, our regularly scheduled Meeting Pulse has allowed the Leadership team to “keep its eyes up.” Our Meeting Pulse takes place at regularly scheduled intervals: one day each quarter, and at our two-day annual meeting. It provides the team an opportunity to focus on current business performance, critical business issues and chart the way forward. We hold these meetings offsite, which provides an environment to focus, preventing distractions. We try to have fun at these events, incorporating activities like yoga and scavenger hunts to get the creative juices flowing.
We also establish rocks at Meeting Pulses. A “rock” is an EOS term for one of the three to seven most important things you must get done in the next 90 days. I think of these as the hands in the driving analogy.
Rocks represent the most important objectives of the organization to achieve near term. These might be sales targets, diversifying business concentration risk, or launching a new product. The key is that by successfully completing these rocks, the overall business objectives as identified in the Vision/Traction Organizer™ will be achieved.
We start by listing all the items and projects that need to be accomplished in the next 90 days. These may emerge out of our Issues List. We discuss and debate this list following the prescription: Keep/Kill/Combine. Rocks must be specific, measurable, and obtainable.
There has to be clear accountability for each rock. Just like in driving, the smaller the correction, the faster the lap time. Each rock is assigned to one Leadership Team Member. This ownership drives the rock to successful completion. Accomplishing these rocks successfully propels the organization forward. We can apply the analogy of the driving line — rocks allow us to recognize the optimal path around a racecourse.