Tom Bouwer Explains How to Roll Out EOS


Is your company struggling to find the best way to roll out the Entrepreneurial Operating System® throughout your organization? Do you need some help explaining to your employees why EOS is important—or even what it is?

What the Heck is EOS? by Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer, is written specifically for the millions of employees in companies that run on EOS. An easy and fast read, this book answers the questions many employees have about EOS and their company. And because the audiobook was just released, it’s more convenient than ever to find out what the heck EOS is!

Traction Tools believes in making workplaces more humane for the people in them—and using this book in your company can be an important part of that. So it seemed ideal to talk to Tom Bouwer about his vision for the book and how companies can get the most out of it. Here’s what he told us.

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Explaining What the Heck EOS Is All About

what the heck is EOS book cover

Traction Tools: Why did you and Gino Wickman write this book? What problem does it solve?

Tom Bouwer: We recognized that companies have a difficult time rolling out EOS and explaining EOS to their employees—everyone outside of the leadership team. Because it really is a simplified version of Traction. It just explains to employees what the leadership team is doing, why you need an operating system, what the fundamental tools are and how they apply to you.

What we’re really trying to do is address the issue that companies have in rolling out EOS, which is just explaining EOS as a whole to their employees.

TT: Who is this for?

TB: Traction is designed for CEOs and owners and leadership team members, and it goes in depth to explain how to use EOS. But we wanted to write something that would explain the tools and give a lot of examples, and yet keep it short and concise and high-level.

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TT: What are some common myths and misunderstandings about EOS that you were seeking to dispel?

TB: We weren’t really looking to dispel any myths, other than, EOS is a simple system—but simple doesn’t mean easy. Yet, with a little bit of extra effort, organizations can quickly get EOS spread throughout the company, top to bottom.

TT: You and Gino mention in the book that the reader might feel like EOS is rigid and stifling. How do you address that?

TB: EOS is an operating system, very much like an operating system for your computer. It allows you to run in a structured way, but what you do with your computer is entirely up to your creativity. The operating system is like the glue that holds it all together.

That’s what EOS is for companies. It helps them structure and create their own culture, and prioritize their most important things to get done. It forms the backbone for the organization, and the organization itself can determine what its culture is going to be.

You could have two companies that run on EOS and they might look completely different from each other. I’ve got one client company that’s very driven—they’re pushing forward all the time. And I have other companies that are very kicked back and there’s a lot of laughter going on. They’re completely opposite each other on the spectrum of cultures, yet they both use EOS very effectively to move their organizations to the next level.

TT: What’s the best way to use this book?

TB: First, I’d like to suggest that they buy a book for every employee, but that’s completely self-serving (laughs). When every employee has the book, and they’re going over it with their managers, it cements EOS in the organization. Because it’s one thing for the owner to give a state-of-the-company meeting every three months, but it’s an entirely different thing to discuss the EOS tools with your team and to start using them.

At the end of each chapter, we have three questions to discuss with your manager. You can easily read each chapter in 10 or 15 minutes. Employees should be able to get the basic concepts pretty quickly, and the questions give you something to discuss more deeply in your weekly Level 10 Meeting™.

When team members truly grasp the tools, they like to be in the know—to understand how these tools apply to them, and how they can use them to be more effective in their roles.

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TT: What advice do you have to companies that are getting ready to roll out EOS?

TB: Chris Naylor, one of our EOS Implementers, recently said that every company is a snowflake—they’re all a little bit different. You need to decide the best way for your organization to roll out EOS.

Be methodical, don’t roll it out too fast—because if you do, it’ll be a complete disaster. You can roll it out pieces at a time—it doesn’t have to go down to every person in the organization by Day 3.

If you get everybody the book—either the printed book or the audiobook—and they read it and start discussing the tools, that’s the best way to drive engagement. Ask if they understand your Core Values, and your Three-Year Picture. Ask if they understand your marketing strategy. Ask if they understand their role and how they contribute to the greater good of the organization. That’s when you start to get high levels of engagement and buy-in.

At the end of the day, most human beings want to truly contribute. And I think that What the Heck Is EOS? helps people understand that concept of being in the seat where they can contribute the best and the most to the team, instead of having a certain title. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a director or a manager or an assistant—we want you to be in that place where you’re growing as a human being, and expanding your capabilities, knowledge and capacities as far as you’re willing to grow.

TT: Tom, thank you for sharing!

Ready to Roll?

Need to roll out EOS throughout your company? Get What the Heck Is EOS? for your employees. Looking for great software to run EOS? Discover how Traction Tools helps you productively manage EOS tools from Day One.

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  • Kathy Mayfield
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