Mark shares with you the process he has created to get your leadership team inspired, focused and executing in spite of the feeling that everything is lost.
This is the first time the podcast has not had a guest. Instead, Mark takes the time to walk you through a process that was created less than a month ago that is helping entrepreneurial leadership teams get inspired to be their best, and focus on what matters most. For a printable guide to the process that Mark walks you through, download here:
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00:00 - This is You're Doing It Wrong with Mark Henderson Leary, the COVID-19, lawnmower in the background edition.
00:09 -We're talking specifically about the vision in crisis to have created over the last month or so. The You're Doing it Wrong podcast is about you listening in to a deep, intimate conversation between two people with a passion for excellence in some area you probably already know something about. But as you listen, you pick up on a perspective or an insight or a detail you had never thought much about before and that insight unlocks some real success for you, or just creates some meaningful clarity that's been eluding you.
00:43 - But today, it's just me and I'm going to get straight to the point with a tool called Vision in Crisis. As I mentioned, I built this over the last three or four weeks. I hope it'll get you and your leadership team fired up, focused and executing to make the most of the next few weeks or months, as long as you feel like you're in wartime, even if that leadership team is just you, we'll talk a little bit about that. But without further ado, let's kick this off.
01:11 - So we're rolling. Cool. We are live! This is You're Doing it Wrong with Mark Anderson Leary, and my name is Mark, and I have a passion that you should feel in control of your life. And so I want to help entrepreneurial leaders feel more in control of their business.
01:25 - So today, we're going to talk about a tool. It's just me, we're going to talk about this tool I created, working with several teams over the last few weeks. And let me tell you a little bit about how this tool came about and why we're doing it and why I think it could be valuable for you. So I personally experienced, you know, a week or two in, like many people, a sense of overwhelm. I had been speaking with many clients, many people, many leadership teams, watching the news, doing a lot of things that made me feel like there was more to learn than I had time to learn. I'm a learner and that is kind of my tool, my go-to, almost a sense of addiction. So I found myself plotting data, learning about viruses and Epidemiology and the impacts of it in the economy and all sorts of things very, very deep wells and knowledge that I could learn a lot about that sounded fun to learn about or important to learn about, not just fun - important to learn about, but I got pretty overwhelmed pretty quickly because as you can imagine, many of those subjects are the kind of things that people study their entire lives just to be good at, and I'm tackling them all at once. So as things progressed, I found myself wanting to plug into more resources based on experience in real crisis. And that typically, historically, not just recently, but historically takes us to military leadership because nobody finds more crisis and more criticality than military leaders. So I was observing and listening to how they were operating, what were the things that they had always done not just recently, but how would they always made sense of chaos.
03:09 - And then the third thing that came along was I had scheduled time to do some long range planning with my team. And like many other people, felt like perhaps this wasn't the time. Perhaps, you know, now with short-term, tactical execution, we already know what we need to be doing. Why would I waste my time on Long Range Planning right now? That's not really changing. But for some reason, this time, I just let it happen. And I had time, we just stuck with it and did the Long Range Planning and I found out that it really got me super focused on what I was supposed to be doing and not that much had changed. It certainly did give me a crystal clear filter to eliminate things that were not important. In fact, I think I did better Long Range Planning as a result, but it did remind me that I'm not an epidemiologist and that I don't need to be spending my time getting good at that. Understanding some of the real data is different than really getting good at being a scientist.
04:12 - And the fourth thing that came along that really changed my thinking is I ran across a team. Well, I didn't run across them, I've been working with them through the months, and they were in a different place and I had worked with them prior to the crisis. And I just kind of dived into work with them and found the team a little bit in chaos. And I was trying to figure out why and where they were off the track and how to get them back on track because I was kind of being pulled in partway through their two-day discussion. And so I had to kind of think on my feet and figure out how to get things going. And what came together was the culmination of the three other bullet points I just mentioned, understanding that there was lots to learn, understanding some of the lessons that leadership and crisis for military could bring to our thinking, and what the clarity of Long Range Planning and how to rethink Long Range Planning, in terms of how it could really focus the team right now.
05:10 - So I threw together an agenda based on that. And we had some really good results. And I've used it many times since then, and it keeps getting better. And what I'm going to present for you is how that process works, how to lead your team through it. And it doesn't take a ton of time, and I think it'll be really valuable for you.
05:30 - A couple things that I think are important to note. One is that, you know, most of the leadership teams I'm working with are filled with leaders who are not binge watching Netflix - they're not bored. They're they're taking action and trying to figure out where to take the best action. That may not be 100% true for everybody. But I think that that is more common in the teams I'm working with. They know there's something to do. And so this helps create some focus and it does help create some sense of power for people who may be feeling very powerless right now. Most people have been overwhelmed with some sense of powerlessness and uncertainty.
06:10 - And so when we're done with the process, you should feel a couple things. You should feel like you have a vision that is in touch with reality. And let me be clear about what that means. One of the teams I worked with really struggled with the sense that their senior leadership team was not in touch with reality. They were trying to drive towards positive outcomes, which is great. But this lead - this particular team felt that there was an imbalance of understanding of the criticality of their situation. And so the lesson I really took away from that was that the teams that are working - the leadership teams, the middle managers, and oftentimes the frontline staff, even in small companies, maybe especially in small companies - they get it they understand that this is critical. They see their friends and their peers getting laid off. They understand that success is the only option and that failure has really bad consequences with it. So there's no point in sugarcoating things, you can be straight and be honest. We certainly do not want to stoke fear, but getting a sense of what's real is really important. People want to be treated like adults, and they want to know that the information they're given is real. And there's no reason to not keep honesty flowing.
07:25 - So that vision is it should be inspiring about creating something that's worth fighting for. It could be survival for your team, it could be taking advantage of an opportunity for your team. Or it could be catching the rebound when it comes. But it's up for you to decide what your realistic goal could be. And then we want to focus on what matters. We want to create a sense of focus. There's lots of things that we're hearing and seeing and could be doing that may or may not have an impact on our outcome. And so we want to really get clear on what can we and should we spend our energy on so when something bad happens, it's outside of our control, we can really focus our energy and time on the things that we can control and actually make a difference with.
08:07 - And the last thing I want to leave you with is a way to create a sense of a plan for execution. You need to be able to go to work, communicate with this, adjust as you go and then get back to work and keep the cycle going. That's what we need to do in a pace and time when the information is changing rapidly. And time, is not our friend if we waste it.
08:30 - So, just a quick note about how this relates to EOS, the entrepreneurial operating system. So, I don't talk about EOS on the podcast all the time. I don't talk about it a lot, which is actually kind of a disservice and I'm thinking about ways to incorporate EOS into the conversation more often. I'm not going to talk about it extensively here other than to say that the entrepreneurial operating system is a fantastic toolset that I spend most of my time helping teams implement so they can get what they want from their business. I recommend you look at it outside of this podcast. All the tools are free. On my website, there's information about it. If you look up EOS worldwide to find information, find the tools. But I do believe that everybody who's running a business should be running an operating system, which should be giving them things like quarterly off-site meetings. You should have tools to get what you want, tools to manage your people, tools to have clarity of vision, tools to manage execution, and tools to help create a healthy team and then ultimately a healthy company. So you should be working with some type of painted picture, vivid vision, three year picture, something - any toolset. I mentioned several different names from different tool sets. I don't care what tools that you're running, but you should be running something. If you're not running a toolset specific one of these frameworks like EOS, this exercise will help you anyway, this is not going to be - that's not a deal breaker at all. I do of course recommend that when you get your footing, you feel like you have a sense of ability to gain some traction, you should look at an operating system like EOS or any of the other options like that. That's my passionate plea.
10:12 - So another thing to mention, this work we're about to talk about should be done as a team. Now, if you're the lone leader, or if you feel like your team is just Junior, and you don't really have what you feel like a leadership team should look like. I think you may be able to do some of this work, it's harder. Some of the things you need to do, envisioning and doing hard work and structuring a specific tool called the Reverse Accountability chart that I will mention. It's really hard to do that if you don't have somebody backing you up who supports the structure you're trying to create. The work we're trying to do, especially for making a defensive play. I mean, the offensive work like, new products that can be kind of fun and exciting but defensive work like cutting staff, restructuring the business, reducing expenses. It's really easy to feel like a bad guy. And it's very empowering for a lot of people to have just at least one person in the room who can say, yeah, we get it. Yeah, you're the bad guy right now. But I have your back. And I understand why you're doing this. And I see that happening a lot. And that's very - I see a lot of great leaders get stuck at that spot. They have a very hard time divesting from the emotional aspect of what they need to do. And no one wins if you get stuck there.
11:27 - So I recommend you do this with your leadership team. If you don't have a leadership team, the three to seven or so people that report directly to the owner, then you should find somebody you trust to talk it through, who can hold you accountable, who's credible. And ideally, this person is on your payroll and they share your experiences and they share the consequences of the outcome.
11:51 - So, what we're going to talk about here, I call it the Vision in Crisis process. What we're doing is creating what I call the wartime vision, and the wartime vision - that's my terminology, you could probably pick it apart. It's not the best name, but I think it's suitable for now. And what it is, it's a vision that you can believe in while things are different. It should be credible, realistic, pragmatic, inspirational to the people who have to execute it in the time they need to execute it. The wartime meeting pulse, this is your ability to communicate on the pace that's relevant to you. Most businesses in peacetime have a quarterly pulse and some things that are just kind of default. In your state of crisis, your pulse is probably different. And it might be different from your peers, your competition, and other people. So you've got to figure out what that pulse looks like so you can communicate effectively, change quickly at an appropriate time and not be micromanaging and be very efficient with your time.
12:54 - A tool called wartime rocks - rocks is an EOS term borrowed from Stephen Covey and a few other places, but wartime rocks has to do with the criticality and the time, the timing and the meeting pulse. That's what the wartime piece of that is. And then a wartime scorecard is just like a typical scorecard. This is an EOS tool, and I will talk about that. And I won't go into great detail about how an EOS scorecard comes about, I will just give you the overview of how you would think of it in wartime. And then creating an issues list and issue solving - IDS again, EOS terminology, and I'll give you an overview of how those work and you can find more information. The essence of what's unique in this process is talking about the creation of the wartime vision, the wartime meeting pulse, and how those fit together to flow into your rock scorecard and your issues list.
13:44 - So the order I mentioned matters. Starting with the vision working in the meeting pulse, then rocks, which are your objectives, your goals for that period, your scorecard what measures you're going to have and keep track of every day and then issue solving. That matters, do it in that order. And I'll talk a little bit about that as we go through it. So without further ado, let's talk about it.
14:05 - So when you get your team together, and this could be, hopefully at least you and someone else, you and your leadership team could be as many as seven additional people. Typically I've worked in teams as large as 10 or so. It gets to be a little bit unwieldy, but so we'll just think of it as three to seven. The things you need to do in a strategic meeting, which this is - this is a strategic conversation, which the vision in crisis process can be done in about 90 minutes.
14:35 - The full quarterly is an all-day experience, in most cases, seven hours or so. And you may choose to spend the whole day doing this work but you can get meaningful work done in most cases in about 90 minutes. Pretty quick and dirty. So your decision about what you just need to knock us out in 90 minutes or you can block a whole day. But every one of these quarterly meetings has three objectives to get to get your vision clear, to make a plan, and resolve issues. So that that's not changing here. The first thing we want to do though, is once we check in and get everybody in the room, get a sense of what's on their mind. We want to create a safe place for openness and honesty about how people feel about the future. What's going on, good news and bad news. Create a real sense of candor. This is really important to be able to have access to the truth and honesty. And if everybody's acting like everything's okay, but you can sense it not okay, we're going to have a problem. So we really have to create a sense of safety and invite some vulnerability.
15:44 - So the first question is, what is the wartime vision? We've got four steps to creating a wartime vision piece. And the first thing to do is reframe this vision in the context of crisis. And so the question I start off with is , how far into the future can we dream? Are we so freaked out that we're not sure we're going to be here next week? Because if you don't think we're going to be here next week, and you cannot imagine two weeks from now, talking about a one year vision is ridiculous. The flipside is also true if there's relatively stable business operations going on right now when we're talking about like a week-to-week plan. That's that's micromanagement, and that's not motivating either. So we got to ask the question, how far into the future can we dream? Can we still think about a year from now? Do we have relative belief that we can create an awesome business and make an impact in a year from now, then maybe that's still our pulse. And that would be that would be kind of pure EOS type of thinking.
16:42 - One of the first companies I started working with on this just could not see past 90 days. They didn't care about anything beyond 90 days. And so, that actually having worked with several companies is a good place to start. And this is not to be confused with 90-day rocks because in 90-day rock, it's a quarterly pulse. That's not what we're talking about here that that would be the quarter of a year.
17:09 - In this case, I'm saying you're 90 days starts to take kind of the place of what used to be the year. So we're gonna break it down even further. So when I say 90 days from now, rather than setting objectives that might be measurable and specific that we would typically do in peacetime, I'm going to say, if we dare to dream 90 days from now, what does that look like? And I'm not going to overly drive specificity here. I'm just going to put some bullet points together. So your team is gonna start brainstorming and you're gonna say, what do you see for us 90 days from now, if 90 days is the timeframe that works for you? And even if you can't figure out a good time, that's a good guess to start that. But don't just ask your team what's realistic. So let's assume 90 days. Are we going to be profitable? Are we going to be you know, how much money do we have to spend in the in the coffers? Do we have a certain negative run rate we can max out at? Do we have a strategy for avoiding debt? Are we going to maximize our debt because the rates are really good and we're going to create a lot of cash? Do we see an opportunity that we really want to capitalize on? Do we want to, 90 days from now, look back and see that we did not waste an opportunity and that we were very efficient with our expenses and we had no wasted expenditures, we cut out everything that was wasteful. What are the - these things can be very motivating for a team to feel like you didn't waste the opportunity.
18:40 - A lot of companies want to still see that, you know, even though they're cutting staff and they've got less clients and they've got more obstacles, they're still best in class for services. They want to be known as still amazing. They want to be seen at their very best in this scenario. And so we want to communicate with that. A lot of times companies want to write some bullet points about having checked in on the health of all of their clients and have touched all of their clients once or twice or three times or something like that or imagining that we've really risen to the occasion. Do not underestimate what people want to do in this case and let it be big, but not necessarily - -t doesn't have to be measurable.
19:17 - Okay, so now we've got 5 to 15 bullet points, typically, they're relevant. Your team has come up with these, we did not make these up. And like I said, I've said this over and over again, it's better when your team does it. If you can contribute, fantastic. If you are fired up about this, that's great. But really, this whole exercise is about getting the most out of your team, not just about you going to work, you need to leverage the other people on the team so they see what you see. And this is the very best opportunity to get their voice and so they will contribute and be as fired up as you.
19:52 - So once we got that going, we're excited about what this could possibly be. And I can tell you at this stage, usually the energy in the room has already changed. So let's list a few things that we cannot control. This is an important step, start listing, get the room to to start saying some things.What can't we control? Oh, we can't control that the health of our customers. We can't control the stay-at-home orders. We can't control the economy. We can't control what the government does in our county or our state. You know, we can't control what the state of the SBA, how fast the money comes to us. And just let that list flow. Because this is a very cathartic part of the process. We need to be able to acknowledge all the things that are changing, give them names, so we can reduce their power on us to make us feel bad about the work we're doing and what we can and can't control to the extent we can as a team or as individuals read through this list, and see that those things may be there but they're not us. We can let go faster and focus on this next list, which is let's list all the things that we can control.
21:08 - Let's and this is again, bullet point style. We don't - not overthinking this, let's get the list out there. Oh, we can control our expenses, we can control our attitude, we can control how we take care of our customers, we can control how fast we respond. Just keep the brainstorming of all the levers you can pull. We can work, we can produce our backlog, we can keep our reporting in good shape, we can slow down our expenses. I may have already said that. But just create that list of things that we can do. You as a team can start to see that you have some things to do. And so if we see that first list of things, we can't control going the wrong direction. We put our energy into the list of things we can control.
21:52 - The last bullet point on the vision is, what do we need to know? This is a little bit about putting our lenses in the places that matter, which is even more about putting our lenses away from the places that do not matter. So this again is a bullet point: what do we need to know? Do we need to know the health of our customers? Do we need to know our AR? Do we need to know the speed of orders? Do we need to know where construction is still considered an essential service? Do we need to know the state of the counties and states of our customers and clients? Any number of metrics or this is broadly data that you can you can just use - this doesn't have to be super metric about how many dollars are in the account. Now I will argue that the dollars in the account, cash flow on a weekly, daily basis might be things you need to know. Profit backlog any number of things you need to keep the pulse on. This should be a decent but manageable list of things to focus on and now we can let go of the things outside of that.
22:59 - We probably, I mean, I know of a company who has a lot of business they get from Italy. They need to know the status of Italy. But if we're doing local work, we probably don't need to have all the fingers on the pulse of Italy. So this is your handful of metrics and pieces of information that you should be plugged into. And which will again, flow into some of those metrics will be things we can't control. And some will be things we can control and we can focus our energy. This exercise goes pretty quickly. You shouldn't take too much long with this. This could be 30 minutes to get this done. It could be as much as 60, I suppose. It's now your wartime vision. You can print this out. You can hand this out to everybody. You can read it every day yourself. This is sort of your touchdown.
23:47 - But to continue the exercise, let's talk about pulse. So now we've got a vision, what are we going to do with this? So one of the things I learned from - well, I learned specifically from Marcus Luttrell, who was the lone survivor. A Navy SEAL, the only survivor from his mission, described for me and the other people in the room at the time several years ago what it was like to have the mission get worse and worse as time went on. That the increments of time - I don't remember exactly the terminology used _ but he basically said that as things get worse, your important increment of time gets smaller and smaller. And if you start the mission, thinking about where you want to be in three days, and things get worse, you start to think in terms of where are we going to be in a day and things get worse from there, you start thinking about, what are we going to do in this next hour, and as he was under attack and had found himself with multiple through and through bullet holes. Yyou know, bullets that had gone through his body, that he was no longer thinking in terms of hours, that he was trying to move his body that was struggling to move. He was I think he got it down to like one foot at a time. If not, we'll say it's three feet at a time. It was a very short distance, and he would set a goal to make it three feet. And as he got to the three-feet chunk, he would then set a new objective and reassess the plan every single three feet. And that's a formula for as things get tougher, you create the time increment to be smaller and smaller.
25:19 - So this is what this is about. So we have figured out now that we're in crisis, we got to ask the team, how far can we visualize the future? Which we did this a second ago for the big future, what's our biggest dream? But if I'm asking you how big a project - that if I assigned you a project, how long could you possibly go? Without the feeling that everything important about that project might have changed, like if your world is changing on a daily basis based on what's open, what's closed, you could not set a quarterly project that you would just let's check back in a quarter and see how long that software deployment is working out. That is not it's not going to be in touch with where we are. So you have to assess as a team, you know, if say we've got the 90-day vision, how big a project are we going to assign people? Weekly projects? Two weeks? One month? 45 days? How long can we go? I'm finding people are setting these right now, between a week to a month. I've seen people do two weeks, and I haven't seen anybody who's really feeling in crisis go much more than a month, but 45 days is really reasonable as well. I have seen people set them for 90 days. And then as they get to the moment of commitment, they just sort of say, well, nevermind, let's just check back in in a month because so much is going to change. So just understand that window is going to close a little bit tighter. So let's just call it 30 days for the purposes of this example. We've agreed that our biggest project timeline will be about 30 days. And that's going to come into play when we set goals in a minute.
26:54 - So let's talk about a tactical pulse. Tactical pulse is not strategic the way if, you know, if we need to have a rigorous bullet-proof expense approval process. That's a project - that's strategic. That flows into our goals. Our tactical pulse is how often do we check in, share information, adjust the plan as needed so our strategic goals are hit. Typically, I recommend and EOS recommends what we call a level 10 meeting once a week, which is a 90-minute meeting which I can talk about the agenda, I'll send some - make sure some resources are available for that. But let's just assume a weekly tactical meeting is normal. Under pressure, a lot of times we're saying we need to do this much more often, maybe twice a week or make it longer than normal instead of 90 minutes, we're going to do two hours. Oftentimes people are adding a huddle once or twice a day, in some cases. I've seen some people say that we have to know how the day is starting and we have to know how the day ended. So we're going to have once a week, level 10 meeting with the leadership team and we're going to do a five minute check in in the morning and a five minute check in at the at the end of the day. So everybody knows what's going on.
28:00 - So understand that this is about not too much, not too little. Too much is micromanagement too little is people feeling in the dark. So you might have to play with this. But get the team to agree. How often do you want to check in, let people feel seen, let people know you're there. This regularity in communication is extremely empowering for a leadership team who is feeling a little bit lost. So then, that's our pulse.
28:25 - Let's wrap this section up with who's gonna own this strategy. The wartime strategy owner is somebody who's just going to make sure all the pieces we just described are rolled out. We changed our communication rhythm, we've got a vision that needs to be seen. And this person is just going to really be the person to care for this wartime rhythm and the wartime vision because at some point, we're going to we're going to take it down. We're going to go back to our new peacetime strategy, or a more long-term strategy of some kind, or we're going to adjust this as it goes along. We might feel much more comfortable as things progress, or we might feel less comfortable. So we want to empower one person to look at this and share with the team how they think it's working. And as things need to be tweaked, that person is kind of the owner of that.
29:12 - So for me, that's the essence of the of the part I'm bringing to this. I'll kind of review in a minute what's that supposed to create for you to make sure that's crystal clear for you. But this usually feeds into the rest of the process, which is not that different overall. So in a typical quarterly, the next step of the process is setting objectives for the next meaningful period. And in peacetime, this is typically quarterly. So a one-year plan is fed by quarterly rocks in most cases. In our case, we've got a 90-day vision that's fed by monthly rocks. This is not what we would call EOS pure. So EOS has a way - this is not that. This is my interpretation of how we would change it. So let's just be clear, this is not what we would call EOS pure.
30:07 - So let's imagine, though, we're going to call them rocks and the rocks are set for a month from now. What we do is we create a list of objectives. We want to talk about what done looks like, get the team to contribute over the next month. What do we need to do? Let's find three to seven critical initiatives for the next month. And then we're going to debate and rule things out and focus on what's going on. And I will tell you, that a team that's normally distracted and talking about nonsense right now is probably very focused and will give you some very good work about what matters most and you will cut out some fluff and you can usually get this done pretty quickly.
30:44 - Now after you've debated this, this could take 15 minutes, this could take an hour, you hopefully have three to seven specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based goals with at least one for each team member. What I'm finding right now as people are not taking much more than one, but I do believe that everybody on the leadership team should have at least one. This is how they know they're valuable and contributing. If you look at that team member, and you don't see how they would contribute, that is another problem entirely that might come up in issue solving. But I have not had that problem with any commoness, that has not happened a lot. Generally, the people in the room are ready to go and highly valuable. And we're finding that everybody's got at least one oar in the water. One or two objectives per person, that's your set of goals for one month, that's a short amount of time to have more than one about one goal. Less is more here. From there, once we've got those objectives figured out. Now we mentioned 15 minutes, which means we did not solve for how to get that work done. We just set the objective of what it was going to look like. So we'll talk about that in a second.
31:55 - The next piece of this though, is a scorecard. So if you've got a scorecard which is if you have an EOS scorecard, this is 5 to 15 metrics with owners, goals and 13 rolling weeks. It's a very concise, like I said, 5 to 15 metrics that give you the absolute pulse on the business on a weekly basis. You may need to tweak this scorecard based on the new pulse. You may need to track metrics every single day. You might need to track hours spent hours, worked orders, you might need to track expenses. This might be backlog that's consumed. Employee check-ins - you might need to have health check ins if you got construction people you might need to just check in with every single person. But make sure you've got a clear concise scorecard, no more than 15 items. I cannot say that enough. It's too much for you to try to digest especially every day. If you're moving from a weekly scorecard, which is the peacetime pulse, which 15 is fine. And if you're moving to something tighter, like a daily scorecard, you might be looking at five metrics. I don't know many leadership teams who can digest more than five metrics on a daily basis. So you need to get extremely focused on this, make sure everyone has an owner, so you know who to go to, and so everyone knows where they're contributing as well and track it on whatever pulse you're tracking. If this is a daily scorecard, you're going to track at least seven days. If it's a weekly scorecard, it's going to be at least 13 rolling weeks. So make sure you can see the patterns and these issues when you review that. When you review that scorecard, we're not going to talk about those in line in the meeting. We can talk about the level 10 meeting pulse in another spot. I'll give you some more resources for that. But we'll drop those issues down into what we call issue solving or the IDS portion.
33:37 - So those are the critical tools you have to have in place. There is another tool you might use before we get to actual issue solving. We call this the reverse accountability chart. Now the reverse accountability chart is based on the accountability chart that EOS prescribes, and it is a very valuable tool. You can check out how to create an accountability chart on the - there's videos all about it. But essentially the essence of this is, structure first, people second. Without getting too far into the details of that, this is a very, very important mentality set. Structure first, people second, if you're going to plan, and if you need to plan, this if you need to look at possible scenarios of significant reduction of anything - revenue, profit, whatever. You need to look about, look into the future and create a structure based on what you likely will experience. If you're looking at a 10% reduction., that's one thing. 50% reduction,t hat's another thing, 80% 90% 100% reduction. What does that business look like? Don't think about the people in first pass. My particular take on this is, there's a four step process to getting the most out of getting the right structure for your business to build the plan.
35:09 - So this tool, the reverse accountability chart is a tool you use to maybe use. You use this tool to create the scenario that you may need to pull the trigger on. You don't have to commit yourself to doing it, but you should do the planning. So here's the four steps. First step is build the structure. Imagine yourself in whichever scenario: is it the 10% or 50% to 80%? Whatever scenario it is into the future, how many people? How many seats What are they? What are the functions? What do you do? And what I mean - sometimes this is about size. Sometimes this is about totally different way of working. If you were doing all of your deployments in person, if you were flying people out to install software or do work. And now you're doing everything virtually. What is the new virtual world look like? You might have a totally different team. If you had geographical presence, you had directors or leaders or bizdev people in various cities across the state. But now again, they're all virtual. How much workload do you need? Do you need three for three cities? Or do you need one for three cities? So build a structure that's clear, simple and efficient for your world and the scenarios you might encounter.
36:19 - Now, you can start to see whether one of these things might be something you would need to, for the health of the business implement, sooner than later. Or you just put it on the shelf. When it comes time to take action, you pick one of these plans, we can go now to what we call right people in the right seats, because we've got a clear structure. And if we've done really good work, we've got a function, which is a seat, and each of these seats has no more than about five roles. So we have crystal clarity of what we need from that seat. And we can take the people we know, the people we love who share our core values and put them into a seat where we know they can do great work. And we have pretty straightforward map of what our company needs to look like. And so when we need to execute on this, it's a lot less emotional. And we can see that we're putting the greater good in front.
37:11 - Now, the third piece of this is my specific take on how it is in the economic situation right now. And that is to the decide what to pay them third. This can be an iterative process. So let's just keep this linear for a second, I'll talk about how you can iterate this but like the third step of this process is pay them. We figured out the people we want on the boat, we know how many seats there are on the boat, we know we can't put more seats - people on a boat than the boat can hold. And then we can figure out how and what we're going to pay them. And what I mean here is: sometimes, the economic situation doesn't really match the structure. So we figured out how to serve our clients best and be most competitive. But we may find that a lot of our clients are way behind on paying us. They're good for it, but they're extending them lots of credit and our cash is in a different spot. We may need to pay our best people in alignment with that. I'm not certainly not advocating that you take advantage of people in this regard. But I do think that you need to think pragmatically about the fact that you're not likely to lose your best people to the competition right now the way that you would in peacetime. So just be honest about what the best scenario is for the greater good of your company and your clients and figure out how to pay them with what you've got in a way that protects the health of the business. It does you no good to get the right people on the bus, and then to drive it into a ditch. So you have to think very clearly about how you're going to and when you're going to pay them. And you can talk about things like earning it back with profit sharing and delayed compensation and however you want to think about that, but make sure you just ask that question and I do recommend you do that after the right people in the right seats because right now we're finding the right people will stay, as opposed to having to incent people to stay with the money in most cases.
39:06 - And then the fourth piece, and I'll address it again, I know right now people are saying that's not the case for me. So I'll address how we iterate that. So the fourth step is creativity. This is when you start thinking about well, I've got the intern that I love, that intern is fantastic. That's not step one. I see people go right there. They want to, oh, you know, I know we got to make some reductions, but the intern is fantastic. Let's keep this person around. That - let's not go there. You do not want to jeopardize keeping one of your best people with a compensation for somebody who is a nice to have. You may be able to find a spot for them, but you also might have plugged them in step two, they might be the right people for one of the jobs that you haven't even created yet. So we want to build step one and then two and then three, and then four. So like I said, the iterative process, you get to step three and the payment doesn't work out. You can go back - you start realizing, well, okay, I structured this a little bit differently than I would have thought and I realized this position is more expensive. Let's rejigger the structure.
39:59 - As you go through the steps, you iterate through it, but do it linearly. Keep going back to structure first, right people in the right seats, then pay them. If the math doesn't work out in step three, go back to step two, get creative. But always start with structure, then people, then pay them and then the creativity if you've got stuff leftover. Some people, some people have extra money. Some people are doing really aggressive cuts initially, and they have some things they can do creatively to incent people for working harder, bringing in some lower cost intern resources, reusing that money for giving things back to clients. But that's a nice to have. Not everybody has that. And that is step four definitively.
40:36 - Okay, so that's, that's my soapbox on the reverse accountability chart, which is one of the critical tools that you could be deploying and you could be working through in this section we call issue-solving. And issue solving is really just about, after we've got focus, after we've got this vision, after we've got a clarity of our scorecard and all these things, there's a thousand issues we could be solving. They could come off of our scorecard, they can come from anywhere. But you don't solve these issues as they come up, because you don't know what's important yet. So what you do is you create a long list of issues, and this is all straight out of EOS. This is totally EOS pure - you get this big list of issues, and you only pick the top three at a time. You dig down to the root issue of each issue one at a time, discuss just enough, solve it by committing to it. And you do that until you run out of time and let everything else wait. Issue solving is a really core tenet of EOS. So always wrapping up our meetings with recapping any to-do list, sharing what we need to share outside of this meeting and updating all of our information. It's like printing out the wartime vision.
41:50 - So that's the process overall. So I want to kind of reiterate what I said so you have some clarity about what EOS pure and what's my vision - my wartime vision, a vision in crisis process. So what the wartime vision is about, is that how big is our dream? Get your team to describe how far the future is for them. Now not everybody will be on the same page. You may find that somebody is panicked, and can't think past a week, but most people are kind of in the 90 days and so you as a leader are gonna have to pick a path. Are you gonna say, oh, 90 days will work for us or 30, whatever works, and then bring the rest of the team into that. This allows us to create a vision that's in touch with reality. Everybody should be believing that this is possible.
42:44 - The pulse - then we got to we got to figure out how fast do we need to communicate. Not too fast, but not too slow. Give us some ability to listen to what's going on, collect the information, adjust our process as we go. And then set rocks. Rocks are the goals we're going to have for the right pulse. And we're gonna need to get to the heart of what matters and get to work. Less is more - three to seven, hopefully closer to three typically, but in this case, you're going to probably find what, you know, almost always at least one per leadership team member. Only work on what you can influence and work on it with everything you've got. Focus on that. And then you want to do this with your team. Get them bought in, bring them in for their help, let them carry some of your load. They want to help. They want to carry some of the load, they want to feel useful, and you need it and you deserve it. And you will get better results when you do that.
43:40 - That's the process. I know what I've shared is a lot of stuff that's hard to visualize. So by the time this is published, I will have a written document outlining this process a little more clearly because it'll be written and you can get that off the website. Go to www.leary.cc, I'm not sure where I'll stick it, but I'm sure it'll be not hard to find. We'll make sure it's easy to find for you. And I hope that's really been helpful for you.
44:09 - So two parting thoughts about how this is coming together, and why I think this is so important. If you've read Good to Great, I believe it's chapter four. They talk about the Stockdale paradox. The Stockdale paradox is Jim Stockdale, noted prison camp survivor. And the question to him was put, how did you survive so long so many years in prison camp when so many other people did not? And his answer was simply that the optimists did not make it. The people who thought we'd be home by Thanksgiving when Thanksgiving comes and goes, and then by Christmas and the Christmas comes and goes. And over and over, they just had unrealistic beliefs and goals. Those people didn't make it. The people who did make it were the ones who kept the belief alive, that they could win and could get out. But were crystal clear on exactly what the brutal facts of the situation actually were.
45:21 - So this is your time to do that. This is your time to lead, to bring the belief and to bring the reality and your team wants that. Your team is already crystal clear on that one what's at stake here. Let them be honored by that reality and be honest with them, bring both the belief and the reality together and so you can lead strong and lead with integrity. The second point is this: that when I used to hear about in economic events and depressions and recessions, that there are always winners and they were always losers. And I don't know about you. I'm sure you've heard similar things. But when I heard that, I always heard it as, there were always people who were lucky, and people who are willing to make money off the misfortunes of others.
46:15 - And I gotta tell you, I've been totally shocked by what I've seen over the last month working with many different entrepreneurial leadership teams. Now maybe this is the company I keep. But what I see are hungry, ambitious fighters. Companies who are taking it on the chin and who are getting back up. And they're seeing an opportunity to fix it, to fight it, to change, to meet their customers where they are, to help their customers, to ask with the most earnestness, what can they do to help their customers, clients and people who are not even their customers and clients. The leadership teams I'm working with in the Houston area, in Texas, and other parts of the country, these companies, these leaders, these people are dying to help.
47:04 - They are killing themselves to to keep their companies alive, aggressive, helpful, thriving, and they will do it. They are taking it on and they are coming back. And so the winners that I see are the ones who are adapting. They are leading, they are asking questions, and they are changing and they are playing defense and they are playing offense both. They are reducing expenses, and they're trying things and they're asking questions, and I could not be more optimistic about how small and medium businesses are just really ready to bounce back and conquer. And you can too. It's not easy. It takes asking questions that don't have easy answers. It takes commitment and consistency and repetition over weeks after weeks after weeks with little improvement after little improvement and that's ultimately how we win. And so I'm proud of everybody I've worked with, and I'm proud of you. And I know you're gonna win if you keep it up.
48:08 - That's it for today. So stay tuned. I'm working on a process called Catch the Rebound, which would be similarly based in a - right now, we're trying to get a sense of how to get people focused and working. But I really want to give some tools to allow people to start thinking about how to optimize as things turn around in some way or other. And so that's in development. Look for that. I don't know when we'll call it. Two to four weeks. I'm suspecting that's when we'll get something out. I've also got Cameron Herold, if you know Cameron Herold, I have not interviewed him yet, but we are scheduled for a couple days from now. I'm really looking forward to that. I think we're going to be able to share some really good experiences about what's going on and what's working. So look for that coming out, that should publish in the next week or so.
48:51 - Until then, we'll see you next time on You're Doing It Wrong with me, Mark Henderson Leary.
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Harry Brelsford has had 20 years of SMB technology experience with numerous technological certifications to his credit. His passion for his craft has led him to becoming an in-demand speaker at industry events, publishing hundreds of articles about business and technology.
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