Mark Winters: It's important for people to take the whole thing together. Everybody needs both scores. They may already know they're a visionary but it's helpful for them to see where they fall on that integrator spectrum as well and likewise for the integrator to see how much visionary they have in them. One of the things that goes on there is the integrator is, a lot of the time, the translator for that visionary.
Patrick Baldwin: Seth, you know EOS. We've got Mark C. Winters stepping into this episode. It's funny when Paul and I recorded, he did not record with Mark. We said, “We might lose power. Hurricane Fiona went through. We're running on diesel.” Lo and behold, the diesel runs out and Paul is not available. It's you and me.
Seth Garber: It's part of it. Maybe it's meant to be.
Patrick Baldwin: This is your calling. This is why you're here. You're here to step in and save the day for The Boardroom Buzz. I was excited about you getting on here to talk about EOS. I've read the first chapter of EOS probably five times and then I go back and I start over. It's probably because I'm on Audible. It's taken a while for it to sink in. You know EOS so this is perfect.
Seth Garber: I find EOS interesting. We've been a study of EOS for a long time along with some of the other structures that are out there. When you told me to jump in on this one, I was excited about it.
Patrick Baldwin: Before we step into The Boardroom with Mark, I do want to ask, how much have you seen EOS implemented in our industry?
Seth Garber: In our industry, I've seen a lot of companies talking about it. I've seen quite a few companies attempt it. One of the things that we had done is that I had a belief that it is the right fit for some companies. We had put a contributor into Pest Daily, who is an EOS implementer and a well-respected one so people could get a basis for it. Have I seen it effectively implemented? Not a ton but it's a big talk out there right now.
Patrick Baldwin: That's enough. We're going to step in. We keep throwing around EOS. We're about to dig in. This interview was with Mark C. winners who wrote Rocket Fuel with Gino Wickman. Gino Wickman wrote Traction, which is where EOS comes from, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, which Mark is about to tell you all about. Let's dive in on The Boardroom with Mark C. Winters.
Seth Garber: Let's do this.
Patrick Baldwin: Paul, I'm glad to bring in another fellow Texan, Mark Winters, into The Boardroom. Mark, welcome to The Boardroom Buzz.
Mark Winters: Thanks for having me,
Patrick Baldwin: Mark, I appreciate you joining us here on The Boardroom buzz. The reason you're here is that this book, Rocket Fuel, is something special. I wanted to bring you on and dive into Rocket Fuel. a lot of people in the industry have picked up on EOS or Traction. Before I mess up what Rocket Fuel is about, you know Rocket Fuel a lot better than I do. Tell us about EOS and Rocket fuel.
Mark Winters: I had the good fortune to meet Gino Wickman a number of years ago. I got introduced to EOS, The Entrepreneurial Operating System. It became a platform that I would use to work with clients. I replaced what I was doing before because I was impressed with it. We had a lot of experiences in common. We became fast friends. He had a concept that he had discovered that he had named The Visionary and The Integrator. It refers to two types of leaders inside an entrepreneurial company.
The Visionary is the one that most people are already familiar with, that crazy idea person that will start something, anything. They can't help themselves. They go start this business to do this thing that they see in their head. The Integrator is a leader that's wired differently than they are and they're all about getting stuff done, making things happen, and following through.
What Gino noticed and then I've also noticed in my clients as well was that when you had those two leaders in place, the business did better and achieved some phenomenal results better than businesses that didn't have that structure in place. We decided that the world needed to know more about this and thus the book Rocket Fuel, which takes the simple idea of that structure and builds a framework around it and rules and tools to help take what is a naturally friction-loaded type of relationship. They are different. They want to butt heads. We put a structure around it to focus that friction in a positive way and that's the combination that we call Rocket Fuel.
Patrick Baldwin: It's awesome. I've got some questions. This might be some free counseling or free advice but we'll get to that.
Mark Winters: Perfect. Best way to do it.
Patrick Baldwin: For those that haven't read traction, is that a required reading before you pick up Rocket Fuel?
Mark Winters: It's important to meet people wherever they are. If you think about it as an EOS ecosystem that has all these different things going on, we have people that read Traction first and they go, “This is what I need for my business. It’s a way to get clear on where we're headed, how we're going to get there, and create accountability so that we can have traction and get closer to that vision being real every day and then create health in the culture of the leaders in that organization. They can talk about the things they need to talk about.” Sometimes that's what resonates with them and pulls them into the journey to begin to do the work they need to do.
Other times, particularly if it's a visionary entrepreneur, they may or may not be thinking about that stuff. They may be flying much higher than that. When a visionary picks up the book, Rocket Fuel, they read the first chapter, it's about them and they love that chapter. It's great. They're like, “This is me.” They then read the second chapter and it describes the integrator. They scratch their head and go, “That makes sense. That's probably somebody that could help me.” They're like, “How do I find someone?” They know who they think it is and they hand them the book and then tell them, “Read this and then let's do whatever we need to do to make it happen.”
Paul Giannamore: I don't know much about EOS but I've learned a thing or two about it over the years. You have the concept of The Visionary and The Integrator. Clearly, that resonates throughout the entire thesis of this book. Could you define a visionary and integrator for us?
Mark Winters: The visionary is they're that founding entrepreneur, they're the one that sees the future, they see where things are headed, and they see the opportunities for where we might position this business along that path to take full advantage. They've got great ideas. They're an idea fountain, 10 or 20 new ideas a week. 90% of those may be bad ideas, maybe crazy ideas, maybe kill-the-company ideas but 1 or 2 of them are gold and is the thing that’s going to take that company to the next level.
They're great at big strategic relationships, particularly external relationships where they're working with somebody in the industry, big partnerships, or folks in the community. Whatever it may be looking outside, getting the connection, meeting the person, getting in the door, and making whatever needs to happen to open up even more opportunities for even more possibilities.
They're also great deal closers. They get bored by the tedious process of sales. If you can bring them in when it's the big deal and it's time to close it and make it happen and we've got top-to-top discussions going on between the two companies, they love that and are great at that. They're also great at solving big, complex, interesting problems. That's something that's fun for most visionaries.
Integrators are wired differently. They're more about execution. The visionary is the one that makes it up, they see it. The integrator is the one that makes it real and makes it happen. They're focused on the details. They're focused on leading this leadership team, holding them accountable, getting them all to align, and working harmoniously through in between all these leaders to get all that energy laser-focused on the vision of the company and what it's going to take to execute it and get it done.
They're great at breaking ties. You'll have two leaders. Sales of marketing say, “We have to go this way.” The finance says, “No. We have to go that way.” They're at odds and they can't work it out. The integrator can swing into that conversation and see the big picture, hear all sides, and break the tie. They can make the call and make the decision so that we don't, as a leadership team, gets stuck there. They're great at accountability and P&L results. They are the glue in the center of the wheel that holds it all together and makes it happen. Does that give you what you're looking for, Paul?
Paul Giannamore: It does. I would imagine, like everything in life, it's a spectrum. Could one individual then have aspects of both?
Mark Winters: They could. We have a tool that gets to that and we call it The Crystallizer Assessment that you can take. It has 40 questions on it. It will give you a visionary score and an integrator score. It's another data point that indicates how naturally wired you are for the things that are typically associated with the visionary seat or typically associated with the integrator seat. The scale goes to 100. Somebody that's 100, that's the highest score you could have on either one of those dimensions. I’ve never seen anybody that was 100. I'm a 96, for example, as a visionary.
Somebody who scores high on one of those areas compared to someone who scores low, what that tells us is it's going to be easier for them. It's not just necessarily a binary that can do it or not but for somebody who has a high score in that area, it's going to be like falling out a bit for them. It's super easy. For somebody who has a low score, they may still be able to do it but it's going to be a lot harder, it's going to wear on them, and it's going to fatigue them. At some point, they may not be able to sustain it. That's a way that somebody can get in there and see if they're honest with how they use that tool. They can get an indication of where their natural wiring may sit.
Patrick Baldwin: You made The Crystallizer Assessment, right?
Mark Winters: Yeah.
Patrick Baldwin: Can you give yourself 100 and say, “Someone finally made 100.”
Mark Winters: That would defeat the purpose. Gino and I collaborated on that but we've modified that based on the experience that we've gotten. You take one assessment or the other. What we found is it's important for people to take the whole thing together. Everybody needs both scores. They may already know they're a visionary but it's helpful for them to see where they fall on that integrator spectrum as well. Likewise for the integrator to see how much visionary they have in them.
One of the things that goes on there is the integrator is, a lot of times, a translator for that visionary. Maybe they don't fly at the same altitude as that visionary is flying. They got to be able to fly high enough that they can understand, that they can get it, and that they can relate to the visionary that visionary is throwing down. Translate that and bring that in practical terms to the organization so we can do something with it.
Patrick Baldwin: I remember walking out of a few meetings at different businesses in which the employees would look at me. I fit naturally in an integrator role. They look at me and be like, “What did he say? What do I do now? What was the gist of that?” I find myself in that translator spot at times. What is that? Based on that assessment, what's the right mix? They could be too similar. They could be too different. What are you looking for in balancing out those two roles?
Mark Winters: There are lots of different things that go into it and it's one of the data points. We think of it as a two-piece puzzle. You're looking for a complementary relationship. Between us, we score high on all the necessary areas of a visionary integrator duo. We don't have a lot of places where we both score low. We think about those as gaps. When we match them up, we don't want to have a lot of gaps in that relationship.
Another thing we look at is overlap. Paul, if you and I both score high on some things, instinctively, we're both going to want to move into that area and take control of that area. If we're not clear on roles, then that can create a fighting-for-the-wheel scenario. You got to take the time to be clear on what roles are. We're looking for a fit that covers all the areas with minimal overlap. If we were exactly the same, we didn't gain anything. We like that complimentary and that difference. We want a minimum overlap that we can clarify through role definition and then we want to have minimal gaps. Between us, our duo should have all the areas well covered that we would want out of that combination.
Patrick Baldwin: In addition to that, you talked about core values. Does core values almost supersede all that? Before you get to assessments, you've got to be lined up at your gut almost.
Mark Winters: 100%. If we're not a core values fit, it's a non starter.
Patrick Baldwin: The interesting thing was when I thought about the organizational chart, it's called Accountability Chart. As I was reading chapters 1 and 2, this is probably the integrator in me, I thought,
“How does that report structure look like? Where is the leadership team?” The number three and below, below the visionary integrator. Who do these people talk to? How do they report? What does that look like?
Mark Winters: First, let me back up. An important difference between the Accountability Chart and what people are traditionally familiar with is the Org Chart. Everybody's had org charts and seen org charts. Org charts are riddled with what I call levels. If I'm at a higher level than you are on the org chart, then somehow that means I'm better. A lot of entitlement and titles tend to go with that with how org charts are organized. Oftentimes, they give you no indication of what the heck these people do.
The Accountability Chart approaches it from the ground up and says, “What all needs to get done in the organization. How can we cluster that stuff together in human-sized clumps that make sense? Let's make clear lines of accountability, 1 to 1 accountability.” Each person is accountable only to one other person for this set of things that they need to be sure they get done. There's a specific way that we think about making sure that they're the right person to be in our company and in the right seat. That's the right seat for them given their particular gifts and how they're wired and the talents that they have.
When you get that all clear, at the top of this thing, the visionary is at the top and they have one direct report and that's the integrator. There are reasons for that. One big reason is that visionaries are not great at holding people accountable. They’re not, at most. I'm a good example of this. At different times in my career, I've had probably more than a dozen direct reports. Not just all the people that were in my whole organization but that many reporting to me directly.
I thought I was doing okay but then I look at somebody that's a great manager and great at holding people accountable and I was doing terrible at it. On a good day, I can probably hold one person accountable as a natural visionary. Integrators, on the other hand, this is a part of their DNA. They're made for this. You want the accountability of the rest of the leadership team to flow directly into them.
The visionary has the integrators through one direct report that's accountable to them and then the rest of the leaders, all report directly to that integrator and that's the conversation. That's what the reporting structure looks like. That's where there's total clarity created on what's expected of each of those people and feedback and closing that loop on how good a job they're doing on making it happen and living up to those expectations.
Patrick Baldwin: When I hear everything and how you describe visionary, it's entrepreneurial. There you go, EOS, very visionary. What happens if you have an integrator that also has an entrepreneurial spirit? Are those two things polar opposites of each other? Does that work?
Mark Winters: The watch out is that they get confused about themself. You have somebody that has let's say an 85. They’re 85 visionary and 85 integrator. What are they? They'll be confused and they'll think they're both a lot of times. What we found is it's extremely rare, less than 5% of the time that someone is truly wired to be great as a visionary and great as an integrator.
Most of the time, if I have that person who let's say score high and they think they're both and I can pin them down and go, “If we fill you for bourbon, truth serum, and hold a gun to your head, you've got to pick. You have to pick which one you're going to be for the rest of your life.” They'll tell me and it's there. They'll say, “If I had to do one for the rest of my life, I would pick this one.” That's usually a pretty good tell for where their heart is and where their natural wiring is.
A lot of times, it's a visionary that's confused because they have had to develop a lot of the skillsets of the integrator by virtue of the journey they've had to go on to get to where they are. In the beginning, it was just them. In order for them to survive, they had to pay attention to details, they had to follow through, and they had to do all this stuff.
In my experience as a manager, I did it because I had to. I thought I was good at it until I saw somebody great at it. Visionaries will have that same experience, They think they're good at it and they can do it. Because they can do it, it doesn't mean that's what they should be doing. It doesn't mean it's their gift. When you get them paired up with a great integrator and they're like, “Look at that. That's awesome. I could never do that. If I did, it would wear me out in about fifteen minutes.” That's the big a-ha that they seem to experience.
Patrick Baldwin: That makes sense. Does the ownership of the company always need to be the visionary? The reason why I ask this is Paul talks about this as far as an organizational design. Sometimes the owner, the founder of the company, or the CEO isn't the best leader of the company. Maybe he's not the visionary. He started it but it's time for him to take a back seat. Is there a problem with that?
Mark Winters: We have something we call the owner-employee rules of the game. One of the premises or the foundational beliefs is that ownership brings with it two rights and privileges. One is to your share of the profits. However your structure is and however that stuff gets divvied up, you get your share of the profits of the company, the economic gains of the company.
Two is you have your right to a say in the major decisions of the company whatever that structure is set up to work. It’s for the major decisions, not every little thing like what brand of paperclips we order but the big things. Are we going to buy another company? Are we going to take on another equity shareholder? Are we going to sell the company? Big things like that, which is probably less than 5% of the decisions that are going on in the company. Beyond those two things, that's it.
Ownership does not bring with it automatically the right to be an employee in this company. If you're going to be an employee in this company, you have to be the best person to fill that seat. You have to fill it arguably better and more responsibly than any other person we might bring in off the street to fill that seat because everybody's watching you. What they're watching for you to do is do what we call playing the owner card and say, “We've got all these rules. We got all this stuff but that doesn't apply to me because I'm the owner.”
When an owner does that, it causes the whole system to lose its integrity and everything starts to come unwound. Accountability doesn't work the same when they won't play by the rules as well. We have this structure that we've carved out and we call it the owner’s box that thinks about it sitting above the accountability chart. Some owners choose to live there. They're fine to live there. They stay informed. They weigh in on major decisions. They take their profit checks or whatever that look like in terms of their economic participation. They let the leadership team run the business.
Other owners sit in that visionary seat or that integrator seat or a completely different seat. They may be a head of sales. They may be a salesperson. They may be a designer or lead R&D or all different kinds of variations, some technical thing that they love and enjoy doing. They do it playing by the same rules that everybody else in the company plays by. That's the key. Because you're an owner, it doesn't mean you're an employee. It certainly doesn't mean that the visionary or integrator has to be an employee.
Although I will tell you, most commonly in a founder-led company, 9 times out of 10 the founder is that visionary. They end up in that visionary seat. Most often, that is what happens. You'll see companies that are passed down through multiple generations of a family. They've been acquired so they weren't started by the owner. There are lots of different scenarios there where someone else emerges to be the visionary. Sometimes they are sought out and brought in to be the visionary, somebody from the outside.
Patrick Baldwin: I'm taking all the questions. I still have a few but, Paul, jump in there.
Paul Giannamore: For me, I'm wrapping my mind around the whole integrator versus visionary. If you think about any privately held business or even a public company, the CEO, what does he do? He sets strategy. He reports to the board and the board is brought in by the shareholders. He's setting strategies and organizing all the resources and capabilities of the firm. He's effectively a professional manager. I'm trying to think about the idea of the visionary versus an integrator in the construct of a publicly traded business. Let's talk a little bit about that. For me, I always start at the public level and work my way down when I think about organizational design.
Mark Winters: Let's come at it from a different direction. Our target market is not that. Our target market is an organization that typically has between 10 and 250 employees, is privately held, and has no board. That's where we're coming at it from now. I will tell you, there are tons of publicly-held companies with thousands of employees and billions of dollars in revenue that run on EOS. The fundamental thing is this entrepreneurial mentality, entrepreneurial culture for how they're structuring and running that business.
Let's come at it from a private equity view. When I talk to private equity people, what they tell me they see in this visionary-integrator structure is risk reduction. I go in and I acquire a company that's led by the visionary founder and I loop them into a contract to stay for three years. Within twelve months, either they're leaving on their own or I'm wanting to kick them out because they're not wired to work in that business where they're working for somebody else.
You take that traditional, the one-leader model and you split it into these two different halves, the visionary and the integrator. For the visionary founder, if it’s my company, they're going to be less interested in wanting to make sure I hang around, which is great for me because I don't want to do that anyway. If I hang around, it’s going to be in a much more free and lower accountability role, which I can probably handle.
As the buyer, I've got an operating system in place if they’re running on EOS. I've got an integrator that's going to stay. They like this. They like doing what they do. If I look at it, I may have an integrator that can grow into what I would consider a more traditional CEO role, which is something that's more combined if that's the path and that's what you're trying to get into.
For this model and what we're talking about, think about that part of the growth curve where you're moving from 10 to 250 and you're going from being the person who's doing it all by yourself to building a leadership team. Allowing them to build capacity in the organization and get this thing on up until you get to a point where either you decide that you're going to commit to this or there's something different as you get big. Does that make sense?
Paul Giannamore: Yeah, it does. You mentioned in the discussion that 70%, 80%, or 90% of these founder-led businesses are visionaries. We could say that an individual with a visionary personality is more likely to take these risks, come up with some cockamamie-harebrained idea, and start a business. They don't necessarily possess the organizational skills or all the other requisite skills in order to take this thing from this harebrained idea and ultimately market it right. Could we almost say that an integrator is more of a professional manager? Can we say that? I think about this from the standpoint of Apple computers. Would you say Steve Jobs was a visionary or an integrator?
Mark Winters: That's a no-brainer answer.
Paul Giannamore: I'm throwing softballs at you. He's a visionary.
Mark Winters: We look at a lot of these combinations through history like the Ford model, McDonald's, Honda, and Standard Oil. You go back and they're these companies that end up being these big titans of the industry but they didn't start like that. Apple is another example. Wozniak, in the early days, is probably well-enough to understand it. Clearly, Steve was a visionary, even from the time they started it.
Whether you call the integrator a professional manager or whatever label you want to put on it, we use the integrator to bring this set of things they do. It’s about the things they do. Being a manager, in a sense that they hold people accountable, keep them focused, set crystal clear expectations, follow through, and create alignment, they do all these things. If you want to call it something else, what we're saying is it’s important that they do. That isn't a natural gift or capability of the visionary. They can do it to a certain extent but it's hard for him. It's not sustainable.
A visionary has a harebrained idea, they launch the company, they take the risk, they can't help themselves, and they got to do it. They're able to through their own energy get out and stir up enough interest that they can get something started. A lot of times, that's where they fall down. They can't keep it up. It comes back down. Maybe they get all cranked up again and they grow again but they can't keep it up and it comes back down. The integrator also brings this persistence to allow it to keep going, keep growing, build on itself, and scale.
Paul Giannamore: Got it. Patrick?
Patrick Baldwin: I’m thinking about change. Mark, let's say someone picks up Traction or Rocket Fuel.
Mark Winters: The owner does.
Patrick Baldwin: All of a sudden, they're like, “We need to do this right now.” That change is going to rock everyone else's role in the organization. In terms of change management, is there a way to transition that well to onboard into this new way of operating their business?
Mark Winters: We have what's called the EOS Process, which is the most effective way to implement EOS into a company. Gino and others have tried many different ways over the years in terms of, “Do this first. Do that first. Do these steps. Don't do that one.” This is the one that has been proven. This is the one that works. It's a clearly defined sequence of what you teach first and what you have a team do with it.
The fundamental requirement though is that they have to want to. They have to be frustrated. They have to be in pain that what they're doing currently isn't working. They have to be aware that they don't have all the answers. They have to want help. They have to be willing to let somebody challenge them and push them and all that.
They've got to commit to the hard work that it's going to take to get from wherever they're at to what we would call a successful implementation of EOS, which takes time. It takes 18 to 24 months for a company to become self-sufficient with the implementation of EOS if they're working with a professional EOS implementer. If they're trying to do it themselves using the book, it could probably take a lot longer than that. Those are all things to think about.
I'll have conversations, Patrick, with people around, “Maybe we should wait until we get all this fixed or we get this right. Get this person here or that person here.” If we're going to have somebody come over and clean our house, it seems like my wife wants to make sure our house is spotless before the house cleaner shows up, which in my mind is crazy. If they're professionals and they do that great, then let them do it. Let them do that great.
When you reach that commitment point, the pain is great enough and the prospect of gain is large enough in your mind that you have the courage and you make that commitment, “We're going to do this. We're going to be serious about it and we're going to do it right.” Wherever you're starting from, that's what's key to making sure that you are successful.
Patrick Baldwin: In terms of that commitment, I think about change management underneath the visionary and integrator and that next-level leadership team. If you decide to commit, “We're going to do this going forward.” Are there best practices to get the leadership team on board or is it a matter of cut bait if they can't make it?
Mark Winters: Here's what happens, the first step of the process is what we call a 90-minute meeting where the leadership team comes together with the EOS implementer. The EOS implementer shares a little bit about themselves and gets to know a little bit about the company and that leadership team. They then walk them through the EOS model and the EOS process and what it looks like to do this pure implementation that we're talking about.
At that point, that gives both sides the team to decide if they're bought in and ready to commit to this and also, the implementer to assess whether they are. If you're not, the implementer probably doesn't want to work with you. If both parties go, “We're committed. We're ready to move forward.” The process begins.
One of the first things that you get into is defining that accountability chart. When you do that, it gets real. We start to make some intentional decisions about the structure that's going to give us the best chance to get where we're trying to go. We define that structure first and then we map people to it. Sometimes all the people in the room don't have a seat in that leadership team structure. Sometimes there's somebody that needs to be in that leadership team structure that, for whatever reason, didn't get invited to come to the meeting.
You flush these things out. You begin to see these things but it's in a collaborative, open, and honest type of discussion that you get to that's focused on, “What do we need?” It’s not just, “We got to make a seat for Susie because Susie has been here for 50 years or because she's my sister.” Back to the difference between an accountability chart and an org chart. We need a seat on our accountability chart that's focused on making sure that we get new business or our making sure that we keep our promises to the customer or whatever it might be.
Does Susie fit our core values? Yep. We have a way to look at that. We call it GWC, get, want, and have the capacity to perform in that seat at the level we need her to perform. We have a way to score that out and see. Maybe Susie is only one of the candidates and Frank is another candidate and Joe is another candidate. We use that way to assess each of them relative to that specific seat on the chart and make the best decision. Which one's the best decision for us?
You get started and you go through that process and you'll learn some things. It's not uncommon that somebody finds out something that they didn't expect. Guess what? It was already true. It was already there. We've made it visible so that you can deal with it. You go through that process and you're always evolving and working on that. Some people get their structure fast and for some people, it takes more time.
I had somebody in here not too long ago and their entire leadership team may have turned over twice. This was several years. His comment was, “If you had told me that was going to happen, there's no way I would have ever started. Having gone through it and seeing where we are now and what we've been able to accomplish, I'm glad we did.”
Patrick Baldwin: We talked about the Kolbe System. There are tons of different personality assessments. You've talked about Crystallized Assessment.
Mark Winters: That's ours. That's the Rocket Fuel Crystallized Assessment.
Patrick Baldwin: Within Rocket Fuel, you've got The Crystallized Assessment. I think about personality profiles. If I'm coming from a personal learning profile system and then I begin reading this book or think I want to integrate Rocket Fuel into my business and I could think about Kolbe, DiSC, and the hot thing, at least the last few years, Enneagrams. Are there certain personality traits that are spot on and you’d take from personality traits or a good fit into finding the right visionary and integrator?
Mark Winters: There's no pat answer. We'll get the question, what's the profile of an ideal integrator?
Patrick Baldwin: That's what I asked you.
Mark Winters: We'll get that question all the time and the answer is no. Quit asking because I keep telling you no. There's not just one answer to it. Go back to the puzzle. It depends on that visionary. What does the visionary look like? The visionary needs to understand, what's their Kolbe profile? What's their Enneagram? What's their DiSC? What's their Strength Finders? What's their Culture Index? They need to know who they are and then look at what's going to be a good complementary fit for them.
Kolbe has a great tool where they can take two people and show, “Here's the stuff that's going to be easy for you to work together with someone like that on. Here's the stuff that's going to drive you crazy to work with somebody like that on.” That doesn't give you the answer by itself but it's a great data point to look into. That connection process all begins with self-discovery. Thinking about the visionary first, “Where am I trying to go with this business? What am I trying to do? What's my vision? What do I look like? What is my working style? What drives me crazy? What do I need the most help with?”
We've got a tool that we call The Wish List, which is a brain dump of all the things that I wish would get resolved, be made possible, be made go away, or whatever the perspective is. Here's the brain dump of all the things. Even if a great integrator could come in and solve this, it would change my life. That becomes part of the equation. You then start to go out and paint the picture or define the shape of that complimentary edge. If I know that my edge looks like this, the edge I'm looking for must look like that. If this is the edge that fits on now, go look for that.
I've even been talking about what we call a three-piece puzzle. The two pieces at the top are the vision and the integrator fitting together. The third piece is the actual business. Imagine those other two pieces, once we get them clicked together, they've got to click into that business in a way that makes sense. Where the visionary clicks into the business and the integrator clicks into the business, that's where the spectrums come into play.
Paul, you talked about having a spectrum. We have a visionary spectrum. All visionaries are not created equal. You can have somebody that's like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, or whatever that's way out there and it's super complex, the world that they live in, fast-moving, competitive, and a lot of stuff going on. The business may need that visionary or it may be a simple, mundane business that’s more of the same all the time. There’s not a lot of change. There's not a lot of complexity. You don't need the same visionary there to run that.
The same thing is true on the integrator side of the equation. If it's a big global company that's operating in multiple countries and has thousands of people and a dozen different product lines and it's complex and crazy, you're going to need a whole different integrator than you're going to need for the company that's a project-based business.
Their volume is not super high. Their headcount isn't super high. It's simpler. It's going to take less integrator energy to be successful there than it would at the other example. You want understand how those fit and then click that whole thing together and look for the missing piece. If you are the visionary and you understand your business, you can back into what that puzzle piece of an integrator looks like.
Patrick Baldwin: In terms of influencing you, organizational design, or management, are there people that stick out to you, Mark? Including Gino. Gino is first.
Mark Winters: The funny thing is Gino is the last of my story in that sense. I went to business school. I studied all this stuff. I heard words like organizational design and studied lots of interesting things there. If you'd asked me 20 or 25 years ago, I would have probably given you somebody else's name. Through my own entrepreneurial journey, we're up to fifteen different companies that I either started, bought, shut down, or sold in all different industries.
Through what I've lived and through the last ten-plus years that I've spent with Gino, Gino is the man. For an entrepreneurial company, the simple, no-frills approach that's raw, real, and all about getting done what we need to get done, it’s the EOS system. Specifically, as far as designing that structure and using the accountability chart, it's super powerful. I'm blown away by it.
A lot of times, it gets around. I'll have companies that they've got a lot of entities and a lot of different businesses but they'll get confused. They've got all these different legal entities that maybe crossover or maybe they don't. They've got these different businesses that are complementary and work well together or they don't. They get confused about how to structure that all in some way that makes sense and they're able to harness it and focus it.
One of the first exercises that I'll take them through is I what call Drawing The Envelope. If you get all the stuff up on the board that's out there that's in play to consider, you got to draw a box around it. If you're going to draw a box around all of it but you've got stuff that doesn't go together, that's probably going to cause headaches.
Maybe you need to take this particular business and carve it out and it sits over here. It's in its own envelope. It's not in this one. These other three businesses all do work together. We can put them in here and you are intentional about how you structure that in a way that you're going to be able to create accountability, get it focused, and deliver some results.
Patrick Baldwin: Other than the author, what else is in this background and history of yours?
Mark Winters: I've had businesses in everything from high-end analytics to manufacturing to consulting to entertainment. It's been all over the place. I've worked in some pretty interesting software businesses focused on the analytic space and prediction. One of those was a spin-out of Los Alamos National Lab and some pretty cool work that was funded initially by the Defense Department that we were able to take and do some interesting things with.
Patrick Baldwin: That you can tell us about.
Mark Winters: An interesting story, I was with Amoco petroleum and I was an entrepreneur in residence for them, which meant they wanted me to come in and not play by the same rules that everybody else played by. They thought they'd gotten big, bureaucratic, and slow-moving. Mark's job was that if you thought you could find a better way to get it done using external resources, go ahead.
I had access to a lot of systems within their technology infrastructure which was not normal. It wasn't normal that someone would have access to all the software programs across all these different functions. Frankly, it may have been an accident. I'm in there poking around. I was working on the retail side of things and I found some technology they were using in the exploration side of things to go look for oil and gas.
It was modeling stuff. I'm like, “This is interesting. I wonder if I can use this to help us look for retail locations and model what's going to happen if I build a site here versus there, what the results would be.” That turned into something. I saw there was something powerful there. I brought some other people in to help. We built something that worked pretty well.
I then found this company in Los Alamos, New Mexico that had that technology on steroids. We took that and ran with it in a consumer behavior modeling direction. We were able to predict things. This was on the early edge of the whole CRM movement. We were able to predict what people would buy and how much and how often inside a constrained model. People use that technology to market to hundreds of millions of people that had credit cards. That was pretty interesting.
That ran its course and I ended up coming out of that thing after we exited. I was looking for the next thing and I reconnected with somebody from back in the Amoco days and came back to that retail space. I started another company that focused on retail and restaurant application where McDonald's could come in and I could tell them, “If you put a store here, it'll do this many million in sales. If you go half a mile south on that road on the other side of the street, it'll do this many other million in sales.” They could use that and play against the cost of the real estate to make their decisions.
We could do a market optimization application. You could look at how many locations you could put in a market so that you didn't overly cannibalize each other but you didn't leave a lot of untapped demand laying on the ground and built that business up and sold that to a company called Experian. Most people in the states know it as a credit bureau but they're one of the largest data businesses on the planet. For an analytics company, data is fuel and they had great fuel. That was a fun branch of my career.
Paul Giannamore: Mark, I got a question for you. When I think about our readers, they tend to be in pest control and allied services. You've got fire protection and lawn care. All of these businesses are generally route-based businesses where you're putting an individual in a truck and sending them out to a business or home. They're relatively simple organizations from an archetypal perspective.
When I start to think about organizational design stuff, I always find myself going back to Mintzberg. Back in the ‘60s or ‘70s, I don't know if you remember this but he wrote Structure in Five. He talked about the five architects of an organization, machine bureaucracy, professional bureaucracy, divisionalized firm, and adhocracy, for example.
When I think about our business, our business is an M&A advisory firm which is an adhocracy. We don't have a structure here per se. We're focused on solving complex problems. We've got fifteen people that all work together. Whereas when you look at a service organization out in the field, if you take your standard service firm, you might have, in a pest control company, 20 technicians and then 5 people within management and then another 5 people in the back office. I bring all this up because I'm wondering if EOS tends to work better with certain archetypes versus others when you start to think about the coordinating mechanism within an organization.
Mark Winters: At this point, I have not seen any pattern that would lead me to that conclusion. I've seen equal success or challenge in all different types of archetypal structures if you will. Hearing you talk about that makes me think of one of the things that's different and it's always a challenge. There tends to have to be a decision made in a professional services firm that's partner based. Think of your law firm, accounting firm, or something like that. They've got this layer where they're making decisions as partners but they're all making decisions. They're hesitant to put any other structure in there. EOS comes along, somebody brings it in, or whatever and it challenges that. It's different.
What I've seen happen a number of times are either they all embrace and adopt it or they reject it. It doesn't work or the firm splits. I may see that, more often than not, we’re the champions for it. Usually, it's because they're hitting a ceiling of being able to scale and grow and do what they're trying to do. Maybe they're acquisitive, they're rolling some other firms up, or something like that but they're trying to get bigger or maybe they're just growing fast.
Somebody's pushing that and they see the need or have the desire for that EOS type of structure to be there. It's that process of making it all visible and letting you decide. The partners reach a point where it's like, “If we're going to do it, this is how I want to do it. If we're not going to do it this way, I don't want to do it.” That can go in either one of those camps. Sometimes they shake hands and part ways and split it up and go.
I'm not saying and nobody in our community would say that EOS is the only way. There are other ways to do it. It's an effective way, I know because I see it be effective. It's a team health approach to leadership. It requires some letting go. It requires shedding of egos to make that work. A more dictatorial approach can be super effective. For some people, that's their choice, that's what they want to do. Maybe that's right for them. Maybe that's right for the time period they're in or whatever.
In a team health approach, we see a lot of resiliency, adaptability, and sustainability. That leader that's trying to do it all, when something happens to them when they wear out or a bus hits them or whatever, what's left when they don't have the rest of that structure in place around them? I hope that's answering your question but that's the pattern I've seen.
Paul Giannamore: It does. You were talking about professional services firms like law firms, for example. Sometimes it doesn't always work out. Is that because you're then imposing some structure on an unstructured organization?
Mark Winters: It has to do with the leaders. It has to do with those partners. If the partner believes that, “I'm a partner. I can do whatever the hell I want to do.” It won't work. That's the issue. I've gotten successful architectural firms, law firms, and accounting firms. All of these, I've seen work but I've seen it where the partners themselves are not in alignment on how they want to approach this. Does that make sense?
Paul Giannamore: It makes perfect sense.
Mark Winters: One of them wants, for lack of a better word, a more entitlement-focused structure where because I made partner, then I want to reap all the benefits because I had to go through all the pledge ship to get there. Somebody else sees it a different way and they're looking beyond that. If they're not in alignment, that's when it struggles.
Paul Giannamore: One thing that popped out to me in your book, and I don't know if it's “EOS related” or otherwise but it's something that we've talked about on The Buzz before and it's something we've focused on here within our organization to do. You talk about breaking up things into 90-day increments from a planning perspective, which is extremely important. A lot of managers don't do that. We've seen the benefit here of charging hard in 90-day increments instead of putting 6 or 12 months out and then you lose focus on it. Can you talk a little bit about that for a second?
Mark Winters: We call it the 90-day World. It seems to be the right size to do something significant and meaningful. It's big enough to get some stuff done but it's short enough that you don't drift so far away from where you started that you forgot why you picked that. In the context of a leadership team, what we see is another dynamic that we call The Fray.
Think of it, at the beginning of the quarter, everybody's focused, they're all aligned, they're all in sync, and they're all energized for what we're about to do. Imagine the rope that you've taken, the LiDAR, and you've singed the end of it so it's all nice and gelled together and tight. You're rubbing that rope against the brick all quarter long.
Towards the end of the 90 days, you look into that rope and it's all like that. That's what happens to our people. Our leaders, by the end of 90 days, haven't completely lost it so they're still close to it but they have drifted. They started to fray and started to drift. We've got the discipline to bring it back together, get refocused, tee up the next set of rocks and objectives we're going to go after, and take off again.
Paul Giannamore: I'm always interested in things that probably no one else is interested in at all. This book, Rocket Fuel, you published in 2015. How long did it take you to write this? When did you start?
Mark Winters: I'd say it was two years from the time Gino says, “I'm thinking about writing a book.” We agreed to join forces on that. It probably took a year and changed to write it. The rest was publisher stuff. It wasn't us writing it, it was all the machine of putting a book out. Interesting experience though to co-author a book with someone. He's in Detroit and I'm in Dallas.
We would brainstorm, “Here's how we're going to do it.” I would take a cut and send it to him. He would take a cut and send it back. We’d go back and forth on a chapter until we felt like we had it tight. We’d go on to the next chapter and repeat that process. It's an interesting experience. I learned a lot. It’s painful at times, probably for both of us because you're half in and half out of somebody else's brain.
Paul Giannamore: The next book you write, will it be a solo operation or are you going to partner up?
Mark Winters: The one I have on deck will be a solo operation.
Paul Giannamore: You've got one on deck.
Mark Winters: I do.
Paul Giannamore: Let's talk a little about that, can we?
Mark Winters: It's something that I'm writing for myself. It's something that I think about that's not specific to the entrepreneurial world but it's certainly applicable to the entrepreneurial world. It has a little bit broader application than that for people. Stay tuned for that one.
Paul Giannamore: Those are often the best types of books, those that one writes for oneself. When might I expect Amazon to deliver that book?
Mark Winters: If it takes as long as last time, hopefully not.
Paul Giannamore: Don't hold my breath.
Mark Winters: I can't give you a date right now. That's the next thing. I'm spending a fair amount of time on Rocket Fuel. In combination with EOS Worldwide, we've got some integrator programming that we've been doing a lot with to help integrators identify themselves and help prepare them to be truly great and, ultimately, to get them matched up with visionaries. There's a shortage of great integrators in the world, at least the ones that know that they're an integrator.
We suspect there are a lot of people that may be stuck in Corporate America that don't even realize they're an integrator. They tend to hear about it and they identify with it. We'll get comments like, “This is what I am. Now I got something to call myself, which is cool.” They maybe were feeling a little bit fringy in a typical Corporate America gig. They've got that entrepreneurial attraction but not enough. They're too risk-averse to make the move on their own. If they can slide into a combination with a visionary, a lot of times, that's a great opportunity. They need each other.
I’m doing a lot of work there. I've got some visionary programming in the works as a parallel to that to help visionaries understand, in this structure, what it looks like to be truly great as a visionary and how to be effective when you're working with that integrator. As that program begins to roll out, I'm going to bring it back together and we're going to do some things for both. We bring in the duos, we bring in the visionary-integrator duo, and let them do some work together that can help them take that relationship to the next level.
Patrick Baldwin: What about speed dating as you're describing this? I see some events where you've got visionaries and integrators matchmaking.
Mark Winters: We want to be able to matchmake. We want to be able to say, “Visionary, answer these twenty questions and then I can tell you here are five great integrators.” We're getting closer and closer to being able to do that. I've had visionaries that have offered me legit money to come stand outside of one of the integrator events so they can talk to the integrators as they're walking out of the room.
Patrick Baldwin: That's awesome. It’s cool. It's been a real treat. I've learned a lot from this. Selfishly, thank you.
Paul Giannamore: Mark, what are some suggestions you might give to our readers that are interested in learning more about EOS? What's a good first step? Should I pick up one of these books? What should they do?
Mark Winters: For visionary entrepreneurs, Rocket Fuel is a great place to start. For somebody who wants to get a sense of EOS, Traction is a great book to start. Think about Traction as a textbook. If they're a little bit more detail-oriented and want to see the tools and some more depth, Traction is great for that. There's also a book called Get A Grip, which was written by Gino and Mike Paton. That tells the story of a company going through the journey of implementing EOS.
It's a fable but it lets you identify with some people that may rhyme with somebody in their own business and what the experience was like for them. That's good for some folks. There's another book called What The Heck is EOS? and that's a simplified version of Traction that's designed for every employee in an organization to be able to read and then relate back to and understand, “Heard this EOS thing that we're doing as a company? This is how it comes into my world. This is what it’s going to mean for me.”
Paul Giannamore: That's helpful.
Mark Winters: For your visionaries and integrators, we have Rocket Fuel University, online resources. We have a free community. Visionaries and integrators can come and join there. We do monthly calls where they can ask questions and interact with other visionaries and integrators and then figure out what's right for them. For the integrators who know they're an integrator and they're committed to being the best they can be, they can jump on our track to go to an integrator masterclass and join our integrator mastery forum and become a part of that more advanced community of integrators that are trying to be great.
Patrick Baldwin: Before we dig back into EOS, I want to stop and talk about visionary and integrator. You got the book. We got the author. You've listened to it. Spill the beans. What's on your mind? We haven't talked. What’s up?
Seth Garber: It's interesting. As I listened to the episode, he was the man. I started thinking about the statement you made to me and you said, “Seth, you're the visionary and I’m the integrator.” The interesting thing is, over the years, because I've implemented EOS and some of the other systems, I've always been put in the integrator seat. I never saw myself as a visionary. Listening to this, I started to realize that maybe I am. It's a weird thing for me to say but maybe I am. Listening to him describe it, I have a little bit of an a-ha moment.
Patrick Baldwin: We have to go through this Crystallize Assessment together and figure it out. I definitely lean toward the integrator. It's weird, in my gut, there's some visionary stuff there. At the end of the day, it's like, “Here's the task. I can go execute it.”
Seth Garber: It's interesting because before we started working together, I always saw you on the other side but now that we work together, it's the case. You're that guy, 100%.
Patrick Baldwin: We've been in a conversation with Mark for probably nine months. It took a long time for our schedules to line up. I was looking forward to this one. Reading the book, knowing that this new business has started, it's funny because I get excited about marketing and sales and you do as well. The funny thing about this relationship with the visionary and the integrator roles is, of all things, you're the one that keeps telling me to keep the blinders on. It’s like, “Stay focused. Do this one task. That too will come. We'll get there. For now, do this one thing.” That's hilarious.
Seth Garber: It's funny because the nature of my world is I have to keep CEOs focused every single day. That's my job. What has proven our success is to be able to identify these things and move forward and not let people chase squirrels. It's funny that I'm the one doing that.
Patrick Baldwin: It was timely. We’re almost having a public counseling session here. Let's go ahead and set up our visionary integrator format. How often should you and I get into the cadence of speaking as visionary and integrator?
Seth Garber: Based on the EOS model, they've got their cadences. I personally like the weekly meetings in which they call out for us to have the discussions but, on a quarterly basis, we should be setting out our goals and hitting what they consider their rocks and making it happen. We should be talking once a week, with our future management teams once a month, and then setting our goals every quarter. That's what we should be doing based on EOS.
Patrick Baldwin: Let's do this.
Seth Garber: Are you ready?
Patrick Baldwin: I'm ready.
Seth Garber: We’re doing it.
Patrick Baldwin: Let's talk about EOS because it is a hot topic. When I think about EOS, there are specific people I see all the time. They're almost proselytizing the big believers in EOS. They are giving big props and credibility and affirmations to what is done for their businesses. Hats off to you all, you know who you are. From your perspective, Seth, have you seen where EOS has made a big impact on people's businesses that execute on it?
Seth Garber: I have. I could create an argument on both sides. EOS fits a specific type of business where they become successful. I've seen a lot of companies though that may not fit that leadership team and they attempt and attempt and it falls apart. Mark called it out. He made a statement about when the CEO steps above the line of accountability, it tends to cause challenges. I would tell you that that's one of the things I've seen.
In addition, the other component is that when the emotional connection or the emotional side of leaders is not taken into account and there are still good people within the company and they're not able to execute on the accountability chart effectively, it usually falls apart. That's where I've seen it, some do well and some don't. That's where I see the breakdown.
Patrick Baldwin: Let’s stick with the ones that have done well. What kind of performance would you say like performance increase or systems increase can you tangibly say, “They went from X to Y.”
Seth Garber: What I've seen for the companies that implement EOS is the ones that do well, they have clearly defined long-term goals, midterm goals, and short-term goals. They keep the very focused. As they start the accountability chart and people who are in charge of effectively putting in place what's necessary for that business to hit those goals, they do well.
The ones when they have the people that are focused on a goal and they miss their goals, it tends to be the fact that it was the wrong goal to begin with at the phase where that business was. That's what I've seen. The revenue goes up with a lot of them. From a CEO standpoint, the CEO starts to gain their time back because they know what to focus on. The rest of their leaders know it's important to make things happen. Those are some of the benefits that I've seen with companies that have implemented EOS well. Some are within our industry and outside of our industry as well.
Patrick Baldwin: I want to ask you the flip side of this as well. There are comparable systems. Where is EOS not a good fit? I want to help avoid frustration by saying this.
Seth Garber: There are other systems and, fortunately, I'm familiar with the majority of them now. To answer your question, in order to avoid frustration, before EOS is implemented or, for that matter, any of the systems, you have to look across the people as part of your organization. Determine if you have received pushback on things like this before. It may not be putting in a major overhaul like EOS but it might be the implementation of new technology. It might be a change to positioning within the company. It might be a change in your sales process where you've gotten pushback or something hasn't been effective when you look at that leadership team.
When you look across that team, if you're receiving that and you've accepted that in the past, there's a high likelihood that when you start EOS, it's going to break down as part of that accountability chart. People aren't going to understand what roles they should take within the company and you're going to assign them roles that they shouldn't have. That's where I see it potentially breaking down. If you look at your team and, historically, people have given you pushback or haven't executed well and you're unwilling to change those people and the roles or unwilling to put different people in those seats, that's when you're goling to set yourself up for failure.
Patrick Baldwin: In terms of conflict and avoiding it in a conflict resolution, if that leader doesn't deal well with conflict, are they going to expect conflict by getting into EOS?
Seth Garber: This is where I could see things break down. The one component that I don't see really defined in EOS is dealing with the emotional component of people. If a head of a company doesn't do well with conflict because of a deep feeling, EOS is probably not going to be a great fit. There are systems within the programs that can help with conflict resolution and different things. At the end of the day, when you get into the core and the soul of somebody, somebody who is adverse to conflict is always going to be adverse to conflict. That’s a hard thing to overcome. People do overcome it. That's important to consider.
Within the first month of implementation, the second you go through that accountability chart, conflict starts. If your people are honest with themselves, companies probably aren't looking at EOS if everything's running perfectly and if everything's going great. I've seen companies that do it because they want to attempt to scale. That first meeting is tough. When you look around your leadership team and you start to assign accountability and you realize that the wrong people are in the wrong seats, it's going to immediately create conflict.
Patrick Baldwin: I hear you. It’s cool. As you say that, you, me, and Paul need to have a little chat about these revenue plateaus and how to break through them. Also, what it does from even your side with consulting and his side on the M&A side of things. I'm glad you're able to make it, especially filling in for Paul's absence in the conditions down in San Juan. It sounds like people are okay, at least on his side of the island. Electricity is premium at this point. I've got Rocket Fuel. I'm fired up. Have a great week. We'll see you next time.
Seth Garber: Take care.
Dylan Seals: I want to remind you right now to go ahead and subscribe to The Boardroom Buzz. We have got some incredible episodes coming up that you're not going to want to miss. Also, if you've enjoyed the podcast, please go to the Apple Podcast app and leave us a short review. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks so much again for reading and we'll see you next episode.
The Crystallizer Assessment
The Wish List
Structure in Five
Get A Grip
What The Heck is EOS?
Rocket Fuel University