How is Improving Your Business Like Having Surgery?

Updated: Aug 20

In my last blog, Taking My Own Medicine, I wrote about implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) into one of my wife's and my businesses. When a business owner takes on the challenge of tearing down and re-building an entire business operating system, they do so with optimism. They foresee the changes will have an immediate and positive impact on the business and that soon, the results will be smiles on the faces of the employees and an improving bottom-line. Oh, if it were only that simple! Truth is we often don’t consider the “fishhook” effect.

When a business radically changes its methods of operating, there is a period of disease caused by the uncertainty that comes with change itself. This period can be described graphically as a fishhook – a low point in morale, business functionality and profitability. The fishhook perfectly describes the past six months of our 15-year-old moving and storage business.

The best analogy I can offer is that of surgery. Surgery is performed on the body to remove something unwanted, to make repairs, or improve some functionality within.

Performing surgery, despite all its long-term benefits, often comes with side-effects, after-effects and pain associated with the procedure. The after-effects describe what our business had been enduring.

In the case of our moving business, the most obvious cause of pain when enduring the fishhook was the “people factor” - re-aligning personnel within the organization. The operating model taught us that in order to become more successful, we must have the “right people in the right seats”. The right people are those who fit our culture and live out our company core values. The right seats means the individual is capable of performing their job, wants the job and has the capacity of time and energy to be effective in the position. Our business was no different than most. We had a lot of right people but they were not always in the right seats. In fact, one position on our leadership team required a painful change - the details of which I will share with you in the coming months.

We also learned early on that people should be aligned to do the work they enjoy doing and are good at doing - delegating to others the less desirable things. This is especially necessary for the leadership team, who is equally vulnerable to falling into a busy work trap. When we began comparing what people were actually doing in their jobs versus what they should be doing, there was usually a significant discrepancy. The process of identifying people’s work roles and boldly changing them is not easy - but is a necessary step.