Talking Traction and EOS with Andrew Stevens - for your digital agency growth.

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

You might have heard about Traction before.

Maybe you recognise the name from the title of the hugely popular book by Gino Wickman.

Maybe someone gave you the book, or you heard them rave about it’s impact on their business!

You also might have heard about in conversations with agencies who are enjoying amazing results, their senior teams seemingly coordinating with efficient ‘Kick Ass’ abilities to getting things done.

Yes, it’s a book - but Traction is actually part of a more little known framework called EOS. EOS stands for Entrepreneurial Operating System.

That’s a framework for getting positive business results, through proven methods, tools and techniques.

It’s not just a digital agency ‘thang’ either.

EOS has been implemented worldwide, across many business sizes, across many business sectors. What it does for all of them is give them the tools and knowledge for growth.

Now, I LOVE a good system and framework model for business growth! Especially one that works holistically across all areas of a business (and team).

I’ve worked in a range of business sectors (some big international businesses) where frameworks like ‘Six Sigma’, and tonnes of other inspiring names have been rolled out throughout the business. Most have a large hit or miss ratio. Some were done well, others … erm … not so well.

But I’ve seen the impact of EOS tools in action before at some of these businesses, and I’ve heard great things from many trusted friends who’ve seen it put in place (correctly) in the businesses they worked for.

From a digital agency owner perspective - I wanted to find out more about what’s involved, and what options there are for putting EOS into place for UK agencies who are looking for growth at this challenging time.

Introducing Andrew Stevens.

Andrew is a professional EOS implementer.

He’s part of the UK’s network of recognised implementers, and one who’s very handily got first hand experience of what it’s like working in an agency before EOS was in place.

You can tell it must be a good system, as though he spent a large proportion of his career in senior digital roles, these past few years he's then gone on to be certified in putting EOS in place for other businesses.

As part of a four-strong group of implementers I know well, Andrew’s (and they) recently partnered with me on bringing out our recent ‘State of Agency London Report’ (see link below).

Almost everyone I get to speak with - about their experiences of Traction - starts by mentioning the book! :-)

It’s great to see that’s how Andrew got started too - through hearing about the book. That was waaaay back when he was working in digital teams, when he hadn’t even heard of EOS. Now, he's spent the past few years as a professional implementer.

I grabbed some time with Andrew to ask questions that help get more understanding out for agency owners, about EOS and what makes it such as good fit for many agencies I know.

In this video interview, Andrew shares his own path into using, then implementing EOS. And he shares advice on why, when, and how - an agency can bring their team into the EOS methods for getting Traction.

If you’re currently experiencing any (or all) of the following scenarios ....

  • People Issues (not sure how to get the best out of your team)

  • Lack of Control (get the feeling your business owns you instead of the other way round)

  • Not Enough Profit (not getting the right rewards for the time and effort)

  • No Growth (nothing seems to work to grow, or can't shift past a certain level)

  • Loss of Direction (for the business and its team).

  • Nothing’s Working (getting no traction - no pun intended!)

.... this should make for interesting viewing!

There’s some show notes and links below to help give more context - if you’re considering looking into, or implementing EOS for your agency development.

Plus, there’s links to the free chapters of the books for more reading if you’re new and want to find out more - but don't know where to begin.

Enjoy the insights!

Now, over to Andrew …..

Interview Notes:

  • 0:00 - 1:40 - Introduction to Andrew and how we know each other.

  • 1:44 - 2:55 - Andrew’s agency background, discovering the Traction Book.

  • 3:00 - 3:57 - His SLT development from their self implementing of EOS.

  • 4:25 - 5:20 - Taking Traction into his next role and using more disciplines and tools.

  • 5:21 - 6:10 - Passing on the knowledge of Traction to his consultancy clients.

  • 6:15 - 7:00 - ‘Cutting your own hair’, to self implement, or not, with EOS.

  • 7:05 - 7:50 - My experience with senior leadership teams, and learning about EOS tools.

  • 7:55 - 8:50 - The real difference with Traction for Digital Agencies and bringing visions back down to the ground.

  • 8:55 - 9:45 - Discussing agency growth, starting as a creative and then running a business.

  • 9:48 - 11:48 - The time to put traction in place, and why agencies should “Trust the process!”

  • 11:50 -12:35 - Growth, achieving goals, and profitable scale for digital agencies.

  • 12:40 - 14:09 - What drew Andrew (as an implementer) into the EOS framework for his clients.

  • 14:10 - 15:00 - Hearing about EOS success and it’s process during COVID-19.

  • 15:05 - 17:50 - What sized agency can benefit from EOS and what leads an agency to realise they need EOS.

  • 17:55 - 19:25 - Finding the right fit for EOS within your agency leadership team - are they ‘Open and honest” as a team.

  • 19:35 - 22:07 - Why implementers are not consultants, and learning to break through the glass ceiling (again and again).

  • 22:10 - 23:50 - Teaching people to fish - the answers are already in the room!

  • 23:55 - 25:41 - The accountability chart - the visionary versus integrator.

  • 25:45 - 28:18 - Recognising why being in the wrong ‘seat’ will impact your business growth and success.

  • 28:20 - 29:04 - Where to get free samples of the different books.

  • 29:05 - 32:17 - What do you need to have in place before your start traction thinking about EOS.

  • 32:18 - 34:00 - What excites Andrew most about EOS and business in general in the next few years.

  • 34:01 - 35:37 - Wrapping up our call, see notes below for further resources.

Further resources and useful information:

Here’s the link to the partnership page I mentioned with Andrew and other implementers in the UK.

It has details of the the framework and techniques, and how to get in touch for help with questions you might have.

Since the first Traction book came out - there’s been more deep dive titles into the areas that EOS fulfils. (Add book images here and link to traction hive).

No matter the size of your agency, or where you are on your journey to development and growth - there’s the free book sections to help you find out more.

Make a quick cup of tea - and go grab a copy of the book samples to find which part might be the right starting point for your business! :-)

If you are considering self implementation of EOS, then you'll need to access the training on the EOS world wide base camp portal - which can be found here.

Alternatively, you can reach out to Andrew via email here.

My breakdown notes - here's how I'd approach EOS for my own digital agency:

Like anything to do with agency development for your own business - or the one you work in - you need to understand where you are in your growth, and where you want to be, so you can get the best out of your activities.

The tell tale signs for impacts to your growth were listed above - but to summarise again these are:

  • People Issues (not sure how to get the best out of your team)

  • Lack of Control (get the feeling your business owns you instead of the other way round)

  • Not Enough Profit (not getting the right rewards for the time and effort)

  • No Growth (nothing seems to work to grow, or can't shift past a certain level)

  • Loss of Direction (for the business and its team).

  • Nothing’s Working (getting no traction - no pun intended)

I'd spend some time doing a review session with my team to ask their scores on these areas. you could do this anonymously or openly - depending on how accurate you think their feedback could be.

Understanding what areas need attention would indicate the level of need for EOS.

Then there's two ways to move forward. Self implement, or work with an external implementer.

To self-implement or not?

For self implementation - many people want to take the book techniques they just read and run with it!

That’s fantastic news - but the book alone won’t make it easy to implement.

The book is there to challenge your views and open you up to new ways to go about your business. It’s there to inspire action. But no book is ever going to be able to be a comprehensive guide.

Taking proper action for self implementation requires more tools and training. Especially if you want the impact and results to last long term.

You can access this through the basecamp portal like we already mentioned above.

Like any training of this level of impact - access requires a commitment of monthly fees (currently $494 per month. But these are pretty standard charges when compared against client management tools or other platforms you’ll use in your agency to provide your services.

Given that this platform is linked to growth of your business, then the investment should be worth making.

Don't forget to budget for time too!

Self implementation will also require someone senior to follow this online training, learn the correct tools and techniques, and act as a champion (or skilled project manager) for supporting adoption with the rest of the team and business.

If you can’t have one person pretty much full time on this learning - then maybe split this role by two people. But be aware of the realistic time frames required to first learn, then implement, then also support your teams adoption of the tools.

For me, business growth works in cycles, so timelines need to be at least 1 year for implementation. Plus any learning time required either before, or during the process.

EOS works on a nice quarterly basis - so this gives time to adjust and refocus. But the toolkits will support your planning.

But again, this time needs to be factored into the overall investment.

Working with an implementer.

The first step in working with an implementer is to book a free 90 minute meeting (see form on bottom of the link page). Have a conversation about your business, your goals and where you are in your journey.

What you’ll find from any EOS implementers you talk to is that they are not there for any 'hard sell'. This is a huge plus, and one of the reasons I partnered with them - there’s nothing worse that pushy sales processes, and this is something they don't do.

It's also worth understanding that implementers are not consultants. Like Andrew mentioned in interview - he's there to help businesses embed EOS as efficiently and effectively as possible. Then you're in the best position to run things internally in your own business.

What the 90 Minute Meeting does is give you a clear breakdown of the background of EOS, making sure you understand their approach, what they’ll be working to implement with you and to see if this is a good fit. In many ways they need to work out if you're a good fit for them too!

You’re not under any obligation to take things further after the 90 minute session, if you realise that this is not the right timing, or fit for your team.

When I did my 90 minute meeting, I found it a good way to ask deeper questions and give more context on my personal business approach.

The session went smoothly, but didn’t drag for a 90 minute long conversation - and the information and slides helped give me a clear understanding of the tool set and where this would be best applied for any business.

Once the 90 minute meeting is done, you can take things further if (and only if) you feel it’s a good fit, and you’re happy with the implementer.

There’s a great team of implementers in the UK. I know around 4 of them through the work I’ve been doing on London based agencies, but they are spread up and down the country.

The implementer will explain their time and costs - which can vary depending not the size of business you are, and the size of business they specialise in. Some work with 2 million plus turnover size businesses - others work with smaller teams and smaller turnovers.

However, they all like to work with open minded, growth focused agency teams. Teams who understand THEY need to be accountable for putting the work in to get the framework implemented!

For me, I like learning directly with someone about how to best to put processes in place, and I like the accountability of having external people work with my business - that way I know I have to get things done, no excuses!

If I tasked this to an internal colleague, or myself - I need to be aware that I need to learn as I go - which will slow my process of getting the best out the framework in the quickest time.

Personally, there's a gain to be had with the speed of someone doing things properly, when you factor in lost opportunity for impact, or time delays in getting things in place!

Working out the right investment for EOS and your agency:

Growth is always going to take some investment from your business. Either through time (for team member involvement) and through access to tools, training and implementation. Or the combination of both.

There’s no right or wrong way to implement EOS, either do this yourself or through a registered implementor.

Some agencies do self implementation well, others prefer external guidance. And it also depends on when you want to start seeing results happen, the size of your team, and what issues you're facing as a business.

Both ways will require an investment of your whole team's commitment to do the work involved in making this happen, and some investment of budget in platform costs, and or implementor time.

TOP TIP: If you are in any way uncertain or worried if YOUR TEAM is capable and ready of working together to make this growth happen - then you’re likely a perfect candidate for needing EOS and it’s benefits! :-)

Look for ways to reduce costs of either choice:

To reduce costs either way you choose to work with EOS - don’t forget that development of business processes, team time involved in projects like this, and any payments to external suppliers to fulfil development goals are likely to qualify for some, if not all, of your R&D grant.

So take your initial costs and work out the % of your R&D tax grant that you can claim for. Here’s more info on R&D tax credits if you’re not yet claiming them.

You might find your costs could drop by 10% or 25% depending on your business size and other claim projects. But this is a significant drop to consider the implementation of EOS - as a more cost effective option. :-)

Team Considerations:

Depending on the structure, transparency and honesty of your team relationships - having someone in the business manage and task people (and hold them measurably accountable) can become awkward and cause friction if there's toxicity in the relationship.

A warning to agency owners and co-founders here too!

If you are going to lead this implementation. Are you aware of how others view your management style, and how open to constructive feedback are you from your team members for a process like this?

If you, or someone in your team, feels like this could become an issue to your working relationships to manage in-house - then for the benefit of your team’s success - you might want to work with an outsourced implementor to remove any issues caused by internal team, or historic relationships.

Sometimes as leaders it’s hard to know the honest impression everyone has of you!

Personally, I'd ask my team through an anonymous (as this helps get the most honest answers) feedback form if they felt comfortable or not with me leading - and make this part of my decision process.

What’s your next move?

OK, so as I round off this post, you hopefully have enough information around the following aspects:

  • Discovering more about EOS and Traction with the interview with Andrew in the video on this page. :-)

  • Access free links to download the book chapters around the topics. Download a few, make a brew and sit somewhere comfy to read them to get a flavour of where EOS might fit into your business.

  • If you’re already considering EOS in your business you can get in touch with Andrew through the page here to arrange a free 90 Minute Meeting, ask questions or to learn more about whether self implementation is the right fit for you, and advice on the website.

Whatever your journey and choices, I hope this information helps to bring EOS and Traction into more of an understandable option for your agency growth plans.


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