Pace uses the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) principles to guide how we work together as a business. Our certified EOS Implementor is Ken DeWitt of DeWitt LLC. In an effort to better understand EOS and to bring these principles to life for all of Pace’s Team Members, we sat down with Ken to learn more. Read on for the results of our interview.
1. When and how did Pace first become associated with you?
In the summer of 2011, I began working with Matt Lawrence (CEO) and Casey Crook (Managing Director) as Pace’s contract Chief Financial Officer. By the Spring of 2012, Steven Miller had joined Pace, and I began shifting my focus to being the EOS Implementer, as Steven took over the Finance role. In addition to Pace, I work with over 25 companies at a time helping them install and run EOS. To date, I’ve aided 75 companies on that journey.
2. What is a brief history of EOS?
EOS (the “Entrepreneurial Operating System”) was first introduced to the world in the book “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business in 2007”. Gino Wickman had developed it in his family’s company in Detroit. A dozen years later, it’s now part of the “Traction Library”, a series of five books to help companies run on EOS. Over 700,000 copies of those books are in circulation, so it’s taken off very quickly in business circles.
EOS is a simple set of timeless disciplines and tools to help a team develop and to work better together. It’s NOT a computer program, but more like a football team offensive scheme – to help a company win more consistently.
All of us “EOS Implementers” have been business owners ourselves. We bring years of experience to our teaching, coaching, and facilitating of EOS into our client companies.
EOS Worldwide, of which I’m a member, is a community of people like me and began a few years after the book was published. I joined in 2012, and I was something like Implementer #35, when only 800 companies nationwide had adopted the system. Today, there are nearly 300 Implementers, over 7,000 installations, with tens of thousands of other companies using EOS in some way.
3. Why do companies utilize EOS?
Quite simply, because it works. It helps companies get on the same page with VISION – where they want to take the company, then on TRACTION – how they want to get there, and finally to become HEALTHY – in the sense of team health and cooperation by diverse personalities. Teams that work well together outperform other teams who may have even more talented people. Ultimately, it’s a builder of company culture.
4. In your opinion, what has been the impact Pace has experienced from EOS during your time with us?
Pace has grown extremely rapidly over my time here. I watched it become a sophisticated industry leader. There’s nothing new in EOS that hasn’t been in business books and practices for decades. Some of the principles first appeared in the Bible.
The System has helped Matt, Casey, Steven, Chuck and other leaders sort out and choose from their many opportunities, debate them, and work to reach agreement on annual goals and quarterly rocks, and EOS installed the disciplines to help Pace stay focused through often chaotic times.
5. One of our goals is to “bring to life” the principles and practices of EOS for all of our team members. Do you have any advice for bringing EOS to life?
For everyone in the company, I’d recommend getting a copy of the book “What the Heck is EOS?” It’s a simple read that helps any employee at any level quickly understand the system and how it helps them do their job better, more efficiently, and in a more focused manner. It explains each part of the system, and at the end of each chapter, the book suggests “questions to ask your manager”.
Also, get the online App for your Smartphone at app.EOSWorldwide.com, watch the videos, and read the blog posts.
And, you are welcome to sign up for my own blog at www.DeWittLLC.com.
6. In the recent EOS Worldwide blog post, “When Celebrating Becomes Strategic,” the topic of an “emotional wall” and “the gap between where we are and where we want to be” is discussed. Can you explain this phase a little more and also discuss other typical phases that companies go through when they have implemented EOS? Do you have any basic tips for pushing through these natural areas of growth?
Don Tinney, co-founder of EOS Worldwide, wrote that blog post, and everyone should read it. It is as true for companies “new” to EOS as it is for a veteran company like Pace. What I think Don’s referring to is that the journey to creating anything great always starts with excitement and energy. Then as people realize that, in business, deciding the right thing to do is often a simple decision – but the hard part is actually doing it – there can be a weariness that sets in. Often, we realize that we have come a long way, but there is so much more distance to go.
So, celebrating our wins becomes a strategic necessity to keep our spirits up. We must always strive to be better, and yet take time to appreciate the progress we’ve made too.
7. Is there one key takeaway that you’d like our readers to understand and, perhaps, apply after reading this article?
I’ve come to call this “DeWitt’s Paradox”, and I mention it all the time in my EOS sessions with clients: “Business is HARDER than it looks, but WAY LESS COMPLICATED than we often make it.”
It is very hard to be successful in business like Pace, and especially in a growing business in a dynamic industry. Over 80% of companies go out of business every five years. EOS helps us improve the odds of success by reminding us to simplify things, to remember that the basic disciplines of our using our Core Values, nurturing our culture, and making it easy to understand and work together are the so-called “secrets” of every successful business.
8. Where do you see the evolution of EOS heading?
The basic system as we know it has already evolved, so you won’t see a lot of change in it. That’s part of what makes it “timeless” and easier to learn and sustain.
What WILL evolve is how many companies are using it. Seven years ago, when I joined EOS Worldwide, we had a goal of 10,000 companies running on EOS – at the time we had 800. Now we have over 7,000 and will hit our 10-year goal in just 2 ½ more years. Our new goal? 100,000 companies running on EOS by 2030. So expect to see EOS around for a long time as more companies become successful with it.
Ken comes from a large family rooted in Selma and Demopolis, AL and has lived in Tuscaloosa, AL for over 50 years. He’s married to his high school sweetheart, Pam, and together they have one daughter ,Morgan (22). Ken has played a significant role in six different businesses, and, now at 60 years old, his work passion is EOS. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with Pam and Morgan, bicycling tours, and house boating on the Black Warrior River.