This episode is brought to you by PAR.
Use the Feifer Achievement Diagnostic achievement tests to hone in on specific reading, writing, and math learning disabilities and figure out why academic issues are occurring. Learn more at parinc.com\feifer
Hey, y’all, welcome back toThe Testing Psychologist. Glad to have you as always. Hey, today, I am talking again about the EOS journey. If you haven’t tuned into the previous three episodes for some reason, I would recommend that you go back and check those out. They’re all called the EOS Journey.
This is a series where I am chronicling our implementation of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a framework for running your business. Today is the 4th episode in that series, and I’m talking today about Vision Day 1. So this was our 2nd full-day leadership retreat in this process where we redefined our core values and core focus and developed a 10-year vision for the business.
Before I get to the content, I want to invite any of you who are wanting support with your practices to think about joining a testing psychologist mastermind group. These are group coaching experiences where I facilitate the group. There are 6 psychologists all at your stage of practice. We hold one another accountable and provide support as you grow your practice. So there’s a beginner, an intermediate [00:02:00], and an advanced level. You can schedule a pre-group call at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting.
All right, let’s talk about the Vision Day.
Okay, let’s jump right into it. Like I said, I am talking about Vision Day 1 in the EOS journey. Just to recap, thus far, I’ve talked about the foundations of EOS. I talked about our Focus Day, which was the first full-day leadership retreat that we went on. I talked about implementing some EOS principles over the last few weeks. And now I’m going to talk about our Vision Day.
Vision Day is the 2nd full-day retreat that we do in the EOS onboarding process. In EOS, things happen pretty quickly. It’s pretty intense for the first two months. You do your Focus Day, which is 8 to 9 hours with your leadership team. A month after that, you do Vision Day 1, which is another 8 to 9 hours with the leadership team. And a month after that, you do Vision Day 2.
Today we’re talking about Vision Day 1. The agenda was packed full as always. We first reviewed all of our Focus Day tools. Then we moved on to defining our core values, defining our core focus, and trying to set a 10-year vision for our practice. That was the agenda.
Things got compressed a bit because we spent the vast majority of our time [00:04:00] refining our accountability chart, which is a Focus Day tool. So, that whole section of reviewing Focus Day tools, we went over our accountability chart, we went over our Rocks, we went back over the structure for an L 10 meeting, which I’ve talked about in previous episodes, but the majority of the time we did spend refining our accountability chart.
So on the Focus Day, we spent most of the time developing the top level of leadership in the practice. We came out with five seats if you’ll remember. We have a marketing lead which is me. We have a client care lead which is the front-facing admin staff or sales as you might call it. We have a clinical lead for our senior staff taking care of policies, compliance, things like that. We have a training lead that oversees our doctoral and master’s training programs. And we have a back office lead or finance lead. Those are our five seats. That’s the top level of leadership. And then of course, on top of that sits our Integrator who pulls everything together. And on top of that sits the visionary and that’s me.
All right. So today on the vision day, we spent the majority of our time developing that second-level leadership. I’m not a military buff by any means, but it would be maybe like the Sergeants under the generals. I’m not sure. We used a metaphor like that. You get the idea. So this is like that 2nd tier of leadership and the positions that really need to be present in each department for our practice to run well.
Again, this is such an illuminating [00:06:00] process. One principle that is core to EOS is one person one seat. You cannot split the seats. You cannot split responsibilities. There needs to be one person responsible for whatever task it is in your business. You can’t split that. You can’t have two people responsible for the same thing is the idea that you have to have one person to hold accountable for everything, not that one person is going to do everything, but you only have one person to go to if something is not going well, if that makes sense.
And so we wrestled with this a lot. One, we had a hard time even defining the responsibilities in the practice. So there was more of that process during this discussion of like, I called it dragging everything out of the house and putting it on the driveway. So we had to really dig into what responsibilities we need to be taken care of in our practice, and as you know from running a practice, there are so many things that have to get done. So many little things.
Another EOS principle is that for each position that you create, they can only have five core tasks. The idea is that it keeps it simple and clear and folks know what to expect and what they are responsible for. So we spent a lot of time refining the different responsibilities for these 2nd-level positions.
Just to give you an example, on the front, let’s say the front office side, the client care side, we ended up with basically three positions. We have an eval scheduler, a counseling scheduler, and a receptionist. So we had to go through and [00:08:00] define for each of those what responsibilities they have and they could not overlap with anybody else. We spent a lot of time here.
I have talked on the podcast before about how much we have wrestled with answering the phone. We’ve gone through different models where we try to answer every call that came in. That became unsustainable with our staffing probably two years ago. After that, we moved to this model where we just try to direct everyone to schedule an intake call via an external scheduler, like on our website, they just book an intake call time. And that’s when our admin staff talks to them. But we’re finding, of course, that there are many folks who call just because they need a little bit of information or they want to reschedule or something like that.
So we have really wrestled with answering the phone. So the admin team in turn is pretty burned out and yet we have a pretty heavy admin payroll load. So trying to balance all of those factors meant that there were a lot of issues to solve here.
Our implementer, Jake really helped us work through what responsibilities do we need, what positions do we need, who could fill those positions, and who do we need to hire? As a business owner, I really wrestled with having to hire more people. I don’t know if any of y’all have experienced this, but I certainly have probably unrealistically high expectations for myself and for other people. I tend to go back and forth with my admin team about what is realistic in terms of their responsibilities and workload and productivity.
This was a humbling process to have an external person come in and basically have [00:10:00] my whole leadership team say, look, you’re wrong, you have too high of expectations, we need more people. Deal with it, basically. So that was probably the hardest part of this process for me was just coming to terms with the fact that:
1) We need more people.
2) We really need better systems in place, particularly on the billing side of things.
I tend to think of myself as a systems-oriented person, but the reality of this whole discussion was that things are actually pretty inefficient in some ways, and we need to work really hard to refine those and get more people on board.
Again, like I said, this process was very humbling. I think that’s a theme for a lot of the discussions we’ve had so far in this EOS journey. It was very humbling, and what’s the word, exhilarating that I have a team that could push back and feel comfortable pushing back and that we can talk about hard things and still get through it.
So we came out on the other side of this, I think in a really, really good place. We got our 2nd-level accountability chart mapped out across the board. So that is pretty much finished. And that is a really liberating feeling just to see the organization, the roles in your practice completely mapped out and know like, Hey, if we fill these seats with the right people and identify their roles in the right way, things are really, really going to be clicking. So super exciting.
That did take a lot of time though. At times, it was hard. Like I said, it was really hard. Part of this discussion as well as [00:12:00] my integrator, which again is kind of like a COO position in a traditional business. My integrator just flat out said, “I think Jeremy is really going to struggle with not being able to make the final decision in this whole process” because as the integrator, she actually has final decision-making capacity if the leadership team can’t decide on something.
We again had to talk through that. And my team was like, yeah, you’re not very good at letting other people make decisions. And that was an opportunity for me to be a little bit of a role model and just say like, yeah, I have a really hard time trusting people across the board. I tend to think I can do everything myself. There’s some deeper stuff there but thanks for calling me out on that. Let’s really work on that. I’m going to commit to work on that. So those are really cool processes, hard but cool. So, that took up probably 2 to 3 hours of our day. And honestly, it was mapping out that accountability chart.
After that, though, we moved on to a really interesting exercise to define our core values. I’ve talked about values on the podcast before, and we have defined our values in our practice. Gosh, we did this probably 5 or 6 years ago and we did the exact same exercise because again, I had back then talked to my brother-in-law, who was implementing EOS and he gave me this exercise to do so. I actually did it 5 or 6 years ago. It’s a version of Jim Collins, Mission to Mars exercise.
Jim Collins is the author of Good to Great, Flywheel, and [00:14:00] other business books, a business legend in that world, but Mission to Mars exercise, the way that we did it was we each thought, well, actually let me back up.
Before I jump into the exercise, I put it out there right from the beginning that, I was like, Jake, hey, we actually have core values. We’ve done this before. Do we really need to do this? And very clearly he said, “Yes, you absolutely have to do this.” I will do this exercise with people who defined their core values yesterday because there’s something different about going through this process with your entire leadership team fresh and with a facilitator. So that was, again, something for me to get over and be able to be flexible and actually get on board with this whole system instead of thinking that I was already doing things the right way.
Let’s take a break to hear from our featured partner.
The Feifer diagnostic achievement tests are comprehensive tools that help you help struggling students. Use the FAR, FAM, and FAW to hone in on specific reading, writing, and math learning disabilities and figure out why academic issues are occurring. Instant online scoring is available via PARiConnect and in-person e-stimulus books allow for more convenient and hygienic administration via a tablet. Learn more at parinc.com\feifer.
Let’s get back to the podcast.
As far as the exercise, like I said, it’s a variation of Jim Collins, Mission to Mars exercise, but Jake had us think of 2 to 3 people in our practice, outside the room. So it couldn’t be any of us on the leadership team. So, we each thought of 2 to 3 people in our practice who truly embodied what our practice was about. [00:16:00] Those folks, if you think about, hey, these folks are just a 100% Colorado Center for Assessment & Counseling. Who are those folks?
So we listed them. We called them out loud. We put them on a big whiteboard and as we went around the leadership team, of course, some folks emerged higher than others. So we eventually came to a list, I think there were probably, I don’t know, 5 or 6 folks on the list total, but 2 or 3 really stood out. They were on all of our lists. And then we had to list their qualities in a huge brainstorming session. So why did we think of those folks as being representative of our practice, like capturing our true practice essence?
So we just threw terms on a whiteboard. These were things like, gets along with everybody, always willing to help out, really good at their job, that sort of thing, funny. So we just went down the list and just threw out tons of qualities and put them all on the whiteboard. Then we went through this process of aggregating all of those qualities. We engaged in a keep, kill or combine strategy where we had to go down and vote, do we keep this quality? Do we combine it with something else? Or do we take it off the list?
Eventually through that process, and this took probably a good hour, at least, we got down to 4 or 5 qualities that really seem to capture the essence of our practice. It was, I guess, validating that there was a lot of overlap with our existing values, that was cool, but some things did change. We tweaked two.
A big process that we had to go through was [00:18:00] really wrestling with what EOS will call aspirational values, which are values that we think are important but we aren’t actually embodying. We had a few of those. And that was really tough. In the interest of transparency, the one that we argued the most about was a value around inclusivity and social justice.
There are many of us who felt like, Hey, we are embodying this value. There were 2 of us who felt like, no, this is aspirational. We can’t put it on the list because we have a long way to go and we continue to wrestle with that. It’s actually still in the gray area, whether it’s going to be included in our values or not because again, we all agreed that it is incredibly important and we could do better. The question was not whether it’s important, it’s whether our practice truly embodies that value currently and we could list it as a current value versus an aspirational value.
The other issue that came up is identifying values that aren’t just what EOS will call Table stakes which is basically like, this is just what you got to have to pay to play. This is the basic characteristic that you just have to bring to the… anybody would bring in the practice. So they’re kind of bland.
One of our current values is to be kind, and that got thrown into the pile of what we call table stakes. Like, you should just be kind. That’s not really a value. And there were some others around that like being good at your [00:20:00] job, being a good clinician, that sort of thing.
So we went through that process. It is still in progress. We got to the end of this exercise and we were all a little I’d say unsatisfied. We didn’t feel like the values or at least the wording completely fit. So Jake sent us away from this exercise with the homework to wordsmith the values so that they felt like they captured our practice a little bit better.
Then we moved on to this exercise around identifying or core focus. Of course, the question comes up. What is your core focus? Well, this is the EOS equivalent of your purpose, your passion, and your objective- why you do what you do. Why do we do what we do in our business? And I’m not going to lie y’all. This was incredibly challenging. It was very hard to really nail down not just what we do, but why we do it.
Of course, the top-level issue or temptation was to say, well, we do it because we want to help people. And we had a really hard time getting underneath that. Our implementer, Jake kept forcing us to try to dig deeper on that. Like why do we want to help people, exactly? Like I said, we had honestly, just a really hard time saying exactly why we want to help people. So it might be an interesting question for you to think about if you’re listening. I mean, maybe there is a deeper personal mission, right? Maybe you had an experience or set of experiences that lead you to do what you do, but on a bigger, broader practice level, why do you do exactly what you do?
So, [00:22:00] again, we still haven’t landed on the final version. We have to wordsmith our core focus, but we landed on something around making our community better through research-informed strengths-based assessment, counseling, and training, but we really need to polish this up.
We had a hard time with this exercise like I said. This was exciting, but it was also difficult to go through it and not land on something really concrete. Coming into this day, I was pretty thrilled to have this discussion and it turned out to be a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be. And I felt some pressure, honestly, from the team to be the one to carry this and really pull it together. That proved to be a little difficult. So again, just being totally transparent. So we walked away again with more homework around the core focus to wordsmith it and pull it together.
Now, one thing that I’m going to be working on as the visionary, this doesn’t have to fall to the visionary, but I chose to take it on, is working on a piece of homework called the speech. So the speech is when you stand up and discuss or present each of your core values, what they are, an example of it, a story of it, what it’s not, and you go through each of the values and present it to your team. I have to do that before Vision Day 2. I’m excited about it, but I haven’t started my homework. So that was the exercise on core focus.
At that point, we had about a half-hour left, and [00:24:00] we transitioned to trying to define a 10-year vision. There are many versions of this out in the business world. Jim Collins has what he calls a BHAG- Big Hairy Audacious Goal. EOS calls it a 10-year vision. It doesn’t have to be 10 years. We actually ended up dialing it back to 5 years. But the idea is that you pick a long-term pretty wild goal to shoot for so that you have a north star, you know where you’re headed, even if it’s totally crazy. The idea is to define clear goals.
Now, 10 years felt like a lot for us. My practice is, gosh, 13 years old. And so, to envision a goal that’s basically double the amount of time that it’s been open felt like a lot. So we dialed it back to five years and that felt a lot more manageable. We had some great discussions around this, but again, this was challenging.
To this day, and through this process, we have been working with the constant push-pull of how much my team is on board and invested in the business because three months ago, there was no leadership team. I had not shared anything about vision for the practice, plans, financial information, decision-making aside from a little bit of delegation here and there that at this point, honestly, feels laughable to think that that was delegating back then.
So, that’s the push-pull that we’re going with. The team was like, okay, five-year vision and really not having any idea of where to even land with that. So we’re going to have a lot more discussion around the vision when we come back for Vision Day 2. So we ran out of time, [00:26:00] but we are circling around some variation of just being basically the first place that people think of when it comes to assessment, counseling, and training in the state of Colorado. That’s our goal. We want to be the automatic choice for each of those things in Colorado. So we’ll see where that goes.
Just to give you examples of other 5-year, 10-year visions, Jake pitched the idea of, do you want to be in 5 more states within 10 years? Do you want to hit X dollars in revenue goal? Do you want to be seeing X number of appointments each year? So there are a number of ways that you can quantify this, but we are circling around, like I said, just being the go-to, the automatic choice for folks who want counseling assessment or quality training in Colorado.
That wrapped up our vision day. Folks were pretty tired by the end of the vision day just like the focus day, but it felt like we had a little bit more to work through here in the vision day. Things didn’t come quite as easily. The values were kind of hard to land on or wordsmith. The core focus, also a little tough. And so, yeah, I think a mixed bag as we walked away.
We all rated the meeting an 8 out of 10, which was a little on the low side, comparatively to other meetings that we’ve had. We’ll see. We have a lot of homework in between. We’re going to do our Vision Day 2 in another month. And in the meantime, we’re going to do our L 10 meetings and continue to try to gain traction.
All right y’all. Thank you for tuning in as always. [00:28:00] If you have any feedback around these episodes, please let me know. It’s an experiment. I’m curious how it lands with folks. I’m curious if anybody’s picking up Traction or Rocket Fuel. If you’re thinking about implementing this in your practice, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like I said at the beginning, if you’re interested in group coaching and accountability, I would love to have you in one of the mastermind groups. I think our next advanced practice group is full, but we have spots in the beginner and intermediate groups, which will start gosh, probably in May. I’d love to have you. So thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting, you can get more information and schedule a pre-group call.
All right y’all. That’s it for today. I will be back with you next time.
The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.