The Book That Completely Transformed How I See Organizational Development

by Peter Baron

Sometimes, you read a book, sit back, stare at the ceiling, and say, “Seriously, where has this been all my life?”

Traction by Gino Wickman is that book for me.

The book serves up the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) concept, which directly translates to developing healthy organizations. (And in the context of this newsletter, a way to reimagine the independent school business model.)

And when I say healthy, I mean across the board. 

Healthy teams, healthy community culture, and unsurprisingly, leading to healthy growth.

Don’t get put off by all the references to entrepreneurs and businesses. Simply replace “business” with “school” or “organization.”

What is the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)?

At its core, EOS is a holistic business management system that empowers leaders to synchronize all elements of their organization, empowering team members and creating an organization on the ascent.

The EOS isn’t merely a set of concepts (and this is why I’m so drawn to it)—it’s a set of practical tools that businesses can implement immediately.

And while I won’t go into this today, let me say it offers the most compelling approach that I’ve ever seen to making meetings meaningful.

So why does “Traction” stand out?

Simplicity: Wickman has a gift for presenting complex ideas in a digestible manner. (Something I appreciate on so many levels!) Whether you’re a seasoned school leader or just starting, “Traction” is an insightful guide to navigating the sometimes turbulent waters of building healthy organizational operations.

Practicality: The book is teeming with real-world examples, stories, and concrete tools you can use immediately. The book’s not just theory—it’s action-driven advice. Remember my plug for the meeting format? That alone is a reason to read “Traction.”

Unify Your Team: “Traction” stresses the importance of having every team member on the same page. That’s easier said than done, but the EOS tools and principles share how to achieve alignment at every level, ensuring everyone pulls in the same direction.

Focus on Vision: One of the foundational elements of EOS is the Vision/Traction Organizer. Wickman emphasizes the need for a crystal-clear vision shared by all and actionable steps to realize that vision. Given that you already likely have a strategic plan, the Vision/Traction Organizer will allow you to execute against it and maintain school-wide accountability.

Addresses Common Organizational Pain Points: Feeling stuck? Facing internal conflicts? Need help with growth? Wrestling with the independent school business model? The EOS approach addresses these common pain points, offering actionable solutions.

The Six Key Components of EOS:

  • Vision: Ensuring everyone in your organization is on the same page about where you’re going and how you will get there.
  • People: Simply put, having the right people in the right seats.
  • Data: Cutting through subjective metrics and focusing on real, actionable data.
  • Issues: Recognizing and addressing problems promptly.
  • Process: Streamlining and documenting the way you do business to ensure consistency and scalability.
  • Traction: Instilling discipline and accountability throughout the organization to execute the vision.

Who should read “Traction”?

Honestly? Everyone.

Whether you’re an assistant director, director, associate head, head of school, board member, or you name it — “Traction” offers invaluable insights.

Even if you’re not in a leadership role, understanding the EOS can empower you to contribute more effectively within your school.

If you’re intrigued by the promise of “Traction,” not only is the book a place to start, but don’t miss out on my online conference, TransformED: Let’s Reimagine the Independent School Business Model.

I programmed a session by EOS and organizational design expert Mark Abbott from Nintey.io to dive into how it can help you and your school.

Here’s to gaining Traction in all our organizational endeavors!

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