Beyond Traction: Taking the EOS Framework to the Next Level

Written by
Shane Barber & Sumer Sorensen-Bain

Growth in manufacturing can feel impossible at times. If you want to get clear on your business goals and what it will take to achieve them, we have a lot of good things to say about the EOS/Traction Framework. However, we’ve worked with enough companies in the thick of EOS that we can substantiate some of its failings, especially when it comes to actually getting things done. We use the Straight 6 Method to fill gaps in EOS and create quantifiable results. 

EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System) is a people operating system that helps companies grow by clarifying their business goals, establishing accountability, and fortifying vital internal processes. 

EOS is particularly compatible with businesses that rely on systemization to thrive, making it popular in manufacturing. The book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business (2012) by founder Gino Wickman has sold more than 1 million copies and continues to cycle through leadership book clubs like a viral TED talk. 

The praise for EOS is deserved. Working exclusively in business transformations, we’ve seen EOS energize leaders and employees in the companies that choose to implement. Employees seem to understand where leadership is pointed and what’s expected of them.  

However, we’ve found that measurable results most greatly depend on factors outside of the EOS framework—elements of business optimization we’ve had to develop over the last 20 years in order to ensure that our clients achieve promised results. 

Observing EOS in practice has actually taught us an invaluable truth: the destination is not the vehicle. 

As in any training scenario, companies need more than to be told what to do to achieve mastery. To address this distinction, we developed Straight 6, a business partnership program that applies hands-on support and tactical strategies to great ideas. 

We think of the relationship between EOS and Straight 6 this way:

EOS is the red pin on a map—a clear target everyone understands. 

The Straight 6 Method is your vehicle: engine, fuel, and, of course, the accelerator. Together, they allow companies to achieve truly audacious goals. 

To understand how Straight 6 complements and completes EOS, you need to understand where the EOS framework begins and where it slowly starts to evaporate.

What is EOS?

The banner on the EOS website reads “CLARIFY, SIMPLIFY, AND ACHIEVE YOUR VISION.” 

EOS orients leadership teams around the right vision and metrics to do just that. What’s guaranteed? You get an unmistakably clear picture of where you are in relation to where you want to be. 

We’ve seen companies apply EOS to different degrees. 

Cost and Levels of EOS Implementation

You can turn EOS up to 3 different levels in your organization: “Book of the Month,” supported implementation, and adding the optional software package. Depending on how much support you need with implementation, you could spend anywhere between $20 to $50,000.

1. Read the Book 

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by founder Gino Wickman, delivers the entire EOS methodology for just under $18. It’s a best-seller, popular title for professional development book clubs, and has all the information you need for a DIY implementation. 

2. Implement with Support

This is the core of EOS—supported implementation with accountability. Pay an implementer to walk your leadership team through the step-by-step, how-to guide in areas like vision, traction, accountability, and business health. Implementers will also workshop your company goals, establish clear metrics, and schedule a follow-up to assess progress and pinpoint issues. 

3. Add the Software

EOS One, an optional software too, helps users implement the EOS methodology. EOS One offers features like document sharing, meeting agendas, scorecard tracking, and communication tools.

What EOS Looks Like in Practice

If you get past “Book of the Month” and hire an implementer, they will guide you through a the process to clarify where you want to go and familiarize every employee with the end goal.

Here’s a look at how EOS works in practice for a manufacturing team:

  • Quarterly Vision Traction Meetings (VTMs): These are intensive quarterly meetings where the leadership team reviews progress, identifies obstacles, and adjusts strategies. 
  • Rocks: Think of these as big boulders you want to move each quarter. Each leader chooses 3–7 “rocks,” which are their most important priorities that align with the overall vision. This ensures everyone is focused on achieving meaningful progress.
  • Issues List: This is a central, visible list of all the critical issues the team needs to address. It creates transparency and ensures no critical issue gets lost in the shuffle.
  • Scorecard: This is a simple one-page document that tracks key metrics aligned with your company vision. It provides a clear snapshot of how the company is performing and keeps everyone accountable for the numbers.

Why Elbow Grease Doesn’t Bridge the Gap Between EOS and Visible Progress

At first, EOS seems comprehensive. Morale swells when goals are easy to identify and all personnel within the organization are in the right roles—something EOS helps with. 

But after the dopamine wears off, your leadership team still carries the responsibility of executing the goals you’ve set. When the rubber meets the road, what are the steps you will take to move the needle on each of your metrics? 

EOS is a helpful start, but most manufacturing companies need more runway before they can take off and see results. 

Here are some reasons we think EOS (on its own) falls short as a do-all business optimizer:

Implementers Don’t Own Your Results, You Do

First, it’s important to note that most EOS implementers are franchisees. It’s likely your EOS guide won’t be an employee of EOS Worldwide. That means EOS Worldwide isn’t accountable for your results. 

And, in fact, neither is the implementer you hire

If you don’t see a return on your investment in EOS or your implementer misses the mark, there’s no EOS chain of command or additional resources to help troubleshoot your experience with the process. You’re on your own.

Second, implementers’ experience in industry and business strategy will vary depending on whom you work with. Some may have deep experience in calibrating complex systems while others may have generally limited experience in the industry.

But, at the end of the day, it isn’t the EOS implementer’s job to spell out how to get to Point B—only to let you know when you’re getting closer or further away. Marco! Polo!

EOS Puts Disproportionate Focus on What’s Already Past and What’s Yet to Come 

EOS promises to do two things: craft a clear and compelling vision for your company’s future and translate your vision into specific, measurable goals. 

From where we’re standing, it seems EOS paints a clear picture of a possible future (company vision) and a bygone past (cadence of accountability), but fails entirely to offer meaty, actionable strategies for the present

EOS implementers will help you set goals and pin down metrics so that you can be accountable to your own targets. But how you move the needle on those metrics is left completely up to your interpretation. 

One client we worked with described their first follow-up meeting with their EOS implementer after implementation as a cold assessment of goals they hadn’t reached and obstacles they hadn’t overcome.

What happened next? They reinforced goals, pinpointed persisting problems, revisualized success, and dove back in with rekindled vigor—determined to deliver better results at the next accountability session. But the question still loomed, What are we going to do differently this time? And how will we make time outside our day jobs to do it?

EOS Is Missing Nuts and Bolts to Fit Complex Manufacturing Operations

Designed for most mid-sized businesses (between 10 and 250 employees), it’s arguable that EOS lacks the nuance and muscle needed to overcome inertia in large manufacturing companies. 

Mature organizations with long-established processes require surgically precise leadership moves that drive improvement without slowing production. These moves require industry knowledge, business strategy, and (ideally) hands-on support until growth is measurable and improvement is consistent. 

EOS defines goals, but doesn’t account for many layers of complexity and precision manufacturers have to sustain to be safety compliant, let alone profitable. 

The Solution: The Straight 6 Optimization Model

Straight 6 is an optimization model based on the idea of a straight 6-cylinder engine (commonly found in most BMWs and Volkswagens). 

We use the 6-cylinder engine as our model, because 6-cylinders typically offer more power and torque than 4-cylinder engines, delivering better acceleration and performance potential. 

However, in a 6-cylinder engine, every cylinder must be tuned perfectly, or your engine won’t run. It’s a concept all too familiar for manufacturers who depend on finely tuned processes to keep employees safe and pull off the tenuous backlog balancing act.

To help leaders and teams, Straight 6 gives you tactical strategies to tune up 6 crucial areas of your business: 

  1. Strategy
  2. Structure
  3. People Practices
  4. Lateral Processes
  5. Methods and Tools 
  6. Metrics and Rewards 

Like a 6-cylinder engine, the element of your manufacturing operation must be perfectly tuned and in sync in order to move the entire mechanism toward accomplishing any major goal. Process changes have to be decisive, exact, and rolled out with leadership buy-in in order to be successful. This is especially true when it comes to disrupting the status quo of your business. 

Straight 6 optimizes your business with actionable strategies that are expert-supported and guaranteed to smooth operations, support growth, and increase profits.

Why Straight 6 Works 

What makes Straight 6 unique among business optimization systems is the hands-on approach to implementation, supportive partnerships we create with your leaders, and our guaranteed results.

Straight 6 respects the fact that manufacturing is demandingly precise and complex by design. It also acknowledges that even talented leaders need actionable strategies and hands-on support to achieve truly audacious goals.

With the Straight 6 Model, iMpact Utah has scaled dozens of companies, increased profits by millions, eliminated waste, raised employee retention, and helped companies achieve compliance. 

What makes this mechanism so reliable? Take a peek under the hood.

Straight 6 Is More Than a Plan, It’s a Partnership 

Straight 6 is not a trickle-down system where we only work with your top execs and pray that the message reaches the front lines. Straight 6 is built on a network of one-on-one partnerships that our team members make with their leadership equivalents in your business. What you get is a hands-on, expert-supported transformation. 

Most business consultants focus on telling you what to do, but don't touch implementation. We provide boots-on-the-ground support from day one to when you see results. 

Similarly, EOS provides a framework for what to do, but Straight 6 addresses the what and the how. In manufacturing, you can't have one without the other.

We Take Full Responsibility for Your Results

iMpact Utah is a sub-recipient of the Utah MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership). We are funded by the United States government on the condition that we generate measurable profit growth in local Utah manufacturing businesses. It’s one of the most direct examples of taxpayers’ dollars directly funding industry and the local economies. (Yes, we think it’s amazing too.) 

This setup leaves no room for mediocre results. If we don’t produce, we don’t get funding. So you better believe we guarantee the results we promise. Our guarantee is that we will continue working at no additional charge until you achieve the results you expect.

We Put the Tools You Need in Your Hands 

Straight 6 looks at the 6 critical areas of your business and gives you strategies and tools to tune every single cylinder. 

Often, companies understand their business challenges and what is not working in their production/processes, but don’t have the tools to diagnose or troubleshoot their vehicle. 

To help identify your specific pain points and determine the root causes, iMpact Utah offers a free self-assessment to help bring clarity to the “pain” and prescribe the right tools that will improve and optimize your business.

Partnering with iMpact Utah means access to a library of training and leadership resources to fine-tune every part of your business from operations and leadership to sales and marketing, and technology. See How We Help to learn more about the breadth of tools in our kit. 

Can You Overlay Straight 6 on an EOS Framework? 

We get asked that a lot! The good news is that Straight 6 works in conjunction with any EOS framework you have in place. Everything you nail down with your EOS implementation (whether you hire an implementer or DIY) will plug in perfectly to cylinder 1: Strategy. 

Once your goals and metrics are in place, we work side by side with your leadership to implement the tactical maneuvers to move those needles. 

Partner with iMpact and See Results in Months, Not Years 

At iMpact Utah, we have real skin in the game when it comes to boosting manufacturing profits. We help optimize and grow your business, because we believe your success benefits everyone

Take our advice and don’t wait. Schedule a discovery call today to speak with a member of our team. 

Or you can pop open the hood of your vehicle and identify your pain points and their causes with the free assessment

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