Mind Your “EOP’s” – Enduring Operating Principles
In my first career as a college basketball coach I developed and fine tuned a set of enduring principles that guided me as a coach and set the tone of expectations for the team. I honed these principles over the years and reaffirmed them with myself and the team reguarly. Having explicitly stated principles in place, we all performed at a higher level. They definitely contributed to our overall success.
Many of the principles I used as a coach, I apply to the work I do today. Here are a few of my principles expressed in basketball terms:
- Prepare thoroughly for each practice and game;
- Embrace adversity as an opportunity to grow and be better;
- Treat each member of the team as an individual and treat each other with respect;
- Use statistical information as one way to measure and improve performance;
- Be accountable for your actions as a student and as a member of the team;
- Challenge individuals and the team to improve and to believe in themselves, and finally;
- Show up on time: When we say the bus leaves at a specific time, that is the time the bus will leave
I believe it is important for organizations to reflect on and define their own Enduring Operating Principles (EOP’s). These principles help sustain the organization in times of significant chaos or change, improve effectiveness, and ensure a focus on performance. From a business context, EOP’s are a success formula on which your business or function operates which supports performance and drive results. The principles are intended to be a coherent guide for decision-making and to focus action. They are, for the most part, enduring and can withstand change. Yet these principles can also be proactively adjusted to significant changes in the environment when supported by information.
Consider adopting some of the following examples of EOP’s from successful organizations:
- Standardize manufacturing processes down to the smallest details (Alberta Manufacturing Company)
- Maintain our reputation with customers that “we deliver” – on time, meeting expectations (Intel)
- Measure everything and make our results highly visible (Intel)
- Test our equipment in real conditions to ensure they work in the environment we will be in (David Brashear, IMAX Everest Expedition)
- Design our products so they work seamlessly together (Apple)
- Keep the family and people feeling in our service and fun atmosphere aloft. We are proud of our employees (Southwest Air)
- Take time and the necessary preparation when putting on your socks and shoes (John Wooden, Legendary Basketball Coach at UCLA)
- Conflict is constructive. Engage in debate regardless of rank. Make the best decision and then commit to it. (Alberta Engineering firm)
- Develop our people and processes when times are slow to stay ahead of the competition when the business heats up (Alberta Manufacturing Company)
Defining the "What" & "How" of EOP's
Defining the what and how of enduring principles is both a requirement and an expectation of leadership. I firmly believe it is leadership that sets the tone for the organization. To define EOP's, consider using a reflective exercise that affirms and states the current principles that exist in the organization that are really working. The identification of principles can also build to include principles that support achievement of the organization's Vision, Mission and Strategic Prorities.
Once identified, EOP's must be explicitly communicated to employees. Engaging employees at all levels of the organization in defining "how" the enduring principles will be lived out is an essential step.
What are your organizations EOP’s? Are they explicitly stated?
How do they support and drive performance?
How have employees at all levels been engaged in defining "how" EOP's are lived out across the organization?
How do you know they are alive and working well?
We'd love to hear from you: Please take a few minutes to answer some of these questions AND share your EOP's with us.
About Dave Hoy
Dave’s first career was as a highly successful national champion college basketball coach. He shifted careers to work in organizational development and over the past 20 years has brought his passion and experience in leadership and facilitation to dozens of organizations supporting; individuals, teams and entire organizations achieve high levels of performance and extraordinary results. Dave holds a M.A from the University of Alberta, an MBA in Human Resources from Royal Roads University and is an ICF Certified Executive Coach.