My colleague and I sat drinking coffee, just as we had many times before. I always enjoyed our chats, because he was full of optimism about the business he and his partner were building.

But not today, this time his mood was somber! The business was failing under insurmountable debt. He looked defeated. As he explained the change in fortune, I couldn’t help but hear lines from an Ernest Hemingway novel…

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, and then suddenly.”
“What brought it on?” Bill asked.
“Friends,” said Mike. “I had a lot of friends. False friends. Then I had creditors, too.”

As I listened, I sensed in my colleague’s tale the sentiments Hemingway articulated, that behind the technical details of bankruptcy lie deeper truths about trust and values. When your values aren’t aligned with your partners, issues build slowly until a tipping point is reached, followed by a deep and rapid descent into failure.

My colleague and his partner were not aligned. He suspected it but buried his concerns deep. His doubts gradually grew through a slow drip of revelations, until at last the full ugly reality presented itself.

It didn’t have to be this way.

As a Professional EOS® Implementer, I work with leadership teams to help them get everything they want out of their business. Most of the time they engage me because they are frustrated and want traction and improvement. The tools I teach help smoke out issues, including serious ones like value misalignment that can lead to catastrophe.

Something similar happened to another colleague barely a year earlier. He was a friend who once helped me build a company. He was now building one of his own and in five short years had grown it rapidly. He seemed enthusiastic about implementing EOS, but first wanted to do a little house cleaning.

A few months later everything about the business had gone to hell! As we say in EOS, it hit the ceiling, and hit hard! Issues of partner accountability that had been simmering for a long time suddenly boiled over. Now the business was insolvent, on the verge of shutting down, with no chance to dig out.

Luckily my friend had prior experience as a turn-around consultant. He knew how to find investors and recapitalize. He took painful steps to buy out his partner. Then with a fresh balance sheet, we finally started the EOS journey, this time with him committed to building a team based on shared values.

Half of all new businesses fail in their 5th year. Almost 70% of family businesses don’t survive generational succession. My colleagues and their companies fell into these categories. Their cases are reminders of why there is a simple lightbulb within the EOS logo. It’s there because mastering the EOS tools creates transparency that lights up the deep, dark recesses of companies; exposing subtle dysfunctions that must be resolved before they erupt into a crisis.

Leaders occasionally want to get their house in order before starting EOS, but that’s like cleaning up before the maid comes. We are the maid, and we bring the tools that help the team master leadership skills and get where they want faster. Together we smoke out issues, before issues become problems, and problems become a crisis.


Find out how well aligned your company is! Take this EOS® Organizational Checkup. You’ll get an objective measure of the strength of your organization and areas to focus on. 


Feel free to contact me at any time at; or call +1.248.881.9103. No obligations, just here to help! 

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