Cultivate Blog

Posted by Madeleine Denebeim on 12/19/23 9:00 AM

At Cultivate, the heartbeat of our success lies in delivering exceptional appreciation and gifting programs. In our first decade, we grew from a small business that started in our founder’s basement into a modern-day start-up that has delivered over 1 million gifts and counting. As we've experienced growth spurts and pains, wins and lessons learned, we've continued to evolve. Part of that evolution included transforming how we operate as a business, solve problems, communicate, and hold one another accountable. In January 2020, we began implementing EOS, or the Entrepreneurial Operation System.

In this special blog feature, we review how EOS has impacted and improved our organization in only four short years. 


Making Our Vision a Reality

Before EOS, we grappled with challenges typical of a hybrid team – communication gaps, alignment issues, and the need for a unified vision. We wanted to build a better "people operating system" to help us solve problems efficiently and strategically, hold teams and individuals accountable, help us set realistic goals, and more — all in a collective effort to transform our business. Recognizing the potential for a more streamlined approach, we embraced EOS as the catalyst for positive change. 


We started by focusing on the end goal of using EOS: to help our day-to-day tasks trace back to our common goals as a business. The starting point was defining company Rocks. Using the analogy from Steven Covey’s First Things First, we shifted our focus to our bigger goals, the Rocks, which allow the smaller routine things (gravel, sand, water) to fall into place naturally. “When you’re focusing on the sand and pebbles, you miss your overarching goals. We carve time out of our major rocks, looking to make a major impact with gifting programs that take appreciation to new heights. We go the extra mile - research the company, climate, and past behavior to be prepared and use your time even better.” - Tom Romine, Founder


Hit the Ground Reading

Throughout the company, each team easily fell into step with EOS thanks to the straightforward and practical guidebooks. How to Be a Great Boss quickly helped to bridge the gap between remote team leaders, with Tiffany, Purchasing Manager, saying, “It provided me with a ton of valuable insight as I learned the ropes of managing a team and working with other managers well,” after reading. Another book, What the Heck is EOS, was distributed to every person at Cultivate to help orientate people to great success. 


“No lie, I was skeptical because it sounded too good to be true. However, after 4 years of embracing this system, I can testify that EOS has completely transformed the way we approach and solve problems, achieve goals, start and finish projects, and communicate as a company. It cuts out all of the fluff and procrastination to help us see issues as solvable problems instead of barriers to success. Plus, it is designed to hold all employees accountable, which might be my favorite aspect.” - Jenny, Director of Marketing


There’s No Place Like Ninety

The immediate result of EOS was unifying our spread-out team, with 50 employees all around the country. Our favorite element is the weekly routine of Level 10, one productive meeting to focus on the most important things each week without the nonsense, and Ninety, the hub to keep every team member's to-dos and goals organized in one place. Here are some rave reviews:

  • The L10 meeting format has saved us time, energy, and resources. Now, I look forward to our weekly L10 meeting because I know every person on my team will walk away with not only to-do's to prioritize but with weekly updates, answers to the questions they need solving, and much more. - Jenny
  • With so many open items at one time across multiple programs and program types, utilizing Ninety and the L10 meeting structure helps keep our busy team on track and ensures we have a platform to share valuable information with other teams. - Tiffany
  • Utilizing EOS during our weekly Accounting team meeting has been a complete game changer.  We have been able to really focus on core projects (i.e. Rocks) that have not only improved the internal operations of our team, improving things like AR workflows and supplier relationships. In addition, we appreciate that we have a platform like Ninety which allows us to solve issues more efficiently, and track measurables that let us know when we need to focus on a certain component of our department." - Christina, Director of Accounting

Ninety is EOS’ center for focusing on our most pressing matters. On top of the team’s and individuals' weekly goals, Ninety helps us focus on priority Issues and Headlines to keep everyone up-to-date and accountable. The Scorecard helps us track metrics, unveil insights, and measure how our initiatives are performing. The Accountability Chart helps us connect, understand company structure, and introduce new team members to our remote team. 

Reflecting on our EOS journey, it's evident that the system has become an integral part of Cultivate's DNA. Since implementing EOS four years ago, we've not only weathered challenges but emerged stronger, more aligned, and poised for continued success. The system's scalability aligns seamlessly with our vision for future growth and innovation, exemplified by how it helped our relatively small team execute major lifts, like developing our Online Gifting Platform


We can most easily sum it up with our last review here, “There are so many good things I could say about EOS, but I'll keep it short: it really works.” Looking ahead, we're excited about leveraging EOS to propel us into new realms of success. 

Topics: Culture

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