The Value of Systems

by Michael Lennington

If I visited your workplace would I see consistency or chaos?  Would I observe structure or fire-fighting? Would I first notice the processes, or the ad-hoc activities?  If chaos, fire-fighting, and ad-hoc activities describe parts of your business, you may need better systems.

A system is a coordinated sequence of actions and events that create consistent outcomes over time. Systems are predictable. Systems are scalable. Systems deliver better results.  They improve efficiency and profitability.  They enable delegation and outsourcing.  They allow you to train staff effectively, and to get new-hires up to speed faster.  Systems allow you to document and identify improvements. Systems lower stress, improve client satisfaction, reduce effort, save time, and can make your business more valuable.

If systems are so beneficial, then why is it that so many businesses and entrepreneurs seem to lack them?

One reason may be that when a business is in start-up mode, there is often more than enough time to get things done.  There are fewer clients and less demand for output.  When there is “plenty of time” you don’t have to be as systematized.  By the time activity and demand ramp up, many practices have become habitual and harder to change.

Another reason that systems are missing is that it takes time to build and maintain them.  You have to design and map the process, install any necessary tools, and train others in their use.  And if you are already overwhelmed with running your business as it is, you can feel as if you don’t have enough time to create systems on top of everything else.

The good news is that you can build systems no matter how long you have been in business, or how busy you are. In our view, the first system to install is the one that ensures that the rest get done - the 12 Week Year execution system!

Once the 12 Week Year is in place, the next step is to identify your most significant and time-consuming activities that could benefit from systemization. Consider your selling, marketing, referral, HR, financial, and client service processes.  When you have identified the systems to develop, next determine their implementation sequence. Then each 12 Week Year thereafter, determine which system you will work on and develop a 12 Week Plan to create and install it.

As you design your systems, keep in mind the goals of the system.  Some systems can be automated, some can’t.  In either case start by defining the primary customer of the system, and the criteria needed to best meet that customer’s needs. Once the desired system outputs are clear, then design the system to be as simple and efficient as possible.  It may help to review your long-term and three-year business visions for guidance on how to design your systems.

Finally, if you do have a team – enlist them in the development of your systems.  This will improve the quality of your ideas, create greater ownership, and train your team all at the same time.

Every system that you build frees time.  You can invest the time you save into building the next system to save even more time.  The more systems the more time you have.  And the better your results.  In the end, good systems will increase your results and lower your stress.

Michael LenningtonThe Value of Systems

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