System Improvement

Latest posts by Sam Carpenter (see all)

What about the leader of a typical large, successful company? Most times, these people are not innately special. Beyond their willingness to work hard and an adequate degree of intelligence, their advantage is that they naturally operate from a systems perspective—while the huge majority of people do not. These leaders are heavyweights because they understand that problem-causing systems must be adjusted, not repeatedly ignored while time is spent fixing the problems they caused. The majority of time must be spent in system improvement, not in fixing the bad results of unmanaged systems.

The system improvement perspective is permanently etched into the minds of those who manage large, successful organizations, but the interesting thing is that it is such a simple concept, many of the people who innately embrace it can’t describe it, much less identify it as the critical factor of their success.

Via managers who understand the process, the large-business leader focuses on perfecting systems and keeping them that way, constantly making efficiency adjustments while simultaneously keeping up with trends and changes. It should be the same for you if you are to climb out of the morass within which 95 percent of the world struggles.

For your business, you must find and keep employees and suppliers, supervise the creation and sales of your product or service, make payroll, pay taxes, and steer the whole enterprise toward a profit. If you are to leap ahead, your product or service must be consistently superior, and that can’t happen if your people don’t hyper-focus on the details of how that product or service is produced and distributed.

In the short term, you must focus on creating extraordinary, well-defined systems. In the long term, you and your staff must relentlessly tweak and maintain those systems. The by-product will be an exceptional service or product that people want.

And remember: All the ships in your fleet must be at peak efficiency. One slow boat will hold back the entire flotilla. This is a central tenet of the Work the System method, and it’s the reason you will want to ensure that all your people are psychologically on-board with your systems methodology. You’ll want everyone in your organization working at peak capacity, repairing, tweaking, and adjusting to outside changes. The fleet must move forward full steam, directly toward the common goal, and it is your job to make sure that happens. This is called “being a leader.”

Sam Carpenter is the author of Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, published by Greenleaf Book Group, May 1, 2009.

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