Installing a Preventative System

Sometimes we install a system and it doesn’t do much. We achieve the desired effect by the mere existence of it.

At Centratel, we knew a few of our employees spent time “cruising the net” on company time. It was impossible to track these sleight-of-hand excursions and the closest we could get to managing the problem was to walk around a corner and find a staff member covertly close a non-Centratel screen upon our approach. 

So, we installed special software that tracks and logs internet activity. 

The software solved the problem instantly and completely. We track everyone’s activity including who goes where, and how much time is spent “cruising.” 

Have we ever tracked down bad behavior with it? Yes, when we first installed it without announcing what we had done, the usual suspects emerged. Did we say anything to them? No, it wasn’t necessary because we knew that once we announced the installation, and noted it in our Employee Handbook, the people who were abusing the system would change their behavior. Did they? Yes. 

Have we had subsequent abuses? No. We check the logs each month but there is never a problem. 

Another example of the installation of a preventative system? Drug testing. And, police and military. 

With these systems, the preventative aspect is key. The systems are intended to halt problems before they occur.

The above excerpt is taken from Sam Carpenter’s Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Working Less and Making More

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