The Three Steps of System-Improvement
In 1984, Sam founded Centratel, the number one commercial telephone answering service in the nation, located in Bend, Ore. With a background in engineering and publishing, he is a telephone answering service industry consultant, writer and speaker, and has served as president of several regional and national answering service organizations.
Sam is author of the book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, published by North Sister Publishing, Inc. in April 2008. He also founded and directs Kashmir Family Aid, a 501C3 non-profit that aids surviving school children of the Northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir earthquake of October 8, 2005.
Originally from upstate New York, and an Oregonian since 1975, he is married to Linda Carpenter. He has a daughter and two grandchildren. He and Linda are also in the process of launching an Internet business that promotes communication between absent adults and their children and grand children. Outside interests include climbing/mountaineering, skiing, cycling, reading, traveling and writing.
Learn to work the system. And not just one: work all the systems in your control — social, work, financial, biological, and mechanical. Do you see your systems? Do you control them?
The systems of your life are integral to every move you make: the roles you play as father, mother, son or daughter; the tasks you accomplish at work. Your health.
It doesn’t matter if you are a leader, employee, stay-at-home mom or dad, retiree, or student, your life is composed of systems that are yours to control — or not control.
Life is serious business, and whether you know it or not, or whether you like it or not, your personal systems are the threads of the fabric of your life. Together, they add up to you. But if you are like most people, you negotiate the day enmeshed in haphazard detail without seeing the systems of your life as the singular entities they are, some working well and some not working so well. If you are like most people, you defensively deal with the products – the results – of inefficient systems. Day in, and day out, you’re killing fires.
In the complexity that is your life, what if you could distinctly see each of these separate systems? Then, what if you could reach in and pluck a not-so-perfect system out of that complexity, make it perfect, and then reinsert it? What if you could perform this mechanical process with every system that comprises your life?
How can you take control of things and be on the offensive?
The short answer is that by assertively repairing your systems of your life – by implementing the process of system-improvement – you can build the life you want. It’s a simple reality that if all the sub-systems of a primary system are working superbly, the primary system will work superbly, too. With the system-improvement approach, you can reengineer your life, piece by piece, to make it exactly what you want it to be without having to count on luck, providence, blind faith, or someone else’s largesse.
This systems-perspective is different from the mental posture most people pack around from day to day. Instead of seeing yourself as an internal component of circumstances, enmeshed within the day’s swirling events, the new vantage point is “outside-and-slightly-elevated” from those events. The day’s happenings are visible as a collection of separate processes – systems – arranged in simple, logical, linear sequences. Moment to moment, you are an observer looking down on things, examining the comings and goings of the day as if they are tangible, physical objects. Things are concise and understandable. The machinations of the world make sense: Step-by-step, one thing leads to another.
In your life, you constantly work on those objects; those systems. You make them better, one by one. Soon, complexity is replaced by order. There is little fire-killing, little confusion. As you peer down at your handiwork, you feel an intense self-respect and are proud of what you’ve accomplished.
Here are the three steps for negotiating your day with the system-improvement methodology:
- Separation, dissection, and repair of systems: The satisfying process of exposing, separating, and then perfecting personal, work, and relationship systems. This on-going effort includes creating new systems from scratch as well as eliminating those that are holding you back.
- Documentation: Making improvement permanent by creating written goals, principles, and processes. These are your guidelines for future action.
- Ongoing maintenance of systems: Greasing the wheels. This is easy because the positive tangible results of the Work the System method are breathtaking. The motivation to continue the system-improvement process lies in the wonderful, real-time results.
It’s been said that the simplest solution is invariably the best solution, and the system-improvement methodology is, indeed, absurdly simple.