Do You Need Great Systems?
It has been said that one definition of insanity is “doing the same thing but expecting different results.” We work with essentially the same core systems in our organizations each day, but we rarely invest enough time in significantly improving them. Instead, we prefer to “tweak” our systems and pressure our people to reduce costs, improve service, or “get along better with our internal customers.” Additionally, while we have done a pretty good job of improving our front-line production and service systems over the years, we have neglected our management systems to a large extent. How much waste do you have in your management systems?
Fundamental systems change is required to shift an organization’s culture significantly. Lecture-based training, newsletters, and “all employee” meetings can only take you so far. Over time, these practices can actually have a negative effect on system performance. Compensation that directs performance improvement savings more towards one group than others also provides an anti-incentive for lasting, positive change. Many companies have defined nice sounding visions, but they have failed to develop a culture that will lead towards the successful implementation of these visions. Leadership systems fail to produce leader behaviors that are consistent with the team or organizational mission, vision, and values that have been stated. Does your workplace culture support the goals that you have defined for long-term success? How do you measure the effectiveness of your workplace culture? Do your leaders truly walk the talk?
Systems change does not have to be complicated, require a college education to understand, or a major in math to use. By making basic changes in the systems that you use to develop leaders, satisfy customers, measure performance, or increase revenue, you can realize significant increases in personal, team, and organizational performance. In many cases, it is not the lack of tools that hold back organizational improvement - instead, it is the failure to instill and nourish effective workplace beliefs and behaviors. Weak systems will result in ineffective beliefs and behaviors that will prevent even the best tools from working properly. Great systems will help you get the most out of the money you have spent, are spending, or might spend in the future on performance improvement tools.
Systems are sometimes difficult to “see” and understand. Our brains are conditioned to follow certain patterns as we do our jobs and live our lives. As we become pressed for time, we rely on these patterns to help us get everything done that we need to do each day. Rarely are these patterns, or systems, as effective as they could be, but they seem to get the job done. Besides, we don't seem to have enough time to actually analyze and improve them any way. In most cases however, we don't even know how well or how poorly our systems are performing. We also are unaware of how the systems that we currently have in place are actually doing more damage than good to our organizations.
High performing organizations have learned how to create simple systems that deliver great results. They have also linked these systems together to further improve organizational performance. Technology has provided them with greater capabilities to analyze and share information in a low cost, effective manner. Technology utilization has become a key metric for indicating future organizational success, but few organizations are truly gauging the degree to which they are effectively using technology.
Over the past twenty five years, we have created multiple buzz words for the same basic concepts. We have tried to put programs in place instead of improving our processes. We send people to training and ask them to change, but we fail to put effective approaches in place for gauging the degree to which the skills which were taught are actually being used on a consistent basis. We have continued to recycle tools and concepts from the past under a 'new and improved' mantle, but are we actually getting better results? We all have quality systems, training systems, recognition systems, and communication systems in our organizations, but how well do they work? Are these systems producing HIGH or LOW quality results?
How focused are our efforts to improve the management systems which drive our organizations? What percentage of our associates provide feedback and input towards making these essential systems more effective? How much money are we spending each day that we really don’t have to? Are we building or damaging the morale of our associates and our relationships with our customers? If we tracked and trended the true results of our management systems, we would quickly see that they are highly ineffective and very waste laden. Very few organizations trend such measures however, so they don't realize how much waste exists!
We all need great systems, and in most cases, there are effective examples out there for you to learn about, evaluate, and “borrow from.” You are already paying for the knowledge that exists in your organization, but you may not being utilizing it to the fullest. Using the best ideas of your people could be as simple as changing the system that you use to create strategic and annual plans. The changes we need to make - that the high performers have made - are not that complex, but we seem unwilling to make the choices that will make them a reality.
At the heart of it all though are the people - your associates. As managers, it is tempting to see our employees as dollar signs or machines - our feelings get lost in the blur and the pressure of the day. Great systems are based on consistently involving people at all levels of the organization in a meaningful, time-sensitive way. Do you have great systems? What type of culture are your systems helping to shape each day? Do your systems help you make sure that the hearts of your people are at the heart of your products or services?
Would You Like to Learn More?
I have made it my personal mission to help learn about, and teach others about, how to put high performance work systems in place. I am not trying to get rich here - I am trying to help stop the insanity! If you are willing to make the choices, I can help you make the changes in a low cost, high value added way. It's that simple.
Click on one of the following links to learn even more about Great Systems! and the types of systems improvements I can help you make:
“The only thing I know is that I do not know it all.” -- Socrates