Some time back, during a rush period, I was asked by the production supervisor at our printing company if I would visit and quality check a job that a new outside vendor was doing for us.
When I arrived, I was greeted with a friendly "Hello" from the owner, and given an impromptu tour of his company. He let me know immediately that he was "already familiar" with me and my business systems. "I know what you think about how business should be done," he smiled, like a card player, holding all aces.
“Philip, let me show you MY system," he said, and pointed to a large pane glass window he had purposely installed directly in front of his office desk to keep an eye on his production area.
From this view, he could watch everyone working out there "at any time," to make sure production was being performed to his satisfaction.
I was somewhat surprised when he said he didn’t need systems like the ones I prescribe—preferring, rather, to keep constant watch through his window so he could personally oversee every single job coming and going through his shop.
It was his turn to be surprised, when I commented that his was "a perfectly good system," and that I actually liked
I have no problem with business owners who enjoy working IN
their companies as production managers, or wearing a multitude of hats. I know many owners who have been happy and successful operating their businesses that way. In fact, my brother and one of my best friends operate their businesses in that same fashion, very effectively!
As for me, when I first opened my business in 1988 I, too, operated it with this hands-on-everything approach, and I was profitable—although NOT very happy.
Those like me, and other business owners we work with in our software company, are of a breed who doesn't particularly like working IN
their business, with a job title, i.e. production manager, pressman, bookkeeper, sales person, quality control inspector, etc. Although I like the printing business immensely, my vision was to OWN a company that ran well—whether I was there or not.
As I wrote in my book, System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business
, in the early days, whenever I left the building all mayhem would break loose, and I would end up losing money by not being on the premises.
But, here's the deal...I had other aspirations as an entrepreneur, like buying a farm, restoring an old house, doing some writing, starting other companies, etc.
So, I soon grew tired of my job, with its many hats—the long hours, ever-increasing dropped balls and irate customers, due to the mistakes we made—for lack of good, quality control systems.
I finally realized, the only way to free myself of the day-to-day operations of the business, but to also have it operate AS IF I WAS THERE overseeing every job, was by using the power of systems.
That's my VIEW, from my window. What's your view?
Did I mention? Great systems work!