Implementing Systems Is Child’s Play - Literally!
I can’t believe it was nearly six years ago that Richard, one of our salesmen, stopped by my office early one morning for a short visit. He had been selling for our printing company for about a year by then, and had become very intrigued with our systematic approach to production—and with the software we had developed to ensure quality and service for businesses.
Richard’s real mission was to ask me if he could join our software company, as he saw a lot of potential and thought his marketing and selling skills would be better utilized in that area. After he shared his ideas for marketing, I moved him over to the software company. Turned out to be a great decision for all of us!
After working in his new position for several weeks, Richard came by my office all excited about a “home experiment” he had done with the systems.
Apparently, Richard’s wife had come to him all upset, insisting he take charge of making sure their two small sons cleaned their rooms before going out to play. She was tired of fussing at them, having to oversee their every move, pointing out things in their rooms that still needed picking up, and pretty much having to threaten them within an inch of their lives to do what was expected of them.
Richard had heard me say many times how we need to “manage the system, and let the system manage the people.” So, he had undertaken to build a special system, just for his boys.
He had bought a whiteboard for each of the boys’ rooms, and had written a step-by-step checklist on each board—things that needed to be done at home, before AND after school. Then, he went about making sure their toys and other items in the room had a designated location for storage. The whiteboards listed everything from picking up toys and putting them in their proper location, to doing homework and other chores—even brushing their teeth.
He told his sons that AFTER they had completed each chore, they were to put a check in the box next to each prompt on their whiteboard. Then, when everything on the board was checked off, to come and get him, and he would do an inspection.
This went on day after day, week after week. Richard and his wife were amazed that the boys seemed to actually enjoy doing the checklists, and checking the boxes after accomplishing each chore.
Richard made a few adjustments to the checklist along the way, and he told me it had actually put an end to the fussing and arguing—best of all, he and his wife didn’t have to stand over the boys supervising anymore. However, his wife had come to him after all that, seeming a little sad. She finally told him what was bothering her—that the new system might be taking the place of her mothering.
“Go figure!” Richard had laughed.
The reason that checklist system worked is pretty simple!
No one enjoys having someone breathing down their neck and monitoring every little thing they do—especially not children, and definitely not when you're cutting into their play time. But, systems empower people to do their job consistently, pretty much error-free, and (for the most part) unsupervised. The boys had liked that!
Consider this: If you told 10 people to clean a house, you would get 10 different results. Why? Because, what “CLEAN” means to one person may mean something entirely different to another person.
Maybe you’ve asked someone to do a task, and then been frustrated with them, because, “he or she didn’t do the job RIGHT—the way I would do it.” SOLUTION: make a detailed procedure of EXACTLY how you WOULD do it.
Give people easy access to proper tools and the information to do their job, then stand back and be prepared to be amazed!
Systems are the answer to bringing the right order to every area of your business. And they're not just child’s play!
Have I mentioned...? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.