Personnel-Based vs. Systems-Based Management
“We don’t need good systems; all we need are good people!” Or, so thought a business owner that I wrote about in my book! As I relate the following, let that quote digest.
I was driving on the freeway to my home outside of Nashville this past Friday to pick up my wife to go see a movie, when my cell phone rang. It was my former pastor (I’ll call him, Bill). He sounded very excited and wanted to share with me some new things that have been going on in his life.
I had given my book “System Busters” to Bill several years ago, before he moved out west to be part of another ministry. Bill has always taken part-time jobs to help supplement his income, as ministry doesn’t always pay well, monetarily. Recently, he has been involved with several companies that have asked for his help in improving their processes.
Bill said, “I called to tell you again how much your book has impacted me and the work I’ve been doing.” He went on to say how he had used many of the ideas I laid out about the systemization of business.
Bill had just left a planning meeting with the owner of a company that has over 300 employees, and which has grown into a very complex organization over the past couple of decades. The owner is now very concerned about the company’s future and is desperately looking for answers.
The company’s top employee is retiring very soon and the owner realizes there is NO ONE else who knows the company’s processes and how they operate like THIS person—not even the owner himself. Bill said this owner’s way of running the company was “personnel-based rather than systems-based.”
He had strongly recommended that the owner implement written systems immediately, before this “top employee” leaves. Bill told me he was running into this scenario everywhere, and said doors are now opening for him to help other companies get organized.
One of the reasons my friend Bill wants to help these businesses is that they are major contributors to all types of benevolent ministries, and as a pastor, he has a heart for people—even us “selfish business owners” who (we hear) “didn’t build” our companies.
Just recently, I wrote a blog—titled, “When Systems Walk Out the Door”—based on the idea that when one person in a company seems to be THE ONE who knows all the answers, all the processes and other pertinent information, making him “irreplaceable,” and he leaves the company for any reason, that puts the company in a precarious position.
My former pastor and friend, Bill, is a witness to that very thing. His call reminded me of the importance of establishing solid systems that will sustain a business, so when key employees do retire, the systems won’t walk out the door with them.
Remember that quote I mentioned above—“We don’t need good systems, we just need good people?” Let me say again, that systems are GREAT tools to help GOOD people do a GREAT job!
Can I get a witness? 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.