The Theory of Broken Windows
Recently, as a guest on TharsternTV, we compared the “Theory of Broken Windows” with the 100% System of Cleanliness in business.
The “Theory of Broken Windows” introduced in 1982, impacted police work in the following decades.
This theory uses broken windows as an analogy to demonstrate how crime and disorder tends to grow in environments where small problems like broken windows, trash, and graffiti, etc. go unaddressed.
In short, visible signs of disorder and misbehavior will encourage MORE disorder and misbehavior.
Reminds me of a scene in the classic film, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” It seemed somehow romantic for the James Stewart and Donna Reed characters to make a wish by throwing rocks at the windows of an old, abandoned house. Truth is, the old house was as it was — dilapidated — because, instead of caring for it, others had the same “romantic” idea, to make it worse.
Battling the Misbehavior of Litterbugs
In my appearance on TharsternTV, I shared a story of my wife and me struggling with litter in our neighborhood and on our property. Specifically, along a ditch that runs for about 800 ft/244 m along a road on the west side of our small farm.
When we first moved to this property, removing litter in that long ditch was a daily battle, i.e., beer cans, fast food containers, and such. In fact, most days we removed a large plastic bag full of trash.
The good news is, we noticed as we persistently removed the trash, the amount of litter began diminishing. In fact, after six months of our beautification efforts, the litter reduced to only a few items a month. Furthermore, we started seeing neighbors helping with our fight.
It seems, litterbugs and wasters may always be with us, but maybe even they can learn, when others show an interest in keeping order. This also applies in business.
The 100% Cleanliness vs. Broken Windows Theory
In the TV filming mentioned above, the entire discussion was the 100% System of Cleanliness for business, and how it works.
Like, the “Theory of Broken Windows,” when systematically addressing clutter removal in business, the effect on a business’ environment is dramatic.
More exciting is the positive feedback from employees, customers, and vendors.
What is the 100% System of cleanliness?
Simply put, it is establishing a specific PLACE for EVERY item in the business. And, a LABELED permanent place, located as close as possible to those using the item(s).
What is so amazing about the cleanliness system is, that once you get 100% of the items in their predetermined place, the cleanliness of the business will STAY in the upper 90% range.
How do we know?
We did it!
We watched this system of cleanliness work for over fifteen years, up until selling the business.
One of the most satisfying benefits was, our employees bragged about our clutter-free operations to others. Yep, there was a complete buy-in by our employees.
To see the cleanliness system and other systems working up close, you might take a tour of a systemized business.
Did I mention? Great systems work; not a theory!
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.