Recently, I sat near a man and two women in a Subway Restaurant who were having a business lunch together. Their voices and their blood pressure were raised. I’m sure the people around could hear everything they were saying. It was pretty much a rant about their boss and work environment. With each stated frustration, I couldn’t help identifying the faulty business system that was the root cause (the burden of a Systems Thinker).
The business owner is apparently unaware of the incredible frustration his or her employees are experiencing. My guess is that customers have similar feelings. Although the owner may be oblivious to the cause of the problems, he or she likely has a sense that things aren’t going well.
Frustration usually hits me in the gut first; I feel it before I think about it. How about you?
A Symptom of Deeper Problems
Feelings of frustration happen to some degree in every organization; however, this reaction is merely a symptom of deeper business problems—problems that cost money, drive away customers and employees, and create a negative company culture. An undercurrent of constant frustration is the sign of a sick company.
Frustration exists when there are recurring events over which you feel little or no control. Control can be restored—and undesirable patterns eliminated—by installing effective business systems. How many of the problems, obstacles or frustrations listed below do you have?
- Your customers complain, don't re-order, or drift to competitors.
- There is too much inefficiency, waste, rework or returns.
- You can't seem to hire or keep good people.
- Workers aren't productive or motivated; labor costs are high.
- You don't have accurate or timely financial information.
- You don't know your true costs; profit is lower than expected.
- Accounts receivable collections are slow.
- Your cash flow is poor, hard to manage, and stressful.
- You don't have enough working capital for new people, equipment or inventory.
- Your advertising isn't working; sales are down.
- Your business environment is disorganized, untidy, or chaotic.
- You're the only one who can do the work right.
Find the Cure
These and other frustrating problems take hard-earned money out of your pocket every day. Amazingly, they all reflect the same underlying problem—a problem you can cure!
Running a business is not easy, but constant frustration takes away all the fun and satisfaction. Frustration and its accompanying side effects—ulcers and headaches, anger, blaming, and low employee morale—is a business cancer that can only be cured with systems therapy.
What is the greatest frustration you have with your business operation? Go ask employees or customers what frustrates them about your company? Face the brutal facts and then create high-performance business systems to cure the patient.
There is no other way!