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How a Systems Thinker Solves Business Problems!

According to the dictionary, a problem is defined as a “question or difficulty needing a solution.” It can also be described as a “deviation from a norm or standard, or a gap between an existing and a desired state.”

My two-word definition for ‘business’ is “problem solving.” We spend our days trying to resolve customer problems, employee problems, marketing problems, financial problems, and operational problems—continually trying to create happy customers, greater profit, and a smooth-running organization.

Systems Thinking to the Rescue

Solving problems is the central task of our business life; it is the profession you and I chose! Most of our problems arise from a business system or process that is under-performing—lead generation, customer service, employee training, order fulfillment, and so forth.

However, Systems Thinkers have an advantage by seeing the myriad of business problems through a logical lens rather than an emotional lens. By focusing on cause-and-effect, problems are more transparent and solutions more evident. Systems Thinkers resolve problems and make decisions systematically.

Systems Thinking Solves Problems

W. Edward Deming, leader of the quality revolution of the 20th century, said that 99 problems out of 100 are caused by the system. Fix the system and prevent reoccurring problems. It’s that simple. (see Jay Arthur, email newsletter, 2/2010).

Most small-business owners and managers tend to be satisfied with short-term solutions and workarounds rather than finding ways to solve problems permanently. The workarounds sadly become the standard way of doing business.

Four Easy Steps

Got a problem? Solve it once and for all by following the steps of a Systems Thinker.

  1. Identify problems from personal frustration, customer or employee feedback, or performance data. A clear statement of the problem often points to its own solution. Avoid dwelling on the past, and blaming people or a lack of time or money. Instead, concentrate on resourceful new ways to improve results.
  2. Go observe the system or process first-hand and talk with people to understand what is happening. Use a 5-Whys Analysis to drill-down to the specific step in the process that is the root cause of the problem. (Hint: This analysis might uncover the source of the problem in a different but related business system)
  3. Involve the team in a discussion or improvement meeting to identify possible solutions and get consensus and buy-in. Assign clear responsibility for implementing the solution. Set a deadline for completion and review. Help workers understand how changes in the business system will benefit them.
  4. After the new system has stabilized, compare actual with expected results. Provide frequent feedback to workers about how the system or process is performing. Celebrate success. If results aren’t acceptable, repeat the steps.

Learn from the Best

Toyota Motor Company, the father of Lean Manufacturing, does the following if there is a quality problem on a car assembly line:

“Stop production, go see what is going on, ask Why-Why-Why-Why-Why to find the root cause, implement an appropriate countermeasure (not a workaround) to permanently fix the problem, verify the solution works (if not, repeat the 5-Whys Analysis), resume production, and finally, add the solution to the company’s body of knowledge” (Jay Arthur).

Problem-solving doesn’t have to be difficult if you use a systematic approach. Discovering inventive ways to mistake-proof your business systems and processes can be very rewarding. Dramatic financial benefits are possible!

What problem is really frustrating you or holding back your company? Follow the steps above and let me know about your innovative solution.

Related Article
Try the “5-Whys” Problem Solving Tool

*****Special Alert: My Retirement is Your Gain*****

To give back to the entrepreneurial community, I HAVE DECIDED TO GIVE AWAY MY VALUABLE SYSTEMS-BUILDING SOFTWARE, ecOURSE, AND OTHER INFORMATION ABSOLUTELY FREE. By filling out the form on this page, you will go directly to a download page. This is not hype. There is no catch. You will receive a software product and a “college equivalent” eCourse on how to develop effective business systems and processes. Customers have been paying for this software and eCourse for fourteen years (see What Cutomers Are Saying).

I will show you how to eliminate business frustrations and make more money by creating remarkable systems and processes that boost customer loyalty, profitability and growth. The application of these strategies has proven to be of great worth for owners of many small and mid-size businesses. Put me to the test!

You will learn the following, and much more:

  • How to become a Systems Thinker and raise your business I.Q. by 80 points—OVERNIGHT.
  • What six elements are found in every great business system.
  • How you can remove waste and inefficiency, and build a results-driven organization.
  • Why good systems and processes are the essential ingredient to start, grow, fix or franchise (replicate) your business.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I will not be trying to sell you because you are getting everything for FREE, much more than I have described here. I won’t be contacting you; however, you can contact me for help with the software or your business at any time. Please browse around my website. If you have any questions, email me, Ron Carroll, at

I hope you enjoy and benefit from this FREE offer. It was a labor of love for me to develop. Becoming a Systems Thinker and using the Box Theory™ methodology will be one of the best decisions you have ever made.

I’ll be cheering you on from my quiet fishing hole in the mountains of Utah.

I want to learn how to create remarkable business systems …

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It's time for me to focus on other things. Many hours and dollars have gone into my software and written materials over the last fourteen years. Now it's time to give back. This is not a gimmick. There is nothing to buy. I give it all to you for free. If you use the software and apply the principles, you can create a remarkable company. See Below. Have fun!

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Michael Gerber, "E-Myth"

Michael Gerber

"Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant."

W. Edwards Deming, Total Quality Management

W. Edwards Deming

"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing. . . . 94% of all failure is a result of the system, not people."