Business Systems and Processes.

The Systems Thinker Blog

Business Measures: Make Your Business a Game and Keep Score!

Combining great people with great business systems and processes will naturally produce a culture of excellence. When you add the elements of fun and friendly competition—when you turn your core business systems into a game and keep score—you will discover the grand secret for developing a truly remarkable company.

It is fascinating that people will actually pay for the privilege of working hard when they enjoy what they are doing. For example, sports and recreational activities produce levels of energy, enthusiasm, and drive not usually found during the typical business workday. Jobs are often boring, stressful, and unfulfilling. Games are fun, engaging, and rewarding.

Many people don’t like the drudgery of routine work. However, they do like to play and compete. So, isn’t it time for your workers to start having some fun!

Making it a Game

Let’s compare business to the game of football. The coaches (managers) must first have a vision of how to play and win games. They find talented players and assemble a skillful team. The coaches study the strengths and weaknesses of the competition. They design a strong game plan and work hard to execute their strategy with precision. (You can create a great game plan with the Organization Blueprint tool of Box Theory™ Software.)

Players (employees) must clearly understand the rules and the field of play (policies and procedures). They should know at all times where they are in relation to the goal and how much time they have to get there. Every play gives the coaches and players feedback on how best to move the ball up the field (leading indicators). Overcoming adversity and opposition produces gritty determination and ever-higher levels of achievement.

The Game of Work

But what do you think would happen if no one kept score? I’ll tell you. The arena would be empty; the sport would die, and no one would care. Scoring and game statistics are what bring out the fans and create million-dollar sports heroes.

Keeping Score

The goal of most major sports is to put points on the board before the clock runs out. The effort and determination to do this is so intense that extraordinary performance and miraculous plays are regular features on the nightly sports news. Scoring is what creates winners, and everyone wants to be a winner, including your employees!

The number of yards generated by a play (system) determines if the play was successful or not. Final game scores reveal whether a team had a good game or not, and if the fans go home jubilant or dejected. Performance statistics predict future player salaries and determine if coaches are rehired.

It’s all about the numbers!

When I was a young man, our family-owned a manufacturing company that produced framed art and decorative accessories. We created scorecards for our production workers, and they received small bonuses each day by exceeding standard performance levels. We were blown away by the increase in output. Financial incentive, achieving personal bests, and competing with one another, dramatically raised morale, and happily boosted our company profit. (Be careful that quality doesn’t suffer.)

Remember: People work harder at play than they do at work! When an organization promotes fun, employees have greater self-esteem, enthusiasm, energy, and team spirit. Their positive attitudes translate to higher productivity, more creativity and innovation, and better customer service.

“Managing by the numbers” can transform teams with poor performance into teams that run efficiently and win games. Measurement is vital to success! (see common business measures)

Make “Fun” a Business Strategy

So, let the kid out and have some fun. Turn your business systems into meaningful games and keep score. Give feedback and praise. Celebrate victories. Reward outstanding performance.

In their book, “Motivating Employees,” Ann Bruce and James Pepitone wrote:

“Top organizations such as Southwest Airlines, Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, Disney, Nordstrom, Wal-Mart, and Microsoft use fun as an organizational strategy. These leaders have realized that when employees are having fun, they just perform better.”

Related Article:
Business Leadership: Six Ways to Increase Worker Desire and Capability

Voice of the Customer: Four Things That Will Earn You an “A”!

After all my children left the nest, my wife and I decided to build a smaller home at Thanksgiving Point, Utah. Everyone knows that building a house can be a painful process. Like all customers, I was primarily interested in four things—quality, speed, value, and a pleasurable buying experience.

Voice of the Customer - Home Construction

Following our move-in, I had a casual conversation with some of my new neighbors. We talked about our home-building experience. The consensus was that the builder deserved a grade of “B.” He could have easily gotten an “A” (and also put more money in his pocket) if he just applied a little Systems Thinking.

I tried to offer some constructive ideas along the way. However, the builder always gave me a polite nod and continued doing things as before. He was not interested in listening to the “voice of the customer”—ME!

Quality, Speed, Value and Buying Experience

The builder’s major weakness was related to quality issues. Below are a few examples of needless waste that could have been eliminated with some simple system improvements. 

  • The builder ordered the wrong size door for a closet. It was returned. The replacement door was the right size but opened the wrong direction. It was returned again. The third door had the wrong style hinges. Finally, the right door arrived. The carpenter, of course, had to make a special trip back to hang the door, and the painter had to come again to paint it. 
  • The subcontractor who poured the driveway forgot to lay a sprinkler pipe under the concrete. The landscape company had to run two pipes and electrical wire three-hundred feet around the house to get to the other side of the driveway, just twenty-five feet away. 
  • The builder buys kitchen cabinets from Missouri (high humidity), where I assume he gets a better deal. The cabinets were installed in the very dry climate of Utah. Five of the cabinet doors warped in the first week. The builder said, “Don’t worry. It happens all the time. They are under warranty, and the manufacturer will replace them.” (Do you see anything wrong with this picture?)

After the footings and foundation walls were poured, Eric, the project foreman, told us we were on a thirty-nine-day schedule to completion and move-in. I calculated the date in my mind and thought he could never do it. To my surprise, the house was finished exactly on time. He gets an “A” for speed!

My wife and I shopped around before buying the house, so we felt it was a good value. The overall buying experience also met our expectations except for the frequent mistakes—most of which were fixed. The problems that couldn’t be fixed, we will have to live with. (I will probably murmur for a while and then forget about them.)

Our real estate agent was great, and Eric the foreman was a gem. He did everything possible to solve problems and keep us happy. He was patient, diligent, accessible, and easy to work with. Eric made all the difference!

A Simple Checklist

So, you can see, the builder did a pretty good job. His quality problems—with the accompanying waste of time and materials—could largely be eliminated if he were to provide a specific “builder’s checklist” to each of the twenty or so subcontractors hired to work on the house.

For example, the checklist for the concrete subcontractor might include: 1) Put expansion joints every ten feet, 2) Lay three-quarter inch sprinkler pipe under the driveway before pouring, and 3) Clean concrete splatter from house siding, door threshold, etc.

A signed checklist submitted with the vendor invoice keeps everyone informed that the task was completed as expected. This simple but important step added to the process will also prevent subcontractors from being victims of their own slip-ups. Everyone comes out ahead!

Let’s be honest. Not all mistakes can be eliminated. However, good business systems will avoid the most common and repeated ones. You should strive to be at least a 4 Sigma company, as well as better, faster, and cheaper than your competition.

How Would Customer’s Grade Your Company?

Eric didn’t ask, but I am going to write him a letter of reference. He was an outstanding foreman and a great asset to his employer.

Good things happen when companies listen and build upon the voice of the customer to create a culture of excellence. Are you listening? What grade would your customers give you? If you don’t know, maybe you should ask them!

Teamwork: 7 Tips to Get Remarkable Results with Your Business Systems

Every business is made up of systems and processes. In the typical small to mid-size company, people are the most important component of those business systems. When a team of people is formed to manage a specific system or process (e.g., production, marketing, accounting, etc.), there is an opportunity for superior results. The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts (Aristotle).

A team is a group of people working together to accomplish an objective. In the Box Theory™ methodology, teams operate within business systems to accomplish the strategy and goals of the organization. Teams have an advantage of combined resources, experience, talents, ideas, and energy. Quote: Teamwork is essential in any great human endeavor (John Maxwell, “The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork”).

Principles of Teamwork

When putting together business teams, consider the following seven principles:

  1. Team Leader/System Owner – Team leaders communicate vision, purpose, and expectations, and provide members the necessary knowledge and skills. The team leader is an example, mentor, teacher, and motivator—open to the ideas and input of others. To the extent possible, good leaders empower team members with trust, respect, independence, flexibility, freedom to fail, and responsibility for personal results. They avoid the tendency to dominate or interfere, which can reduce efficiency and dampen morale. Team leaders are accountable for team performance and system results. Quote: The basic building block of good team-building is for a leader to promote the feeling that every person is unique and adds value (Author Unknown).

  2. Culture of Teamwork – In a teamwork environment, people believe that thinking, planning, decisions, and actions are better when done cooperatively. “None of us individually is as good as all of us working together.” Team members learn from and help one another. They face the brutal facts about current performance, pursue the best over the easiest, focus energy on the right things, do what they say they are going to do, and strive to learn, grow and improve every day. In a culture of teamwork, people are dissatisfied with the status-quo and have a strong passion for contributing, competing, and “winning.” All for one and one for all, they succeed or fail together.  Quote: The ultimate distinction setting a Results Rule! culture apart from all others is personal and organizational accountability (Randy Pennington, “Results Rule!”).

  3. Team Size – Depending on the task, team size will vary. However, studies have shown that the ideal team is small—not more than five to six members—“especially when coordination and motivation are important.” A team name (e.g. sales team or HR team) creates identity, pride, and unity of purpose. The team has everyone it needs and no one it doesn’t need to accomplish its objective as efficiently as possible. It is viewed by others as a single entity. Team members work where they provide the most value and excel at their specific job duties. The strength of the team is impacted by its weakest link. Bad attitudes kill team spirit and performance. The best teams have good chemistry and often one or two strong individuals who “make things happen.” Quote: Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work (Vince Lombardi).

  4. Team Goals – The team has clearly defined and shared goals. Members are committed to excellence, accept and learn from mistakes, and seek continuous improvement of people, products, and processes. All team members understand the company strategy and goals and how they specifically contribute to the success of the organization. Team needs or goals come before individual needs and goals; members are willing to sacrifice when required. Creative thinking, innovative solutions, and new ideas are valued. People are rewarded for taking reasonable risks, stretching to make improvements, or even taking on a BHAGThe team is committed to paying the price of success. Quote: Teamwork allows common people to attain uncommon results (Andrew Carnegie).

  5. Improvement Cycle – In a business-system cycle, results are continually communicated back to the team. The more frequent feedback is received, the better the results. Ideally, the team always knows how they are doing in relation to the goal; they know what is working and what isn’t working. Adjustments are made in real-time. Regular feedback encourages innovation and improvement. System Improvement Workshops are also a great way to establish a pattern of team-driven improvement. Quote: The greatest danger a team faces isn’t that it won’t become successful, but that it will, and then cease to improve (Mark Sanborn).

  6. Cross-Training of Team Members – Not every position on a team or step in a process requires equal time from team members, and occasionally a person may be absent. It is beneficial to help people become proficient at multiple roles on the team. Cross-trained team members can cover for each other, or remove a bottleneck if demand spikes. Rotating people also provides a variety of work-tasks throughout the day, thus reducing boredom or fatigue. Quote: Overcoming barriers to performance is how groups become teams (Author Unknown).
  7. Team-building – Good teams are well-trained and coached. Business Improvement Workshops can be very effective to enhance processes and simultaneously strengthen team members. Put fun into the meeting agenda with team member spotlights and humorous openers/icebreakers. Bonding of team members can also occur with social activities, team T-shirts or hats, pizza Fridays, and so forth. Healthy competition, achieving a personal best, or breaking a company record will spur enthusiasm and individual growth. Compensation, bonuses, and rewards should recognize team results as well as individual contribution and achievement. Celebrate victories and give public recognition whenever possible. Investing in teams pays big dividends. You are only limited by your imagination. Quote: The strength of the team is each individual member… the strength of each member is the team (Phil Jackson, Coach Chicago Bulls).

It Begins with Your Leadership

Creating good business systems, and first-rate teams to run them, is the essential role of owners and managers. As Michael Jordon once said, Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has (Ayn Rand).

Discover the Hidden Gold in Your Business Systems and Processes!

What your customers and employees think of your company, and how much profit your company generates, are the result of small and simple things—mostly unnoticed—that go on every day in your business operation.

A Valuable Lesson

In 1849, a young merchant from Massachusetts was caught up in the excitement of the California gold rush. He sold everything he had to move west and seek his fortune. He was told the gold nuggets were so big that a person could hardly carry them.

Largest Gold NuggetThe world’s largest Gold Nugget ever found.
Discovered in 1872 and called the Holtermann Nugget.
It was 630 lbs in weight.


Day after day, the young man dipped his pan into the river and came up empty. All he had was a growing pile of rocks to show for his efforts. Discouraged and broke, he was ready to quit. Then, late one afternoon, an old experienced prospector happened by and said to him, “That’s quite a pile of rocks you’ve got there, my boy.”

The young man responded, “There’s no gold in this river. I’m going back home.”

Walking to the pile of rocks, the old prospector said, “Oh, there is plenty of gold in this river. You just have to know where to find it.” He picked up two rocks and smashed them together. One of the rocks cracked open, revealing several flecks of gold that sparkled in the sunlight.

The young man noticed a bulging leather pouch tied around the prospector’s waist. He said, “I’m looking for gold nuggets like the ones in your bag, not just tiny flecks.”

The prospector opened his pouch and extended it toward the young man. He looked inside, expecting to see a handful of large nuggets, but was shocked to see that the pouch was filled with thousands of tiny flecks of gold.

The old prospector said, “Son, it seems to me, you are so busy looking for large nuggets that you’ve missed filling your pouch with these precious gold flecks. The gradual accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.”

Discover the Gold Flecks in Your Business Processes

The tiny flecks of profit in your business are found at the detail level of your business operations. Like the rock, you may have to crack open and examine your business processes to find them. Small changes to eliminate waste—deviation, defects, and delay—will fill your pouch with the gold you seek.  Daily innovation and improvement will gradually make you wealthy.

Remember: “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”

How to Create Results-Oriented Job Descriptions

Many small-business owners do not have formal job descriptions. Big Mistake! A job description is more than just a list of things an employee should do. As important as that is, the job description is also the primary tool used to fit the right person to the work assignment.

Hire the Right Person

People are often the most valuable and expensive components of your business ystems and processes. Every hire is important. Every miss-hire is expensive. The job candidate should fit the job function just as you would fit a component part in a piece of equipment. Think of a job description as a specification for a system component called “accountant,” “welder,” or “salesperson.” The better your part fits, the better your business system or process performs.

Job Analysis

To prepare a job description you must first perform a job analysis. This is done by gathering information about the job through observation, questionnaire, and interviewing employees. Your analysis will identify the following:

  • The purpose of the job
  • The essential functions of the job (duties, responsibilities, methods, desired results)
  • The qualifications needed (training, knowledge, skills, experience, personality traits) 
  • Special requirements (schedules, travel, environmental conditions, physical demands)
  • Salary and benefits

Results-Oriented Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are developed from the job analysis. They are used in the employee-selection process, training, performance appraisals, and when considering compensation. A results-oriented job description defines what job-results the organization requires to accomplish its mission, strategy and goals. It focuses first on the desired job outcomes, and then adds the tasks or duties necessary to accomplish those outcomes (get “Results-Oriented Job Description” sample form).

For example, a receptionist’s duty may be to answer the telephone. However, the person’s real responsibility is to help customers. A human-resource person hires and terminates employees, but their underlying purpose is “to get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus” (Jim Collins, “Good to Great”)—to fit people precisely to job requirements.

The value of a results-oriented job description is to remind employees of why they do a task, and how it benefits the organization.

Uses of the Job Description

A clear and concise job description contains all relevant information pertaining to the job and what is required to be successful. In the job interview, the potential candidate can determine whether the job is right for them. This will prevent your company from hiring the wrong person and wasting valuable time and resources.

In addition, job descriptions provide an agreement between supervisors and workers as to the expected performance results. This is particularly important for employee evaluations and monetary considerations. Job descriptions also give solid legal backing for wrongful termination and discrimination claims.

Elements of a Good Job Description

The following is a brief description of the categories that make up a well-written job description:

  • Job Title – Consider internal and external status issues. Avoid inflating titles.
  • Department/Location – Where will the person work?
  • Reports To – What is the job title of the person’s supervisor?
  • Job Purpose – Include one or two sentences summarizing the primary function and general purpose of the job.
  • Essential Functions – Most positions will have five to eight major function areas. List them in descending order of importance, and if desired, indicate the percentage of time spent on each duty. Use clear and concise language; closely related duties should be grouped together in one responsibility statement. Avoid gender-based language. Identify the major functions of the job with short headings that begin with action verbs. Describe the work in terms of desired outcomes (see “Results-Oriented Job Description” sample form).
  • Disclaimer Statement – Supervisors may revise and/or add duties in response to changes in requirements or employee skill levels. To reflect this, the following statement should be included in all job descriptions: “The employer reserves the right to change or assign other duties to this position.”
  • Job Qualifications – In a results-oriented job description, use the following statement: “Job qualifications are stated in the Essential Functions section of the job description. An employee must be able to accomplish the Essential Functions in order to be competent in the job. Other special requirements are noted below.
  • Special Requirements – Include requirements not specifically mentioned in the Essential Functions. List minimum specifications for formal training, education, certifications, and licenses. Identify specific knowledge, skills, and/or abilities that are required. Describe physical demands, special environmental conditions, unusual work schedules, and travel requirements. If important, indicate required work experience and desired personal qualities.
  • Type – Is the person Part-time or Full-time?
  • Term of Employment – Is the work Permanent, Temporary, or a specific length of time (e.g., 12 months)?
  • FLSA Status – Is the person subject to overtime laws—Exempt or Nonexempt?
  • Wage or Salary – List the specific wage or wage range.
  • Date Written – Note the original or revision date of the Job Description.
  • Approving Authority – Include the supervisor’s signature and date of approval.
  • Employee Acceptance Signature – Get the signature and date from the job candidate.


Education and experience requirements are where inadvertent discrimination may occur. Your educational requirements must be a real necessity for the job. If someone could accomplish the work with equivalent job experience, but who lacks a specific credential, the job description should be modified. To avoid age discrimination, experience should not include an upper limit. Credentials, such as degrees and licenses, are absolute necessities in some jobs. However, be sure that whatever credentials you establish have a direct bearing on the candidate’s ability to become a top performer.

Job descriptions are be written in clear and concise sentences. The basic structure for sentences in a job description should be “implied subject/verb/object/explanatory phrase.” It is best to start with action verbs like “operates” and “maintains” (James R. Lindner, “Writing Job Descriptions for Small Businesses,” Misc. Pub 93-9, Ohio State University, Piketon).

The job you describe must be truly doable. When you combine several tasks into the same job description, make sure you’re not creating a job that very few people could fill. For example, I recently saw an ad for a website developer. The company was seeking someone who was a graphic designer, a programmer, content writer, search engine optimizer, and marketer. It would take a pretty special person to have all of those skills.

Focus on the end-result of the task, not how to achieve it. For example, “Must be able to move 25-pound aluminum parts from a 40-inch high conveyor belt to a 60-inch high platform 3 times per minute for 2-3 hours daily,” is preferable to “Must be able to lift 25 pounds.”

Use specific language such as the examples below.

Too general: Computer literate
Specific: Proficient with Microsoft Word, Excel, QuickBooks

Too general: Good communication skills
Specific: Ability to communicate technical information to non-technical audiences

Too general: Handles administrative chores
Specific: Receives, sorts, and files monthly personnel action reports

The last item of your Essential Functions should be a catch-all phrase such as: Contributes to organization success by accepting new assignments, helping team members, learning new skills, and striving to improve team results.

Job Descriptions Should Be Written and Clear

Create results-oriented job descriptions (sample form) if you want to get the most out of employees and your business systems and processes. When expectations are written and clear, people work better, and they work better together.

Business Owners: Your Role in Creating Remarkable Business Systems

The occupation of “business owner” might more correctly be described as “business engineer”—one who plans, constructs, or shrewdly manages an enterprise” (Online Dictionary).

Business Engineer

Your primary engineering responsibility is to oversee the creation of effective business systems and processes that work in harmony to achieve customer loyalty, profitability, and growth. I call this most important engineering feat, the Master Skill.

Some company owners like to roll up their sleeves and delve into the details of their business operations (the business systems and processes). However, many are too busy or not wired to perform this mission-critical task. They need help, and that’s OK.

Even though you may delegate system-development work to others, you still play a vital role in creating a culture of excellence. Your faithful commitment to the following six responsibilities is essential to success:

  1. Become a Systems Thinker and raise your business I.Q. by 80 points—overnight! (Lead by example.)
  2. Provide oversight to the system-development activities going on within your company. (Be the visionary and driving force.)
  3. Frequently monitor the results of your core systems and processes and seek continuous improvement. (Know the key numbers (KPI’s) that drive your business outcomes.)
  4. Participate in company or team business-improvement workshops. (Teach, offer insights, and turn employees into enthusiastic Systems Thinkers.)
  5. Provide employees the means for implementing new and better business systems and processes. (Approve projects and allocate company resources to get the work done.)
  6. Become a champion of “business improvement” by offering continual encouragement and celebrating accomplishments. (Become your organization’s biggest cheerleader.)

Chief Business Engineer

As a business owner, you have many demands for your time and attention. You can be most effective by being at the crossroads of important business activities. No responsibility is more critical than your role as “chief business engineer.”

Now go put on your hard hat and get those systems and processes humming!

The WOW Factor: Six “More” Ways to Supercharge Your Business Systems!

The primary purpose of the WOW Factor is to attract, convert, and retain customers. In my last article, we talked about applying this quality to the business systems that affect your external customers. In this article, we will talk about ways to WOW your internal customers—your employees.

Remember: Your business consists entirely of systems and processes. You can only produce a WOW Factor by enhancing a specific procedure or component in one of your business systems. There is no other way! You have to build your WOW idea into one or more of your business systems.

Business Systems that WOW

When customers—including employees—have an intensely positive reaction to something about your business, you’ve got a WOW Factor!

So, here are six more suggestions to get that WOW thing going with the valuable people that are helping you to create a remarkable company.

WOW Your Employees

  1. WOW Factor #1: Develop a World-Class Organization (no matter what your size) – When people love coming to work every day and are proud of your company’s mission, products, and standing in the community, you’ve got a WOW Factor. When your business is financially stable, growing, and offers employees opportunities for learning and development, you’ve got a WOW Factor! Every business system you create that delivers an excellent result will take you one step closer to becoming a world-class organization!
  2. WOW Factor #2: Fill Employee Buckets to Overflow – Let’s face it, people are WOWED by better-than-average wages, incentives, and benefits. Paying at the higher end of the salary scale will help you get the “A” employees and retain them longer. The result will be stronger work-groups or teams, long-term stability, and top performance—EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT AROUND. (The money needed to offer better compensation than your competitors comes by cutting waste and inefficiency from your business processes.)  And don’t forget to fill those employee buckets with deserved respect, praise, and recognition. The more you generously give to others, the more you get in return—the Law of Reciprocity.
  3. WOW Factor #3: Create a Culture of Excellence – Use business systems, measurement, and continuous improvement methods to bring the best out of people—a disciplined work ethic, consistent results, and patterns of excellence. Your employees will experience no greater WOW than the thrill of personal accomplishment. (You can make this happen even with ordinary employees doing mundane tasks.) Your high-performance business culture will produce an abundance of WOW Factors for customers of all types.
  4. WOW Factor #4: Be the Golden-Rule Boss – No doubt, we are all WOWED by the company owner who is an amazing innovator, the coach who demands our best, or the visionary who inspires. However, the real WOW Factor for most employees is the everyday boss who listens, is supportive, rolls up his or her sleeves to help solve a problem, follows through on commitments, and is generous with giving out credit or praise. The Golden-Rule boss treats subordinates as they would want to be treated if roles were reversed. And when things go wrong, this wise leader first looks for problems in business systems before blaming people.
  5. WOW Factor #5: Elevate Your People – “WOW” can be used to describe a workplace that enables people to learn new skills, experience personal growth, and advance their careers. Many employees love work that is meaningful and where they can make a difference. They like challenging assignments, specialized training, or taking ownership of a business system. Some workers will become stars if included in a big idea, a big goal (BHAG), or put on a dream team. Others will stretch and even sacrifice to accomplish something extraordinary. Anything that enlightens, elevates, or energizes people is going to be a WOW Factor!
  6. WOW Factor #6: Focus on Individuals – Every employee has a unique personality their own feelings about what makes a WOW Factor. Get to know your employees like your other customers. Over the years, I have discovered a variety of little things that seem to WOW people. For example, some employees like flexible work hours, pizza Fridays, casual Fridays, Fridays off, or working from home. Others value a clean, organized, and systemized workplace. Some like autonomy or control, while others flourish when given tasks that require creativity or innovation. Discover the unique interests and talents of your employees and make the most of them. The degree to which you magnify individual people, you will magnify your company.

Play to WOW!

In the T.V. series, “The Undercover Boss,” the business owner, working incognito along-side company employees, comes to know some of their hopes and dreams. At the end of the undercover week, the boss is revealed and often does something special to help a few employees achieve their personal goals (e.g., college tuition or a family vacation). Those helped are deeply grateful, and obviously feeling the WOW Factor!

WOW Factors usually don’t require much money, and if done correctly, can pay big dividends. What they do require is a business owner or management team that understands the game of work, and plays to WOW!

Related Articles:
The WOW Factor: Six Ways to Supercharge Your Business Systems! (Part 1)
Turn Dust-Gathering Procedures into Business Systems that Wow!
Business Systems vs. the Misunderstood Operations Manual
Boost Your Business Profit by Adding the Fun Factor!
Does Your Business Have a Double McTwist 1260?

The WOW Factor: Six Ways to Supercharge Your Business Systems!

To a Systems Thinker, there is a significant difference between a business process or procedure and a growth-producing, customer-pleasing, waste-removing, profit-generating, business system.

In addition to the six qualities of effective business systems described in the Box Theory Way™, a seventh factor can make all the difference in boosting system performance and helping your business become remarkable.

Let’s call it the WOW Factor!

Business Systems that WOW

Nowadays, we are drawn to people, products, and processes that can be described as impressive, engaging, memorable, even head-turning, jaw-dropping, or spectacular.

When people have an intensely positive reaction to something about your business, you’ve got a WOW Factor!

So, here are a few suggestions to get that WOW thing going in your business operation.

WOW Your Customers

  1. WOW Factor #1: Take the Lead – Innovate new products and services. Add or improve features and benefits. Expand technology. Be the first to market. Disturb the status-quo. Set the de facto standard. Become the best-in-class. Develop a game-changer. Introduce the next big thing. Differentiate yourself from competitors. Dominate your target market. In some way, become a standout!
  2. WOW Factor #2: Become the “Best Deal” – Make your products, services, or customer experience easier, better, faster, or cheaper than your competition. Provide superior quality or workmanship, the fastest delivery time, widest product selection, or legitimate price advantage. Offer exceptional value, the most convenience, or the best guarantee/warranty. Your entire business is your product, and it must shine throughout. When it does, YOU become the “best deal”!
  3. WOW Factor #3: Dazzle the Senses – Create a strong marketing “sensory package.” Engage multiple senses—sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Become a customer magnet—engaging, fun, entertaining, motivational. Tell relevant humorous or inspirational stories. Tease or arouse curiosity. Champion a cause. Offer a new vision. Be distinctive, thought-provoking, dramatic, or even controversial. Razzle-dazzle your customers. Get inside their heads and hearts!
  4. WOW Factor #4: Offer Overwhelming Proof – Take away all doubts about the value of your product or service. Include testimonials, eye-opening case studies, enthusiastic reviews, demonstrations, samples, or no-risk guarantees. Provide statements of authorities, facts, or statistics to prove your claims—the more interesting, shocking, surprising, and compelling your facts and figures, the greater the WOW Factor. Make your case so convincing that the customer’s decision to buy from you is a no-brainer!
  5. WOW Factor #5: Impress with Exceptional Know-how – Preparation, knowledge, expertise, and professionalism produce immediate confidence with customers. People want to do business with those they trust—those who inform them, teach them, or take them by the hand and show them exactly what to do. Become the best resource to solve their big problem. Take away their worry or frustration. Make their task easier. Lighten their burdens. Encourage and reassure customers that they have come to the right place.
  6. WOW Factor #6: Give Killer Customer Care – Provide a fast resolution to customer problems. Apply the Golden Rule (treat customers the way you would like to be treated). Go the extra mile. Exhibit a high degree of fairness and integrity. Give the most value you can for every dollar the customer spends. Systemize customer-service processes for consistency and reliability. Deliver on your sales promise, and exceed expectations if possible. Continually seek ways to surprise and delight your customers!

There Is No Other Way

The only way to add a WOW Factor to your business is to incorporate it into a system component or procedure. There is no other way!  So, go ahead and apply some of the suggestions above to boost your business revenue and profit with supercharged business systems.

Next week we’re going to apply the WOW Factor to your internal customers, your employees and business processes.

Related Articles:
The WOW Factor: Six “More” Ways to Supercharge Your Business Systems! (Part 2)
Turn Dust-Gathering Procedures into Business Systems that Wow!
Business Systems vs. the Misunderstood Operations Manual
Boost Your Business Profit by Adding the Fun Factor!
Does Your Business Have a Double McTwist 1260?

Business Improvement: Some Ideas that May Disturb Your Thinking!

Occasionally, I like to ponder on the words of people who truly understand the “nuts and bolts” of business operations, and how to get exceptional results. I especially like statements that bring new insights to Systems Thinking. Below I have included a few quotations that might give you a big idea to improve your business.

Keep It Simple - Einstein

“The most effective way to improve productivity is to eliminate [unnecessary] work” (Bill Conway, self-made billionaire), and similarly, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all” (Peter F. Drucker, management consultant and author).

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency” (Bill Gates).

“Continuous improvement is not about the things you do well—that’s work. Continuous improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work. The headaches, the things that slow you down, that’s what continuous improvement is all about” (Bruce Hamilton, continuous improvement educator).

“Where there is no standard, there can be no improvement. For these reasons, standards are the basis for both maintenance and improvement” (Masaaki Imai, father of continuous improvement).

“Four goals of improvement: 1) make things easier 2) better 3) faster and 4) cheaper” (Shigeo Shingo, pioneer of Lean Thinking).

“There are two reasons why we change. We learn enough that we want to, or we hurt enough that we have to” (Shigeo Shingo).

“A relentless barrage of ‘why’s’ (see 5-Whys Analysis) is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo.  Use it often” (Shigeo Shingo).

“You are surrounded by simple, obvious solutions that can dramatically increase your income, power, influence and success. The problem is, you just don’t see them” (Jay Abraham, marketing consultant; …unless you’re a Systems Thinker – Ron Carroll).

“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed” (Henry Ford).

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” (Henry Ford).

“If management is not removing the obstacle, management is the obstacle!” (Author unknown).

“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job! The business owner should be devoted to business development, not doing business” (Michael Gerber, E-Myth Revisited).

“Customers always seek the ‘best deal.’ They reward companies that serve them best and allow the others to fail. It is how the customer feels about your business as a whole that matters most. Everything about your business—advertising, cleanliness, return merchandise policy, courtesy and knowledge of employees, product selection, price, location, delivery time, and so forth—is what they are choosing. Your entire business is your product and it must shine throughout. When it does, YOU become the “best deal!” (Ron Carroll)

“Real waste lurks in places that don’t look like waste” (Shigeo Shingo).

“One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time” (Taiichi Ohno, considered the father of Lean Manufacturing).

“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand” (Chinese Proverb).

“Reward those who Do, Train those who Can’t, Replace those who Won’t” (Henn’s Creed).

“In God we trust. All others, bring data” (W. Edwards Deming, Total Quality Management), and similarly, “Without data, it’s just an opinion!” (Author unknown)

One good idea—IMPLEMENTED—could soon put more money in your pocket! Which idea above can you leverage for greater success?

You can read some other thought-provoking statements about business systems and processes at

Voice of the Customer: Are You Listening to Your Five Customer Types?

Like most business people, I believe the customer is king. The customer is why we exist. The customer is our boss. So, who exactly is our customer and what do they really want from us? Consider with me five possible customer types, four of which you may not have thought about before.

Customer is king

First: The Voice of the Customer

The “Voice of the Customer” (VOC) is a phrase used to indicate that the opinions and needs of customers are always being considered; customer desires are foremost on your mind.

The customer is always looking for the “best deal,” and for each prospective buyer, certain things are “Critical-to-Quality” (CTQ). You must meet these customer CTQ specifications (specific/detailed physical requirements) or expectations (planned/hoped-for result) precisely, or you will lose them.

After you have learned from the Voice of the Customer what is Critical-to-Quality in their minds, you ensure that every part of your business is aimed at fulfilling the promise to deliver as expected.

Five Customer Types

What may not be so obvious is that you likely have more than one type of customer, each with different specifications and expectations. Let’s take a look at five possibilities:

  1. Primary or Direct Customer – This is the customer you directly serve and who usually pays your invoice. The primary customer may be consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B).
  2. Secondary or Indirect Customer – This is the consumer or business that buys your product or service from your primary customer, usually the end-user. It may also be another interested and influential party to the transaction. It is essential to please the secondary customer even though you don’t sell directly to them. When they are happy, your primary customer is happy. Two Examples: A software developer sells a product to a chain of retail computer stores, the direct or primary customer, who then sells it to the end-user, an indirect or secondary customer. A non-profit business serving people with disabilities must please the funding agency (State), the disabled person, and the parents of the disabled person. Each of the three customers has unique expectations and requirements.It is very important for your product or service to meet the specifications and expectations of both primary and secondary customers!
  3. Customers of Multiple Product-Market Sets – You may also have more than one “product-market set.” For example, a computer store may sell hardware and software off-the-shelf in one market and do on-site tech support in another market. A lawn and yard maintenance contractor may serve one clientele and provide custom landscaping to another clientele. Each product-market set requires a distinct customer profile. The Voice of the Customer telling you what is Critical-to-Quality will also vary. Selling different product-market sets is really like having separate but related businesses.
  4. Internal Customer – In your business operations, the next step in a business process is the customer of the previous step in that process. In an assembly line operation, for example, station two is the internal customer of station one. The order-fulfillment department is the customer of the order-processing department. The sales process is a customer of the advertising or lead generation process. Each “customer” in a chain of business activities is happiest when their specifications and expectations are met.
  5. Employees as Customers – Employees are also customers of the business. They too have specifications (e.g., work hours, wages, and benefits) and expectations (e.g., rewarding assignment, the opportunity for advancement). Whether spoken or not, if you fail to meet their requirements, they will eventually go elsewhere.

What Your Customers are Looking For

Customers—OF ALL KINDS—want the same four things. They seek goods and services of 1) high quality (no mistakes or problems), 2) that are on time, and 3), that provide excellent value. They also want 4), a good experience along the way.

So, look at the four buying expectations for each of your customer types and see what improvements you can make to your business systems and processes.

Wouldn’t we like all our customers to think, “I would be crazy to go anywhere else?”

Just Retired
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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."