Mini-Course Day4: "Fast Start to Systems Thinking"
Today, I want to dig a little deeper into what makes your business systems and processes work effectively. No matter what system you are trying to improve—lead generation, customer care, accounting, human resource, employee training, custodial, and so forth—one law governs them all.
Cause and Effect Determine System Results
System results are controlled by the Law of Cause and Effect. To get a better result, you have to work on the cause; you have to improve either the system procedure or the component parts used by the system. That's it! These are the only two things you can do to improve anything.
So, let's first talk about the system procedure or "process." These are the steps, from beginning to end, in one system cycle—for example, getting a sales lead through a sales-conversion process, a license application through an approval process, or a putting a bicycle together in an assembly process.
If the tasks performed in a system or process require a precise order, like assembling a bicycle, you need a procedure listing the sequential steps; perhaps a visual flowchart would be helpful. If the order in which tasks are accomplished does not matter, such as cleaning an office (e.g., vacuum, empty trash, clean bathroom), the system may only require a simple checklist.
How smoothly and efficiently the work flows through your business is very important. In fact, the "throughput"—what goes out the door—is your single most important measurement.
|"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing" (W. Edwards Deming, Total Quality Management).
The Toyota Motor Company, a model of efficiency, believes that a well-designed and consistent system flow, with little variation and waste, produces the best long-term results. Considering the fable of the tortoise and the hare, Toyota favors the strategy of the tortoise, with less emphasis on actual speed and more emphasis on a process that is stable, steady and sustained; the latter produces more cars per month.
Think of your entire business as a group of interrelated and interdependent systems and processes. Like the gears of a watch, they are all working individually to fulfill a predetermined purpose, and they are all working together for the good of the whole.
Within your business systems, there are also subsystems focused on tasks that are more specific. For example, your lead-generation system may consist of direct mail, radio advertising, and a website. Each of these subsystems is a unique process with a single objective. In fact, each page on your website is yet a lower subsystem, also with a distinct purpose and goal.
By drilling down through subsystems, you can improve the important details of your operation, giving customers a better experience and improving your profit margin. The dollars are in the details, and Box Theory™ Software makes it easy to work with all your subsystems, no matter how deep they go.
Create High-Performance Business Systems
Ideally, each step in a process contributes value to the customer, with little wasted time and energy. The system generates output that meets quality standards and avoids accumulation of rejects or rework. The workload is level, with standardized tasks, and paced with the input of sales orders. I am referring here to the workshop, the store, or the office.
Bottlenecks that delay order completion are eliminated. "Speed bumps" such as clutter, poor layout, and downtime are minimized. Employees are trained, incentivized, and learn from the ongoing feedback of system results. If you can accomplish these objectives, you will have a highly-efficient workflow!
While much thought, planning, and experimentation may go into developing a high-performance business system, everything learned is eventually reduced to a single procedure or checklist that is used by system operators. Their responsibility is to follow that procedure or checklist with exactness until the system is improved. If your organization encourages and rewards innovation, system operators will also drive the improvement process.
If you want to solve problems, end frustration, boost sales, improve quality, become more efficient, please customers, increase profit, and grow your company, the only way is to create high-performance business systems and processes. There is no other way!
I teach the principles of good system-design and process-flow in the Box Theory™ eCourse, and you can become a proficient system designer using the flowchart and checklist tools found in Box Theory™ Gold software. If you want a smooth-running and efficient business operation, please check them out today. You can expect a big payoff from a very small investment!
When it comes to creating systems, I see small-business owners fail to do one thing more than any other. We will cover that topic tomorrow.
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Mini-Course, "Fast-Start to Systems Thinking"