ICS Magazine

The Five Vital Components of a System

July 18, 2011
Over the past two months I have shared why having systems are critical to the phenomenal success of your business. In this piece I will share the five parts of a system with which I believe you can systematize just about anything.

I have found that knowing what the five parts are, understanding them and of course the most difficult of all – implementing them and keeping them in place – will put you in a place to get your business predictable, profitable, and turn-key. That’s what I call a phenomenal business.

The five components are…

  1. The Mission
  2. The Organizational Chart
  3. Job Description
  4. Policies
  5. Procedures

Component No.1: The Mission

The mission is what you are trying to accomplish every single day. In other words, what are you delivering? For example, the mission of my cleaning company is “To Provide The Most Outstanding Service Experience Ever!” My friend and fellow ICS contributor Dave DeBlander’s mission is “to WOW every client.”

Starbuck’s Mission is to establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow. A mission is not some long, mysterious, boring paragraph hanging in the lobby of a company that no one actually knows (or believes). In fact, I recommend one sentence.

Once you have a mission that you believe in, you can use it to make every decision in your business. What kind of equipment should we use? What kind of marketing should we do? What should our uniforms look like?

You can be tempted to do things that keep you from accomplishing your mission because you are trying to save money or your growing so fast that you lose sight of what got you there. That’s what happened to Starbucks. In the book “Onward – How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul,” Howard Shultz shares how they regained their brand after losing their way. It’s a powerful story about the importance of mission.


When you have a mission that is understood, you can “check” every decision that is made. A clear mission helps you “rally the troops” and gives you a context for coaching. When an employee doesn’t follow procedure, you can simply tie the correct behavior to the “why” behind the procedure which is the mission. Instead of your employee just thinking that you’re mad at them, or you don’t like them or whatever emotional issue they have, they understand that it’s about the mission. They understand that the mission is best for the client. Speaking of clients, be sure to communicate your mission to your prospects, customers and clients as well. At our company, our USP is our mission statement. This is what the client is buying and this is what my staff strives to provide. What a thing of beauty!

The reason the mission is the very first component in building systems is we must know what it is that we are trying to accomplish each day. While you are getting your procedures in place, your team needs to know what the mission is so that they can make decisions. You also need your mission in place so that you can create the right procedures.

By the way, you may have heard people use the words “vision” and “mission” interchangeably. The difference between vision and mission (in my mind’s eye) is this: Mission is what your business is trying to do each day. In other words, if every time we pick up the phone, it communicates “the most outstanding service experience ever” or it doesn’t. Simple as that.


Vision is what you want your business to look like. In other words, your vision is what you get when you reach your goals. We want to do X number of dollars in business, X number of clients, X dollars in profit, etc. We want to have X number of trucks, staff, etc.

Finally, your mission is supported by your values, or what Starbucks calls “guiding principles.” These values help use to live out our mission each day. My company has five values that we live by and that we communicate to our clients. If we live out the values, we accomplish the mission. Simple as that.

To create your own mission statement, think about what you want the client to get. What do you want them to feel? Put together a simple but meaningful sentence and begin to communicate it to your staff. Post it on your materials, your walls and every place it can be visible to remind you, your staff, and your clients what you are actually selling. We even have ours printed on our vans. Many of my members do as well.

Get a mission. Next month we’ll jump into Component No.2: The Organizational Chart.