One of the presenters at my Round Table event is a pilot.
When he teaches systems, he loves to tell the dramatic story of the U.S.
Airways jet that crash-landed on the Hudson River 2½ years ago. The aircraft,
downed by a “bird strike” was called a “textbook” landing and “Captain Sully”
was hailed as hero. The pilot simply said he was following procedure, which he
was. When he realized he had to ditch the plane, the crew simply got out the
emergency procedures manual and began going down the checklist.
Operating a complex piece of machinery, even the space
shuttle, boils down to a series of checklists. And when operated properly, they
can take you to very cool places.
Your business is the same way – on one hand, it’s a system
that has a number of moving parts that must work together. On the other hand,
it’s the vehicle you have chosen to achieve your life’s goals (the only reason
your business exists).
The final two components of a system, policies and
procedures, can be boiled down to a series of checklists. To operate an
airplane properly and safely, thorough training must take place. Once you know
how to operate the craft, the systems must be organized into the right order of
Your business is the same way. Once you have the proper
sequence in place, you can provide your team members with simple checklists to
ensure that everything the journey requires, and that the system requires, has
been followed. As my good friend Ellen Rohr likes to say, “The simpler you make
it, the farther you can take it.”
Component 3: Policies
Policies are the rules and regulations, so to speak, the
boundaries. Policies are set to control conduct and create measurable ways to
track employee performance.
Policy examples would be all of the things outlined in a
Company Handbook: sexual harassment, alcohol and drug policies, etc, as well as
your on-time policy, uniform standard, work hours and so on.
Component 4: Procedures
Procedures are how things work, from how to clean a certain
type of carpet to changing the toner in a fax machine. This is usually where
people begin building systems into their business, and rightly so. If people
don’t know how to do things in the business, it cannot operate properly.
Procedures must be step by step. If you miss one little
move, it will show up somewhere. The degree to which you can specify each step
for each area of the operation of your company will determine the degree of
having a self-sufficient, saleable company. But try to avoid too much detail;
this will come in the training.
Go back and review this series as a whole, to pull all
of it together. My experience has been that you can systematize any
organization with this series. Remember, you want systems in your business so
you can grow predictably and profitably, and so you can have more order in your
I want you to know that you can find phenomenal people, and
you can build systems into your business, but you must stay committed to the
process. It will be the hardest thing you will ever do to get totally
systematized and turnkey.
Most people won’t do it. If you are the one that actually
executes, you will be in an enviable position for sure. How much is your dream
worth? How much more will your business be worth if you get systems in place?
How could that improve your life?
Decide on your Mission, outline your Organizational Chart,
write out your Job Descriptions and finally put the “guts” in that framework
with Policies and Procedures.
Lastly, consider this: you can have perfect systems, but if
you don’t have willing people, it won’t work. So hone your leadership skills
and attract phenomenal people to your organization.
Next month, I will begin an all new series that any business
of any size can use to create phenomenal success. See you then!