Policies, Procedures, and the "Miracle on the Hudson"
October 13, 2011
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 implementation.
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: PoliciesPolicies 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: ProceduresProcedures 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 life.
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!