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The Secret… System

by Randall Craig on June 23, 2009

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , , ,

Are you one of those people who are organized, or are you prone to clutter? Do you always get things done, or do you sometimes let things slip? And are you calm under pressure, or do you get easily flustered? Often, professional success isn’t just a question of intellect or attitude, but your ability to be organized, diligent, and composed.

There is one technique that can help you with all three: the technique of systemization. Systemization is the skill of developing process around a set of common tasks. Here are some of the benefits:

  • You don’t need to remember each step – you just remember the name of the group.
  • Efficiency: systems can be improved over time.
  • They can be automated.
  • They can be delegated or outsourced, in whole or in part.
  • They can be branded and marketed.
  • Knowledge management: documentation around the system inputs and outputs can be documented.

A simple example of a system or process would be around a sale. There may be a number of steps:

  1. Fill in information form about the prospect
  2. Pick up product brochures
  3. Meet with prospect
  4. Write proposal
  5. Follow-up to sign contract

If a sales manager gave a salesperson ten sales leads, the salesperson would know to follow the system for each lead. The manager could measure their employee’s progress. And neither of them would have to worry about inventing what needed to be done – the knowledge is encapsulated within the system. Interestingly, each of these steps (for example, Meet with prospect) might also represent a process itself.

Systems are wonderful for collapsing large sequential to-do lists into one manageable label. They help with organization, and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks. And they reduce your stress because answers to many questions are often embedded into the processes themselves.

This week’s action item: Most people follow their own processes, but they reinvent/remember each step anew. And since our processes are rarely documented, efficiency, automation, delegation, or improvement are rarely possible. This week, choose two of your messier processes, and write them down. This opens the possibility to being better organized, more diligent, and calmer under pressure. Once you’ve done so, you know The Secret… System.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)