In praise of systems

A system can be as simple as your Monday morning check list or the Tuesday afternoon team meeting.

Managers build systems. On the other hand, leaders break systems.

Personally, I don’t like systems. I feel they are boring. I’m not saying that’s a good thing. It’s just how I am. To my way of seeing, systems are stagnant organizational ponds covered with green slime. However, I’ll admit, a good system is a thing of beauty. It lowers stress, enables tracking, facilitates delegation, nurtures creativity, enhances productivity, facilitates creativity, and so much more. Individuals, families, and organizations need systems.

You need systems if:

  1. The same things keep falling through the cracks
  2. You consistently worry about forgetting required tasks
  3. Specific tasks are regularly repeated
  4. Tasks are delegated
  5. Consistent quality is essential
  6. You engage in highly complex tasks
  7. Projects extend over long time-frames

Many of you are reading this and wondering what the big deal is. Everyone knows this stuff. If you’re thinking this way, you’re a great manager. You understand that systems create sustainable sameness. And sameness is the foundation of predictable production. On the other hand, some are reading this, and like me, their heads hurt because systems seem like carnage. They kill creativity, vision, and innovation. Or do they?

Systems free minds, settle spirits, and open doors to productivity. If you know the Monday morning staff meeting has the same five agenda items, your mind is free to prepare. Furthermore, if you don’t know the agenda, you speculate, stress out, and waste time preparing for questions that don’t come up. It’s true, the same agenda is boring. However, predictability creates stability and stability frees the mind for more challenging endeavors.

This article is for leaders who thrive on instability, creativity, and innovation.

Boredom sets you free. Sameness enhances productivity. Young leaders will go further embracing good systems.

What personal systems have you developed that enhance your success?

What great systems, that set people free, are implemented in your organization?