June 26, 2018

The most effective leaders create highly functional systems

How do franchise businesses do the same thing over and over, in different stores under different leadership every day?

They build systems that work.  Systems that are built to get the desired outcomes, every time.  Systems that are replicable.  If you are not running a franchise, can you harness this power of systems to enhance your own leadership and improve your chances of success?  The short answer is YES!

Great leaders are often thought of as visionaries who dream up grand ideas and then marshal a team to put those ideas into action.  But ideas aren’t enough.  The most effective of these big-picture dreamers think about systems to bring those ideas to life  either designing systems themselves or working with people who have the talent to do so.

And then, if you are the leader, your job is to delegate those systems to trusted managers and move on to create the next system.

What kind of benefits can you expect? The Lead Change Group explains:

“The more you can automate, put into a routine or on a list, or get on a schedule, the more discretionary time you create for yourself and for your team—time you can use to strategize, create, innovate, and grow.”

Step 1: Start at the finish line

To build a system, start with the outcomes you want to achieve.  Work backward from every outcome to plan each step that will get you there.  Don’t leave out any detail you can think of.  Make a stepwise workflow, and then find the most detail-oriented member of your team to read through it and make suggestions for even more detail you may have missed.

Step 2: Walk through the workflow

Once you have a clear workflow, pace yourself through each step, making sure you haven’t forgotten anything and filling in any blanks.  Do this at least twice.

Step 3: Map it out

Build a schedule for the workflow.  Ask all kinds of detailed questions about the workflow:

  1. How often does it need to happen?
  2. What steps can you automate?
  3. Who is responsible for seeing that it gets done?
  4. Who can stop the workflow and suggest changes if something is not working?
  5. How much can you simplify that process for making changes?
  6. And who is accountable for ensuring that it all happens correctly?

Step 4: Communicate

Now, it’s time to share the system with your team.  You must communicate the following key elements:

  1. What is the desired outcome?  Why have you created this system?
  2. What are the steps of the systematic workflow?
  3. How can suggested changes be made and who can make them?
  4. When will you reassess how things are working?
  5. Who is responsible for overseeing and implementing the system?

Think about the repetitive tasks of your work life  if you follow the process above, you can build a system to streamline it.  This is the key work of a leader: building such systems, delegating their implementation and then looking for the next system to build.

What systems have you built successfully in your work, business or career?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.