Opinion #books
Read time: 04'45''
11 December 2023

How to create systems for success at work and in your personal life

In your personal and professional lives, having robust systems and processes brings clarity, calm and composure to how you do what you do.

If you want consistent results, look for areas of improvement, create and implement systems and processes, and continuously improve them as you run them. Follow these four steps to set up your systems.

Step 1: Identify areas for improvement

To amplify your impact through systems and processes, the first step is to identify areas in your personal or professional lives that require improvement. Assess your current systems by evaluating your daily routines, business operations and team interactions. Look for inefficiencies, bottlenecks or areas prone to errors. Seek feedback from team members, colleagues or family members to gain different perspectives on potential areas of improvement. By pinpointing these areas, you can prioritise which systems and processes to create or refine. To identify areas for improvement:

  • Track your time – Tracking your time for a week or two will help you understand how you are allocating your resources, allowing you to spot inefficiencies, time-wasting activities or areas where you might need to streamline processes. By having a clear understanding of where your time is spent, you can make data-driven decisions to improve your systems.
  • Analyse your successes and challenges – By understanding what has worked well in the past and where you have encountered difficulties, you can make informed decisions about which systems and processes to create or refine. This introspection can help you identify strengths to build upon and weaknesses to address, ensuring that your systems are optimised for success.
  • Benchmark against industry standards – Comparing your current systems and processes with industry best practices or competitors can provide valuable insights into potential areas for improvement. By understanding what others are doing successfully, you can identify gaps in your own systems and processes that may be hindering your progress. This benchmarking exercise can help you set realistic goals for improvement and inform your decision-making as you create or refine systems to better align with industry standards and maintain a competitive edge.

This simple exercise helped my team identify areas for improvement in our customer success journey. Investing time, energy and resources in understanding where there were inefficiencies, where we dropped the ball in the past and what best practice should look like, enabled us to create better systems to enhance our customer experience.

Step 2: Create and implement systems

Once you have identified the areas that need attention, it’s time to create and implement effective and efficient systems and processes. To do this:

  • Define clear objectives and desired outcomes – Establish what you aim to achieve with your new or improved systems and processes. By setting clear goals, you can better direct your efforts and maintain focus throughout the development and implementation process.
  • Map out workflows – Visualise each step involved in the system or process, from start to finish. Identify potential bottlenecks or areas of inefficiency and consider ways to streamline the workflow. Documenting these workflows can help ensure consistency and facilitate communication among team members.
  • Establish roles and responsibilities – Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the system or process. This clarity promotes accountability, collaboration and a sense of ownership among team members, ultimately leading to better results.
  • Set performance metrics – Establish KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your systems and processes. Regularly track and review these metrics to assess whether the system is meeting its objectives and to identify areas for further improvement.
  • Create scorecards and dashboards – Develop scorecards and dashboards to visually represent the performance metrics and KPIs of your systems and processes. These tools can help you easily monitor progress, identify trends and make data- driven decisions. By providing a clear, concise view of performance, scorecards and dashboards enable you and your team to stay aligned and focused on achieving the desired outcomes. What you measure and monitor improves.
  • Communicate and train – Clearly communicate the new systems and processes to all relevant parties, ensuring they understand the purpose, benefits and their roles within the system. Provide any necessary training or resources to support their successful adoption. This may include written documentation, hands-on training sessions or ongoing coaching and support.
  • Monitor and adjust – Continuously monitor the performance of your new or improved systems and processes and make adjustments as needed. Regularly soliciting feedback from team members or stakeholders can help you identify areas where further improvements can be made, ensuring your systems remain effective and efficient over time.

Step 3: Continuous improvement

 Embrace a mindset of continuous improvement to ensure that your systems and processes evolve and adapt as needed. Regularly review the effectiveness of your systems, considering any changes in your business environment or personal circumstances. Learn from both your successes and failures and use this knowledge to refine your systems and processes.

Encourage open communication and feedback from those involved, fostering a culture where improvements are seen as opportunities rather than criticisms.

The Japanese principle of ‘Kaizen’, which means ‘change for the better’ or ‘continuous improvement’, is a business philosophy that emphasises the importance of making small, incremental improvements in processes and systems over time. By incorporating the Kaizen mindset into your approach to continuous improvement, you can create a culture of learning and growth, where all members of your organisation are encouraged to identify opportunities for improvement and work together to refine your systems and processes. This can lead to increased efficiency, effectiveness and overall success. We spoke about marginal gains earlier in the book, recognising that small changes consistently over time compound to achieve significant shifts.

Celebrate opportunities to make improvements on your quest for excellence – the gradual result of always striving to be better.

Step 4: Balance flexibility and structure

While having structured systems and processes in place is crucial for efficiency and effectiveness, it’s equally important to strike a balance with flexibility and adaptability. Recognise that unforeseen circumstances or changes may arise and be prepared to adjust your systems and processes accordingly. Empower your team or family members to make informed decisions within the boundaries of the established systems, allowing for creativity and innovation. By finding the right balance between flexibility and structure, you can maintain efficiency while remaining agile and responsive to changing needs.

In fostering an environment of flexibility and adaptability, it’s important to create a culture that values open communication, collaboration and continuous learning. Encourage team or family members to share their ideas, experiences and insights, and be open to incorporating their suggestions into your systems and processes. Involving those who are directly affected by the systems creates a more inclusive and adapt- able framework that addresses the needs of everyone involved. Regularly revisit your systems and processes to ensure they remain relevant and responsive to changing circumstances, and don’t be afraid to adjust when necessary. Strike the right balance between structure and flexibility and you’ll create a dynamic and resilient environment that encourages growth and innovation.

By incorporating these strategies into your approach to systems and processes, you can amplify your impact and set yourself, your team and your organisation up for long-term success.

This is an extract from Liberate Your Greatness by John Roussot.

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