Continued from Success with Systems (part I)
So what are the layers and what do they mean? Before I go there, it is important to understand that all the layers are needed for long-term, sustainable success—we’re not looking for simply a quick win or quick dollar, it’s all about long-term thinking for long-term success that lasts!
In a simplistic fashion, there are three layers to business systems.
- Procedures – implementation of simple instructions, guidelines, and parameters to yield a desired result.
- Practices – set of ongoing actions, done with conviction, attitude and purpose, giving timely and repeatable results.
- Principles – fundamental truths that give a foundation for the system, providing belief, behaviour and rock-solid reference for reasoning.
Many organizations will focus on #2, Practices, since timely results tend to dominate daily needs (ex. acquiring sales, accomplishing a marketing goal etc.).
Too often, #1 (Procedures) is implemented as a defensive measure once a challenge is faced (a product quality issue, challenges with people, or other such procedural issues).
Principles, #3, is the big one that is fundamentally missed or improperly implemented—usually because it not deeply embedded in the core of the business system. It is also key to include “value-added” components which create the environment for extraordinary results from people (creates belief, buy-in, gives long-lasting purpose to their value…). The importance of this third layer is further magnified because it is also where leadership is cultivated—which is absolutely vital to long-term success of any business. The subject of leadership, itself, is a huge topic on its own, one that I personally am devoted to and love to continually learn about. A good friend of mine constantly reminds me that all businesses rise and fall, based on their leadership.
All businesses rise and fall on leadership
The lesson here is quite simple. Systems create success and success comes from a sound business system. The business system structures and organizes the key elements that all businesses need (you can list out all the topics…). The key is knowing that you need all three of the layers and you cannot depend on only one or two layers. Elements such as leadership, culture, principles, character, expectancy, duplication, retention, growth etc. all need to be deeply embedded in the business system so that people can utilize and leverage the power that’s there. Then, the system itself needs to provide the mechanisms to implement or to get the system in motion (tools, structures, business collateral, etc.).
Now I realize that this is only a framework, since I have not narrowed down to a specific industry or business model—that’s intentional. The point is, this applies to virtually every business that’s out there.
In part III we’ll explore “diagnostics,” and some practical examples/symptoms, which will help to further clarify how all the layers of the system become so important to success.