I guess my experience with “systems” started with my engineering education – essentially where you “learn how to learn.” There we learned lessons such as “systems are what keep things together and keep people alive” (the bridge better not fall…) or “if it can be measured, it can be controlled.” From there, my first (any only) career job came from working at a control systems firm, where we designed and implemented process control systems for a variety of industries. After a dozen years of climbing the corporate ladder (and definitely I do admit, I loved my experience and the people I worked with) I ventured into the entrepreneurial world, where I’ve remained ever since.
Systems are what keep things together and keep people alive.
If it can be measured, it can be controlled.
I wanted to take my last 20 years of developing, implementing and working with systems—in business—and start the process of sharing how systems can help businesses quantum-leap to the successes they envision. “How?” you might ask, well that simply starts with knowing the definition of a “system.”
As you can see from this image, a system is “an integrated set of elements that accomplish a defined objective.” So, for a business, this may mean something like “I need a set of rules/procedures to ensure our projects are done right (according to spec).” I think most people understand this type of implementation—that you need instruction to get the desire result. This is the easy part, or the easiest part to comprehend, but there is a danger in thinking that’s all that is needed…
So why don’t more businesses have success? Why do so many start-ups fail in the early stages? I believe this mystery is rooted in the lack of understanding that there are “layers” in systems. These layers can be missed, sometimes understood, done/not-done, cared-about/not-cared-about, but most often, business leaders are blind to impact of these layers—simply because they are not aware of them (the “my way” syndrome, or the often perceived “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude).
In part II we’ll get into the Layers of Systems…