This is Challenge #25 and it shows up in Stage 4 for a very good reason.

To function effectively, a company must have day-to-day operations in place. This requires that leaders have a plan that outlines exactly what systems and procedures the company needs to grow. An important point to make as we explore this challenge is this: while systems and procedures are critical for sustainability and scalability, ignoring or not prioritizing skill development and training for your staff will sabotage your efforts.

People want to be trained and given time to get used to the new systems. Their success relies on not getting the system in place, but being able to utilize the system effectively.

It’s important to understand the nuances between the definitions of the following three concepts: System: a group of interacting, interrelated or interdependent elements that form a complex whole; process is a synonym of system Procedure: an established or official way of doing something; system is a synonym of procedure Process: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end I’ll use the word “systems” to cover processes and procedures in order to simplify this discussion.

Putting procedures, processes and/or systems in place can seem overwhelming to young organizations. There is a strong tendency to ignore the need for more sophisticated systems, especially if the CEO is the specialist who created the product or service. Their belief is often, “if I could get a high volume of work out when it was just me and a few people, why can’t we do the same today?”

When activity levels increase tenfold; leaders tend to throw people at the activity. The irony is that more people create a more complex organization that is more difficult to manage. As a result of throwing people at the problem, the company ends up in another stage of growth before it is ready. The necessary systems to build a suitable infrastructure have not yet been created.

It’s much easier to decide something is a people issue than to determine it’s a process issue. For example, if clients complain that it takes too long to hear back from someone when they lodge a complaint, the leader may assume the person in charge of customer service is at fault or overstretched. Usually, the quick fix thinking is to just hire another customer service person because it’s a less expensive solution than implementing a CRM system.

Challenge your CEOs to ask critical questions in order to better understand what systems are important and working and which ones may need to be re-visited.

What systems do you currently need for your stage of growth?

How do you define those systems and what exactly do you need them to do?

Have you set aside money to purchase, maintain and upgrade critical systems?

Have you planned time for training?

How do you know the systems in place are efficient?

Are any of the existing systems broken?

Remember, the top Gate of Focus for Stage 4 is Process. In my Stage 4 book, Manage the Manager: How to How to Accelerate Growth Through People and Processes with 35 – 57 Employees, I provide ideas on how to address this critical challenge such as:

Identify the Systems You Currently Need
Challenge Every Single Person in the Company To Be a Systems Thinker

The CFO of Starbucks, Orin Smith, reached out to a well-known consulting firm when the company was ramping up for growth. He wanted the firm to help them move from an entrepreneurial to a well-managed company. He thought the biggest challenge would be getting Howard Schultz, the CEO and founder of Starbucks, to buy into the concept. Smith cautioned the consulting firm that Schultz might not have the patience for processes and systems. He was wrong.

Schultz fully embraced the changes the consulting firm proposed. They were consistent with his belief that if you’re going to build a large building, you need a strong foundation. The move to more systems, more processes and more procedures can be a hard transition for many entrepreneurs to embrace. However, it’s never too early to think about what systems are needed to create a foundation for growth.

Your success. My passion.
Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!


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