I started my career serving as a minister in a local church. I discovered so much about people and the principles of an organization. One of the things I noticed was that many of the systems and processes that are present in many medium to large businesses seemed to be absent in small businesses, churches, and nonprofits.
One of my pet peeves is when higher-ups like pastors or business owners spend all their time studying leadership and ignore systems and management. You cannot have one without the other! If something in your business isn’t functioning the way you want it to, it might be time to rethink your systems. Implementing new systems is a great way to bring sustainable innovation into your business.
What is a system?
A system is a single entity made up of two or more components. Each part has a definite relationship to every other part. The action of any one part has a direct effect on the action of every other part.
So, having a systems-oriented mindset means being able to see the whole picture. It involves seeing each part of your business as essential to and part of the larger whole. It also involves a connected vision of how your business serves the larger community and Kingdom of God.
Most businesses and ministries start small. The entrepreneur or starting team takes on all of the work. However, as they grow the workload must be systemized and delegated.
There are three steps to sustaining effective management and systems in an organization: identify, standardize, and direct.
You must take time to really consider all of the work that needs to be done in your organization. Most of us do this with our own work schedules every day. For instance, we put checklists in our planners to monitor what we need to accomplish in order to be successful for the day. The identifying stage is much like that, just on a larger scale. These four questions can help get some ideas on paper:
Who is going to do the work?
How will the work be done?
When and where will people do the work?
Why must the work be done?
Once you’ve identified the work that needs to be done, it’s time to write it down. This stage includes documenting things like policies, procedures, and job descriptions. Standardized work is the current single best way to complete an activity with the highest degrees of safety and efficiency, which produces consistent and high-quality outcomes.
For instance, a great example of effective standardized work is a fast-food franchise. Do you ever wonder how McDonald’s grows a billion-dollar business with mostly teenagers running the place? It’s only possible through the seamless systems they’ve developed, from documenting how long to keep the fries in the grease to the procedure for cooking the patties. When you standardize work, you get the peace of mind that your business will be consistent and uniform.
Direction needs to be provided to employees regarding the work you’ve identified and standardized. 70-75% of this direction can (and should be) provided in writing. There’s an old adage that says, “spoken words fly away, but written words remain,” and I fully agree!
So, all standardized work can be quantified with key performance indicators (KPIs). This saves time and prevents unnecessary micromanagement. Instead of monitoring the work every day, you can keep a pulse on your organization with KPIs and only address them when there is a gap in performance.