Systems are crucial to running a successful business. They allow us all to be more productive and efficient. Depending on your needs, there are all kinds of resources for developing and maintaining systems, ranging from web sites to consultants to mentors to software. Many of these resources are very good and the best ones outline systems that allow you to adapt them as your own.
Systems require commitment, both to their development and to their continued execution, but the commitment is not only worth it, but necessary. These days you can choose the system or approach that best fits you, and you can make it as integral to your business as you want.
Systems Don ‘t Actually Do Things, Though
Here are a couple of things to remember. The development of systems and plans shouldn’t become an obstacle to action. Also, the best systems – whether they’re internal or customer-oriented – don’t actually do things, nor do consultants or mentors. While your company might have a process in place for passing on special requests to the shipping department, if it’s your job to pass on the request, when it comes time to do it, you need to actually carry out the task. The system won’t do it for you.
If your customers are like ours, they’re always busy. They’re usually solely responsible for most facets of their businesses. They invested a lot of time in getting their purchasing and marketing finalized. They’ve found their sweet spot and spend their time running, rather than developing, their businesses. If you’re approaching them with a new product or special offer, you need to understand their circumstances. Sometimes the only way to truly understand is to talk to them.
Here’s An Example
All of this sounds obvious. It sounds especially that way to us … now. But just a few nights ago, it wasn’t obvious. Being stumped by the failure of a particular product to live up to expectations, we looked in the usual places and worked through our standard problem-solving steps, all in an effort to understand what our customers wanted. Then the light bulb came on. If we’d looked in the right chapters of the eBooks and web papers we consulted, we might have realized this sooner. If you want to understand what your customers want, ask them.
In the end, we didn’t lose any significant time being slow to the answer. But getting stalled as we did was a good example of letting process and plan of approach overcomplicate an issue to the point that simplicity, the very thing needed, got left out. It’s good to get better at not getting stalled. It’s also good to get better at recognizing when you are and working around it.
In the end, the best analogy for where we found ourselves might be continuing to push against a high wall in front of you without seeing that 10 feet in either direction the wall ends and you can simply walk around. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.