Before I dive into this final article on systems development, I want to thank those of you who have written to me during the course of this series. Your participation in this process has made writing this series so rewarding. In particular, I want to thank Bob C. who provided the inspiration I needed for this last piece.
Last week I covered how an operations manual can save your business (and your life), much like the operations manual on Apollo 13 saved Jim Lovell’s life. This week, I want to take you on a journey into systems strategy:
- Reality dictates you will be building systems while working in your existing business. We call this working in ‘Old Co’.
- Using the EMyth Seven Dynamics will allow you to prioritize which systems to work on and in what order, to get results.
- Creating a systems strategy helps you to prioritize working on your new business (what your business will look like in the future). We call this working on ‘New Co’.
It was about a year ago today that I was asked by Ilene Gail Frahm, our Board Chair, to become the next CEO of EMyth. The last year has been filled with an immense amount of learning and growth. My appreciation for every single person on our team in Ashland, Oregon has never been greater: they are all incredibly devoted to clearing the path for our network of coaches to do the important work of improving the lives and businesses of business owners around the world. Perhaps you’ve seen or heard from them in emails or on the phone, in videos or webinars, but if you haven’t… please know there isn’t a more dedicated team anywhere in the world. They are: Britt’nee Anderson, Michael Anderson, Jed Bickford, Justine Bowen-Jones, Sam Gerber, LC Graf, Molly Hamilton, Ali Hough, Nick Lawler, Slade Machamer, Josh Merritt, Lenny Miller, Ashley Nunes, Eben Ostergaard, Sierra Satow, Jon Shaffer, Adam Traub, Cass Wick, and Shey Yearsley.
During the last long-haul flight I was on, I re-watched ‘Apollo 13’ (the one with Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell). Perhaps not the best choice as I was hurtling through the sky at 500 mph in a tin-can myself, but there’s something to be said for the thrill. If you haven’t seen the film, it's based on real-life events and it’s gripping.
I’m in the upstairs bathroom writing notes on my iPhone when it strikes me—the apparent irony of me sketching out notes for a blog post about work-life balance while in the middle of giving my daughters a bath. I left work hours ago but had hardly left my work behind me. And in that moment I felt so close to the many business owners that come to us seeking to improve the balance between their work and their personal lives. Creating work-life balance is a difficult task, but it’s also a rather poorly-defined term. What does that balance really look like? If “balance” means an equitable distribution of hours, is that what everyone really wants?
This week I want to share a business development concept that will help you turn your current frustrations into operational systems. It’s one small step for you and your team, but it will be one giant leap for your business.
There were some days as a business owner when I felt completely consumed by my business. The only thing I could count on was a frustrating lack of control as I raced around putting out fires. On days like that, I found myself wishing I was like the members of the Apollo program: the mad scientist, the iron-jawed leader, and the astronaut:
How do you inspire your people? You can feel they need something. You see them come into work with tired eyes and watch them half-listen during meetings. You know it’s on you to uplift them or bring them more meaning, something to get their head above water and remember why they took a job with your company in the first place. But if you’re not feeling inspired, how can you expect to inspire your team? No doubt, you have a real need for them to feel an ongoing drive toward results—a momentum that doesn’t require you hovering around their desk to make sure things get done correctly.
“By the end of the decade we will have put a man on the moon and safely returned him to Earth.” —President J.F. Kennedy, 1962
In my first article in this series on systems, I introduced you to the idea that as the owner and entrepreneur in your business, you are also the systems engineer. In this second article, I’m proposing that in solving frustrations with better designed system solutions, we often start in the wrong place.
I can remember watching the moon landings on a black and white television as a young boy and being fascinated by the idea. I’m still young enough at heart to feel excited by big rockets and the notion of space travel. I apologize up-front if space isn’t your thing but building rockets and flying to the moon is a good metaphor that can help us think about the value of systems. It might not seem like there’s much in common between your business and mission control, but the systems you use can have just as much of an impact as the systems NASA used to land on the moon. Systems in your business can do anything, like give you the freedom to pursue your astronaut dreams, or something simple like ease all the frustrations that come with managing your finances.
You call your team together to roll out your strategy for the coming quarter. Everyone gathers around and all eyes are on you. You’ve spent at least forty hours over the last two weeks planning, modeling, forecasting, all in anticipation of this day. OK, take a deep breath, and begin your presentation. Five minutes in you start to notice some people drifting off, getting lost in their own thoughts. You’re not being inspiring enough. Have to up the energy…