Innovation is the enemy of systems

by Jason on December 6, 2011 · 0 comments

Oops! - Part II by Kyle May

I’ve been thinking more about systems, but this time it’s other people’s systems – why are they so hard to implement?  Is entrepreneurship really a thinly veiled desire to do things your own way as much as possible?  It seems like it sometimes.

I’ve tested countless techniques, courses and systems, and I can’t really tell you if they’ll work for you, because I can’t leave well enough alone.  I need to embellish, expand, and often over-complicate, because after all, I deserve to be in the advance class, right?


Here are two (very) simple systems I’m working on adopting, as verbatim as possible, from other people.  They’re pretty much no-brainers, but I’m hoping it’ll give me reason to pause the next time I think about expanding on something new before I’ve even given the core principles a thought.

Recipes.  Yep, the things that make ingredients into meals.  I know enough about how to cook that I can usually make something tasty, and sure enough, I tend to use recipe books as starting guides for the meal instead of actual instructions.

My new rule is that I do the recipe as word-for-word as possible at least once, ideally twice, before I start making it my own.  And amazingly, I’m starting to learn new tastes and not just put chopped tomatoes on everything, because I like chopped tomatoes.

My new gym bag.  This is more symbolic, but all of these steps are symbols to help me when I think about adopting proven systems (proven without my help, I point out!)  I joined a new gym this week, and the new member package included a red branded gym bag.

It’s obviously intended to give branding to the club, but I’ve chosen to interpret it as a system in itself. I’ve used the same shoulder bag for years, whether it’s for my laptop, my gym clothes, or basic luggage, but I’m adopting this gym bag as a key part of my “going to the gym” system.  It’s by my office door, and in the morning I fill it with fresh clothes, and suddenly it’s my bug-out bag that I can grab and go, no friction, and get my workout on.

Like I said, it’s silly, and later (after I’ve broken various parts of me by overdoing exercises and gotten that out of my – ahem – system,) I’ll be taking personal training sessions (already paid for) to let someone else give me the proven steps to better results than I’d be able to do on my own through supposed innovation.

Photo by Kyle May

The post-game systems ritual

by Jason on December 1, 2011 · 0 comments

Gears by Pete Birkinshaw

I’ve been thinking a lot about systems lately, and how I can create them in a way that takes the “me” out of the equation in my business. Part of this is because I’ve been meaning to re-read The E-Myth, and the other part is an increasing awareness that I have so few hours in any given day (24? Is that all?)

It’s a funny twist: the adjectives applied to you that make you a success in building a business are the exact opposite of the ones that you seek out in an employment situation: redundant, dispensable, replaceable.  If you have a job, and this is where you ended up, you’re due to get fired.  If you have a business, it’s time for an amazing vacation.

So systems.  The more reproducible processes you can create, and by that I mean reproducible by someone else, consistently, with the same outcome, the less you have to do.  At first, you’ll be the implementor, but these are the things you delegate and monitor over time (and as I think I mentioned earlier, the monitoring is systemizable and delegatable, spellcheck forgive me.)

I keep a log of everything I do in a day, so I’ve developed my new post-game ritual, which is a series of questions:

  • How much of the day’s activities are likely to happen again?
  • How much of the day’s activities required my personal unique skill set?
  • For the things that had to be done by me, could that be changed?
  • And more importantly, were they even necessary?

I end up with a grouping of the day’s schedule, but with a particular focus, and it’s one that, I hope, will identify trends over time.  I hired my first designer after a similar exercise earlier in the year when I realized I was spending 10 hours a week in Photoshop, which is an application I have no business using, frankly.  In that case, it was the replacement of a technical skill with a skilled person.

With this new ritual, I’m looking to replace processes with people.

Photo by BinaryApe