I never thought I was a system-guy.
I thought a system had to be precise, something you follow exactly, and I go by feel most of the time. I’m flexible. Except when I dissected my process, there was a system. I had just never thought about it that way before.
Why did I start examining my own process? Because I had other people working for my business and they needed a system. A system matters.
A system matters because it allows everyone on your team to be in the know and to be held accountable. While the system is always evolving and we’re always learning, the system is in place to provide stability, consistent standards, and a way to keep everybody on the same page.
Watch a football game. Look at all the moving parts, not just the ones on the field. There are the players, yes, but there are also coaches on the sidelines and in the press box, equipment people, headsets, devices, a clock, an opponent, and so much more. Now think about substitutions, play-calling, motivational talks, a ticking clock, referees, injuries, and bad weather—that’s a lot of stuff to keep in mind. The best teams have a system for all of it. That way, when things go a little bit sideways, as they inevitably do, everybody can respond together instead of running around making things worse.
A system doesn’t have to be inflexible.
In fact, teams often go against their own tendencies on purpose so that their opponents won’t know their every move. But it’s another thing to go outside of the system—you see teams do that, too, and it leads to confusion for the whole team.
When they’re not on the field, football teams review game films or they talk about what happened in a previous game, or they plan for the upcoming game. What they’re doing is reviewing how well they all follow the system and how well the system is working (sometimes systems have to be changed). Usually, when someone makes an error, it’s because they didn’t follow the system—so if there were no system, how would anyone know who made the error? They’d know the game didn’t go well, of course, but they might not know why.
If there was no system, how can anyone be held accountable? And how could anyone grow?