How To Get Work Done

The Startup Business Systems

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great” – Jim Collins, Good To Great

Do you want to be good at something or do you want to be great? How about then totally magnificent?

How would that make you feel? How would your peers look to you? What about your competitors and what would your customers say if you were truly “magnificent”, that is, living and breathing excellence on a daily basis?

You see, fundamentally what I am referring to, is about getting work done, but in a way that is through high performance and that achieves your vision, mission, goals and objectives. Whether this is you as an individual, or your business, or larger again, your global corporation.

Over my career, I have had the opportunity to work in a large number of diverse businesses, from the multi-nationals through to the micro startups and while I continue to learn about high performance, this is what I know so far…

Greatness, magnificence, excellence and high performance does not just happen.

Nor is it just down to luck or a specific characteristic that you may have had when you started.

For example, if you ask any high performing athlete about this, they will say that the difference between them and the person who did not show up, is about having a vision, laser focus and hard work done consistently. This is regardless of any genetic advantage that they may have also had at the beginning.

Similarly, in what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’s found in their research, which was translated later into their 1997 publication “Built To Last” and Collin’s follow on 2001 publication “Good To Great”, could be said for businesses. However, the critical success factors that I took away from their study (as well as similar research) is around the need to have disciplined execution that is constantly undertaken.

So if we can all agree that “greatness” as Collins defines, is a place we all should aspire to be in our businesses (or as individuals – think Michael Jordon) and one of the keys to achieve this is through disciplined execution that is constantly undertaken, then what do you need to do to enable that?

Well this is where the concept of “systems” come into it.

For example, going back to our high performing athletes, how do they organise themselves for training? What is their repetitive routine? For business, a way to understand what systems are, is to consider the McKinsey 7S Framework.

The McKinsey 7S Framework or model, named after the consulting company, McKinsey and Company and is attributed to McKinsey consultants Pascale, Athos, Peters and Waterman. The McKinsey 7S Framework was created as a recognisable and easily remembered model in business. The seven variables, which the authors term “levers”, all begin with the letter “S” and include structure, strategy, systems, skills, style, staff and shared values. The 7S Framework is largely an internally focused model of which all of the seven “S”s are equal in terms of influence over the business (of course there is some licence here with my statement). In terms of what the model refers to as “Systems”, these are the routine processes and procedures followed within the business – in other words this is how work gets done.

Now if you are a startup entrepreneur, you may be thinking that implementing “systems” into your business environment should not be an imperative at this stage. After all you need to be agile and flexible don’t you?

Well if this is you, I would just ask you to think about this again.

You see, even if you are just starting out, it may even be more critical now, so that as you scale, you are doing this in a more disciplined way. So at a minimum, you need to consider implementing the three primary macro systems into your business…

  • Planning Systems
  • Execution Systems
  • Review Systems

Now I am sure you think this is so obvious!

Well it is, but take a look around you, are you doing this today in a disciplined and in a consistent way? Because I can certainly say from my own experience now working with a diverse range of businesses for many years, it is seldom done – yet is a critical success factor for greatness!

To paraphrase Jim Collins, do not let mediocracy be the norm and rob you from greatness. Better still…

“Demand more from yourself than anyone else could ever expect.” – Tony Robbins

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