Systemize, Systemize, Systemize
by Michael E. Angier, Success Networks International
When I was about seven or eight years old, I remember going into the barn one evening where my father was doing chores. I was surprised to see him wearing his cap backwards. It looked funny. Of course this was long before it became commonplace to wear a baseball cap with the visor protecting the back of someone's neck instead of shading one's eyes as it was intended.
When I asked Dad why his hat was on backwards, he explained. It seems there was a large water tank for the livestock that had to be filled daily. Because it took a long time to fill, he would turn the water on and then go about doing other things. The danger, of course, was that if he forgot to turn the water OFF, the tank would overflow, water would be wasted and it would make a mess.
The reason he had his hat turned around was so that when he finished his chores and began to take off his work clothes he'd notice as he removed his hat that the visor wasn't where it was supposed to be. This would remind him the water was still running and he would go back to the barn and turn it off.
This was the first time I can remember seeing the value of having a system.
It was a simple, practical and very effective system. Over the years, I saw my father develop and incorporate many other systems, and I never forgot how helpful and valuable they were. Some may have even been life-saving.
Today, I'm a big believer in systems. People make mistakes. We forget things. We mean well, but we often err. People want to do their best. It's rare to find someone wanting to mess up. Creating support systems helps us all to operate more efficiently and effectively.
When faced with a problem--especially a recurring one--look for ways to create a system that will prevent it from occurring again. Instead of blaming people--or yourself--for mistakes, look for systems that can support people in accomplishing what they truly wish to achieve.
It could be as simple as a checklist. I use a lot of them in my work. It could be little things like putting your car keys in the same place every time. It could be having someone check your work. It could be a computer program that checks your calculations.
Virtually any problem can be solved by creating innovative systems to reduce or eliminate a recurrence. Usually the simplest systems are the best. What are yours?
© Michael Angier & Success Networks International.
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