Streamlining Your Business and Life Via a Simple Mindset “Tweak”
by Sam Carpenter
Updated April 22, 2013
New Delhi, India
Thanks for taking the time to go deeper into the Work the System methodology. Here, I’ll give you a quick summary of what it’s about. -sc
The Work the System methodology takes a deep yet simple tact, one that begins with a single “tweak” in the leader’s perspective of how a business mechanically functions. With the new vantage point, inefficient methodologies are easy to detect and subsequent necessary actions come naturally. But yes, the transformation requires certain properly sequenced steps.
The Work the System method compliments the brilliant works of top motivators and philosophers such as Steven Covey, Anthony Robbins, Jim Collins, Michael Gerber and Dale Carnegie. Better said, the method gets underneath these valid and proven methodologies and makes them even more potent.
In my small business I worked 80-100 hours a week for 15 years, with an income just barely enough to support my two kids and me. When the new vision came to me in a single moment of time thirteen years ago, I immediately began to turn things around. I now work two hours a week while my personal income is more than twenty times what it was. I operate a number of small ventures including an international non-proft, but my original business of nearly 30 years, Centratel, a telephone answering service with approximately 2,000 competitors nationwide is, by several statistical measurements, #1 in the industry. And is it profitable? Indeed.
Work the System addresses the following reality: Many corporate managers and entrepreneurs/small business owners see their businesses and the world as a complex mass of sights, sounds, and events. And because of this misperception, too many times the leader is working long, stressed hours, killing fires and performing recurring tasks… and is almost always contending with cash flow problems. There is no time or money to do R&D, coddle customers, or do the creative tasks necessary for growth. Typically, personal/family life is a struggle too. Add to this, health problems. Entire lives are spent this way! But nevertheless, these same owners ARE the experts in their businesses and it doesn’t take a consultant to tell them what needs to be done. The owner KNOWS what to do…but can’t get to it, much less decide on an overall tact!
So, what is the foundational reason for business mediocrity and failure? The leader doesn’t properly see the mechanisms that are producing the bad results. If the leader is blind to the mechanics, he or she won’t be able to adjust the machinery that is creating those bad results. That’s it!
The Work the System methodology goes “one layer deeper,” requiring a simple yet profound change in mindset – an “outside and slightly elevated” vantage point – a view that effortlessly sees how the separate systems of the world actually operate. The WTS mindset is simple, absurdly logical, and self-evident as it leads naturally to incredible efficiency at work and in personal life. The added bonus is a relaxed, confident state of mind due to the newfound control over events and outcomes. Life is under control. The WTS methodology is not hocus-pocus, mystical or esoteric. It’s about simple, believable real-world mechanics. There is no need for a list of tips or for motivational-gimmicks although Work the System offers a thorough compendium of guidelines for once the “get-it” flash occurs. There is no need to change occupations or upset the family. It’s a personal evolution that will benefit everyone in the picture. Once the vision is acquired – the moment-to-moment ability to perceive the myriad of separate systems in one’s world – new, correct actions will naturally be taken and things will fall into place as confusion diminishes. (The first third of Work the System is dedicated to helping the reader “get” the new mindset.)
The heart of the mindset: Our individual lives are not inherently chaotic and at the mercy of random or hostile outside influences. And despite the media’s never ending dooms-day diatribes, the world itself is not problematic. Your life is a collection of individual linear systems, the vast majority of which operate with increditble efficiency, and each of which ultimately produces some kind of result. Every result and situation in our lives is the end-product of an underlying system and most systems work just fine! In fact, systems WANT to work as they are designed. Consider the complexities of a tree, cat, car, house, or human body. All of these “primary systems” are in existence due to a myriad of sub-systems that work together to form that particular entity. For example, the human body is an incredibly complex arrangement of billions of cells and trillions of electrical signals. Subsystems include neuromuscular, structural; cardiovascular, etc. It all works flawlessly as subsystems interact, adjust, and maintain themselves. Incredible perfection surrounds us! Can you see it?
The whole world operates in this way! So, inductive reasoning points to the following conclusion: The world as a whole is 99.9% flawless in its operation (despite our tendency to focus on the relatively few flaws in our lives and in the world)…and this means there isn’t that much to “tweak” in order to get what we want out of life. “Getting” this new vision means a much more efficient life, a life more in tune with how the world mechanically operates.
If we thoroughly understand how a machine works, we’re better able to fix it and then take it to optimum functionality. It’s that simple, and it’s exactly what I did with every facet of my own life. And in my business? It’s made up of people who see things in the same simple way. They “get it”!
At work, how does one fix what is inefficient? It’s breathtakingly simple. Break down the workplace into separate linear systems – how the phone is answered, how the bank deposit is made, how a sales presentation is performed. Know that these systems are for the most part, separate from each other. For each system, in a simple 1-2-3 step format, document the execution of the process. Get the staff to “climb on board” this system-improvement quest. Then, with coworkers, brainstorm and then, again on paper, improve the sequence of steps until they are perfect. Document the system (this must happen!). Reinsert the perfected system back into the operation. As a matter of policy, everyone in the organization will execute each perfected system in exactly the same sequence every single time – yet everyone understands that if a system can be improved, adjustment will be made instantly both in the system protocol, and in the accompanying documentation. This is “working the system”! The key is this (and here is the heart of the Method): Focus on the systems that create the results, not in shuffling around the bad results that occur due to unmanaged systems. The end result? Minimal bad results!
This sounds regimented! Some of it is regimented and there is a good reason for this, but the release valve is in giving your people instant and generous autonomy to “tweak” systems to higher efficiency. It’s a workplace culture centered around system improvement, not in fire-killing. The staff creates and adjusts business systems daily, as needed. “Working” their systems is what they do, rather than coping with the bad results of unmanaged systems. For you, getting everyone to climb on board is a simple matter because once things begin to fall into place, and it won’t take long, you and your people will make more money, and the work environment will be serene…and there will be a powerful sense of pride throughout the organization. There will be no going back to the way things were…
Is there something here for a one-person operation or for a corporate middle manager? Yes! This is about dramatically improving efficiency and the more efficient one is, the more one gets what one wants out of life…and that may very well be a fast climb up the corporate ladder.
I read your book. Where can I learn more? Our UK business partner, Mike Giles, my wife Linda Carpenter, and I, invested over a year’s time in creating a multi-media product entitled The Work the System Academy. It’s a 30-90 day course designed to get life in order…business, personal and health. Launch of the product was January 1, 2012. In late 2012 we will release another product, an intensive course that will qualify the student to be a business consultant in the Work the System Method. Yes, this will enable the course graduate to make a living helping other people salvage their problematic businesses. We also consult.
Why isn’t your Amazon book sales ranking higher? Because I give away the book. You can get PDF and audio versions free via our Academy website at www.workthesystemacademy.com. (The hard copy version? Get it on this site, Amazon or at your local book store. It’s in hard cover only, BTW). I would very much like the book to be on the top 10 Amazon business book list, or to be on the NY Times best seller list, but that will never happen because I give the book away. Why do I do this? To get the book to more people because my first intention is to help as many people as I can. The self-serving, second intention, is that I have other more in-depth products/services to sell to those who want them, and those sales more than make up for any loss of third party sales. How can I do this? Because, through a special arrangement with my publisher, I retain ownership of the manuscript and I can do anything I want with it.
How do I find out more? Download the pdf and the audio of the book for free (you can do so at the Work the System Academy site), or buy the hard copy version of the book either from this site, at Amazon, or in your local book store. Note also that I periodically conduct boot camps in my hometown of Bend, Oregon. Get on my mailing list and I’ll keep you informed. Another good bet is to subscribe to my newsletter and blog (do that on the front page of this site).
Quotes from Work the System. (The third edition of Work the System was released in October 2011.)
“Here’s a more general observation: In the past thirty years the lure of instant gratification has gripped a huge chunk of our population. For the hooked-up masses—those who are seriously addicted to smart-phones, Twitter, Facebook and the immediacy/pervasiveness of the entertainment industry—it’s a stretch to go backward to consider the root of things. The gratification of the moment is a distraction from thoughtful contemplation of the reasons why events happen as they do. Today, unlike twenty years ago, a good “now” is available by just turning off and plugging in. For too many of us, slowing down to examine things is not entertaining, and that’s too bad because it is mandatory that we take the time to understand the machinery of our lives if we are to modify that machinery to produce the results we desire.”
“Life is serious business and whether you know it or not—or whether you like it or not—your personal systems are the threads of the fabric of your life. Together, your personal systems add up to you. And if you are like most people, you negotiate your days without seeing your systems as the singular entities they are, some working well and some not so well.”
“The focus must be on the proactive management of systems, not in coping with random bad results due to unseen and therefore unmanaged systems.”
“Blue-blood, old-school psychologists who see endless dour complexity in the human condition will sniff at the simplicity of the Work the System message. Things are more complicated than that, they’ll say. I thank them in advance for their oblique compliment. This is an elementary, dispassionate, drop-the-load dispatch that describes lives as they really are: cause-and-effect mechanisms that can be logical, predictable, and satisfying. No PhD necessary.”
“Without prodding, nor willing it to happen, I stepped outside my life, rose above it and looked down, never again to settle back into the morass that had been my existence. There was nothing philosophical about this new vantage point. It was mechanical and logical. I saw that the solution to my business problems did not lie in becoming more proficient at whacking moles—the solution was to find a way to eliminate the moles altogether.”