In my last blog, I described the importance of following and executing a system for any lasting success or improvement to take shape. I used the example of my ups and downs with regard to my physical workouts over the last 25 years to drive home the vital importance of following and measuring results though a proven system. My final points were as follows:
- Find and follow a system.
- Do not venture off of the system.
- Have someone hold you accountable to the system.
- Compete with someone who uses the same system.
- Track your results and aim for constant improvement.
Now here comes my confession: While I had been largely following my well-established workout "system," I couldn't help myself.... I had to innovate some variations of my own plan.
Now the eventual fallout of my innovated system, is that I didn't experience the improvements others had been describing for the last several decades. So, I did some online research in an effort to figure out what might be going on with my lack of constant improvement, and I found the following emphatic words written on a forum by someone who has trained others to use this system. He said: "What is it with you people who think you can alter a system that has been around for four decades? Do you have some sort of attention deficit disorder, or do you think that you are so special that you can invent a new way of doing something that has been honed by 10's of thousands of people?" He went on to conclude: "Listen Carefully.. Don't MESS (he used another word) with the system! Don't add, delete or alter it in anyway. Follow it and it will work!"
I needed to read those words, and I needed to read them in that tone to really get it. So, what is the lesson here? Why am I reminding you of something that appears to be common knowledge? Because we all are guilty of innovation when it's not needed. Why do we do this? I believe the following are some reasons for our tendency to wander off the system path:
- We think that we are facing unique challenges that require a different angle.
- We feel bored with the system and want to entertain or stimulate ourselves with variety.
- We get lazy. Systems can be mundane and take energy to execute well.
- We think we're smarter than we really are.
I'm beginning to believe that one of the primary reasons that McDonald's is so successful, is that it is managed by 24-year-olds and executed by 16-year-olds, who are too young and green to make the erroneous assumption -- "I might know a better way."
If you are a manager of agents, take it upon yourself to meet with all your struggling agents to investigate in detail what they are actually doing daily. Get them to sign up for Toggl (time management) and categorize their efforts into the primary tasks that drive success and see if their real time matches their imagined time spent in those activities.
If you are an owner, CEO, or GM, and you haven't been getting the recruiting results you're accustomed too, peer into your systems that measure activities and see for yourself what is actually happening.
We all get off course - That's going to happen. But sometimes we need others to remind us to not "MESS with the system." I'm back on track, following someone else's system... How about you?
Editor's Note: This article was written by Dr. David Mashburn. Dave is a Clinical and Consulting Psychologist, a Partner at Tidemark, Inc. and a regular contributor to WorkPuzzle. Comments or questions are welcome. If you're an email subscriber, reply to this WorkPuzzle email. If you read the blog directly from the web, you can click the "comments" link below.