Creating Systems that Work!


I love systems!  When you receive an email from me I have the following under my name and title: Providing vision, motivating people and creating systems!  That describes my work.

I like to control things!  I want events, meals, housing options, and program to be consistent weekend after weekend.  I want the same procedures to be followed at the giant swing week after week; I never want a new staff member to vacillate off of the process.  Neither does McDonalds.

That is why new McDonald’s managers are sent to McDonald’s Hamburger University; they don’t want managers making up their own procedures at the local McDonalds store in Boone, Iowa.  Boone Iowa McDonalds serve the exact hamburger as Bend Oregon McDonalds; they make the same coffee; they make the exact same french fries.

McDonalds has their proven systems.

So should you!

I smile when I hear camp people talking about 80 hour weeks.  I have been in camping 35 years; I don’t believe I have ever worked 80 hours in one week.  I would say I would struggle to remember many 60 hour weeks.

Am I lazy?  Am I detached from my work?  Am I not engaged?  NO, NO, and NO!  I control with proven systems so that I don’t have to be at every event; I am confident that staff are adhering to our systems.

The key for me?  I dissect the systems.  I understand the systems that create great food service, or clean rooms, or innovative programming.  And I force the staff to adhere to MY systems.

Case in point:  Why do you have trouble with a new staff member in the first year of employment?  Why do you knock heads?  Why do you keep repeating, “He is not getting it?”  It is simple: he is not buying into or not understanding YOUR systems.  He wants to do it HIS way; or the way he did it at the last camp he worked at.

We use the fancy word “culture” when referring to our systems.  Culture is defined as: this is how we run the camp and how we treat people and how you will feel as our guests.  However, culture is nothing more than the sum total of thousands of systems working together to create a fine-oiled-machine or it could be thousands of haphazardly compiled systems creating a disorganized, awkward culture.

I prefer “well-oiled!”

And that is why I never stop tweaking.  I never stop evaluating or critiquing our systems.  That is why I am never satisfied with what we did last weekend.  I want to manage systems continually.  I want to maintain systems that are in place.  I want to scrap systems that are not working.

That is why we train new staff.  That is why we keep retraining staff.  That is why systems need to be in writing and the system is accepted by all staff members.  Rogue staff members create havoc, chaos, and inconsistency.  Buy in or move on is my personal motto!

How are your systems today?

Need to understand creating systems?  Check out Sam Carpenter’s book, Work the System.

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