Many years ago I had an epiphany—I would build a system for slobs. That was me, before systems!
I remembered that old adage, “Order should begin in your own house.” Boy, did my house, my BUSINESS, need that!
A business book I read, one night, shared a true story about a certain hotel that had the most amazing service imaginable. The book didn’t give me all the solutions for how to organize my business, but it pointed out my need of them. I wanted to provide service, just like that hotel. Consequently, I set out to build the systems that book only theorized about!
I was admittedly a bit of a SLOB, back then. My desk and office consistently looked like the aftermath of an EF-5 tornado, and I had no clue how to keep it clean.
A Natural-Born Slob
By nature, I’m THAT guy who leaves a trail of tools all over the house and yard, when working on a project. I’m the guy who always has Starbuck’s coffee cups and coffee stains in my SUV. Usually, small change overflows the ash tray, and other stuff is piled up in the back seat. Today, I noticed a garden rake back there. You see, my car is my last holdout for organizing, while going full throttle, systemizing my businesses. Guess it helps to remind me, I’m still all too human, in case anyone suspects otherwise!
The reason I had to change my sloppy ways is, it was HURTING my business. I couldn’t ask my employees to keep their work areas clean and neat, when mine was piled with debris. In fact, by desk was SO piled at times, I had no clear area to work. I could have held meetings then, starting off with, “My name is Philip Beyer, and I’m a slob.” I was a poor example to others that they could be “slobs” also, even as I insisted they “pick up things.” I would get frustrated with others when tools (worse, job orders) were lost in those piles.
My Epiphany About a System for Slobs
I remember asking a particular employee how she kept her desk clean. However, after hearing her answer I said, “That will never work for me.” You see, I had recognized the commendable ORDER in that employee’s work area. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see past my own bad habits, to learn better ones for myself. I’d just come in on a Saturday and spend hours cleaning my office, grumbling about having to waste a day off. Unfortunately, by Tuesday the next week, it was right back to Chaosville!
I finally realized… if you want to have a clean and organized office and desk, it must be systemized!
A cleaning system works the same way you use Quality Control Systems to eliminate errors in a company. I went into great detail about that in my book, System Busters: How to Stop Them In Your Business. It tells how we implemented the 100% System of Cleanliness into every area of my company—every office, every desk, EVERY work area.
Toyota’s Kaizen System | No “Slobs” Allowed
About two years ago, I was able to speak for a Continual Improvement Conference in Lexington, Kentucky. During a break, I was able to visit a Toyota manufacturing plant. I was amazed when the tour guide showed us how they had implemented the ‘5S’ (or Kaizen) system. It was not only in the plant, but at every desk in the production management areas. They had gotten down even to the smallest details, just as I had done many years earlier. They actually went a tad farther, marking or taping squares on desks to indicate where a stapler was to be kept when not in use. Toyota workers often work in three shifts, and office workers may share a desk with two or more other people. So, the marks reminded workers to put things back in place for the next shift. It works!
Now, when people visit our company, some have commented, “Philip must be a Clean-Freak. How does he keep his office so clean?” Obviously, they don’t know that I am, as I said, by nature a “slob”! And they have never ridden in my un-systemized SUV with me, to get a cup of Starbucks!
The hotel story in that book I told you about earlier had instantly prompted my entire vision for my operation. What would a totally-systemized business look like? Furthermore, how would it function? And how would it affect customer service and, particularly, profitability? I had never seen such a business, but over the next ten years I watched it become a reality all around me!
Systemization made all the difference!
Did I mention? Great system work! [Even for “Slobs”!]