big-brother-1This first of three blogs, Systems versus Big Brother Part 1, was written in response to some who think business systemization is too rigid. Read on, and decide for yourself… unless you’re not experiencing any amount of chaos in your business!

There’s a common theme to the arguments in opposition to the value of imposing strict systems for operating a business. I’ve sometimes heard the following:

“It takes the humanness out of the job!”

“It might not be good for employee morale!”

“Sounds like Big Brother!?”

During my own quest to systemize our company, I admit there were times I would get the same feeling! The key word here is, of course, “FEELING!”  What I know about feelings is, they are rarely an indicator of the real truth of a matter.

The Truth of the Matter

Until I started getting REAL DATA on how our systems were affecting our business, I also ran my business on feelings. Employees expressed how they “felt” about this or that; often changing courses, based on their feelings.

Years ago, one of our most technically savvy employees “felt sure” we did NOT need the Quality Control System I was implementing. He preferred to rely solely on his experience and personal skills. I must confess, I had no real data at that time to challenge his feelings.

Thank God, however, that MY feelings changed as we continued with the implementation. I was determined to fight the good fight, to reduce waste and the chaos it was causing in our business.

So, I began measuring those “feelings” against real, cold, hard and unbiased DATA.

Story time…

As our first version of System100™ launched, I met with our production administrator (let’s call him Bob). We discussed one of the systems we were Beta testing. This particular system measured the number of errors, and the cost and time lost by an employee for a given period.

Our company had measured errors and waste using a manual system, prior to my developing the software. It had taken lot of time to pull reports with the old manual systems; using a calculator and inputting the findings into a spread sheet.

Ahead of meeting with Bob, I planned to pull reports on all of our employees, to measure errors made in the previous year. However, before I had the new software generate these reports, I asked Bob the following question:

“Of the five employees in a [specific] department, which employee would you say made the LEAST errors? And, which one made the MOST?”

Bob said, “That’s easy,” and he quickly wrote down, in order from 1-5, who he believed made the least to most. I looked at his list and, based on my own knowledge of that department, I agreed with his assessment. Of course, we were both just making our best guesses.

The REAL Story…

Now it was time to see what the real, hard and unbiased numbers would tell us.

I pulled the report on all five of the employees in that department, and I can tell you, both our jaws dropped. The software report confirmed that the one we “felt” had made the least errors, had actually made the MOST. And the one we felt made the most, had made the least. At first, even I didn’t believe the reports. I told Bob I thought there must be some kind of bug in our software.

So, I asked Bob to pull all the hard copies of the prior years’ System Buster/Corrective Action forms. We needed to calculate the number of errors and resulting cost, etc. for each of those five employees. Bob came back a few hours later with his findings. We were both stunned that the manual accounting confirmed the software’s report.

What did Bob and I learn that day? Our GUESSES, our human “feelings,” were wrong!  The cold, unbiased SYSTEM was correct in its assessment of who had made the most and least errors.

If you were an employee who made very few mistakes in your work, and were up for promotion, by which criteria would you hope to be evaluated? Would it be Bob’s and my human feelings, or an unbiased, but accurate, so-called “Big Brother” system?

Did I mention? Great systems work!