A Bad System Will Beat a Good Person Every Time

A Bad System Will Beat a Good Person Every Time - Predictable Profits

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A bad system will beat a good person every time - Predictable Profits

The importance of having great systems for running your company can’t be overstated. Systems help you grow and succeed, but only when implemented correctly.

Dr. W Edwards Deming, the man credited with single-handedly transforming Japan from a post-war wreck to one of the world’s strongest economies, has many quotes emphasizing the importance of quality business process management, including:

“A bad system will beat a good person every time”

Whether you’re just starting out or already established, you must plan business process management systems. Your company’s success (or failure) depends on how your systems interact with other operations and duties. And so you must always make the effort to constantly optimize and improve your business systems.

Even when you hire and empower the best employees, you’ll never maximize their talents and abilities with faulty systems.

This is why constant optimization and innovation are so important. It ensures your systems elevate your company, freeing you up to focus on growth activities and ensuring your operations run smoothly even when you’re not around.


Systems: The Ultimate Form of Leverage

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the axe - Predictable Profits

We often discuss the importance of leverage and systems at Predictable Profits. To better understand the meaning behind Deming’s quote, let’s turn to another nugget of wisdom — this time from Abraham Lincoln:

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the ax.”

Lincoln’s quote is similar to Deming’s in that it speaks to the importance of preparation and having the right tools for the job. It’s foolish to chop down a tree with a dull ax, just as it’s foolish to try growing a business without well-functioning systems.

Another quote in understanding the importance of systems is an old adage carpenters use when plying their trade:

“Measure twice, cut once.” 

In business, we can apply this quote by taking the time upfront to map out processes and procedures rather than winging it or making changes on the fly. 

Systems provide leverage. They enable you to do more with fewer resources — expanding your reach without sacrificing quality or service.

The Concept of Leverage - Predictable Profits

Systems allow for fast hiring, easy replication of success, and they prevent overwhelm. You can find out more about leverage and systems in the Beyond 7 Figures Podcast episode, “Growth Secrets Part 3 of 3: The Power of Leverage”, with Charles Gaudet.

What Can You Do When You Have Bad Systems in Place?

It’s easy to say people should create their own systems, but the reality is that individual systems can’t scale.

As Deming said, “Best efforts are essential. Unfortunately, best efforts, people charging this way and that way without guidance of principles, can do a lot of damage. Think of the chaos that would come if everyone did his best, not knowing what to do.” 

The concept is comparable to the maxim “work smarter, not harder.” You can’t go where you want by continuing to take the wrong steps. 

You must focus not on trying harder within the current system but on changing the system so that success is built in. 

Best efforts are essential - Dr. W. Edwards Deming - Predictable Profits


Bad Systems Lead To Missed Growth Opportunities

A good system streamlines processes and optimizes performance. It ensures everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal. 

Yet good people can only do so much within a bad system before becoming bogged down by its shortcomings.

How You Know It’s Time To Revamp Your Business Systems

Nine signs that tell you it's time to revamp your systems - Predictable Profits

Is your company set up in a way that encourages individuals to give their best effort, or does it stifle their creativity and productivity?

If you’re experiencing more of the latter, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your systems. 

Here are nine signs you might need to revamp your systems:

  1. You constantly put out fires. 
  2. You have too many manual processes. 
  3. Procedures take forever to complete. 
  4. Important tasks fall through the cracks. 
  5. Activities often get lost in translation. 
  6. You lack continuity between departments. 
  7. Client requests just sit on your desk. 
  8. Data governance is a joke. 
  9. Employees aren’t aligned with company goals.


You need a good system to take your business to the next level - Predictable Profits

Be meticulous about creating your business process management systems, as they could not only lead your company to success, but to failure as well. Be wary about how your process interacts with other operations and duties.

Read more about it here: “Business Systems: How to Create a Business that Works For You.”

Systems Work Best Alongside Constant Optimization and Innovation

Constant optimization and innovation ensures updated and effective business systems. But business systems are never perfect. They require continuous improvement.

The key is having systems flexible enough to accommodate changes. This requires having a team dedicated to continual optimization and innovation.

When thinking about optimization in your business, you talk about getting the most out of what you already have. By systematically implementing small incremental changes to help improve your systems, you can get more value out of your leads, your conversions, your traffic, and so on. 

Through constant innovation, you write new rules, create industry firsts and build new profit centers for breakthrough results with fresh strategies that keep your company on the cutting edge while leading your competition.

To truly systemize your business, you need checklists, flowcharts, manuals, and technology. You must make your processes detailed enough so that anyone with a baseline skill level can repeatedly produce the same results.

Read more about it here: “How to Create a Self-Growing Business (With Systems).”

About Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Deming is widely acknowledged as the leading management thinker in the field of quality. 

He was a renowned business consultant whose methods helped jumpstart Japan’s recovery after World War II and its rise to a world economic power. 

His methods sparked the quality revolution worldwide, with companies such as Ford, Toyota, Xerox, Ricoh, Sony, and Proctor & Gamble (among many others) adopting his groundbreaking management methods.

At the heart of Deming’s philosophy is the belief in continual improvement. He continued to author and lecture well into his 90s. His final book, The New Economics, was published after passing in 1993.

More about Dr. W. Edwards Deming and his life’s work, The Deming System of Profound Knowledge, can be found on his official website.

A Final Word on Bad Business Systems (And What You Should Do About Them)

A bad business system can single-handedly ruin any company. 

Successful businesses don’t just happen. They are the result of careful planning and hard work. But even the best plans can fail if robust systems don’t support them. This is why it’s important  you build success into your business systems from the start. 

Creating a successful business is about putting the right pieces together. Each piece needs to fit smoothly with the others, like a puzzle, for the final picture to come together. 

Remember, bad systems can turn even the most enthusiastic workers into frustrated poor performers. But great systems help good people become even better.

Take action today by sharpening your axe. Build better systems.

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