If you can break the system, the system isn’t strong enough!

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broken blue plate on concrete ground

If you can break the system, the system isn’t strong enough!

A business owner said to me the other day “people keep getting the system wrong and there are consistent screwups!!…”

We discussed the saying: “if you can break the system, the system isn’t strong enough!!” and they answered the following questions: 

Are people following the correct steps in the process?  Have they been trained properly? And Do you use checklists?The way to prevent people from making errors in the system, is to design a system that won’t allow them to make those errors!  Errors/issues are opportunities for improvement.  They are weaknesses in your business that, if strengthened, will provide a better work environment, produce more satisfied customers and will increase the value of your business.Are you finding that numbers or figures are being entered incorrectly?  Try including a step in another process to ensure someone is confirming the numbers are consistent.  Or upgrade the system so items are only entered once – by the customer! An example might be: An order comes in and triggers a process through to the operations of the business.  This order also initiates the invoicing process.  They follow their necessary paths through the business ‘system’.  Just before the final product is sent to the customer with the invoice, there is an opportunity to ensure they are the same as each other eg 3 widgets physically and 3 widgets on the Invoice.  This is a simple example, but hopefully you get what I mean.  I’m sure we’ve all seen the situation where we’ve been under or over charged!  Ultimately, you want to design your business system so it will not allow the next process to occur until it has been confirmed as correct!Toyota – a world leader in lean processing and continuous improvement, has designed their ‘just in time’ systems to highlight the ‘weak links’ in their production chain… specifically so they can improve them.  They don’t allow stockpiles of inventory to sit as a buffer just in-case a machine breaks down.  They identify where it could break down and implement measures to prevent it from breaking down.I know many business owners who would say “well, they are Toyota, they can afford to not have any buffer for the event of a process being held up!”… Actually, this is how Toyota became the Toyota we know today.  Continuous improvement.Therefore, look for areas where your ‘systems’ are weak and improve them so they can’t break.  Welcome opportunities to put your system to the test to see whether it can withstand the greatest of user error! You’ve all heard of the saying: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”…  I think this is the lazy man’s version of “I don’t want to deal with that at the moment”. Look at situations from a risk management point of view.  “what is the likelihood of a certain consequence occurring?”  Can I accept that risk?  If I can’t accept that risk, do something about it!If you want to know more about designing a business system that is continuously improving, reducing risk and increasing your business’ ability to produce reliably consistent, high quality results, please contact me for more information.Effective systems will run your business for you.

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About Bruce

I’m ‘The Systems Guy’!  I add value to businesses like yours through the development and implementation of systems and measuring performance.

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