Why We Resist Systems and What to Do About It

*I Have a System*

02-05-2013 yin and yangI bet you’ve heard from someone you admire that their secret to achieving something exciting is in the system they’ve created.

If they’ve shared the system with you, you probably noticed that it didn’t necessarily involve technology or complex diagrams.

In fact, the “system” was really just a sequence of actions.  What made that sequence a system was that it was easily repeatable and produced the same outcome time and again.

That’s the essence of systems—an optimal, consistent way of doing something YOUR OWN way.

But if our systems are something purely ours, why do we struggle when it comes to creating them?

Having worked with dozens of creative entrepreneurs yearning for more structure in their businesses, I’ve noticed that everyone has their distinct way of doing things.  So, there is no shortage when it comes to individuality.

The problem is in finding optimal routes of doing things.

Your Options

I know that creating systems doesn’t come easily to everyone.   You have to have a certain outlook on things—always keeping in mind the big picture of your business as well as a close-up of specific projects.

It’s not an easy skill to acquire, and don’t assume that just because you are a business owner, you’ve got to know this stuff.   You don’t.

However, if systems are not your forte, hiring a consultant to do it for you is a great investment. 

If that’s not yet an option for you, you have to find the strength to overcome your resistance to creating systems so that you can roll up your sleeves and generate them.

There is no other way around it.  Your business (and your bottom line!) will suffer tremendously until you systemize your work.

Important Things to Remember About Change

Don’t beat yourself up if, in the beginning, establishing these newly formalized routines takes all of your willpower.

It’s not you and it’s not systems.

Redirecting ANYTHING from its usual trajectory requires extra effort.

Think of what happens when you’re driving.

When you need to turn, you have to slow the car down, maybe even come to a short halt (especially before sharp turns), before you get around the corner and can speed up again.

Similar thing happens when you’re used to doing things a certain way.  Even if you know you’re inefficient, it’s still easier to fall into the old routine rather than stop, figure out what would be a better way, regroup and make a habit of the new course of action.

This necessary process seems especially unimaginable if you are juggling a number of things at any given moment and cannot afford to make a “wrong move.”

How to Create a Smoother Transition to Systems

1.  Acknowledge the fact that changing direction is hard for everyone. IT TRULY IS.

 There is NOTHING wrong with you if you find creating systems challenging.  “Challenging” is OKAY.  You don’t need to fix or change yourself.  Accept the “hardness” of the process and it will lose its grip on you.

2. Keep reminding yourself that the new routine will be difficult ONLY in the beginning.

You’ll pick up speed as you get used to looking at your business processes as an observer, finding optimal and consistent ways of doing things and sticking to these new routines.  Working in these new ways will become easier, smoother and more enjoyable.

3.  Overnight perfection isn’t necessary.

 I wish our businesses were like apartments that we can work on as a side project—apply the necessary repairs, make the places beautiful and shiny and then move in.  However, that’s not possible. You have to find a way to balance working ON as well as IN your business, you’ll have to work out the kinks of your systems as you create and implement them.

Baby Steps

Avoid getting overwhelmed by breaking your systems-related work into small, manageable steps that you can take one at a time to reach your bigger goal.

Set aside 15 minutes to write down one of your current processes.  The next day you find the gaps in the process.  Then, come up with ways of optimizing the process.  Last but not least. . . start implementing the new routine.

Step by step, by step, by step.

Pace yourself.  I know you’ll do great.

MY CHALLENGE TO YOU

Have a process in your business that causes constant stress?

Take a bunch of post-its and write out the steps you take.  Find a large surface and arrange these post-its in a chronological order.  Look at the picture objectively and see which actions are totally redundant and which will get you the best results—the fastest. Can you get rid of some of the post-its?  Can you substitute two old ones with a single new one?  Can you visualize the new course of action?

There you go!  You’ve just optimized a system in your business.

Yes, in that example I’ve oversimplified things.  YET, this is one of the simplest and most effective methods you can use, especially in the beginning.

Are you willing to try it?  Let me know in the comments below which process you are going to tackle this week.

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2 comments

  1. I love the way you redefine systems. Instead of being impersonal processes imposed from without (which is what makes so many of us resist them), you’ve helped me see that they really are just “optimal, consistent ways of doing something YOUR OWN way.” I can’t wait until we streamline my blogging process.

    • Jenn, I am delighted to hear that my approach resonates with you! I truly believe that once we redefine systems as the extension of our brand and another way for us to express ourselves, all the resistance to put them in place would fade away!

      Can’t wait to begin working together!

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