Most of our businesses are run by systems that we have put into place to ensure consistent delivery of products and services. Sometimes these systems are automated and sometimes the systems are manual. However, in every case, these systems are set up, maintained and operated by our people. So, our businesses are run by systems but our people run the systems.
A few years ago I was attending a monthly meeting of The Executive Committee in Calgary and we were discussing some typical business issues that members of the group were facing. We were extremely focused on fixing the business system side of things and one of the group made this statement and it struck everyone as profound.
“our businesses are run by systems but our people run the systems“
People are the core of every business and every business system. Often times we are so focused on the business tools, processes and systems that we forget about the most important part of our business . . . our people!
Edwards Deming introduced a concept in Japan after World War II that revolutionized Japan’s manufacturing industry. Basically, the responsibility to find and fix problems in their manufacturing process was assigned to all employees rather than just the business leaders. The people on the assembly line – those people who were most directly involved and responsible for creating the end product – were now responsible for;
- continuous improvement
- fixing what was broken
- improving quality and product design
- Making the manufacturing more efficient and cost effective
In the same way today, whether you are in a manufacturing, sales or service business, employees need to be empowered to identify problem areas and propose solutions to make the business more effective, efficient and profitable. Our people are the ones running the systems that we set up to enable our businesses. Who would be better placed than these people to identify areas in our businesses that need improvement or to suggest solutions when our businesses face challenges.
Our businesses may be run by systems but these systems are set up, maintained and run by our people. Leverage your most valuable resources – your people – to continuously improve your business and solve business related challenges.
What are you doing this week to empower your people and improve your business?
“We should trust in people not processes.” Ed Catmull