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Articles > Positioning Systems Newsletter #45 5-24-05 “Karoshi”

“If I begin to create systems for my business, won’t I have an endless amount of systems to build, evaluate and innovate? How will I ever get more time if I’m busy creating systems? Even if this is strategic work, there seems no end to it. How will I get more life if I’m spending all my time creating systems?”

In Japan they have a term karoshi that literally translated means “death from overwork.” They began to publish this information in 1987 through the Japanese Ministry of Labor and some ten thousand deaths a year are now attributed to karoshi. From your statement it would appear you are headed for this if you intend to spend endless amounts of time being responsible for building systems.

While the intention of the Mastery Program is to build systems to provide consistency and predictability in your business at no time do we subscribe to the view point that you as the owner are the sole builder of systems to operate your business. In fact while building systems is very much a strategic function, accepting sole responsibility for building all the systems in your business would mean you would get swallowed up again in an almost "doing it" type of activity and lose the opportunity to have more life in the process.

Be careful of recognizing this type of strategic work as the sole engagement of your job description. The intention is not only to become more strategic, but to get work done through others so you can have more freedom. Systems alone will not provide the vision you desire. One of my colleagues recently offered that the formula for business development is BD = SD + PD. BD stands for Business Development, while SD is for Systems Development and PD is for People Development. Of course in order to have People Development we need a system to develop them.

System Development is not the sole responsibility of the owner. You initiate it, and know what it looks like, and even how to do it, but in most businesses the owner is rarely the person writing and documenting the business systems. Think about it, would you expect President Bush, Ross Perot or Donald Trump to be busy writing systems? They have much better use of their time and are involved at a much higher level decision making then writing the systems for their business or government.

Who better to write the systems for your business than the people at the operating level of your company? At this base level we need to teach our employees not only what a system is but how to document it effectively so that they and anyone who follows them can be trained to do the same task consistently and predictably every single time. Once the system is in place, it really is seldom consulted, isn't it? But none the less it is there for review and for innovation. When it needs to be evaluated or updated it can be when new opportunities present themselves. An effective employee at the operating level of our business who can document and understand the importance of system is the next manager or leader for your business. In training your employees to write systems you are effectively providing them with the roadmap to management if they wish to grow and improve in that direction. They should immediately begin to understand over time that effective management is not done by managing people, As we’ve often mentioned here, people are unmanageable. Managing the system is the only way to get consistent predictable results.

Your job as the owner is to get systems in place in your business. Getting results through others, getting your people to document your systems is one of your most critical opportunities. Do you know how to do this? Are you effectively developing your people to learn this?

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Positioning Systems helps business owners and entrepreneurs transform their business.  We provide the tools and coaching to help you take control of your business -- rather then having your business control you.