So each person’s training someone else and they tend to do things the same way much like a tribe would pass the story around the campfire and pass it through generations without having to write it down on to Google docs so, what’s your take on on routine and ritual?
And how do you monitor whether people will use the system or not because I’ll tell you something that comes up a lot, I hear a lot of business owners have created a work wiki and I’ve actually never found anyone who keeps it in shape and their staff actually use it.
So for that reason, we don’t use a work wiki. How do you help people use the system and monitor that adherence and what about when they know it so well that they’re not having to use it, is that a danger or is it the perfection?
Sam: Let me go backwards, our people do not carry a piece of paper around. They know what the processes are exactly and they’re very excited about using them and this is maybe my second biggest question after ‘What kind of software should I use?’. How do I get my people to climb on board? You know, it’s incredibly simple and it’s an incredibly wonderful solution and that is this: you get them to create the process, okay?
So, we have a big multinational company, heads up, it’s not that big. It’s a fifty million-dollar company, but they have offices all over the world and they have two warehouses. So, we go into the warehouse and the manager of the warehouse says, “I can’t get anybody to follow the processes that I set up. They just won’t even read it. They’re going to do it their way. I cannot get them to do it.”
And so, what we do in our consulting with this client, and we did it with this particular one. We said, “Okay, here is what I want you to do. I want you to have your…I want you to take your processes and hand them to your front line people and let them tear them apart. Let them tear them apart and let them create the process”.
And then, what do you get? You get a front line person who’s into the whole thing and they will follow it exactly. And if the leadership lets front office people know, front office, front line people know that they want their input, that they’re creating the processes, the front line people would be completely bought in.
Here is the big mistake that managers make: They write up directions and they give them to their staff and they tell them to do it that way. That’s okay the first part, the second part is not. What they should do is write up the directions, maybe it’s twenty steps, and they hand it to their front line people and they say “Tear this apart. What am I missing here? Help me out with this”, and that’s how you get everybody to buy in.
They get really excited about what’s going on and guess what, in the process people do the SOPs and the working procedures, you don’t have to. All you have to do is review what they did and that’s how you get people to buy in. It’s a bottom up strategy. It’s not a top classic corporate top down strategy, it’s a bottom up strategy. It’s still, you know, a business is still a dictatorship, there’s a leader.
I call it a benevolent dictatorship. This is not about democracy, this is about getting everybody to climb on the same train and get excited about what’s going on.
And you know what happens? I’ll just finish this up with one of the other great effects of this. When you have your front line people, for instance, in this factory I was talking about, doing a process, in this case it was fertilizer being injected into jugs, plastic jugs; fertilizer, liquid fertilizer.
What happens is, you get a new person comes in and they come in and they say “Well, I’m going to do this the best I can and I’m not going to pay any attention to this SOP”. Guess what, the pure group in the front lines will not tolerate that. You know why, because they helped create the SOP. And so, you’ve got a self-policing front line that is really excited and will absolutely follow the SOP.
Now, let me say one more thing about this. This SOP can be changed at any time and very quickly just so an improvement can be made on it. So, the front line warehouse person will go to the manager and say “Look, step number fourteen here is really stupid. Now, for this reason we had a change over here, we don’t need it”.
The manager would do well to go make that change in that five-minute period and distribute the change to everybody on the front line. And that’s how you stay fast and quick and easy and resilient and powerful is making changes that the front line people recommend immediately. That’s how you get people to buy in and it always works.
James: I love it. That’s so true. That’s exactly what happened in my business. I would start a process, go over to my team and say “Here’s what I’ve been doing. This is the result that I want. Can you make it happen without me having to be involved?”. Then, we write down every step on a post-it note and we arrange them on a whiteboard and then we document it.
And, it’s their process that they’ve created now and then they get to do it. In fact, I don’t see most of the new ones that we build anymore, they just copy me in on it and as long as they’re happy with it and we get the results, that’s awesome.
Sam: You sound like a natural to this.
James: Well, I used to run a 100-million dollar a year business as well with seventy-two staff, so I had almost made myself redundant in my last job by having everyone else “systemized”. And coming through that sales environment, it’s so true what you’re saying. I’d say most salespeople wing it through their career, never using a system, never using a checklist.
And, I don’t want to fly in an airplane or be in a hospital where the pilot or the nurse is just winging it. I’m happy for them to use the checklist every time.
Sam: Exactly, exactly.
James: Alright, well, you’ve been so generous with your thoughts. There’s some amazing concepts there. We’ll have the complete transcription available right near this post. I’ll have a link off to your website and to your fantastic book of which I have two copies. It’s so good, I bought it twice. I don’t know if you’ve had that endorsement before.
Sam: Do you have the third edition?
James: I’ve probably got every edition you’ve ever made.
Sam: Alright! The third edition is far better. And listen, your listeners can go to Workthesystem.com and download the book for free with PDF and audio…
James: Yeah, I’ve been sending people to your site for years and to your other interviews and I thought it was about time that I get the man himself on the show. So, go along to WorkTheSystem.com. You can access the book for free, how’s that? Well, thanks for sharing your ideas with us, Sam, and I hope you have a fantastic rest of the evening.
Sam: Well, thank you James, you’re a terrific host and will catch you later.
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