Systems as a safety net

I: Daddy, what do you do in the office? I think you play all day on the computer and you tell me I only can do it for 30 min on the tablet.

Me: Yes, it seems like play; it is fun for me as it is for you too.

I: Does this mean that I can also make money using the tablet?

Me: You could, but it depends what you do.

I: How do you make money?

Me: I do two things: I bring order where is chaos and I develop new toys for people

I: What does that mean?

Me: Is your room a mess after you play?

I: Well, yes, but you will help me clean :) Please say you’ll help me, please, please :)

Me: And do we put everything back so you can easily find all toys when your friend comes over next time?

I: Yes, unfortunately we have to do that, but if I don’t do it, I know I can not find my toys next time and I lost many of them this way.

Me: Actually, the same way I help other people put order in their offices so they can go to play when they want to. Also, we create new games and toys, from time to time.

I: That sounds like a lot of fun, I want to do that, too. When can I come with you to the office?

It’s such a nice feeling to see that as systems progress, purposes become clear, resources create more value and professionals find more personal meaning as they have time to think and acknowledge what they are working on, without the constant hassle of a million small things that don’t really count for progress.

Systemising what we have is a safety net that allows us to maintain our current status while aiming for new one.

But not everyone shares the vision of order, as for many order equals constrainand the opposite of a fulfilling life with mysteries and not knowing what is to come. A system is something pretty abstract for most people.

Order is a matter of perspective. Every homo sapiens has a genetic propensity for order, since this translates to predictability - which we are hardwired for. The degree to which we do it depends on many factors: from our environment, background, family, religion, education etc.

This is the general perception, it’s how non technical people perceive systems. For a technical or logic-driven person, it is easy to understood that a system allows us, humans, to do more everyday and enrich our day-to-day life. And the opposite of a system translates into CHAOS, not into free spirit :)

I enjoy systematising, from the basic things like how to arrange my sport gear in the dressing so it will take me less time to decide what to wear and how to be more efficient with my morning routine or food & sport. It could be argued that these are comparable to a robot mode of making it through the day, and yes, it’s a right assumption, but to a certain degree. Why? Well…

What’s the alternative? Trust genetics that if I just go through everything it will be like it was in my 20's? Actually, a short overview of a 37 years old businessman in my country, tenfold reinforces my programmed expenditure of energy in a system which statistically offers me far greater % based probability of enjoying a healthy life physically and mentally even in my 70’s and 80’s.

When approaching systems from a business point of view, somehow, everyone agrees they are the norm: what does not get measured, does not get done, and no progress can happen.

What results can we obtain if we do not understand, nor believe in the tools we are using? If there is little or no understanding of the underlying mentality from which those tools originated?

I do not believe in systems in my life or in my house, but when I sprinkle some fairy dust systemising in the company I work, something magic unleashes and the mysteries of the universe are unravelled :)

Every business is a system (a set of norms and standards) that can produce on and on a similar or identical result. Sometimes, the system is geographically agnostic (meaning that it works the same, no matter the city or country where it operates - Uber as an example), sometimes it’s language agnostic(Whatsapp creates a connection between a Chinese and Dutch person without having to know their native language). But regardless of characteristics, the better the system, the higher the output.

Innovation, continuous improvement, development are equally important parts, but once you find that perfect blend of milk & cocoa for the shake that everyone is dying for, all you want is to create a system that can produce as much as possible. Once that is systemised, it is easy to focus on innovation or development.

The lines become even more blurred as businesses move from production and retail to services, where most of the processes and deliverables happen in one's mind, on paper or on computer. It’s increasingly difficult to pinpoint the exactness so I just assume a trivial, simple explanation that when I produce or sell something, I physically “bump” into things and this triggers a response.

Ideas are not hard material so there’s no bumping around. This is why we tend to multitask and consume so much information as it is weightless, which falsely creates the impression of space and capability.

There is also the argument that, in services, creativity and innovation are the norm. I firmly believe that, but what has creativity to do with lack of order? The logic of this one goes like this: I can only be creative if my life is a total mess. :) Surely, we can respect certain standards of nowadays life and living and still be very much creative. We would not like very much a poet that gets so creative, he changes the order of the letters or the meaning of the words he uses, nor a painter that has totally abstract shapes beyond our capabilities of reasoning, or a musician whose rhythm sounds like chaotic inferno to our ears.

Even in the artistic world, the fascination comes from the ability to bring order to chaos in a new way.

As I am a startup founder myself, I struggled so much with the hassle and chaos that comes from so many smart ideas, fragmented pieces of projects and difficulty to teach someone scrum when they have no clue of the basic kanban done on an old fashioned whiteboard or blackboard.

It is my belief that especially startups and companies involved in the startup and online ecosystem suffer from serious efficiency issue. The share volume of business and profit margins they have is a blanket which absorbs many wrong decisions or lack of efficacy.

Many times there is a lack of drive or need to do things better as why should I bother improve if I get my paycheck anyway? But the question here is: for how long is this mindset going to last?

To sum up, for me order and systems are the tools that set creativity (spirit) free, The opposite, lack of systems, would be a happy go lucky where most of the people will encounter a free painful fall.

Systems are about enjoying more of today, of what I love to do and what truly matters for my soul and less of what I have to do.

There are passion and pleasure in designing or improving a system, in seeing different outputs and the beneficial effects it has on all members of the group.

Being a startup co-founder and business consultant, it brings for me both of these worlds of innovation & systemisation for a meaningful, joyful and smart life.

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