by Sam Carpenter
Updated June 9, 2021
Thanks for taking the time to go deeper into the Work the System methodology. Here’s a quick summary of what it’s about. -sc
First, here’s what we do as an organization (and I’ll put it in a nutshell): The purpose of my book, and Josh Fonger’s consulting/coaching business, is to help owners of small to medium sized businesses, break loose; to finally eliminate organizational inefficiency so growth can happen, profits can increase and personal freedom can be found. Read the Preface to the Fourth edition of my book which gives a more thorough overview.
Bricks and mortar, virtual, retail, construction, service or product-producer, owner-operated or with a large staff: It doesn’t matter. Whatever the business, dysfunction almost always has its roots in the same foundational weakness: a fire-killing, chaotic, non-systematic approach.
Do you sometimes think you’re spending your day fruitlessly, “herding cats?” Are you positive you can prosper, but just can’t make it happen?
If so, read on. you’ll find this interesting.
Our uniqueness is this: In a very short period of time, we help business owners turn their operations into super-efficient machines that can grow. We help the business owner to finally break on through to the other side.
Once the owner “gets” the systems mindset, and the organizational systemization is underway, we’re not needed anymore. How long does it take? Usually just a few months of part-time effort. (There’s some work for you to do, but it really is a simple thing.)
There is no other organization that does what we do.
How do we help, beyond the book? Josh’s premier on-site consulting, group and one-on-one Coaching, Business Documentation Software and Certification are some of his services and products. Find out more under the PRODUCTS and SERVICES tabs on the toolbar at the top of this page.
The Work the System methodology takes a simple yet deep tact, one that begins with a single “tweak” in the leader’s perspective of how the business mechanically functions. With the new vantage point, inefficient methodologies are easy to detect and subsequent necessary actions come naturally. But yes, the transformation requires thoughtfully sequenced steps.
The Work the System method compliments the brilliant works of elite motivators and business/personal gurus such as Steven Covey, Anthony Robbins, Jim Collins, Robert Ringer, Michael Gerber and Dale Carnegie. Better said, the method gets underneath these proven methodologies and makes them even more potent.
In my business, the one I still own and operate, I worked 80-100 hours a week for 15 years with an income just barely enough to support me and my two children. (I was a single custodial parent.) But when the “Systems Mindset” vision came to me twenty-two years ago, in a single moment of time, I immediately began to turn things around. I now work perhaps one hour per month while my personal income is…let’s just say, more than my wife Diana and I need. I operate a number of ventures including an international non-profit, but my original business of 36 years, Centratel, a telephone answering service with approximately 800 competitors nationwide is, by several statistical measurements, #1 in the industry.
How do you get the book? Buy the hard cover version on Amazon or in bookstores. You’ll find the book on Kindle and Audible, too.
Work the System addresses the following reality: Many corporate managers and entrepreneurs/business owners see their worlds as a complex, confused, random mass of sights, sounds, and events. And because of this misperception of reality, the leader is working long stressed hours, killing fires and performing endless recurring tasks…and is almost always contending with cash flow problems. There is no time or money to build solid infrastructure, coddle customers, train staff properly or do the creative tasks necessary for growth. Usually, family life is a struggle too. Add to this, health problems. It’s a pity: as the years march on, entire lives are spent this way! You know it’s true. You’ve seen it…or are maybe experiencing it.
It’s incredibly frustrating to know that there are growth possibilities but not be able to make it happen. Yes?
So, what is the foundational reason for business mediocrity and failure? The leader doesn’t see the mechanisms that are producing the bad results. The systems of life are there, working constantly, whether one sees them or not. So it follows that unseen (and therefore unmanaged) systems will produce random bad results. Fixing these bad results is called fire-killing. The leader who is blind to the machinery that is producing the bad results won’t be able to reach in to adjust it so it will create desired results. The successful leader sees the machinery and therefore can adjust it to produce desired results. It’s the seeing part that is critical.
It’s about the systems. It’s not about IQ, educational degree, good looks, personal charm or even how hard one works. Those are great attributes, but the systems of life don’t care about any of those things. It’s the machinery, machinery that is managed properly — regardless of who is managing it –that will produce desired results.
Yes, it’s that simple….
The Systems Mindset constantly pays attention to the machinery, always focused on system improvement. And, not once in a while, but all day long…this is how one breaks loose. This is how dysfunction goes away and growth finally happens.
The Work the System Method requires a simple change in mindset – the adoption of an “outside and slightly elevated” vantage point – a view that vividly sees the separate systems of the world. I call this, “getting it.” The Systems Mindset is logical and self-evident as it produces incredible efficiency at work and in personal life. The added bonus? A relaxed, confident state of mind that stems from solid command of events and outcomes.
Life is under control.
The WTS methodology is not hocus-pocus, mystical or esoteric. It’s about simple, believable real-world mechanics. There’s no need for a list of tips or for motivational gimmicks, although my book Work the System offers a thorough compendium of guidelines for when the “get-it” insight occurs. There is no need to change occupations or upset the family. It’s a personal evolution that will benefit everyone already in the picture. Once the vision is acquired – the moment-to-moment ability to starkly perceive the myriad of separate, independent systems in one’s world – new, correct actions will be taken naturally and things will fall into place as confusion diminishes. (Part One of Work the System is designed to guide the reader into acquiring the new mindset.)
The heart of the systems mindset: Our individual lives are NOT inherently chaotic and at the mercy of random or hostile outside influences. And despite the media’s never ending doomsday diatribes, in whole the world is not problematic. Whether you perceive them or not, your life is a collection of individual linear systems, the vast majority of which operate with incredible efficiency, and each of which ultimately produces some kind of result. Every result and situation in our lives is the end-product of an underlying linear system…and most systems work just fine! In fact, systems WANT to work as they are designed.
Consider the complexities of a tree, business, car, house, or human body. All of these “primary systems” are in existence due to countless sub-systems that work together to form that particular entity. For example, the human body is an incredibly complex arrangement of billions of cells…and trillions of electrical signals executing each second. Subsystems include neuromuscular, structural; cardiovascular, etc. It all works near-flawlessly as subsystems interact, adjust, and maintain themselves.
And that’s just the human body. Incredible perfection surrounds us! Can you start to see it? Just look around.
The whole world operates in this way! So, despite our tendency to focus on the relatively few imperfections in our lives, simple observation leads to the following conclusion: the huge majority of systems around us work just fine. Truth is, the world as a whole is 99.9% flawless in its operation…and this fact not only gives the observer a new sense of appreciation of life, it also demonstrates there isn’t that much to adjust in order to break free, to “get what one wants.”
“Getting” this new vision means a more efficient life, a life more in tune with how the world actually mechanically operates.
If we thoroughly understand how a machine works, we’re better able to fix that machine and then take it to optimum functionality. It’s that simple, and it’s exactly what I did with every facet of my own life. And in my business? It’s made up of people who see things in the same simple way. They “get it”!
For the people we assist? Our singular end-product is in enabling the business owner to quickly break through; to eliminate dysfunction for once and for all so growth can happen.
Jake Taylor of Five Good Questions interviews Sam:
At work, how does one fix what is inefficient? It’s breathtakingly simple. View the workplace as it is: a collection of individual linear systems – how the phone is answered, how a complaint is handled, how a sales presentation is performed, how customers are billed. Know that these systems are separate from each other. (Yes, of course, they interact with each other, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t independent entities.)
Perfect systems executed perfectly 100% of the time: For each system, typically in a simple 1-2-3-4 step format, document the execution. Then, with staff, brainstorm and then improve the sequence of steps until they are perfect. Document the system (documentation must happen!). Then, reinsert the perfected system back into the operation. As a matter of policy, everyone in the organization will execute each perfected system in exactly the same sequence every single time – yet everyone understands that if a system can be improved due to their input, the adjustment will be made instantly. This “bottom up” strategy is a key element of the work-the-system formula!
“Bottom-up.” Reread the previous paragraph and note: under your leadership, your staff will create the ongoing documentation. They are the ones who will do the system improvement work, from the bottom up. This is key to employee loyalty and enthusiasm! Do this, and you’ll get the buy-in from your people that you’ve always wanted..
Here is the heart of the Method: Your job is not to be a fire-killer. Your job is to be a fire-prevention specialist. Stop expending energy in the constant repair of the bad results that have been produced by your unseen and therefore unmanaged systems. Instead, spend your days observing and then managing the systems that are creating the results. Do this in your business and get the results you’ve always wanted: growth and freedom.
Does this sound regimented? Some of it is regimented, but the release valve is in giving your people the power to constantly “tweak” systems to higher efficiency. It’s a workplace culture centered around system improvement, not in fire-killing. In the systems mindset-driven business, management and staff adjust systems constantly. That’s how they spend their time. It’s what they do. And getting everyone to climb on board is a simple matter because once things begin to fall into place, and it won’t take long, you and your people will make more money and the work environment will become serene…and there will be a powerful sense of pride throughout the organization. There will be no going back to the way things were because everything is now working so smoothly. Best of all, powerful growth can and will happen….
Is there something here for a one-person operation or for a corporate middle manager? Yes! This is about dramatically improving efficiency, and the more efficient one is, the more one gets what one wants out of life…and that will typically include a rapidly expanding solo business or a fast climb up the corporate ladder.
What size businesses do we assist? Our current roster of coaching and consulting clients range between 100K and $500M in annual revenue.
And if you haven’t already, subscribe to our mailing list (via the home page of this site).
Boot-camps, speaking and a Mastermind opportunity: Note that I periodically conduct boot camps in my hometown of Bend, Oregon, and I do occasional speaking engagements. Join our mailing list and we’ll keep you informed.
Quotes from Work the System.
“Here’s a more general observation: In the past thirty years the lure of instant gratification has gripped a huge chunk of our population. For the hooked-up masses—those who are seriously addicted to smart-phones, Twitter, Facebook and the immediacy/pervasiveness of the entertainment industry—it’s a stretch to go backward to consider the root of things. The gratification of the moment is a distraction from thoughtful contemplation of the reasons why events happen as they do. Today, a good “now” is available by just turning off and plugging in. For too many of us, slowing down to examine things is not entertaining, and that’s too bad because it is mandatory that we take the time to understand the machinery of our lives if we are to modify that machinery to produce the results we desire.”
“Life is serious business and whether you know it or not—or whether you like it or not—your personal systems are the threads of the fabric of your life. Together, your personal systems add up to you. And if you are like most people, you negotiate your days without seeing your systems as the singular entities they are, some working well and some not so well.”
“The focus must be on the proactive management of systems, not in coping with random bad results due to unseen and therefore unmanaged systems.”
“Blue-blood, old-school psychologists who see endless dour complexity in the human condition will sniff at the simplicity of the Work the System message. Things are more complicated than that, they’ll say. I thank them in advance for the oblique complement. This is an elementary, dispassionate, drop-the-load dispatch that describes lives as they really are: cause-and-effect mechanisms that can be logical, predictable, and satisfying. No PhD necessary.”
“Without prodding, nor willing it to happen, I stepped outside my life, rose above it and looked down, never again to settle back into the morass that had been my existence. There was nothing mystical about this new vantage point. It was mechanical and logical. I saw that the solution to my business problems did not lie in becoming more proficient at whacking moles—the solution was to find a way to eliminate the moles altogether.”