Burn the Manual Presents: Designing New Systems for Better Results

By | October 28, 2018

For the last year, I have developed a healthy and in some cases obsessive focus on systems- how they work; how they get created; who determines if it is time for an update.

Everything is systems based and success and failure is highly determined by an individuals level of self discipline within the system of their choosing.

Perhaps systems and self discipline are one in the same. Perhaps they are equally important and should be nurtured simultaneously. Maybe there should be a devotion to one and then another.

My new bible- Reality is Broken– put me on the intellectually obsessive path regarding systems and how they work. During my reading, I discovered the often misunderstood world of gaming and why it is such a phenomenon. Gaming, like the world is a system of interlocking strands and self supporting entities that all need each other and require that each entity do its part.

McGonigal states in her highly successful TED talk why gaming and systems work.

Agreements run long and strong within this world.

Using this book and my personal life and work experiences, I would like to address the issues around using and inventing systems in an effort to create something remarkable in the workplace and the home.

Every job I’ve had (and I’ve had a bazillion of them) has been designed to obtain a particular outcome. Surprisingly, each of them no matter how awful or lovely was successful in creating a particular result.

At Starbucks the goal was simple: hire as many hood rats as possible who half work and have no ambition.

When I worked near Wall Street advising people on what to do with their wayward shares, the goal was equally mind numbing- get people to vote with the board of directors then get on to the next call.

Teaching was no different- keep the kids quiet and busy. Should they be engaged and learning or challenging what we are force feeding them in terms of information?

Watching systems develop that either don’t require much from people or require a helluva lot has taught me a great deal. Primarily, it is the well documented proof that systems are created and or recreated based on what is attempting to be achieved.

Most work systems suck because they are based on passion and intentions. Passions, good intentions, wishes, hopes and fairy dust are based on feelings and feelings only last so long.

Feelings are in constant flux and are never great barometers of what is true, accurate and or should be acted on.

They are a great place to start and yet they can often mislead us and cause us to act from bias or blind spots.

If much of what we do is based on feelings and intentions, no one can be called on the carpet when shit goes sideways. Rather than rely on feelings why not create a system loaded with immediate and ongoing feedback then allow the results to speak for themselves.

Systems will provide you with all the information you need regarding what needs changing and what is working properly.

It will also let you know who needs to be shown the door and who undoubtedly is not pulling their weight.

Systems can be co-designed with all of the involved parties lending suggestions and insights or it can simply be an opportunity to gather and congratulate one another on our good intentions and great creative ideas.

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