Sunday, November 15, 2009

Curious about Systems: We All Have Systems for Our Lives. What Are Yours? And Are They Working Effectively?

The way to build a complex system that works is to build it from very simple systems that work.” - Kevin Kelly, American editor

Man's striving for order, of which art is but one manifestation, derives from a similar universal tendency throughout the organic world; it is also paralleled by, and perhaps derived from, the striving towards the state of simplest structure in physical systems.” - Rudolf Arnheim, German artist

I know that I have written previously about “Systems.” However, I am thinking a lot about them because I just visited my daughter and her husband in Hawaii, where they have created and make use of systems in their successful Hawaiian basket business. The baskets, which sell abundantly, are beautiful and striking with each one being unique.

When I asked my daughter about how they produce and sell so many baskets, she answered immediately with the seven steps they take for each. They have devised the systems that work, starting with collecting the natural ingredients to the final mailing of the baskets to purchasers. She and her husband have the procedure in place, and each knows and fulfills their step and/or steps for which they are responsible. Note that there is overlapping of some of the steps.

This successful organization of systems started me thinking about my “Portfolio Career” – many careers at the same time – and how I do have systems in place for many of the careers and yet not for others.

For example, in teaching my group fitness classes I definitely follow systems and notice that my students enjoy the organization. When it comes to writing, I have systems in place for my e-newsletters, but not so for my e-books which lag behind. I am developing systems for handling social media networking and one-on-one coaching. I also realize that once I develop systems for each of my careers, I become more and more productive in that area.

What about you?

Let’s share some of the great quotations I found:

  • “A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.” - Stephen Covey, American businessman

  • “A creative element is surely present in all great systems, and it does not seem possible that all sympathy or fundamental attitudes of will can be entirely eliminated from any human philosophy.” - Morris Raphael Cohen, Russian philosopher

  • All physical systems can be thought of as registering and processing information, and how one wishes to define computation will determine your view of what computation consists of.” - Seth Lloyd, American educator

  • Human beings, viewed as behaving systems, are quite simple. The apparent complexity of our behavior over time is largely a reflection of the complexity of the environment in which we find ourselves.” - Herbert Simon, American scientist

  • Systems are to be appreciated by their general effects, and not by particular exceptions.” - James F. Cooper, American novelist

  • In simple terms, we are aligning our business today with the way we believe future systems are going to be designed, acquired and maintained.” - Phil Condit, American businessman

And a couple more for you to chew upon:

I believe that our very survival depends upon us becoming better systems thinkers.” - Margaret J. Wheatley, American writer

In my case, I used the elements of these simple forms - square, cube, line and color - to produce logical systems. Most of these systems were finite; that is, they were complete using all possible variations. This kept them simple.” - Sol LeWitt, American artist

So, how about you? Do you have systems that work for you? We would love to have you share them.