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Systems thinking is more prevalent than you probably realize

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Systems thinking is more prevalent than you probably realize

Scott Miker

Years ago I worked for a non-profit organization that assisted small businesses.  We provided all sorts of resources for them and guidance on areas of their business. 

This was a great experience for me.  Being a former small business owner, I had an inside view to some of the challenges that small business owners face.  I also had started to better understand how business owners could use systems to improve their business.

One of the projects that I worked on was to meet with experienced business owners and gauge their willingness to provide insight to our general membership.  I met with small business owners who had achieved great success and it was great to get an inside look at their success.   

One thing that stood out to me was that most of them seemed to have the business systems understanding that is important for running a small business.  While most small business owners lacked this knowledge, the experts all seemed to have an understanding of how these systems interacted.   

While I was able to see examples of their use of systems, their awareness of these systems was all over the place. 

Most of these experts were very aware of how to use systems in their business to succeed and had read the books such as Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline, Michael Gerbers Emyth, and Gino Wickman’s Traction

When I would meet with them they would use the language presented in these books and walk through the systems they oversee in their business.  They studied business system improvement and it showed by their massive success. 

Then there was a group of experts that seemed to have the systems improvement mindset but didn’t seem to have read any of the books on how to do it.  It seemed like they either just naturally thought this way or it was handed down to them from someone else.  Sometimes they took over a business from a parent who instilled this insight into them throughout their life.  Sometimes they had a business partner that was the systems expert.   

Then there were some that didn’t have any specific insight into how to use systems in their business.  They were usually successful because they were able to leverage some aspect of their business skills (such as sales or relationship building) and this leveraged aspect allowed for them to specialize, in a sense. 

While the knowledge of using systems in a small business environment was present in many of these conversations, I quickly found out that most of them didn’t then take this insight and apply it to their personal life.  It seemed like systems thinking and systematic improvement was, to them, mostly a useful tactic for improving a small business only. 

This is where I started out also.  I would use the systems approach in my business but then would go home and follow bad habits and utilize inefficient systems in my personal life.  The ability to use the same mindset didn’t come right away.

But I was able to start to connect the dots.  I started to see that improving a process or procedure in business is similar to improving a routine or habit in our personal life.  The systems view was still there, it is just that these systems might not be the traditional business systems that most people think about. 

You can take this insight and apply it to your own life.  You can use the systematic improvement techniques businesses have used for decades and modify them to fit with your personal aspirations.  Just as this approach worked to transform these small businesses into successful powerhouses driving profit to the owners, you can use the same tactics to drive happiness and success to your life.