Friday, July 18, 2008

Systems

Everything in life is run by some type of system, meaning that there is a structure that is defined by its parts and processes. The most successful systems are formed when the objects within the system repetitively follow the procedures in place that allow the system to thrive, or allow the process to take over. Within every system there is a hierarchy that is in place which allows the process of action to form. When each part of the system does its defined duty within the structure, the system gains not only strength, but the sustainability necessary to achieve its desired result.

Bees for example have a three tiered hierarchy; workers, drones, and the Queen.

Worker bees gather food for the hive, clean the hive, and help rear the young. They also collect nectar and water, as well as pollen, which they carry back to the hive. Essentially worker bees are the ones who carry out the day to day tasks of the hive allowing it to thrive.

Drones have only one purpose in life, to mate with the queen. They cannot forage, make pollen, sting, or make beeswax. They are future fathers who after mating die. Their sole existence is in making sure that the species continues by serving the Queen.

The Queen is designed to lay eggs for the hive. She is the mother of the hive and there is only one per hive. Only two things will allow the Queen to leave the hive, 1) to mate, and 2) by reproducing enough bees to allow swarming. In reproduction the Queen is a model of efficiency; producing exactly what is needed for the hive and then creating a new queen when it is time to swarm.


The interesting fact about bees is that in their hierarchy, the Queen is not the final authority on all matters. In fact, worker bees signal the Queen telling her when it is time to start anew and swarm.


There is a lot to be learned by observing successful systems. In business there is a hierarchy that is also three tiered. Successful businesses have people that do the actual work that needs to be done in order for success to happen (workers). There is middle management whose sole purpose is to answer to the boss and help create workers that will do their jobs effectively and efficiently (drones). The boss (Queen) oversees everything that is going on with the business and makes personnel decisions. A good boss will look to expand when the workers have proven that it is time to move on and/or change directions.


Unfortunately for us, the business world is not the same as the world of bees because of three reasons, 1) our workers usually either believe that the system is not going to benefit them (lack of trust in middle management or the boss), 2) that they are deserving of higher stature within the system (reap before they sow), or 3) we believe our systems are successful when they are filled with faults.


What we can learn in order to combat these three reasons for system failure is 1) as management, earn the trust of your employees. Get to know them and allow them to see that you do have their best interests in mind. Allow them to believe that through their ability to follow the systems in place they will be rewarded if they are willing to work the system correctly, 2) recognize hiring mistakes early and make adjustment accordingly. If your personnel are trying to reap before they are willing to sow, cut your losses and move on from your mistake. If you are unwilling to recognize your mistakes, take accountability for them, and then make the changes necessary, then you are the fault in the system not your employees, and 3) analyze your methods of operation and hold yourself to the same standards that you hold your employees to. You can only blame others for so long before you have to look internally and see that you and your systems are the problem. Successful systems do not need to be altered (bees have not changed their systems ever because it is efficient) they just need the proper leadership to make sure that their integrity is maintained.


Success is learned through studying success. There is no need to reinvent systems when there are plenty of examples out there in the world to model. If you want to succeed in life you need to think like a Queen bee. Create your surroundings with what you need to succeed and then when success is achieved follow your workers on the next path, after all, they are just responding to your ability to lead.

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