I admit it I am an obsessive student of systems.
Systems are everywhere from your body( 11 systems plus) to your daily personal system, to the school system you went to, the business system, probably systems you work for and how you do your work, the road system or transportation system you use to get to work, the computer system you have at work and at home or in your pocket, the city, state or national government system etc, etc, etc.
We use the word so much I am not sure we have a good definition. I like this one from the thousands available from Margaret Rouse firstname.lastname@example.org posted on WhatIs.com.
“A system is a collection of elements or components that are organized for a common purpose.” This is a simple yet powerful definition as It describes the three of the main characteristics( bolded) of organizational systems we all live in.
Today let’s look at organizational systems. In thinking about these organizational systems, three questions come to mind.
1. Have you ever noticed that some of the systems we live in are exceptional, not functional or even harmful?
2. What leads to a system being exceptional, not functional or even harmful?
3. Can a system change?
The answer to #1 is simple and sad. We have all have probably lived in exceptional, not functional or even harmful organizational systems The answer to questions #2 & #3 requires a classification system.
l am going to consider a classification terminology loosely based on the 1966 Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western” Classic” The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.
I included the link below to explain this movie to those readers who have no idea what movie I am referring to.
I see three types of Organizational systems, The Good, The Bad The Ugly. They are briefly described below using Margret Rouses and some “real-world examples”
1. The Good system
The Good Organizational system contains all three factors listed in Margret Rouse’ definition. This system has a collection and organization of components and elements. The difference in this system is the primacy of purpose and adding value in organization ‘s purpose and leadership are built on foundational values and a mindset of serving the leadership committed to growing leaders and embracing change seeing an opportunity to consider change opportunity. My Wife is a 40 yr Senior Sales Director in Mary Kay cosmetics. Last week I got to experience this system at the annual Mary Kay Seminar. Nathan Moore, the President of Mary Kay North America, began the opening session thanking everyone for all they did to practice the Mary Kay priorities of God, Family, and Business to empower others which will empower us creating momentum to fulfill Mary Kay’s Dream to “Enrich Women’s Lives”. The seminar was a celebration of success, recognition of achievement and education. Included was a tour of a new production facility that is a certified green building and a one million dollar plus donation to Mary Kay Charitable to eradicate domestic abuse and women’s cancer. Interestingly the most prestigious award in Mary Kay given out is “The Go Give Award” This award has nothing to do with sales performance, it is based on service to others and the community. The final session concluded with a review of the Mary Kay Values and Nathan Moore thanking all for their efforts and reminding all “I am your biggest fan”. Mary Kay is a model of the Good system that values people and has for 56 years. 56 years without a layoff in any facility
2. The Bad System
The Bad system may have a collection and organization of components and elements. The real issue is the purpose and adding value. These systems may have the purpose of self-serving owners or leaders of the organizational system. It may not be displayed that way on the mission statement but all that work there know it. The leadership mindset is me and profit or market share first you second and short term change for profitability. A look at the news especially at the end of a fiscal year or quarter will show layoffs to increase profitability in many of these organizational systems. Another example was cited of this at last week’s seminar by David Hull CEO of Mary Kay International, who noted a disturbing trend of direct selling companies opening storefront or online selling operations directly going to the company to order products creating direct competition with its own direct selling force. These systems don’t value people they value profit.
3. Ugly System
The Ugly system may have a collection and organization of components and elements in place but are as Margret Heffernan stated in a TED Talk are “Willfully Blind” to their impact on their employees, customers and society and totally focused on maintaining their bottom line. The system may say they value people but their actions speak a different story. The Ugly system has a mindset of TTWADI, That ‘s the way we always did it” to operate the system and little demonstrated concern for adding value. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of this organizational system, from states stealing from pension funds, lead-contaminated water in cities like Flint Michigan and Detroit, Wells Fargo credit fraud, Volkswagen cheating on emissions tests and Atlanta school system test cheating for starters. The point here is that none of these systems had a purpose of adding value to those they served and caused harm.
In conclusion, there is a positive answer to question #3, systems can improve from Bad or Ugly to Good? I do see the answer as a resounding yes. The Organizational system must reset its purpose, its why to change its collection and organization of components and elements to add value to all they serve. Stephan Covey provides the roadmap in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People “ you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you are progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships “ the systems we live in can be improved no matter personal diet or exercise, network marketing or learning systems. Not easy, not short term, but doable in the long term when we build intentional relationships of service. Cheryl Batchelder provides a model and excellent example of this in the turnaround of Popeyes Using a Servant Leadership model.
The final questions are for you then to ponder is ;
What type of organizational system do you live in?
What are you willing to do to maintain or affect change?
Cheryl Batchelder (2019), Dare to Serve, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.Inc, Oakland Ca.
David Hull, July 2019, CEO Speech Mary Kay Seminar, Dallas Tx
Nathan Moore, J July 2019, President Opening and Closing Speech Mary Kay Seminar, Dallas Tx
Margret Heffernan, August 2013 The Dangers of Willful Blindness, TEDTALK
Margret Rouse(2019)The Definition of Systems Post, Whatis.com
TTWWADI – What does TTWWADI stand for? The Free Dictionary
Here is a brief biography of John Hackett Ed.D.
John is an accomplished and experienced coach, trainer, and leader in a variety of nonprofit and direct sales settings.
John has 47 years of experience serving as professor, licensed counselor, and high school administrator, as well as a university administrator. He has also served as a leader in social service agencies, church, and hospital settings. He has trained, coached, and consulted with school districts, universities, social service agencies, and churches.
John also has experience as a trainer and coach with the William Glasser Institute, working with educators to provide healthy, respectful school cultures. John has also been an active trainer and coach with his wife’s direct sales team.
John currently teaches Doctoral level leadership classes focusing on servant leadership coaching and relationship building for transformational change.
He has been married for 41 years to Becki, a 40-year entrepreneur in Direct Sales and has three daughters and two grandsons
John is a certified trainer and coach with the Direct Selling World Alliance. He can be contacted to provide training coaching or consulting at
Facebook page Making Connections
@learnleadcoach 815 690 7444
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