Saturday, April 11, 2009

Work The System - a Book Review

I usually do not rave about books I read. One way I judge if a book is good is if I actually take action as a result of reading it. I love this book and have taken action as a result of reading it.

Sam Carpenter (the author) sent me his book "Work the System - The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less." My instant knee jerk response was to reject the book based on the title. I am a work ethic guy. I reject get rich quick and short cutters. I wrongly assumed this was one of those books. It is not.

I actually love competing with companies and people who shortcut. Work ethic has been one of my competitive advantages.

The gist of the book is "Its all about the systems you build to support your business". Spend you time polishing and perfecting them.

I have a degree in Systems Design Engineering (U of Waterloo) so the book brought back memories of what I had learned in school. And it drove home that I need to be vigilant in applying systems theory (and practise) to myself and my business.

Carpenter breaks the systems problem down into 3 different actions. First - Defining your Strategic Objective. I might call this goals. Then turn this into a set of Principles. Principles could be considered to be corporate culture. I have often said that a CEO should not focus on doing all the decision making but on culture so that decision get made with the right logic and thought. Coach on culture but let people make decisions.

And then the book moves to specific procedures. And documenting them well.

The part of the book that focuses on procedures is very similar to Gerbers eMyth and the principles those books tout. What I like a lot more about Carpenter is he is not saying he is the sole genius and you need to make every job so mindless you can hire a non thinking monkey to do it. He encourages feedback on the systems from everyone.

I realize as I phase out of SYNNEX that I had built great systems that really allowed me to do what I do. I certainly am planning my new systems for my next challenge. And I realize my personal systems also need some work.

Work the System definitely applies to business but also can be applied to personal life. Things flow more smoothly if we have good systems in place and if we constantly perfect them.

The book's points and are valid. Carpenter puts it all together with a very interesting book. He tells his personal story of working for years from dawn to dusk and getting no where. And how, in desperation, he changed his approach from "doing" to "working on the system". And how that turned his business and life around.

Good book. Read it (and I don't usually say that)


At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Mic Berman said...

Thanks for the recommendation, it looks like an interesting read. I also really resonated with your summary relative to good management and "Coach on culture but let people make decisions"

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous kevin hiebert said...

Jim, great recommendation. I liked what you had to say so I ordered the book right away.
I am almost hrough my first read and it sure hits the mark. Ken uses his own company as a reference and that helps make the whole thing easy to relate to as a small business operator.


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