Amazing Possibilities!

  • Matthew Kelly

Systems Drive Behavior


If there is one thing your best people hate, it’s when you waste their time. Do it often enough—with unnecessary meetings or anything else—and they will start looking for opportunities to add value elsewhere. Right, your best people don’t look for jobs. They look for the best opportunity to engage their unique ability to add the most value to some great mission.

Not all systems are good. Meetings are a system. They can be a positive or a negative system. What do we call a system that has strayed from common sense and is rampant with other dysfunctions such as taking forever to make decisions? Bureaucracy. Systems that don’t increase mission impact frustrate your people. Systems are essential for a well-executed Strategic Plan. The more of the Strategic Plan that is driven by or linked to good systems, the better chance you have of success. I’ve seen too many organizations whose own systems sabotage their new Strategic Plan; the plan is doomed from the start. So, once you have your Strategic Plan, it’s time to review your current systems and consider: Will these systems empower people to accomplish your Strategic Plan? What are your best and worst systems? Do you have systems that encourage behavior that is counterproductive to your Strategic Plan and mission? Do you even know the type of behavior you are trying to encourage? Are your systems working for or against your Strategic Plan? Which of your systems damage your culture? Develop a great Strategic Plan, employ the right people to work the plan, put the right systems and processes in place, and then hold people accountable. These are the keys to the powerful execution of your organization’s Strategic Plan. Systems are everywhere, and Dynamic Cultures harness the power of systems to create extreme competitive advantage and increase profits. That competitive advantage and increase in profit lead to a bigger future for everyone. Dysfunctional cultures end up costing a lot of money and creating even more human misery. A business with a healthy culture is significantly more profitable than one with an unhealthy culture. It pays in dozens of ways to invest in Dynamic Culture, but the first investment you need to make is in your mind. I don’t care if you are the receptionist or the CEO, or anyone in between, decide right now that a Dynamic Culture is possible where you work. Become a Culture Advocate today—do one thing, however small, to make your culture healthier today than it was yesterday. Systems are at the center of almost everything we do to serve our customers. They are a good culture’s best friend and a bad culture’s worst enemy. One of the essential laws of organizational life is that systems drive behavior. This plays out in a thousand ways every day in every organization. Most of the time we don’t recognize it happening. Open your eyes. Stop focusing on trying to change or correct the behavior; this is an exercise in futility. Identify the system that is creating the unwanted behavior and reengineer the system. Systems drive behavior.

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