A regular debate in business is people versus systems. A common phrase, when developing a business system is ‘don’t we just need some great people?’.

This is an alluring trap. If you find the right people, can you avoid developing and defining your business systems? Possibly, if you ensure that they never leave your business!

The whole point of developing processes and systems of working is to minimise the reliance on a handful of ‘star players’ in your business. The system should help you to consistently deliver great products and services, even if you are not a team of so called superstars.

Great systems can be built piece by piece. They can deliver higher profits. They can bring consistency into your business. They can take the guesswork out of delivering value to the customer. Solid systems and processes add value to a business.

In my experience, superstars are rarely around for long enough, or are consistent enough, to leave a permanent mark on a business. If you do come across such a person, get them to use their skills to help you develop your systems.

Over time, you can often see where various influences have shaped a system. Particular working styles, ideas and approaches can be spotted in different parts of a system. But, you know what? If the system delivers its results efficiently, that is what we should be aiming for.

Also, I am not suggesting that don’t employ great people. I am raising the point that if you are waiting for the right people to join your business (to turn around it’s performance) you might have to wait a while. There are lots of great people out there, but whilst you wait for one of these people to join your team, keep developing your systems and processes.

Giles Johnston
Giles Johnston

Giles is a Chartered Engineer and the author of several books on process improvement including, What Does Good Look Like? and Effective SOPs.