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“Build a Better Business With Systems” Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – The Big Picture System

It’s important to document your Big Picture first because it forms the foundation of both your Decision System and your Day-by-Day workflow systems. This is a job for you, the Boss.

The Big Picture gives your business its brand (how you sell as opposed to what you sell) and it gives you your direction when it comes to both making decisions and how you should proceed when crafting your everyday processes.

To craft your Big Picture think about the best, ultimate version of what you want your company to be. Keep in mind this isn’t an empty cheerleader slogan – instead it’s a practical outline of where your company is now, how you want it to act, and what you want it to be.

Be specific. “We want to be the number one cheese-knife company in the north-east” doesn’t help you or your company – every cheese-knife company in the north-east can say the exact same thing. If everybody can say it, it’s not worth saying because it doesn’t improve your business and it certainly doesn’t lead to any advantages over your competitors.

In the Day-to-Day systems you’re going to give specific liner steps to be carried out for ordering parts, or processing payments, or crafting a cheese-knife handle. With the Big Picture system, you’re giving your vision for your company.

Think of this as you writing a letter, or even a declaration, to your team – “This is what we currently are, and this is what we want to be.” This is you telling your people what goals you think are the most important for your company both now and in the future. It also gives you a chance to highlight what you believe are your strengths, faults, opportunities, and what is a threat to the company.

Crafting Your Declaration

Here are some points you can think about hitting in your Big Picture document.

Marketing – How do you think your company would best go about grabbing more of your field’s market share? Give specific examples for your team to work toward.

You can define your services or products, analyse what your target markets truly want, research to see what your competition is doing right or wrong, etc.

Expansion – How do you envision your company will expand? What is an actionable goal you have for 5 years from now? How about 10? A dollar amount you want to pass? Or perhaps a percentage by which you want to increase revenue to decrease expenses?

Productivity – Implementing systems is going to give your employees the ability to do their jobs as well as they desire. This means customers will get their products or services faster and at top quality.

Customer relations – Do you want to expand sales to existing customers or gain a certain number of new customers per month? How about increasing customer retention? Hit “excellent” in all categories on survey cards?

A Big Picture Template

If you want some help crafting the actual letter to your team, try something like this:

  • Outline what this Big Picture document is (your strategic objectives that lie at the heart of your decision-making and Day-by-Day systems).
  • Where you are right now in the market.
  • Why you put so much effort into defining systems.
  • Your primary services, and your secondary offerings.
  • What regions or markets you serve.
  • Why you put so much effort into making sure your employees are happy.
  • Why clear communication is so important in a business that involves multiple systems, machinery, specialties, what have you.
  • How your emphasis on quality and system adherence are your competitive advantages.
  • That being said, you want to hear from employees when they discover a way to improve a system. If the system can be improved, it will be done immediately.

Alternative Big Picture Documents

The above examples seem very strictly business-y in tone. What if you’re aiming to create a more fun-loving business culture?

Online shoe company Zappos is well-known for its happier approach. They list their Big Picture system in 10 simple points:

  • Deliver WOW Through Service.
  • Embrace and Drive Change.
  • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness.
  • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded.
  • Pursue Growth and Learning.
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication.
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit.
  • Do More with Less.
  • Be Passionate and Determined.
  • Be Humble.

Then they offer a link to where the points are expanded. That’s it. All decisions (their Decision System) and Day-by-Day procedures flow from these ten points. They don’t expressly talk about expansion, for example, but it’s built in because they believe that fantastic company culture and customer service will provide the means to expand.

The approach you take depends on what you want the culture of your company to be. Remember, the culture you nurture inside the company will reflect on the emotional relationship (your brand) that grows between your company and your clients or customers.

To be continued, look for your next BOSS email……

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