On our podcast, In Systems We Trust, we recently had Stacy L. Carlson as a guest to share her insights regarding systems and processes. She’s the partner manager at Smile, a productivity software company. At Ditto, we love their software TextExpander. She shared with us that one of the biggest mistakes we see entrepreneurs make is they think they can do it all. Unfortunately, they can’t. Even the best entrepreneurs can’t create a business process by themselves. A process involves everyone - from the boss to the HR department. So, when it comes time to create systems and processes in your company, here’s how to do it as a team.
Why should teams be involved in creating systems?
Often there is only one person trying to document processes and create a more efficient system. And, while they may know the company or business well, they’re going to miss some steps in the process. There are many benefits to involving your team, including:
- A more accurate overview of the processes
- Team alignment
- Eliminate work about work
- More efficient workplace
How can an entrepreneur start documenting processes?
Entrepreneurs wear a lot of different hats. However, it’s imperative they start documenting processes as soon as possible. When Stacy started working at Smile, she set up everyone on Asana. Then, she initiated a kickoff meeting where they spent an hour and a half going through the process that she had created. Through the meeting, Stacy would make notes based on the questions and feedback she received. Then, she would debrief and have another meeting.
This is one of the best ways to begin documenting processes. Begin by going through the entire system together with the team. Then, take their feedback and adjust the original process. Keep adjusting until the process is in a way that you, or someone else, would be able to understand.
Things in business will always be changing. By holding meetings and documenting these processes, you can see what’s changing in real time. As soon as someone has a question while going through the process, that means something has changed and the process needs to be reevaluated.
Create systems and processes as a team.
There are many ways to create systems and processes as a team, but one way is using the method by Tom Wujec called, “How to make toast.” Stacy brought this up on our podcast. Basically, the method involves bringing everyone into a room and asking them to create a process. You do this by giving them post-it notes and asking everyone to be silent. Everyone writes down a step of the process on post-it notes and puts it on the wall. Then, people go up to the wall and rearrange the post-it notes until the process is seamless.
The reason this works so well is that it involves everyone. You can’t create a process for your business without everyone else. HR is going to have a step in the process, engineering will have a step, design will have a step, and so on. Entrepreneurs can often have blinders on when it comes to creating a process. They see everything that they’re doing, but they fail to realize how everyone else has a step in the process. Or, they guess and create the process. When you create systems as a team, there’s no guessing.
Tools to help your team with processes.
Stacy talked a lot about work about work. This is a term Asana uses and has done studies on. Work about work means the general confusion that surrounds daily tasks. It could be trying to find a certain document, sending out an email that you don’t have to send, asking when the due date is, trying to find where needed items are for the project, and more. Some of this “work about work” is inevitable - but proper systems can get rid of most of it.
Stacy talked about the tools her company uses to stay on track. Because they’re a fully remote team, they use Slack heavily to communicate. They also have a rule with Slack that if it’s a question that doesn’t need an immediate answer, they save it for a one-on-one chat or when they have their marketing or sales meetings. This helps decrease the number of interruptions to another team member’s time. They also heavily rely on Asana to set up goals and help with scheduling. Every Tuesday, they hold a meeting where they go over their goals and established OKRs.
Important things to remember.
- Entrepreneurs can’t do it all, creating systems as a team will benefit everyone.
- Every team member knows what they do, go through all of these systems together in a meeting so you’re not left guessing.
- Evaluate these systems often, and document the processes as they occur.
When you create successful systems with your team, your business will see the benefits. Stacy is a great asset to the industry, and she had a lot more to say than what we could put here.
Check out the podcast with Stacey L. Carlson: