Systems can make us wealthy. Systems signal when a stock investment is below a 10% loss threshold so we can pull out the investment. Systems let the McDonald’s employees know they’ve exceeded the customer service standard. And systems correct a plane that’s off-track so that we arrive safely at our destination. Whenever I make a mistake, a loved one asks, “What is your system going forward?” In other words, how will I minimize repeating the error? A systems mentality can benefit every aspect of life, including academics and careers.
As I work, I listen to James Allan’s Eight Pillars of Prosperity audiobook repeatedly. Its central premise is that prosperity requires integrity, such as sympathy and kindness. It also talks about systems. And that’s an area we can all benefit from mastering. If we master systems, we can effectively run a large enterprise, even when vacationing. In other words, systems work automatically when carefully planned. However, successful systems require hard work, like anything worthwhile in life.
I’m a doer. I start the day doing work and end the day doing work. I rarely stop to think or plan, except on Sundays, when I chart out a network for the following week, like a timeline of connected goals. I learned this network model from a critical thinking and problem-solving course. It centers on models.
For instance, I learned to take an objective, choose between two potential actions, modify my behavior, and troubleshoot potential issues or competing goals to achieve that objective. So, I use models—a system—to strategize goals and actions for my to-do list for the following week. And I’m about to use these systems much more comprehensively. But these systems are proprietary. So, how can we develop strategies without spending over a thousand dollars on problem-solving courses? I don’t know the answer, but I’m about to find out. And here is what I’ve since learned:
First, ask, what are examples of systems for business? Surprisingly, Ask AI listed multiple systems that were all software packages. I was hoping for something more intellectual. Two examples it gave of business systems included (1) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. I administer a CRM called Salesforce, where I upload sales leads, generate reports, and record sales call notes. And (2) Business Intelligence (BI) Systems. I used a marketing BI system called Supermetrics a while back, if I have the name correct. Supermetrics takes data from Google Ads, Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and other social media sites. It can then be customized to generate charts, tables, and graphics. I used Supermetrics to graphically reveal how much profit we made for various products on several social media platforms. However, it was an expensive BI system, so I stopped using it.
But such software only requires us to think a little. So, how do we use our brains instead to develop systems? According to Ask AI, we can start by breaking down all the critical tasks of our job duties. Then, we create processes or step-by-step instructions to achieve our goals. We can then use forums for collaboration, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Whiteboards.
The answer from Ask AI needed to be improved. It needed to discuss models for strategizing, troubleshooting, decision-making, and optimizing processes. The courses I took on such models were from ViAGO. A skillset in project management can also greatly benefit a systems approach. ViAGO intends to create a project management course; when they do, I will rush to sign up, although many Continuing Education programs at universities and colleges offer project management programs.
For academics, there are books on how to study that can guarantee success if accompanied by hard work. For instance, there is a process for reading a book, a system for studying for exams, a strategy for allocating one’s time, and so forth. Many students learn these systems the hard way–through trial and error. But a book or course can streamline the end goal: convocation and a degree.
As James Allen says in his book The 8 Pillars of Prosperity: we should plan everything to such fine precision that prosperity is inevitable. And that fine precision is the basis for systems.