The Macro & Micro of Progress

The final word in our language hierarchy of business systems is the word “Step”.

As we have done in every lesson so far, we will start by defining the word.

According to the New Oxford dictionary, a Step is “a measure or action, especially one of a series taken in order to deal with or achieve a particular thing.”

As before, this definition is pretty good as is for our purposes, but we will still narrow and simplify it so it fits will within our hierarchy of business systems.

We will simply remove a few redundant words that don’t apply to business systems. In this case “measure” and “deal with” aren’t necessary.

So our official definition of Business Steps is something like this:

A action, especially one of a series, taken in order to achieve a particular thing.

The Push Button “Steps” Definition

Unlike our previous definitions, this one actually needs a bit of extra clarification because there are two levels of depth to a Steps.

This will be important when it comes time to actually build and document our processes and the related steps in our project management systems later on.

The two levels of steps are “Macro Steps” and “Micro Steps”. They both follow the same definition above, the only difference is where they will live in our systems.

Macro steps are the larger chunks of a process. If you think back to our example in the last lesson those steps were:

  1. Upload video to transctiption service
  2. Edit returned transcription for accuracy
  3. Copy final transcription to team shared Google Doc
  4. Mark the process complete

Macro steps live in your project management system as checklists of major items to complete on the way towards achieving the particular end of the process.

Micro steps, on the other hand, the minutia required to complete a particular macro step.

Let’s take the 1st macro step above: “Upload Video to Transcription Service”.

That one step has several micro steps required to accomplish it. They might be:

  1. Open your browser
  2. Navigate to
  3. Login with our team login from 1Password
  4. Create new transcription
  5. Select “upload” from screen
  6. Locate recorded video and select for upload
  7. Click “finished”
  8. Wait 5 minutes for automated transcription to finish

These are the detailed steps that go into a Macro Step.

Micro Steps live in your Standard Operating Procedures. These are the actual minutia that needs happen for any process.

Doesn’t matter if it’s changing out the labels on a label application machine in your manufacturing facility or uploading a video to YouTube, every process has their Macro & Micro steps.

The macro steps are useful for checklists and should always be included in every process even for senior staff members for whom these processes have become second nature.

Think of them the same way a pilot might think of their “Pre-Flight Checklist” that a pilot checks over before every flight, even if they have flown this plane a thousand times.

The Macro steps are a reminder of what needs to happen next for the processes particular end to be achieved.

The micro steps are live in your SOPs for training and consistency. When you have a new staff member or a staff member that is new to a process, they might need more help than just telling them to “Upload the video” or “Fill the propane tank”.

These micro steps don’t need to “clog” up your project management system as steps in a checklist because the steps are easily learned and become second nature after someone has performed the process a few times.

So now you have all four of the major words in our business systems hierarchy defined and ready to use.

Let’s recap:

Systems are an organized framework of workflows according to which a business achieves its stated goals or outcomes.

Workflows are the sequence of processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.

Processes are the series of steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

And finally, Steps are the actions taken in series in order to achieve a particular thing.

These steps can be broken into two distinct sets based on where they live in your overall business system.

Macro Steps are the checklists use to manage digital processes in your project management system or printed out for use in real-world processes.

While Micro Steps are the minutia of any particular process that can easily become second nature once a staff member has become familiar with a process.

Order from Chaos

Hopefully we have managed to bring order to the linguistic chaos that once existed in your head for business systems.

With this clarity you now have a mental framework that will aide in the designing, building, and automating phases of our business systems.

Now it’s time to get our hands dirty and actually start creating systems for our business.

Please join me in the next lesson where we will begin Designing our first Push Button Business System.