If you’re going to build a language foundation for understanding business systems, then you first need to learn the words used to describe them, and second their hierarchical relationship to one another.
Once you have this basic understanding, you will have the mental framework necessary to start actually designing the systems in your business.
The four words we need to get familiar with are: Systems, Workflows, Processes, & Steps and they represent a language hierarchy.
At the top of the hierarchy is the word “System”.
Let’s first take a look at the dictionary definition of the word, then we will simplify it for our own uses here.
According to the New Oxford dictionary, a System is “A set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized framework or method.”
Now this is a pretty good definition, but it’s necessarily broad because the word system is used to describe many things outside of the business world.
So we are going to simplify and narrow our definition so it fits perfectly for business systems.
First we are going to swap the word “procedures” for “workflows”, because this is the next word in our language hierarchy.
Second, we are going to specify the “something” that is to be done with the system, we will go with “business goals”.
Third, we will adjust the order slightly for clarity.
So our final definition for Business Systems is something like this:
Now that we have a good definition for what a business system is, it’s time to talk a little about why this definition helps us build systems later on down the road.
The first part of our definition, “an organized framework of workflows”, gives us the structure of our systems. The second part of our definition, “according to which a business achieves it’s stated goals or outcomes”, gives us the purpose of our systems.
Those two pieces together give us a working understanding of how our systems need to come together.
First, we will be building systems around a stated goal or outcome of our business.
We say “Goals” or “Outcomes” because some systems will have specific, measurable targets, which as you know are goals. While other systems might have un-measurable or non-specific outcomes.
Here are some examples of Systems you might build in your business and their stated goal or outcome:
Second, we will be creating an organized framework of workflows that help us achieve those goals or outcomes.
It would be unwieldy for me to try and give an example of that for every system we just covered, so I’ll just pick one as an example.
My favorite is the “Podcasting” system, because it’s one we have very well defined in our “Push Button Podcasting” agency where we offer that system as a white glove service to our clients.
So the strategy of podcasting for most businesses is to create preeminence for their business. Which means to set themselves up as the expert or defacto choice in a marketplace. This happens by creating attention, awareness, and authority in the space by creating meaningful content and making sure is shows up everywhere and all the time for their target audience.
There are a lot of things that have to happen in order for that outcome to be achieved.
Here are some examples and the workflows that might come as a result:
The business needs to create the content. Let’s assume for the purpose of this example that the business plans on interviewing guests in their industry. So they would need a “Guest Booking Workflow”.
The business needs to edit the content and create final versions of video and audio for publication on major social channels. So they would need a “Podcast Production Workflow”.
The business needs to create derivative or repurposed content for announcements of original content on major and minor social channels for warm audiences. So they would need a “Content Repurposing Workflow”.
The business also needs to have advertising strategies for getting content out to new cold audiences and methods for warming up that audience. So they would need an “Advertising Workflow”
There is more, but that’ll do for our example.
Hopefully, now you can see how a Business Systems is an organized framework of workflows according to which a business achieves it’s stated goals or outcomes.
In our example, the goal of preeminence is achieved by building out a podcasting systems that is made up of an organized framework of workflows, with each workflow achieving a specific outcome that supports the overall goal.
Which leads us to the next word in our hierarchy: “Workflow”.
Defining this word will give us more clarity for the above definition and help us understand the actual work that needs to be done in each component part of a business system.
Join me in the next lesson where we will cover this word in depth.