Earlier this month, the German soccer team beat Brazil in the semi-finals of the World Cup by the unprecedented score of 7 – 1. According to former German soccer players, their country developed a national academy of soccer whose purpose was to take the best young players in the country and teach them a particular system of play. They would all develop as players within that system. The result was Germany advancing to the semi-finals of the World Cup for the fourth consecutive time and then winning it all with a 1-0 win over Argentina earlier this month.
I once read that 90% of new restaurants fail, but 90% of franchise restaurants make it. The writer of that statement said he thought that the McDonalds’ of the world were successful because they had a system.
Equally as important as the system, per se, was that it was simple. They could bring in high school age teenagers and quickly and competently teach them their system because of its simplicity.
John Paxson was, I believe, cut from three NBA teams prior to coming to the Chicago Bulls. But when he came to the Bulls, he was a perfect fit for the Triangle Offense. The offense allowed Jordan and Pippen to penetrate and kick and Paxson was the perfect shooter to complement their driving. Steve Kerr succeeded Paxson at the shooting guard position and this offensive system enabled the Bulls to win six championships in the Jordan era.
When I served as the assistant to the president at St. Francis, our president, Dr. Jack Orr, organized all departments with the system of management by objectives. Everyone in the administration had the people who reported to them put their goals for the year with a timeline to accomplish them in writing. It was a very simple system that made all of us responsible and accountable.
We shared the goals with everyone in the department and verbally reported on our successes/failures twice a year. By operating this way, we were all on the same page, knew where our department was going, and could encourage and help each other accomplish our goals.
Should leaders look to develop a system of organization for their work place? And if so, should that system not be simple? Simple systems do lead to quality execution.