Systems Component #4: Procedures

A procedure is the “how to.” Make your procedures step by step. If it is a computer program, include each keystroke (within reason, you can’t always cover every possibility). If your industry has technical training or manuals to use, you can cut the development time down. We have one department in one of my companies where a technical manual developed by a training company in our industry is used as our technical manual. Whatever the book says, that’s how we do it.

The idea is that someone who has never done the work can follow the procedure and can do it without any further instructions. This reminds me of when I first started traveling to present workshops. My brother was travel- ing with me because he has an accounting business that requires only a few months of his time, and he’s basically “off” the rest of the year. We were on an airplane and he was sitting behind me.

I simply handed the timeline and procedure for the one-day workshop over the back of the seat, and he read it on the plane. The next morning when I stopped the workshop for a break, I couldn’t find my brother! The rental car was gone and so was he! Where could he have possibly gone? I thought to myself. A few minutes later, he walked in with a Starbucks in his hand.

You’re kidding! I’m thinking to myself. Here we are on break and I need help with orders, and he’s at Starbucks! “Why did you go to Starbucks?” I asked him. “Because the procedure said to go get you a coffee from Starbucks during the break and to be back by 10:30. Two sugars right?” he said. I had taken the break a few minutes early. He followed the procedure. I didn’t!

Although that’s kind of a funny story, it proves how you can write a procedure, hand it off, and not worry about it.