Systems & Processes :: Quality 4

Portable

Great systems are portable.  They don’t just work in one context or environment.  A system that is portable can be used in different contexts or environments – such as different locations, buildings, regions, economies, cultures, etc.  A great system doesn’t have to work in every context, but it should be portable enough to work in many.

Take fast food chains, or any other franchise for instance.  They’re basically a system that has been nearly perfected, and then ported to places all around the country and even the world.  They might have different prices, people, settings, sizes, customers, etc. but it’s all still the same system.  There are probably tweaks here and there, but the base system is the same and it works because it’s portable.

At CCC we’re going multisite.  What that means is that most of our systems need to become portable.  In multisite terms that’s usually called reproducible.  We need to be able to reproduce our systems across any number of campuses in order to achieve the goal of becoming one church in many locations.

So, those are my thoughts (probably not even worth $.02) about what 4 qualities make up a great system.  They’re effective, efficient, flexible and portable.  I’m sure that’s not it, so what do you think?

Systems & Processes :: Quality 3

Flexible

Great systems are flexible.  They can adapt and change to the current environment in order to continue working well.  Obviously every system has limitations but great systems are flexible enough to continue living on. 

About 6 years ago a friend of mine’s dad found out that he had over 95% blockage in one of his arteries.  What the doctors then discovered, was that his body (vascular system) had already begun creating a new artery around the blocked area in order to fix the problem.  It was almost complete and resulted in him not needing surgery.  That was a great system being flexible.  Now most of us know of similar stories that went the other way (surgery needed), but even in those cases the vascular system still had to be flexible and adapt to new conditions. 

It’s hard to change systems we didn’t create and fortunately most of the systems we may have to change are not God-sized in their complexity (like the human body).  No, most of the systems we work with were man-made but still need to be flexible in order to be great.  Because great systems work for a long time and most systems can’t go that long without changing in some way. 

Systems & Processes :: Quality 2

Efficient

Great systems are efficient.  Efficient is being effective (the first quality) without wasting time or effort or expense.  An efficient system gets the desired result with the least amount of wasted time and energy.  When a system is created, by accident or on purpose, it usually isn’t efficient.  Primarily because the people that create them are not experienced enough yet to know what will make the system efficient.

Once the system is created the way to make it more efficient is to use it, evaulate it, and tweak it.  By going through that cycle a few times (or more if necessary), the system will become as efficient as it can possibly be.  At CCC we want all our systems to be efficient.  We want to be wise stewards of our finances, our time, and the gifts that people have that help make CCC what it is. 

Systems & Processes :: Quality 1

Effective

Great systems are effective.  Seems obvious enough, doesn’t it?  But, as I mentioned in the first post about this, some systems happen naturally, without planning – almost by accident.  Most of the time those systems aren’t as effective as they can possibly be, they’re as effective as they needed to be in order to get by. 

Effective systems essentially go unnoticed.  In fact, the credit for how well something works typically goes to other things involved (people, leaders, ideas, products).  In most cases those things are a part of the success, and some of the people probably created the system, but it’s the system itself that has created the success.  Effective systems result in things happening the way you want them to, without having to put a lot of effort into forcing them happen that way. 

It’s not whether your have a system or not, it’s whether you have an effective system or not.  A system always exists, but great ones are effective because they produce the desired result rather than something else that wasn’t planned on. 

Systems & Processes

Systems are an important part of any organization, or organism.  God apparently had a system for creation, and everything He created has systems in it, and around it.  I couldn’t type this if a bunch of the systems in my body weren’t functioning correctly. 

Processes make up a system.  Wikipedia says a process is "a naturally occurring or designed sequence of changes of properties or attributes of an object or system."  Interesting that it notes that it can be naturally occurring or designed

I think creating healthy systems with clear processes is an extremely important but incredibly challenging task for the church.  At CCC we’re working hard at creating and fine tuning our systems across the board.  Currently I’m documenting all the systems we have in Children’s Ministry and what processes support them.  Some were designed, some naturally occurred, but they all need to be at their best. 

I’m a novice at this and creating and fine tuning systems is very difficult for me.  I just know how much I like working within great systems, but creating and managing them is another deal all together.  Over the next week I’ll write about the 4 qualities I think every system needs in order to be great.