Machen MacDonald: Winning the SYSTEM game |

Machen MacDonald: Winning the SYSTEM game

It’s simple and it’s easy. If everybody did it, the world would be a better place. Companies that thrive are filled with employees that have developed the habit of doing this. People feel better after having done it. There are as many ways to do it as there are people. People who do it are more attractive to others. Employees that do it keep their job longer and get more raises and promotions.

What is it? It’s a simple behavior. In many cases it takes less than a minute to do.

So, what is it? It’s leaving your work environment better than you found it. That’s it. Super simple, right?

With this all being the case, not everybody will do it. Unfortunately, there are some that will always create an excuse why it can’t be done. They will justify it by saying things like, “I’m running late and don’t have time; it’s not my job; they don’t pay me enough to do that; someone else will do it.”

It may not be as intentional as that. Maybe they just don’t see it because their standard is much lower than the collective expectation. The good news is it’s not their fault and it’s a behavior that can be learned. Once it’s learned it has a compounding effect of goodness throughout the organization.

As people get on board and it becomes a regular practice to continually look for ways to improve an environment, there will be less arguments, less defects, and less loss. What will also become the norm is increased moral, better focus, increased profits, and more time for what matters.

What matters is growing the people so the people can grow the organization and directing the organization to better serve the clients. Growing people is leaving a place better than we find it.

Another way we get to leave a place better than we find it is to minimize, simplify, or remove what isn’t working or fix what’s bugging us and then training and empowering others to do the same. Limiting or even eliminating waste is the goal.

Waste comes in several forms. Spending too much time on a task or project is waste. Overpaying for things is wasting money. Unnecessary motion is wasting energy and human resource. Defects lead to extra work and over processing which is wasting time, energy, and money.

Dee Hock, the founder of VISA was known for saying, “Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.”

When seeking to improve a working environment, it doesn’t have to be a big sweeping 180 degree change. It’s really about making simple and ongoing improvements to leave things better than we find them.

Playing the game

Think of it as a game and the name of the game is SYSTEM, which stands for: Save Yourself Some Time Energy & Money.

The way to play and win the game is to simply notice what bugs us and find a way to improve it by just a little bit. Save a few seconds. Pinch a couple dollars. Streamline a step or two. It all adds up. Build the habit of looking for the waste and minimizing it.

Ask yourself how can I save a few seconds off this process? Notice what steals your time and create a solution, process, pattern, or habit to fix the leak.

It can be as simple as, if you waste time looking for your keys, to have a single location you always place your keys at home and work. Other questions to ask are, how can I avoid duplicating a process? How can I limit or even eliminate unnecessary movement, motion, or steps?

If your employees are losing tools, then create a visual cue system that reminds them where to put back the tools before they leave a job site. The time, energy, and money it saves from having to replace the lost tool, will pay huge dividends.

Other simple fun ways to leave it better than you found it is to put things back where you found it. Pick up after yourself. If you use it care for it. Wipe a counter. Replace a toner cartridge. Clean or polish a tool. Sort the equipment. Don’t leave it for others to do, leave it better than you found it.

By the way, a great way to leave a place better than you found it is to lift others up with a smile.

This week look for how you can leave each place you visit better than you found it. Imagine if everyone in each place did the same. How much more focused and inspired might you and they be?

Make it up, make it fun, and get it done!

#1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at and 530-273-8000.

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