Let's face it… procrastination and perfection have a purpose, but they pause progress. Progress is perpetuated by the processes you put in place. But all too often, we can put progress in purgatory by procrastinating or perfecting our processes. Do you know what phrase causes consternation constantly?
“That's not how we do it here!”
I have often said, “I was raised so New York Catholic, that my mother was a travel agent for guilt trips.” Now I have nothing against religion or Catholicism, but I never really understood purgatory. You were either good and went to heaven, or bad and went to hell. Purgatory is kind of like a waiting room for heaven, where you suffer for your sins. No one has ever been able to explain how bad your sins had to be to avoid hell, what are the criteria of atonement, and the punishment you had to endure to get out to heaven.
In business, heaven is where all of your processes are working in sync and creating profitable outcomes. Hell is when your processes break down and start eroding profits. Purgatory is when your processes slow your roll. They still work, but they can delay or even eat into your profits. So, “That's not how it's done,” can end up being the reason things are not getting done on time or at all.
I view a process as a series of steps that takes a phase of a project from concept to completion. The better you can define the steps, the more you can control the process.
Each step is assigned to a person. Most steps have a beginning and an end. Then, more often than not, each step has dependencies. In other words, step one determines how step two is done, and step three depends on step two being completed correctly. This continues until that stage of the process is complete.
If someone is waiting for a process to be complete, or someone is procrastinating or perfecting a step, it impedes the progress of the project.
I view systems as a series of processes, done in a particular order, turning that series of processes into a project.
Projects can have multiple processes that are done in a series or parallel (at the same time) or some combination of the above. Systems are just a repeatable series of steps, that create processes. When your processes break down, it compromises the outcomes and successes the project was undertaken to achieve.
Defining, building, and implementing systems takes time and resources. Once they are built, you can use them over and over again to complete projects faster and better. That does not mean they are then written in stone and treated as law or precedent. Every step and process should be malleable and reviewed to see if the process has flaws and can be improved. Time and people should be given some leeway to try something different or new, but that should be discussed and documented as a new or alternative way to bring the project as a whole to a successful completion.
Broken Pegs On The Step Ladder
Stuff happens. When a ladder is missing a rung or step, it does not mean you can't keep climbing, but it often requires some improvisation.
Having worked in multiple non-profits as a board member or volunteer, they all have faced challenges. They can often be like the cobbler whose kids have holes in their shoes.
They probably have years of experience but may have no clue, or they can't explain to you how or why certain steps or processes were implemented in the first place. That can lead to a “This is how it's done here,” attitude that hampers progress. Just changing steps can be helpful, but that often leads to chaos. It also tends to create silos over teamwork and leads to others not doing their steps in the old process that worked before.
This is where implementing a systems approach can be helpful and necessary to simplify future progress.
A good marketing system has two pieces that work in concert, content creation and content distribution.
Content creation is all about the who and why, and then the project becomes the what. Content is all about your audience. Who are you communicating to and why would they consume it? If you understand your audience's needs and wants, you can create content that speaks specifically to them. The project can be a blog, video, audio, eBook, or a mixture of all of the above.
The system I use is I produce this blog, then convert it into a podcast, and I try to interview an expert on the same subject. That way I have multiple pieces of content which may be relevant to the widest possible audience for this specific topic.
Content distribution is all about the where and how. Once the content is created, it is served up on multiple platforms. It could be a blog that is shared on multiple social platforms. It could be a podcast available on a computer or mobile phone. Finally, it could be added to an email, linking to how and where people can consume it.
For me, the WHAT is the system. The WHAT is all about consistent and repeatable steps and processes that can be easily implemented repeatedly. It's the steps and processes to get the content created and distributed. It ultimately has to be focused on achieving the desired action or outcome.
Back to the non-profit example, United Way has the motto of “Give, Volunteer, Advocate.” That means one system must be created to get people to donate. Another system has to be created to help people get engaged. Another system has to be created to get people to spread the word. Each of those will have multiple audiences (young and old or online and in person). Each system can have processes that create different outcomes, but similar steps.
The key thing you want to avoid is having the process or the steps hinder the outcome. The stronger and more pliable your systems are, the more consistent and successful your outcomes will be.
“Purgatory is hell, with hope.”
– Tyler Childers
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about your processes to create progress. Have you identified any broken rungs in your marketing ladder? Do you feel your systems are working or need a little tweaking? Are your content creation and content distribution working together or as a push-pull purgatory?
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast