John’s business was eroding and not growing. Areas of his business that were previously growing and profitable were now barely breaking ground.

He was so frustrated and he needed to increase his sales, fast.

If you follow the dictates of systemization, you might quickly arrive at the conclusion that his lead generation and lead conversion systems needed to be fertilized and rejuvenated.

But that is not necessarily the correct answer to the issue. In fact, leaping straight to a solution can do more harm than good.

The System of Thinking

Creating effective systems require systemic thinking.

Now, that statement is not as obvious as it may first seem. Too often, the first response to addressing a frustration is to simply rush to install a system that will eliminate the frustration.

But, that is like taking a pill to stop the pain without identifying its source or origin.

A business is a reflection of the owner. Therefore, it is imperative to look at yourself, as the owner, and first consider what you might be doing to cause the problem and not just leap to a solution. You may be self-sabotaging your own business or have a limiting belief.

Systemic thinking is, therefore, the act of thinking systematically. Step by step. It was time to introduce John to E-Myth’s premier problem-solving exercise, the Key Frustration Process.

We need to start from the beginning.

The basic frustration is a lack of revenue, right? This question was asked as a way to get him to stop and focus in on the true underlying condition causing the frustration.

He responds with a sign, “Yes, I thought that was clear.” There was a sense that he felt going over it again or delving deeper did not much appeal to him.

How come?

Children are natural systemic thinkers. Their favorite word is, why? Sometimes, the best coaching approach is to model a precocious 5-year-old.

John needed to be challenged and supported since it was hard for him to look at the actual conditions in the business that might be causing the results that were making him unhappy. John was blaming the economic situation; and the changing face of his industry. There was a deeper reality going on here and that is exactly what the Key Frustration Process aims to address.

What has caused his sales to not keep pace year over year?

“Like I said, the environment has changed.” He insisted.

What makes you believe that it is the environment?

John exclaimed, “I just do!”

What makes you believe this?

“Because it is all the same people involved.” John said with an air of frustration that facing the truth often brings if you are not prepared for the answer.

It’s my job, as John’s coach, to push him further than he would go on his own.

What makes you accept that it is an externally directed issue?

“Because I am making that assumption,” he replied.

Good, that is exactly it. Now, how come your sales people accept the results they are getting?

“Um-mm?” he murmured. “Could it be that we really do not have a way to have them focus on targets and hold them accountable?”

That might be.

“Well, I must admit, the entire culture around here is kind of lax in that regard. We just expect our folks to do it, and come to me if they can’t.” John suggested.

And how is that working for you?

“Well, I guess the results tell the truth, right?” he replied. “I think it must have something to do with the fact that we lack any real accountability in our company. We just kind of stopped tracking when we started to lose clients.”

How can you change those results? How can you track your sales activity goals and your conversion rates?

So, you see, you seem to have identified a much deeper condition than simply needing a new lead generation or conversion system. It is certain you may need to innovate these systems, but unless you solve this underlying problem of accountability, it will be like putting on a band-aid before you have stopped the bleeding.

Graphic, but it made the point.

“Yes,” John cried out, “you are absolutely right. We have let ourselves believe we were doing all we can, but in truth, we gave up holding people accountable in any real fashion, and now we are suffering the consequence of this.”

How It Works

John decided, based on our conversation, to create better expectation agreements with goals and measurements that were discussed in regular one-on-one accountability meetings with his salespeople.

In just a few weeks of these adjustments, John started to notice a real difference with his staff. They now knew what was expected of them and how they were going to be measured and held accountable.

It is easy to find a system solution. But if in the process, you have not addressed the shortcomings of your culture, leadership dysfunctions, or other habits that need shifting, you may stamp down the fire or stop the immediate pain, but you are likely to leave the most critical flammable material still smoldering in the background. You won’t have transformed your business. What would you like to achieve?