Episode 109

The Foundations of Clever Systems Design

April 5th, 2023


Today I’m talking all about investing in the foundations of your systems design which will allow you to zone into that area of genius that you love to play in.
I dive into:
  • Communication strategies
  • What design means in the systems and tech world
  • Automating processes
  • Creating systems to support your business

Connect with Nicole on Instagram @theartisansolutions 
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Welcome to Take Control with Nicole, as business owners we experience first hand the fine line between our personal and business lives. During our conversations, we will look at simple hints and tips to create time, reduce overwhelm, and help you to navigate through your journey to where you want to be. If you’re looking for smarter ways to work, and create space and time freedom in your day, then you’re in the right place. All right, let’s go.

Hello I’m Nicole Smith COO, Operations Specialise and Systems Designer from The Artisans Business Solutions and welcome to Take Control With Nicole. Today, we are going to dive on into a really exciting topic, something that we absolutely love, and live and breathe each and every day over here, the artisans and that is the foundations of clever systems design. So if you have been around for a while, you may have heard me talk about some of these items that we’re going to cover off today. But in particular, what we’re going to be looking at is when you first starting a business, what actually are the systems to start with? How important are they into business? And when you actually get started? So, let’s do it. Let’s make some fun, right? Yeah.

So, as I said, the first place we’re going to start is what actually is a business system. So what it is, is a documented procedure that outlines a way of working in your business now that will support your whatever building bits that you’re moving towards, if it is growing a business, if it is acquiring new team members, welcoming new team members aren’t your team, or whatever it might be our internal operational actions as systems support each and every way of the what we’re doing in our business to move those things forward. So, let’s think about at a higher level, you’ve got finance, you’ve got HR, you’ve got the services, so your client offerings, you’ve also got all your internal marketing, your admin, things like that. So, all of those are a high-level system. And then within there, which we’re going to talk about is how are we using clever design to really create impactful ways of working, that are enjoyable, efficient, and just fun in the way that you’re businessing each and every day. So, some examples as well, we really create these ways of working that are unique to your business.

So, when we’ve got our clients coming in, they might be in a transition phase from a solo-preneuer to growing a team of 10 plus, they might be right in the middle of that. And what they’ve realized or recognized is that the ways of working when you’re a solo human moving into a bigger organizational structure, there are a lot more areas that we need to capture and document and make it really clear. So that transition is enjoyable for you and for your team. Now, we don’t have to wait, how about we start right now, wherever stage your business you’re at. So, if we’re looking at the ways that you’re working right now, there’s only one of you say one or two of you, let’s make them beautiful, and efficient and automated, and really enjoyable, so that you can really be zoning into that area of genius that you love to play in. And that means that all the other things happen beautifully, because you’ve invested that time at the start to identify what we’re actually needing. So how do we actually get started? What do we actually need to know and look at and understand.

Now at The Artisans we work through a four-phase process when we’re looking in supporting our clients to enhance their ways of working. The first stage is discovery. So it’s the pre work. It’s all the things that the data collection, though, why are we doing it the who’s doing it? What is happening? Where is it happening? Why is it happening? Should it still be happening? All of those things are points of information that are going to actually inform our next stage of what and how we want to move going forward. So how could this look? Let’s put a lens on internal communication. So that’s something that we’re reviewing currently in my business as we’re growing a team. So we started with using WhatsApp, we have also communications on ClickUp. There is email as well as part of the communication suite. However, our primary internal communication strategy is on WhatsApp and ClickUp. So as we’re looking through, we’re growing a team were having more clients and projects we’ve got more channels happening. We’re really reviewing how is that working for us right now? Who’s involved in it? What are those things that are really blocking the progression of the task or the experience or a feeling of I’m needing to respond all the time? What can we do in that way in the next stage, which we’re going to talk about in a moment. So we’ve identified where we’re doing it. We know who’s involved, we know why and what we’re doing in that space. And we’ve also identified that there are some areas that are causing some friction or blocks in the way that the flow of communication is going back and forth across the channels. So that’s when we move into phase two, which is design.

Now, when you think about design, your mind may instantly go over to the creative realm. And imagine a beautiful piece of fabric with lovely shapes and colors all merging into one, and flowing through whatever it might be design logos, for instance, a web design, we look at systems and process design in that same creative lens, this is a real opportunity for you to think about what can be possible here. We already know all the things that we’ve picked up in the discovery, we also are aware of what experience we want to create, and what’s the most important thing that you want to achieve out of this design process. It might be that you’re simplifying a process. So adding automations that’s the most important thing. So where can I, in this process, automate.

Just interrupting this episode, for one little message, if you have been listening and love what you hear and want to come in Connect, we have a take control with Nicole’s Facebook community, right over there on Facebook that I would love to invite you to come and join us. We are a supportive community, we are looking to really take action in our businesses, and change the way or evolve the way we’re working right now. So I invite you to come on over and join our community and connect with us all. Community is the essence of everything, your business, being able to really build those relationships that you can nurture, and grow and support and celebrate each other. Oh, how fabulous, I hope to see you over there, pop on over to Facebook, take control with Nicole, see you soon. So let’s go.

Okay, let’s look at the communication lens again, because we’re talking about that already. So when we’re looking at designing a new internal communication strategy, we really need to firstly have a look at the discovery phase. So really identify what are those blockers? Okay, so the tech, and the lack of channels that we currently have, there’s things that are all getting merged into one, and we want to be able to pull those out. And so what we’re now designing is a way that is really simple and easy for our team to be able to know okay, for all communication now in relation to tasks, client work, etc. ClickUp primarily ClickUp, WhatsApp can then be used for connection highlighting urgent requests, redirecting them to ClickUp. And the purpose of doing this is to ensure that the channels in WhatsApp keep nice and clean. We want to encourage an async working which we want to move away from that reactive response. So I’m clicking it feels like every time I say reactive, I’ve got to click that immediate response.

You know, I’m reading a book at the moment. I’ve got it right here. Actually, it’s the Dear Digital, We Need To Talk. It’s by Dr. Christy Goodwin, it’s so it says a guilt free guide to taming your tech habits and thriving in a destructive world. Now, I think this is a really important thing to be aware of tech and as much as it’s there to enhance our experience and make things beautiful and simple. We do still can get that buzz, that vibe, that thrive from a notification. And so the core of what we’re looking to create in our business here is sustainable working practices. And that means to really support our people to be their very best and remove some of those things that are potentially distracting. I know for me when I see a ping, I’m like, Oh, what’s that? I need to respond quickly so that my team can continue on.

So yeah, that’s just some things to think about designing. What are those steps that we’re going through? Where are we doing them, who’s doing them? What automations are involved, work flowing it out. If you love a diagram and you are a ClickUp user, go up to add view add whiteboard and have a play. knock your socks off, and you’ll start to see it really shape out. So it’s really nice and visually easy to see how it’s gone from something that feels okay, but or non existent depending on where you are, feels a little bit yucky. A Bit icky, disconnected to something that’s actually connected when you’re looking at the flow of that work chart, if you’re not sure about what workflows look like, or if you’ve never created one, let me know because we could, we could do an episode on all of that or to check my DMs, we always love to talk process.

Okay, so the next phase is about creation. Now, when we’re talking about creation here, over The Artisans, it’s the build phase. So you’ve already conceptually designed, have the experience that you want to create, where it’s going to be living in the tech, and what we need to actually create to make this a team. If it is an existing process, it may be a small few tweaks, and then you can continue on your way, if it’s a brand-new process here, you may need to start from scratch and build it that there are also some other tools that have beautiful inbuilt automations, and things as well. So that’s the Create phase. Now, as you’re going through that, be sure to create it, build it, test it, try and break it, all the things so that when you’re ready to connect it in with yourself or your team, whoever you’ve got in your world, that it’s really seamless, and so that they can just confidently pick up that documentation that you’re going to create a space for, and be able to just run with that process, if that’s something that you’re ready to delegate across to somebody else in your business, or outsource to one of the most fabulous people that are out there in the world, ready to support you in what you’re doing.

So as I alluded to phase four is connect now that involves documentation. And making sure or supporting yourself and your team to really connect with those new ways of working. This is a really fun part, it’s really being able to see, look back at design into actual reality to Oh, it’s just the thing. Now, this is how we do it. And being able to enjoy the process as well. You’ve just created this beautiful thing that’s custom designed for you with you and your business in mind to support your bigs or your goals. If you haven’t heard me say bigs before your focus is for the for the business right now and into the future as well. And it’s just such a wonderful experience when all of those things connect on in and you actually adjust business as usual. Fabulous.

So we’ve covered discovery, design, create and connect the four phases to all clever systems design. And if you keep connecting back in every time you identify a new area, or something that’s just feeling a little bit hard today, or has been feeling a bit hard for a while, pop on back, have a relisten of this, go through those four phases again, and yell out. If you’ve got any questions pop over to my DMs. That’s always lovely to hear from you.

So finally, some action items for you if this is really tickles your fancy, and you’re being really curious about how you can apply this right now, the first thing you want to do is identify the primary systems in your business. So I always like to start big. So what are those sort of siloed areas that are all connected? So I say silo because we’re imagining them in streams.

There’s a previous episode a couple of weeks back about organizational charts and foundations for evolution and your business, pop back on with the fabulous Kathy Rast, have a listen to that. But we’re creating the sort of action areas of your business, and then micro it down into what processes are involved in each of those systems to get me from here to there. The second thing is select one of those processes, and then go in follow that four phase process above discovery, design, create, connect. And finally as well, something to remember is that these are not set in stone. So even though we’ve used the word foundations, and you would have heard that around the world or around the business world, even a bit. Foundations are there to support you to grow your business. However, they’re not text. These are perfect for right now.

So once you’ve gone through that process, if something shifts in your business in a week, three months, a year’s time, what a fabulous thing. You’ve already got those baseline ways of working in play. And now it’s about the evolution to move through those four phases again, and evolve it to what’s going to support you now and moving forward. As I’m going to wrap it up something that Kathy Rast and I spoke about the other day because I never go back. All they do is look over my shoulder. Pull the most important part for it, and then take that on board, and continue moving towards where I’m heading next.

Well, thank you so much for joining me today. If you have enjoyed this conversation about clever systems design, if you are curious about exploring how this can be a thing for you right now, in your business, if you’re needing a little bit of support, please reach out for myself and The Artisans team are always here and excited to support you on your journey.We just love it. We live and breathe it. We love SOPs, standard operating procedures, we love building things in all the tech. So come on and say hi. Thank you for joining us today and Have the most fabulous rest of your week creating Clever Systems for you business.

Well, there we go. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure having you on board. Have we connected on social jazz? If not, please come on over. Say hi, I’m on all the platforms at the artisan solutions. So I’d really look forward to seeing you over there. And if you enjoy today’s episode, don’t forget to tag me and I’d love it if you could leave a review. And of course, share this with others so others can come and join us next time. All right, then everyone have a fabulous rest of the week and until next time, see you then.


Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.