We Don’t Need No Stinkin Process

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I’ve spent the last decade or so preaching the gospel of systems thinking for marketing.

I chose the word system as the cornerstone of the Duct Tape Marketing point of view because after working with small business owners for many years I found that they had no problem thinking about systems when it came to things like getting the product out the door or paying the bills. When it came to marketing, however, they never had anything that remotely resembled a system or systems thinking.

The White Board debate rages on

Over the years I’ve discovered that system is s big word and it’s up for lots of interpretation depending upon your dominant personality type or experience or whether you favor Demming, Drucker or Gerber.

See, I have a system for just about everything I do, but for someone that defines a system as manual, timeline, Gantt chart and task list, my system is rather maddening.

For me a system is simply a way to recognize how you practice your art, it’s not a stone carved tablet kind of thing.

The key to making this definition work is that you recognize and fully understand the pattern of how you get things done. Once you do that you can work inside of a framework that allows you document and collaborate in a systems kind of way.

For example, procrastination is a measured part of creation for me. If I find that I’m having trouble getting to something, it’s my universe telling me that I don’t have what I need fully formed yet – that’ just part of the process and I know it and adapt to it. It’s not a crutch when you recognize the power behind it.

To create forms and procedures or even rigid plans for how something actually gets done is one of the quickest ways to kill the unique art that’s possible.

While I firmly believe that you must align everyone’s thinking with a core set of shared objectives, you must stay equally flexible with how those objectives are achieved.

When you create an action plan that specifies every step along that path it’s a bit like jumping on a speeding train and saying I don’t know where we are going, but I know we’ll be on time.

A marketing system allows for innovation, ideation, new data, testing, refining, restarting and pivoting inside of a strategic framework that recognizes the need for checklists.

But, kill the art and you’ll kill the magic.


Demming, Drucker, Gerber, Process, system

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