How to create systems in your business with principles from the police, chess masters and football managers

 In Growth


What you can learn from how Chess masters and football managers implement systems

In 1972 when Bobby Fischer was playing Spassky, he used an opening from the 1800s called The Scotch Game to become World Champion. Everyone gasped because most Americans were using openings and styles that the Russians already knew how to defeat. The Russians had trained themselves to recognize patterns and systems that would beat the Americans without much thinking. Their wins did not require much human discretion on the player’s part. The Scotch Game opening was unexpected because it opened up a more superior system that made Bobby Fischer’s name even more infamous.

Let’s talk about systems in the context of business. But first, some more examples.

Have you noticed that some establishments usually have that one guy or lady who is either more courteous or responsive than all the others? If you visit this place a lot, you actually look forward to being served by that person because you know exactly what to expect. Many times, you would rather wait extra minutes to be attended to by that individual. This individual, if they treat you the same way all the time with the same results is enforcing a system. If however, her service varies, then it is just a tactic that may be based on her mood or some other conditions. As a business owner, it important to notice these people and create a system where all of your team mimic the same process. When it is done once it is a tactic, when it is done the same way with the same results and efficiency all the time it is a system.

Consider the police.

Whenever there is a crime in a developed nation, the Police if they are responsible, usually have a system made up of procedures that they follow. It usually involves something like take photos of crime scene, call for backup if suspect is at the scene, park facing crime scene, interview eye witnesses, look for CCTV footage if there is any et cetera. In less developed nations, the procedures are usually up to the discretion of the officer who gets there first. This is inefficient most of the time because it leaves room for human error especially in cases that are simple. Efficient systems enhance productivity, save money and gets to the solution in a timely fashion. In American movies, notice they always read the perp his rights after he is caught? That is a system. The officer cannot decide to say half of it just because he has a sore tooth. The system will not “allow him”.

Here’s another;

Think of your favorite football, soccer or basketball game. Most fans only see the goals and scores. The more enlightened ones see the plays and calls. They see that the managers and coaches have a mental system that they are implementing as every second passes. The really good managers can orchestrate a win like a chess match. They have learnt through research, data and intuition what works in different scenarios and are quick to implement.
When you order food from Papaye, one of Ghana’s most popular fast food joints, the person at the counter will sometimes ask you “is that all?”. This question is supposed to cause you to order something else in case you forgot to earlier on. Compare that with Mcdonald’s. Many times if you order just a burger, the person serving you will ask “do you want a drink and fries with that?”. This is not because the employee of the establishment is particularly courteous. This is a system at play. Regardless of who is catering to you, they are trained to bundle their offerings and offer you more value in exchange for your money. Remember that one of the easiest ways to increase your businesses’ income is to increase the size of each transaction. When someone orders one item, offer to bundle, upsell or cross sell with a complimentary product or service that provides additional value.


You can create a system out of most things that relate to your business. A follow up system is when someone calls a client within 7 days after they purchase your product. IF you do not have enough people on your team, you can set aside one hour of every week to send out follow up emails, phone calls, letters or text messages. You may also consider applications such as Infusionsoft and Mailchimp. This also works for social media posts as well since many entrepreneurs are too busy to be posting frequently. I will teach on how to manage time as a business owner in a later post.

Please check out W.E Deming’sOut of the Crisis book. He taught the Japanese manufacturers’ systems that made them dominate the world for decades.

Another book that comes highly recommended is this The Essential Deming: Leadership Principles from the Father of Qualityone.

What systems have you experienced or implemented that were particularly impressive?

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