The old adage of “Systems fail, not people” is only partially true because it is ultimately a person or group of people who design and implement systems and processes. Usually, it is the management team that decides on what systems and processes to use and how to use them. As a result, learning how to evaluate a situation to design effective systems and processes is crucial if your team is to work efficiently and productively in a manner that promotes optimal performance.

Systems and processed form the foundation on which your academic unit will function. In spite of how hard your team works or the team members’ passion for a compelling vision, if the systems and processes in which they must work are sub-optimal, their ceiling is limited and your aspirations for them will never be met.

The easy way out, taken by most people, is to say that the solution to low productivity is more personnel or more equipment or more space, and so on. The analogy here is of the sausage maker representing your systems and processes. No matter how many more people or how much equipment or space you throw into the sausage maker, you will still get sausage as the end-product. Only by changing something about the sausage maker, the systems and processes, will you change your product and move beyond making sausage. In fact, there is often tremendous opportunity available that does not require the additional expense of additional personnel, space or equipment resources.

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