Systems Dependent – Not People Dependent

June 13, 2008

I have been reading Michael Gerbers E-Myth Revisited and wanted to make a comment. MR. Gerber points out that to be successful, businesses must ensure that they make themselves “Systems Dependent” not “People Dependent”.

It is not to state that the people are not necessary, because people are the ones that apply the system, and use the system to provide more effective service, knowledge, and efficiency.

Systems theory is a behavioral model that demonstrates that nothing proceeds in a vacuum. Inputs must be processed across multiple disciplines that may depend on each other for outputs, or may contribute to a common output.

As an example, you sell widgets, your marketing team does a great advertising campaign – unfortunately your system did not let manufacturing know – or distribution for that matter. So shelves were left without stock.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, this is the same concept that I have been writing about for IT in the SMB space. Your technology choices (and IT Systems) are parts of your own internal corporate systems. Your IT staff or suppliers can keep the IT systems maintained, but the documentation and processes should be such that;

People can utilize, improve upon, and learn the system

But that people can be replaced and new ones brought in to maintain the IT part of the system

That the system is greater than the knowledge of one single person. (We have all heard stories about wishing that some toxic employee could be terminated – but they were the “only” one who knew how “everything” works.)

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One Response to “Systems Dependent – Not People Dependent”


  1. Elliot,

    The subject of this post immediately caught my eye. I’ve heard my business partner leading seminars full of people in chants of “Systems Dependent, not People Dependent!” We’re in the business of developing standard operating procedures – the rule book by which a system is run.

    It’s a powerful thing to see a business that’s really running because of a finely-honed system and not because of an ever-present manager barking orders. Even more powerful is when employees buy into the system and actually approach management with suggestions to help improve the system. Our business lives by the principles of The E-Myth.

    Good stuff here, keep it coming!

    Kyle Claypool / OnYourBusiness


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