Sponsored by Oregon Business

CEO Strategies: Work the system before it works you

| Print |  Email
Archives - August 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008

SamCarpenter Sam Carpenter’s book describes the world as a collection of systems that can be fixed.

IN 2000, AT THE NADIR of his career — and possibly his life — Sam Carpenter found himself depressed, medicated, logging 100-hour workweeks and just days away from missing a payroll for his Bend telephone answering service, Centratel.

But then he had a midnight epiphany — literally.

“I looked at my business and realized I could not fix this big amorphous mass unless I could see it in pieces,” says Carpenter. “That night, for the first time, I saw it in pieces.”

Eight years later, Carpenter’s company generates more than $2 million annually and his 30 employees never miss a paycheck. Carpenter himself is healthy — he works just two hours a week — and he’s making more money in a month than he used to make all year.

The 58-year-old shares his secrets in his recent book, Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Working Less and Making More. (Find out more at www.workthesystem.com.)

To him, the world is full of linear systems, and if you can see the world — or your business — as a collection of systems, then you can isolate the dysfunctional ones, fix them, and put them back into the mix.

“What people have to get is that their business is not a big holistic mass,” he says. “You have to look at it in a non-holistic way. Take it apart; fix the pieces that need fixing. If all the pieces are functioning perfectly, the end result is very good.”

Carpenter says small businesses need three essential components for success: a strategic objective; a list of general operating procedures; and a collection of working rules that outline how a particular system, say a sales presentation, is to work.

If one of those systems is malfunctioning, identify it, repair it and move on.

Carpenter also recommends paying close attention to the details of your life, but only those you can control.

“The things you can’t control,” he says, “just walk away.”

And, of course, always take a systems-based approach to business.

“Focus on one piece at a time,” Carpenter says, “because if you can focus on one piece, you sure as heck can fix one piece.”     

JON BELL


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

ZoomCare rolls out new on-demand health clinics

News
Monday, March 02, 2015
zoomcarethumbBY KIM MOORE |  OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Portland-based healthcare provider ZoomCare said it plans to “remake American healthcare” by expanding its on-demand urgent care model to emergency, surgery, dental and primary care, among others.


Read more...

MBA Perspective

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."


Read more...

LEED for weed

Linda Baker
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
012815-potcarbon-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

What is the impact of the legal pot industry on carbon emissions?


Read more...

Banking Perspective

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Craig Wanichek, president and CEO of Summit Bank.


Read more...

Opening soon: 3 of the coolest new breweries in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, March 19, 2015
brewthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are 278 companies licensed to operate as brewery, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Here are three new beer-making hubs slated to open soon.


Read more...

4 winners and losers in the Kitzhaber scandal

The Latest
Thursday, February 12, 2015
021315-govorno-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Examining the governor's rapid fall from grace in a "bizarre" and "unprecedented" saga.


Read more...

Convention Wisdom

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

After more than a decade of wrangling, construction on a convention center hotel in Portland is slated to start this summer. But debate over project financing continues.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS