When the tail wags the dog is a popular expression. It is defined as; “when a minor or secondary part of something controls the whole”. The concept was used in Wag the Dog, a 1997 film starring Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, depicting a Hollywood film producer creating a fictitious war to distract the American public’s attention from a presidential sex scandal. No, I’m not trying to divert your attention from an Ebsco sex scandal through my prolific writing. I’m sorry to say this blog is nothing that juicy or exciting. I want to talk about systems.
This past week we had our WEEK LONG ISO audit of our new ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. A rough week! We have a few corrections to make but we will be certified, Now our environmental management system is just one system we have in place at Ebsco. We have a Quality Management System, ISO 9001, our Environmental system I just mentioned, ISO 14001, a Safety Management System, designed to the ISO 18991 standard and a Business Continuity Management System, designed to the ISO 22301 standard. That is a lot of systems.
Systems are important in business. They provide structure, They provide guidance and acceptable standards for the actions we take. They are designed around the premise of continual improvement which is the benchmark of successful manufacturers. I am a big fan of management systems.
Saying that, here is where the tail starts wagging. Systems include documentation and specific procedures. Every T must be crossed and every I must be dotted. Systems designed to serve the business can take on their own life. They spring (no pun intended) into unchecked growth seeking to control every aspect and every detail of the business.
I remember an old Dunkin Donuts commercial where the baker woke in the middle of the night repeating “Got to make the donuts.” over and over. Well that’s the truth of any business. At Ebsco we “Got to make the springs”. Making springs is what we do. The systems are designed to serve the business and adds value. It’s managements responsibility to make sure this happens. It is our responsibility to ensure our systems serve the business.
So I add another chapter to what I’ve learned in the past three years at Ebsco. I am still committed to our management systems but I will keep my focus on what’s important, MAKING SPRINGS. I will make sure the system serves Ebsco and not the other way.
If you’ll excuse me, It’s time to make the springs.