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Work The System

Book Review

September 14, 2015

Ground breaking book about the importance of implementing systems in your business and personal life. Well written, entertaining, rooted in a deeply personal story, the book deals not only with the why but also with the how of developing systems.

I decided to read Work The System when it was highly recommended by two respected business thinkers that I follow online: Josh Kaufman and Sebastian Marshall. Also, because I’ve been very busy lately and a deep understanding of systems, standardization and automation will bring more control, less stress, and more time for value-adding activities like thinking, strategizing, and keeping healthy.

The book didn’t disappoint, and left me with plenty of actionable steps.

I hereby summarize the main tenets of the book:

All these concepts lead us to the most important part of the book: the introduction of the three essential documents. They are: the Strategic Objective, the Operating Principles and the Operating Procedures.

The last of these three life changing tools, the Operating Procedures, are what make the day to day of a business go flawlessly. They’re the detailed written instructions on how the different tasks and activities are to be performed.

The Strategic Objective states what you aim for (your vision and long term goals), while the Operating Principles serve as a guideline for decision making.

To help us internalize the concept, the author draws an interesting parallel between the three documents and the Declaration of Independence (the Strategic Objective), the Constitution (the Operating Principles) and the laws (the Operating Procedures).

What makes this book remarkable, aside from the usefulness of its content, is the deep personal connection between the author and the concepts he lays out. Sam Carpenter credits the systems mindset for rescuing him from near burnout and 80-hour workweeks, and leading him to a more relaxed, productive life.

The book is also very well structured, half textbook/half biography, turning what would otherwise be a dry, tedious subject into an engaging read.

Highly recommended.

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