Book report – Work The System

Jan 14, 2013 | Business

Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less by Sam Carpenter has a great premise, but fails to deliver because too much of the book is personal anecdotes, opinions, and rants.

Things I liked about the book

There’s a great, provocative suggestion in this book. Basically, Sam suggests documenting your business starting with the highest-level goals, all the way down to the most trivial tasks. The goal of having this standard operating procedure is to make your business more profitable with less daily oversight from you, the owner.

I like the general framework that’s presented in this book. Here’s my summary of the methodology:

  1. Establish a Strategic Objective for your company
  2. Define General Operating Principles as a guide
  3. Build Working Procedures to describe the tasks
  4. Ruthlessly follow your procedures as documented
  5. Empower your employees to change the Working Procedures
  6. Create a culture of continuous improvement

For our business, I’ve started documenting based on some of these ideas. So far, it’s been difficult to build the Strategic Objective and Guiding Principles, but I know that it’s going to be valuable toward defining our company culture and making sure we can empower our employees with a framework for making decisions.

Things I didn’t like about the book

The percentage of useful information in this book is really low. After reading the 1st quarter of the book, I realized that I’d have to start skimming. I felt like 90% of the book was trying to convince me that having a system is a good idea.

It wasn’t necessary; that’s why I read the book. I wanted specific advice and examples of how to implement a system. Instead, I got a story that didn’t resonate with me, opinions about life that I didn’t agree with, and a general lack of humor or insight.

Would I recommend it?

No. Unfortunately, because of the writing I wouldn’t recommend this book. I found myself flipping though most of the chapters of “story” looking for actionable advice that could have been summarized in a few pages.

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