What Type of ‘Car’ is Your Management System?

Posted by Craig Thornton

If your management system was a car, what would it be?

Before I begin, let me assure you that I’m no ‘petrol head’ and despite the somewhat quirky title, this is not a trivial article.

The thing is, comparing your management system to a particular type of car can be an effective way of defining its relative strengths and weaknesses.  It’s also a powerful communication tool – especially with those individuals (like senior managers) who don’t live and breathe compliance but certainly need to know about the important stuff.

Businessman with boxing glove fighting with a big monster shadow

OK, so let’s start by imagining that your management system is a nightmare to use and requires a lot of time & effort to maintain.  Further, because as a ‘system’ it’s so functionally deficient, it can’t even be relied on to help you achieve your compliance objectives.  You probably know the story - tasks get overlooked, information goes missing, deadlines are missed, etc, etc.

If that sounds all too familiar to you, don’t panic – the good news is you’re not alone.  In fact you’re in the large majority of organisations whose management systems should have been retired to the local scrap yard years ago.

And if you’ve already thought about what type of compliance ‘car’ you’re driving - irrespective of your chosen make/model - it’ll no doubt be one that’s horrible to drive, uses too much fuel and breaks down on a fairly regular basis.   

And of course, it looks rubbish, which probably wouldn’t matter so much except you’re not the only one who has to ride in it (think employees, managers, auditors).  If only you could keep it locked up in the garage all the time away from prying eyes.

Overall, it’s all rather embarrassing – especially when there’s so many, much nicer models on the roads these days.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about Beamers or Mercs here (all very flash but hardly necessary for your average business).  No, I’m referring to those stylish compacts that Asian car manufacturers in particular seem able to roll off the production line with consummate ease.

Of course they’re incredibly fuel efficient and lovely to drive but they’re also extremely reliable.  They get you from A to B every single time – and in a level of comfort and safety (think risk) that was unheard of at such a price even a couple of years ago. 

Absolutely, their evolution has been impressive but let’s not get carried away – it’s not like we’re talking ‘man on the moon’ impressive.  It’s really just progress and embracing new technologies to provide the mass market with a better experience.

And so the car vs. management system analogy deepens…

Too much work tired sleepy young woman sitting at her desk with books in front of laptop computer isolated grey wall office background. Busy schedule in college, workplace, sleep deprivation concept

The reason most people don’t like their organisation’s management systems is because they know that technology has moved on but they haven’t.  Whilst they’re still being forced to run their management system with pen, paper and the odd (not-so-fancy) spreadsheet, they’ve heard on the grapevine that their competitor up the road has upgraded their system.  

And even if they’ve never actually got up close and personal to one of these new-style systems, intuitively they already know through their personal experiences with the likes of Google how easy web-based software can make things. 

They know that their manual processes can be automated, that all their hard-copy documents should be soft copies and that their reporting should be instantaneous.  

They also know that these web-based management systems require way less effort and deliver far more value.

But whenever they raise the issue with senior managers, they get the brush off.  Invariably that’s because the senior managers aren’t exactly interested in the process of compliance – and therefore don’t appreciate the current deficiencies.

However, they do tend to care about both money and cars. 

So if you need to upgrade your management system, don’t talk compliance, talk cars.  Explain how unreliable and expensive to run their existing compliance car is and why the newer models are so much more efficient. 

And if that fails, ask them what it’s like driving a Beamer or a Merc when the compliance folks are still spluttering around in a Morris Minor. 

How to describe your management system in car-speak


What car does your management system best resemble?

Use the table above to get a better handle on the type of car your management system resembles.  Then click here to pick the option that best describes it.  We’ll publish the results in a few weeks’ time.


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Tags: Management System