Relationships x Systems = ?

The other day, while going over orders in our family business, my one son and I realized that an order was set aside, while we waited on parts.  That was two days prior to the incident. We suddenly realized the parts had not been ordered.  

I blamed him; he reciprocated and blamed me.  It went something along the lines of “Why didn’t you tell me we needed parts or see that they got ordered?” “I did tell you we needed parts, I thought you took care of it.”  We volleyed a couple of verbal barrages back and forth with the pressure increasing throughout the exchange.   

Suddenly, my daughter, who was doing some billing nearby, interjected, “Hey, can we handle this in a better way?”  That kick in the pants was good for me.  It brought me to my senses, reminding me of the need to handle the error and assess the real problems more constructively. 

The first problem was simply a lack of adequate procedural systems and organizational clarity.  Our protocol for handling parts orders was insufficient to ensure this situation didn’t happen.  What we were really experiencing was a systems problem. 

The second problem was our initial reaction and ensuing wrong assessments.  Rather than stepping back from the incident and making healthy assessments, we reacted and made the problem personal. Each of us viewed the situation and the other’s response to it as a direct attack on our own character.  

It reminded me of some relational lessons:
1. Sometimes it’s easiest to respond the worst with the people we love the most.
2. When I deal with my own issues in wise ways and lead through self-mastery, it’s amazing how many other issues will take care of themselves. 
3. Healthy relationships have a circuit interrupt button – my daughter believed it was safe to speak into the situation and help us course correct.
4. Only after I get out of reaction mode and deal with my own issues, can I cognitively and constructively engage with our “team” to make forward progress.

The connection between healthy relationships and wise systems is symbiotic. Both are crucial. They multiply each other. They also tend to reflect and expose each other – i.e. an organization with poor relationships seldom has good systems, and vice versa. It’s crucial that we pay attention to, and invest in both relationships and systems on all fronts – in our homes, our businesses, our organizations, and our churches. The next generation is depending on us, let’s not let them down. 

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 

Matthew 24:45-47

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