Systems Only Work If Everyone Follows Them

Insights from the movie Top Gun to help everyone follow systems
The hard deck for this hop was 10000 feet. You knew it, you broke it.

We weren't below 10000 feet for more than a few seconds. I had the shot, there was no danger so I took it.

You took it and broke a major rule of engagement. Top Gun rules of engagement are written for your safety and for that of your team. They are not flexible, nor am I. Obey them or you are history. Is that clear?
I love the movie Top Gun and this is such a critical message in the movie.

Not only because of the safety issues which could have ensued, but it shows the importance of everyone following the rules and being a great team member (and thus a leader).

So why does Maverick break the rules?

Simple: he thought he was above them and believed his judgement should have been enough.

But of course, it's not.
FOCUS:  Build Your Systems
Systems only work if everyone (owner, management, staff and clients) follows them.

So regardless of the 'I thought I could', 'I didn't know' and 'My way is better' type of responses you will get from people who break the rules, they shouldn't be acceptable reasons for doing so.

However, often these reasons have to be initially accepted because people aren't clear what they can and more importantly, what they can't do.


Because boundaries and expectations haven't been documented in an Organisational/Staff Handbook or in a Position Handbook.

Or if they have, they are so complicated, people don't follow them because they don't understand them; or they are so out of date, they are irrelevant.
What's Next?
1. Decide on what the not negotiable things are in your RTO for your:

• Business and its brand
• Team – staff and contractors
• Clients – students and organisations
• Stakeholders – industry, regulator

2. Discuss these with each party to gain feedback and tweak any changes accordingly (if appropriate).

3. Reset these boundaries and expectations with each of these parties and check there is common understanding of what someone can and can't do (and the consequences if they don't).

4. Ensure the moment someone slips (usually because it takes a while to break old habits), the issue is addressed and they are provided with more training and support; rather than blame and admonishment.

But remember:

After you've done all the change management and gained buy-in from everyone as part of any implementation strategy, there are only 2 reasons why people don't follow systems:

1. They need more training
2. They CHOOSE not to follow which is a performance management issue so address it immediately.

And here's my final thought

It's important to capture the great ideas from everyone which improve the productivity, profitability and performance of the RTO.

It's just making sure everyone knows to follow the current systems AND submit the ideas for improvement, instead of ignoring or going around the current systems because they think they know best because this is the non-compliance nightmare you are doing your best to avoid.

So please don't stop innovation by being the 'Systems Nazi', and make sure you're building up the Mavericks in your team rather than just clipping their wings.

Dedicated to making your life easier


Author: Tamara Simon
Tamara Simon is Australia's Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach.

For over twenty years, she's been providing overwhelmed RTO Owners, CEOs and Managers with CLARITY about what's WRONG, what's POSSIBLE and what's NEXT so they can grow a simple profitable business.

You can find out more about Tamara Simon and her RTO GROW Program here:
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