After Moses led the Israelites out of the Promised Land, his leadership was in high demand.
Usually. At times, people grumbled greatly against him.
But, in general, he was seen as the unequivocal leader of this movement.
As a result, he was in high demand – everyone wanted to know what he thought about this issue or that issue.
They “needed” him to discern wisely how to set direction, settle disputes, reinforce the culture, and make sure everything ran smoothly.
Except it exhausted him.
And was starting to frustrate the people.
He was learning that he couldn’t scale himself.
It was at this time that his father-in-law, Jethro, intervened.
The story, excerpted, follows:
“The next day Moses sat in judgment for the people, while they stood around him from morning until evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he asked, “What is this business that you are conducting for the people? Why do you sit alone while all the people have to stand about you from morning till evening?”
Moses answered his father-in-law, “The people come to me to consult God. Whenever they have a disagreement, they come to me to have me settle the matter between them and make known to them God’s statutes and instructions.”
“What you are doing is not wise,” Moses’ father-in-law replied. “You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. Now, listen to me, and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.
Act as the people’s representative before God, and bring their disputes to God. Enlighten them in regard to the statutes and instructions, showing them how they are to conduct themselves and what they are to do. But you should also look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and set them over the people as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. Let these render decisions for the people in all routine cases.
Every important case they should refer to you, but every lesser case they can settle themselves.
Lighten your burden by letting them bear it with you! If you do this, and God so commands you, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people, too, will go home content.””Exodus 18:13-23
What Moses needed to do was clear.
He needed to identify talent, train them, and then delegate his duties to them…for the good of the community.
Moses was transitioning from small-time leader to an executive. From solo decision maker & star performer to a full-fledged CEO.
To do this, Moses needed to be able to change. To adapt. To pick up a new set of skills, starting with organizational management.
Systems & Marketing
I started SuperWebPros with the goal of turning it into something like a franchise.
I got the idea a few years ago, after talking with the president of a large franchise that had just sold to a multi-billion dollar private equity company.
His franchise was in the home services industry; a competitive industry with thousands of small competitors across the country and perhaps dozens in even small communities.
I asked him during that meeting, “What separates you from, say, Joe the Plumber?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, he answered, “Systems & marketing. We got ‘em. And we’re good at them. And that’s what it takes.”
It was an “aha” moment for me because, since I had moved to Lansing, I had been baffled by small businesses.
I could tell that small businesses were different from large companies I had worked at – and even tech startups, which I had been more involved in prior to moving up north.
But I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Systems. And Marketing.
I will probably write many posts on marketing, but systems. That’s the thing to scale. Systems provide the recipes, frameworks, tools, and training that allow people to do a job consistently, predictably, productively, and, frankly, interchangeably.
That interchangeability inoculates well-designed companies against ‘brain drain’ or being too exposed to a single talented contributor – or leader.
Not just for business
Designing and implementing systems is one of the most important skills a healthy business should master.
But not just business.
Churches, ministries, nonprofits….anyone with a message to share, finite resources, and a passion for growth needs to be investing in systems.
Systems are how you bend without breaking, while serving as many stakeholders as possible.
Moses had to learn this skill, if the Israelites were going to thrive.
I’m still learning this skill as I try to grow my busienss.
And I pray you learn it, too, in order to accomplish your goals.