Book Review: Work the System

J.D. is on vacation. This is a guest post from Winston, the Get Rich Slowly “intern”.

Sam Carpenter has written an intriguing book about how his approach to owning and managing his telecommunications company in Central Oregon has changed dramatically to positively impact his life, both in immeasurable and measurable ways.

Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Working Less and Making More takes the reader through the first 15 years of Carpenter's chaotic and workaholic tendencies to the practice he currently uses today to run a multi-million dollar company by investing just two-hours of work per week. After spending years running his business out of his head, lunging from one emergency to the next, trying to physically and financially keep the company running, Sam had a life-changing epiphany that transformed his relationship to work, to home, and to other people.

Step by step
Carpenter discovered the value of creating step-by-step instructions or systems for almost any process that encompassed his business.  Once those systems were in place, anyone within the organization could follow the procedures and accomplish the objectives and goals of the company. 

Carpenter stresses the importance of first developing strategic objectives, general operating principles, and then working procedures (the fluid part of the Work the System method) to maintain a healthy sense of control.
 
What I thought was going to be a theory filled with holes and short-cut tricks turned out to be something I could relate to. As a manager of ten individuals in state government setting, I could see myself using the methods he suggests.  Though Carpenter focuses on his own company and the application of the steps to creating systems, the concepts carried over to my world outside of telecommunications. 

I was intrigued by how the system protocols would cover universal work-related challenges as Carpenter used very specific examples to explain topics such as:

  • employee hiring and firing
  • pay and benefits
  • vacation policies
  • work culture
  • adjustment in attitude

The thought, time, and energy required to switch to a systems-based approach would be high, but Carpenter does a convincing job of showing that the end results would benefit everyone involved in the implementation.

Not just for business owners
Carpenter's story of producing a large income while having little day-to-day work responsibility has little relevance to my current career situation. His wealth comes from a business that has a strong client base because of the principles he and his partner have implemented. However, he recognizes that not everyone is meant to be in that situation, and that the systematic approach can be applied to other work environments. He provides suggestions for how those who do not own a business can “work the system”.

With that being said, the primary audience for Work the System is business owners who find themselves overwhelmed and consumed by their current situation.  This is not a get-rich-quick solution but a long-term, choice-based technique that might lead to greater financial success and secure a solid future. 

Carpenter describes his current life situation as one that many Get Rich Slowly readers want to achieve.  He has the financial means to sustain the quality of life he chooses and is not burdened by his career or responsibilities. He is Financially Independent.

Satisfaction guaranteed
I appreciated reading Work the System, and feel challenged to implement several of the strategies Carpenter suggests. He is so confident in his work that he offers this guarantee:

In the first 60 days, if for any reason you don't like the book, send it back to me and I will immediately refund 110% of the purchase price (the extra 10% is to pay for your postage in sending it back). I don't care what condition the book is in. I only ask you to add a brief note to tell me why it didn't fill your expectations.

 
My sense is not too many people will have to take him up on his offer.

Find out more at the Work the System website.

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Trevor - 14 Year Old Money Blogger
Trevor - 14 Year Old Money Blogger
11 years ago

Nice review.

I’ll reserve the book from my public library.

Doug
Doug
11 years ago

“Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Working Less and Making More”

Yes, folks, this is what America has come to.

willamettejd
willamettejd
11 years ago

Could really use a little more flesh on this review – how about a more detailed example of a system he set up, and your analysis of it?

Faculties
Faculties
11 years ago

Yes, I’d love to know more about what the system actually is.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
11 years ago

@Doug This is exactly what America *should* come to. It’s a pretty utopian dream to have the means of production be so efficient that the average person can live comfortably on only a few hours of effort a week. This would allow everyone to spend almost all their time pursuing their dreams and personal interests, instead of barely scraping by to stay warm and fed. Certainly that’s a pretty far-fetched scenario at our current point in history, but to suggest that America as a country would be worse if everyone was free to spend their time on any interest that… Read more »

Sybbis
Sybbis
11 years ago

Yeah, this isn’t like fiction, I don’t think, where you need to protect people from spoilers in the review! I’d have loved a little more analysis about whether the suggestions involved were actually *plausible* for the average non-owner/manager person, because that’s what will make or break this book as a purchase for most of us. Also, given that the premise seems to be almost identical to The 4-Hour Work Week, what are the main differences between the two? I find the concept intriguing but Ferriss’ background being essentially a seller of high-priced snake oil threw me off of the rest… Read more »

Brandon Rowe
Brandon Rowe
11 years ago

@Doug

You prefer to work more and make less?

www.selectcdrates.com
www.selectcdrates.com
11 years ago

The book was poorly written. The content is fairly basic, but the big criticism is it needs another editor.

Tim
Tim
6 years ago

thanks for the review and reminding me of this book. i read it already and really liked it.

it canges the view that you have about your business. it is all about getting rid of luck/mood/chaotic factors and changes your business to a clockwork that does what it is supposed to do.

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