Turn Frustrations into Systems

The dictionary defines frustration as:  

“feeling discouragement, anger, and annoyance because of unresolved problems or unfulfilled goals, desires, or needs.”

Add the feeling of frustration into business, and it can have all kinds of negative effects. Our first response when feeling frustrated in our business is to jump straight to a solution. We rush straight to a system to stop the feeling of frustration. In theory this sounds like the right thing to do. 

The problem with trying to force a solution immediately is that it can be a temporary bandaid on a much bigger issue. It’s important to assess the bigger picture – workplace culture, team dysfunction and bad organisational habits. This also includes assessing yourself as the leader. 

Systemic Thinking

Creating effective systems requires systemic thinking.

Systemic thinking is a way leaders in a business can analyse all aspects of the organisation. Behaviours, patterns, cycles and relationships – are they all running smoothly?

Children are natural systemic thinkers. Their favorite word is “Why?” As a business coach, it’s important for me to challenge my client’s ability to see things from all perspectives. I often mimic a clever 5 year old and will continue asking my clients “Why” to dig deeper into a problem. This encourages my clients to think systemically.

The Key Frustrations Process TM

Asking “Why” and digging deeper is part of the E-Myth Key Frustrations Process – a tool for learning how to think systemically. This 7 step tool allows you to cope with frustrations, problems and opportunities.

Let’s take a look at the 7 steps below.

Step 1: Ask yourself what the frustration is.

Identify the frustration and write it down. Not to be confused with an attempted solution. For example: “I need a lead generation system” is not a frustration, it is a guess at what the problem could be and an attempted solution. The frustration could be “Revenue is down”. 

If you close off your statements like the first example, it may lead you in the wrong direction. The second statement however, will open up several possibilities and opportunities.

Step 2: Classify the primary cause

It’s easy to direct frustration at yourself or others. “The sales team aren’t trying hard enough and don’t reach their targets”. Is this statement:

  • Self-Directed (Am I the major cause of the frustration?)
  • Outer-Directed (Is someone or something else the cause of the frustration?) 
  • or System-Directed (Is it predominantly the absence of a system?)

If it is Self or Outer directed, we need to reframe it to be system directed. Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. Reframe your thoughts to ask instead “What’s missing in the structure of my business that allows a lack of accountability in reaching targets” 

Step 3: Determine the underlying business condition or root cause

This is where we become that 5 year old and ask lots of specific, probing questions to achieve clarity on the matter.

Start asking yourself questions such as:

  • Why is this occurring
  • How long has it been going on
  • When does this happen
  • What is the impact
  • Who is impacted by it
  • How much time and money is lost

After asking yourself the questions, you may come to a conclusion such as “Revenue is suffering due to a lack of accountability in our workplace culture”. 

This now gives us something to work with inside our control. Until the issue of the workplace culture is fixed, a lack of accountability and loss in revenue will continue. 

Step 4: Translate the specific frustrating condition into a generic system solution

What kind of system would remove the frustration I’m experiencing? What outcomes would need to be reached? You may identify more than one system solution.

A system solution to improve accountability from the sales team could be: to create better expectation agreements with goals and measurements that are discussed in regular 1-on-1 accountability meetings with your sales team.

Step 5: Affirm your commitment to eliminating the frustration

You now understand the frustration, and the system solutions to resolve it. Now we need to put the system in place. First, take a moment to affirm your commitment. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to remedy this frustrating condition, or would I rather simply live with the frustration?”

If the answer is YES, move forward with dedication and commitment and get it done.

Step 6: Define the System Solution

Identify all areas of the system: 

  • Who should be responsible for designing the system?
  • Who should be responsible for maintaining and reviewing the system?
  • What steps are included in the system?
  • What documents or forms are needed?
  • How often will the system be reviewed?
  • Is any training needed?
  • How will the system be communicated with the team?
  • When will the new system start?

Step 7: Implement the Solution

The sooner the system begins, the sooner the frustration surrounding it will disappear. The system may take a while to become a habit, and it may not be perfect, especially at first. Take that first step and adjust it in time as needed.

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Need assistance to help your team achieve your objectives to grow your business? Contact me at tedb@strategyandexecution.com.au to schedule a free 30-minute discovery meeting.


We have been providing organisations and their leaders with facilitation support and executive education focused on strategy development and strategy execution for more than 20 years. Using business models such as Scaling Up, Exponential Organizations, E-Myth Mastery, Outthinker etc, we support organisations seeking to create or refine excellent strategies and execute them quickly and effectively.

Our expertise is based on a mixture of wide business experience, effective tools as well as a great deal of consulting and executive education. Our approach to working with clients is as unique as our specialist focus. We always seek to challenge our clients’ thinking – but equally are unafraid to roll up our sleeves and help execute the ideas we help generate. Learn more about us here or view our upcoming workshops and events.

If you are preparing for strategy development and/or a strategy implementation challenge and are committed to creating value for your organisation, we look forward to hearing from you. Contact us now