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The “M” Game – Hard & Soft Systems

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Oct 2, 2023

You may wonder what hard and soft systems are. Why is it important to be aware of them?

Let me share why I found Shannon Susko’s identification of these two separate but equally important systems, a framework critical to understand.

My first position in coaching was as an E-Myth coach. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, acquainted small business owners with what systems are and why it’s so important to develop them for the owner to get more life. It was a simple concept that resonated with many small business owners.

Metronomics - Shannon Quote - Balancing ActAs an E-Myth coach it became apparent to me there were two kinds of business owners at this level.

In Subjectivity & Objectivity – Required Business Disciplines I shared this, by focusing on Scaling Up’s two drivers: People/Relationships and Process/Productivity.

Small Business owners who sought help fell into two categories. They either “got” the subjective part of the business, the People or Soft Systems, or the Objective Part of the business, Hard Systems.

The best of small business owners understood, appreciated, and knew the value of both.

Metronomics Repeatable Playbook - Hard Edge - Soft EdgeIf you’re wondering how each of these groups fared in running a business, my experience taught me some hard facts. The subjective/soft system owners needed to quickly learn the hard systems, most critically, Cash, otherwise, they’d be out of business quickly.

The Objective/Hard System owners would last longer, yet at the expense of low morale, high turnover, and weak performance efficiency.

Napoleon Bonaparte knew esprit de corps contributed more than any other component to victory on the battlefield. Culture, as noted in 1% Plan, 99% Behavior determines business success more than any other factor.

The Metronomics framework is built around 7 systems: 3 Soft Systems, 3 Hard Systems, and the Coach Cascade system.

Why are soft-edge systems important?

The stronger your soft-edge systems are, the easier it is to take your strategy, make it simple and clear, so all team members understand the plan and know what to do every day.

Without the Human System to provide clarity of expectations to every team member connected to your company goals, you will lose team members.

Without the Cohesive System, creating a consistent cohesive team, you will lose team members.

Without the Cultural System, the foundation, the team will not reach its true potential, fall apart, and you will lose team members.

Metronomics Seven Systems - The House-1These systems work together to provide a clear and solid structure for all teams to achieve their goals. It’s up to your leaders to be aware and have the discipline to implement, evolve, and grow them. These 3 soft edge systems make up what we call People, one of the 4 Decisions in Scaling Up.

Shannon breaks these systems into separate systems. This reflects her skill at seeing the need to clarify and identify their importance and emphasize the value of each in building a growing team and business.

When you grow your team, your company grows with ease, speed, and confidence. I’ll dive into the 3 Soft systems further next blog.

The Hard Systems – Depend on Goal Attainment

Metronomics (Hard Edge - Soft Edge)-1Your Hard Systems are the Strategic System, the Execution System, and the Cash System. These hard-edged systems are easy to focus on and define because they deal with the hard results of your business. You can have a highly cohesive team, yet team members can be disconnected from your organization’s plans and goals.

Your hard-edge systems are key to building a high-performing team. You cannot win without a confident strategy, clear objectives and goals, aligned metrics, continuous learning, decision-making awareness, team rewards, and an Open Playing Field.

We’ll delve more into these Hard Systems as well in a future blog post.

Need help developing the hard and soft systems for your business? Contact us to help you get started on developing these 7 systems to fuel your growth!

To create an environment where everyone is inspired to give their best, contact Positioning Systems today to schedule a free exploratory meeting.

Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

Metronomics Seven Systems - The House (Soft Systems Circled)Your soft-edge systems—the Cultural System, the Cohesive System, and the Human System—frame the house and, provide a clear, solid structure for all teams to achieve their goals. We will share more details on Soft systems in our next blog.

Building an enduring great organization requires disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action, superior results, producing a distinctive impact on the world.

Discipline sustains momentum, over a long period, laying the foundations for lasting endurance.

4Dx Cadence of AccountabilityA winning habit starts with 3 Strategic DisciplinesPriorityMetrics, and Meeting Rhythms.   Forecasting, accountability, individual, and team performance improve dramatically.

Meeting Rhythms achieve a disciplined focus on performance metrics to drive growth.

Let Positioning Systems help your business achieve these outcomes on the Four most Important Decisions your business faces:












Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $500M+) businesses Scale-UP. We align your business to focus on Your One Thing! Contact to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

NEXT BLOG – The “M” Game – Soft Systems: Cultural, Cohesive, HumanThe M Game - The Metronomics Monograph


Topics: E-Myth, E-Myth Revisited, Shannon Byrne Susko, The "M" Game, Hard and Soft Systems

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Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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