As companies grow, the progression of system and process thinking follows a familiar path:

During the start-up phase, there are no defined processes or systems. As a new requirement arises, someone deals with it in whatever manner helps them get it done. You need to hire your first accounting employee, so you call someone you know who knows someone, and viola, you've got your first accountant.

As they move into the growth phase, processes begin to get more formally defined out of necessity. It becomes harder and harder to coordinate across the growing team, and the only way to do it is to define some rudimentary processes. As the company begins to hire department leads, they focus on putting efficient processes in place for the department to ensure that each specialized area of the company is operating efficiently. Your accounting department has quickly grown to 5 people. The head of the accounting department put a process into place to ensure that there is an appropriate job description for each role and that each person has a defined set of responsibilities.

And, as the company scales, these departmental processes start to feel inefficient because they don't work well with the processes upstream and downstream from them.

It is time for systems thinking.

Each of your department heads has been hiring as needed, but you don't have an overall budgeting cycle to ensure that, across all departments, you are hiring within a budget that will allow you to stay profitable. You put a budgeting cycle and job posting approval process in place to make sure that all new hiring is in alignment with the company's overall objectives.

The R.O.C.K. IT Framework is geared toward a system-based approach. We look at processes across the company from the systems perspective to scale the processes so that they are efficient across the company, not just within each department.

What makes systems thinking challenging is that it is cross-functional, so it is hard to pin down a single owner.


Understand the system and each of the processes within that overall system.

  • Key objective

  • Key stakeholders

  • Key levers


Identify the optimal system solution and define the processes that will support it. Implement changes to the processes as necessary, which may require change management, depending on the extend of the change.


Establish operational measures that allow leaders to track the improvements against the objectives and ensure that the processes that have been put in place are meeting expectations.


Provide training to employees to help instill a systems thinking mindset. When everyone in the company is thinking in terms of systems rather than processes, they will be able to more effectively make changes when they become necessary.