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Focus on the system and the score will take care of itself

It’s our belief that our long-term success at Nadine West depends on our ability to design good systems. Sometimes that means building custom software like OMS that guides or automates much of our work (for maximum speed and minimum errors). Other times that means using other tools, like Google Sheets or Basecamp, to set up a certain workflow.

The metaphor “focus on the system and the score will take care of itself” comes from the sports world. If you study the perennial winners in team sports, you will find their long-term success is not the result of having the best players or trying harder. Instead, you will find that their success is because they have designed systems of coaching, recruiting, and practicing that results in consistently high performance.

How do you build good systems?

The first step is to think long-term, not short-term. For a typical problem, the short-term mindset would be to fix the problem quickly and find another problem to fix. The long-term mindset would be to dig deeper to find out the root cause of the problem, then invest the time to find a solution that permanently fixes this problem (and perhaps prevents other problems like it that will likely happen).

Specifically, the solution might be: add a new feature to OMS, build a new spreadsheet tracker, add a task to someone’s checklist, or change the structure of the team.

Let’s take a look at some of the systems we have. Each of them were designed with the long-term in mind.

Basecamp Automatic Check-ins

Basecamp comes with automatic check-ins that we can schedule to send notifications as necessary. Our teams use it for a range of quarterly, monthly or even daily tasks that they need to be reminded of. Here are some of them shared by Elaine from our styling team.

Examples of automatic check-ins

Weekly stats (how did we do last week?)

Forecasting headcount

Usefulness of automatic check-ins

We use automatic check-ins to answer pertinent questions related to our KPI’s so we can see a historical trend.

It opens up discussions for brainstorming better plans and forecasting the needs of the team.


While improving our warehouse operations in 2019, one of the systems we came up with is the e-checklist. This system was eventually adopted by the online teams.

How we use the e-checklist may have some slight variations. Some have tasks that are mostly routinary while some include projects that need to be done over a period of time. The important thing is that we have a system that will help us plan how to best go about our tasks and ensure that everything is taken care of.

Stephanie from our warehouse team shares the usefulness of the e-checklist.

Usefulness of the e-checklist

The checklist gets rid of the need to try to remember everything everyday. For example one item on my list is to approve Managers hours in Paycor everyday. This needs to be done daily, but something that even when you’re at your computer, can be easily forgotten.

I put every necessary task listed with times and in order to be done on the checklist. This way the easy tasks that I can knock out early and feel super accomplished are done before any unexpected challenges of the day arise and get sidetracked by.

Monitoring and tracking order discrepancies

Missing or damaged items from vendors can incur losses to the company. Fortunately, our warehouse and buying teams came up with a good system for tracking them and ensuring that we get refunds when necessary. Emmie, from our buying team, shares how this system works.

How does this system work?

Our warehouse team provides order notes and then the respective agents prepare discrepancy reports. Once the reviewer has verified the reports, they will be sent to the vendors.

Usefulness of the order discrepancies monitoring system

This system refrains the company from having losses since it allows us to request for credit or a refund from vendors for damaged or missing items.

Styling team members record keeping

Since the styling team is composed of many members, it is crucial to ensure that everyone gets the necessary training and each one’s performance improves over time. Our styling team lead, Elaine, came up with a really good system for this. This is how it works.

How does this system work?

We have a 401 file for each stylist. This includes a summary of everything discussed during coaching with call recordings, a dashboard with their summary stats ever since they started, and any performance improvement plans or critical coaching given.

All updates posted on the basecamp message board have to be countersigned with the stylist’s signature to ensure full acknowledgement since we have a lot of updates.

Developing and improving our systems is a continuous process. As the company grows and expands, we will have to come up with better ways of doing things. Every member is definitely playing a big role here. From analyzing the tasks and figuring out how to best accomplish each one to trying out existing systems and improving them.

The systems that we have developed during the first few years of the company enabled us to grow into the special company that we are today. The systems that we are creating and improving now will surely allow us to grow into a much stronger company in the future.

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