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Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less Hardcover – May 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press; Second Edition edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1929774877
  • ISBN-13: 978-1929774876
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,253,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


''Better than Good to Great, the next Best Seller Business Book.'' --GLR, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer. 5 stars

''Very vivid details captivates this reader. Well done indeed!'' --G.W., Amazon Top 500 Reviewer. 5 stars

''This book will be a life-saver. Highly recommended.'' --SHA, Amazon Top 500 Reviewer. 5 stars

From the Author

Work the System's  main thrust goes beyond providing new information, although it
does that. The root purpose of Work the System is to guide you to a new
way of perceiving your life so you can gain better command of it and
therefore be better able to get what you want. 
There will be a mechanical adjustment in the way you see your world, and 
when this profound shift occurs, systems Methodology will make irrefutable 
sense, and your work and life will never be the same. I like to call this 
mini-awakening getting it, and I describe what it is and how to achieve it in Part One.
The Nutshell Premise? Your life is a collection of individual systems.
To whom is this book intended? It's for anyone who runs a business,
from the founder of a brand new mom-and-pop start-up to the seasoned
CEO of a multinational. At either extreme and in-between, the tenets
apply uniformly because life's fundamental mechanics work the same, all
the time, everywhere. This is about acquiring a better view of reality's
universal simple mechanics; to viewing the machinations of your world
with more precision.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

I found this book VERY helpful.
This book teaches you how systems will improve your life, your business and profitability.
Sam Carpenters Work the System is truly an inspiring book.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Panozzo on March 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I realized early on that the book probably wasn't a good fit for me, but skimmed through the rest to try to get some insights. Here's a quick synopsis and perhaps some takeaways.

The author starts out by talking about how his general views on the universe have shifted from a "we're all one" free-love view to an understanding that the world generally operates in predictable ways. The author worked 100+ hour weeks for an extended period of time, and in a time of desperation realizes that he must systematize his business. This takes sixty pages to develop.

Next, he explains the process of how to create principles, vision statement, and working procedures for a company from scratch were well laid out and clear. I liked the fact that the operating rules that he set out are open for revision at any time by any employee, and generally immediately revised. It lent a feeling of continuous improvement to the process that he laid out.

He discusses figuring out when you work best and work then on second quadrant items (of the Covey sense.)

The author continually cites Occam's Razor, but uses it in a very loose sense. You will hear of "fire-killing" and the "Work The System method" and being "outside and slightly elevated" probably about a hundred times each throughout the book.

Very little attention is paid to lifestyle design throughout the book. I thought it might contain a little more based on the jacket summary.

One of the irritating things was that the book focused only on one business, the author's business. It is a call center business, one that has a well-established business model and client interaction pattern.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I personally have experienced situations where you are overwhelmed with work, are aware of the steps that could be performed to improve your efficiency but are "too busy" to make the improvements to relieve your burden. Appeals to superiors to be allowed to make the effort are generally met with, "after we complete this phase", but unfortunately another similar phase often follows. In many cases the constant inefficiencies lead to a total system failure.
Carpenter nearly experienced a total failure in his company, a telephone service provider called Centratel. After acquiring the struggling company, he spent years solving crisis after crisis, working 100+ hour weeks and yet many weeks barely managed to meet payroll. Finally, necessity being so often the mother of invention, Carpenter reached the level of crisis where he had to make dramatic changes or see the company die. His solution was to look at Centratel as a system with choke points, feedback mechanisms and points of dramatic improvement.
After taking the time to document operations and procedures, Centratel experienced dramatic improvement in quality and quantity of service. The new employee management procedures led to an improvement in the quality of new hires, greater retention of employees and an increase in morale. All of this translated into increased revenue and profits as well as a sharp decrease in the length of his workweek. As has been documented so many times, reducing the number of work hours increased the productivity per week as the increase in quality more than compensated.
Giving all due respect to Carpenter and his achievements at Centratel, his experiences are not new to the overall understanding of management science.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Steve Burns TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Sam Carpenter has brought all the main principles that will lead to success in your work and life together in one book. Some books will change your mind this book will change your life if you apply what it teaches. The author shows that our entire world operates based on systems, from nature to the human body to successful businesses 99.9% of things go right when the system works. The problem is when you or a business are not on a system you spend your time running around putting out "fires" and "whacking moles" instead of solving the root of the problem."... orderliness and attention to detail are the roots of peace". "...disorder--always leads to desperation". The problems you encounter are really caused by system failure. Your job is to create systems that cause you to get the results you desire in life and at work. If you are a manager or business owner these systems must be documented on paper and be a working and changing tool that all employees agree on. When problems arise you determine what system failed and correct it. You should spend the majority of your time examining and tweaking systems to perfection, this is the best use of your time. Surprisingly,..."outright mistakes and random errors account for only a small percentage of total error. Most problems stem from nonexistent system management and show themselves as errors of omission". Sam Carpenter will show you how to create a document that expresses your purpose, and then create principles and systems that lead to the accomplishment of that purpose.
The book is absolutely packed with excellent life and business insights that will take you to the next level in your life, career, or business if you follow them. I have had a great twenty year career in business management and wish I would have had this book when I started.
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More About the Author

With a background in engineering, publishing, journalism and telecommunications, Sam is author of the book, "Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less," now in its Third Edition. (The First Edition was published in 2008, Greenleaf Book Group. See

He is CEO and majority owner of Centratel (, a national telephone answering service that he has operated for 30 years.

Sam is founder and director of Kashmir Family Aid, a 501C3 non-profit aiding surviving school children of the Northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir earthquake of October 2005 (

Sam also owns a consulting and coaching firm, an on-line educational product company, and has recently released a business documentation software product.

Originally from upstate New York he lives in Bend, Oregon. Outside interests include mountaineering, skiing, cycling, traveling.