Can a Leopard Change its Spots?

How Limiting Beliefs and Values Affect Productivity

There are individual beliefs and values that can be limiting, but organizations, cultures, and societies can have limiting beliefs and values as well. The five common values are: people, places, activities, knowledge and things. The five limiting beliefs are: hopeless (not possible), helpless (not capable), useless (not valuable), worthless (not deserving), and blameless (not responsible). Let's see how these play out in business.

There's a belief in industry that "buying technology increases productivity." Typically this is true, but many times it isn't and it can block attention to other possibilities. Notice that this belief (technology causes productivity) values "things," not people, places, activities or knowledge. This belief encourages us to consider these other values as "useless."

Having spent over 20 years developing and maintaining software, I've found that using technology to automate a complex, error-prone process simply etches the inefficiencies and inaccuracies into bedrock of corporate bureaucracy. Sometimes technology is the wrong solution to a real problem; I've seen companies spend millions on new technology only to find that it doesn't solve the problem. I have also found that technology may be rejected if it isn't introduced properly.

There are four cornerstones of productivity that yield a convenient acronym, SPOT:

Strategy Are you focused on innovation, operational efficiency, or customer service? What is your uniqueness? What are you known for in the market place? Your process, organization, and technology can be optimized to maximize these strategies.

Process How efficient and effective are your existing processes? A typical company wastes $40 of every $100 because of process problems and you can save up to $35 of those $40 through focused use of Six Sigma Improvement tools.

Organization How are you staffed and organized? Does it reflect your strategies and processes or conflict with them? Have you got the right people in the right jobs? Are Innovators and Processors in the right jobs? Are Revolutionaries and Evolutionaries in the right job?

Technology What technology are you using to automate and optimize your strategies, processes, and organization?

If you look closely, you can see that strategies are values: what you value and what your customers value about your business. They serve to orient and direct the business. If you don't know where you're going, any people, process, and technology will take you there.

When you begin to see these four elements as a system where each part affects the others, you can begin to value all of these aspects, not just technology. Then you can begin to:

  1. Use something like Six Sigma improvement methodologies to simplify, streamline, and optimize all core processes. As these processes become simpler, you'll begin to see ways to redesign them for even greater effectiveness, ways that might not have been discernible in the previous complexity.
  2. Use the irresistible influencing language in Motivate Everyone to integrate, align, and connect each employee's soul and mission to the overall corporate mission and direction. Use the influencing language to reduce the psychological "costs" of changing your SPOTs. Use the motivation styles to design and hire the right people for each job so that they can optimize the use of their style in service of their job.
  3. Adopt or adapt technology to automate these processes and empower the employees involved.

There are tremendous opportunities for increases in productivity and profits coupled with corresponding decreases in costs when you start to optimize your key processes and connect employees' mission to the corporate mission.

Far too many companies believe that technology is the silver bullet to "fix" any problem. Many times you have to adjust and align your technology to optimize and maximize the results of your strategies, process and organization. The technology you choose should be a result of who you are and where you're going, not the cause.

To shape shift your current corporate "dream," begin by:
  • Defining the current state of your strategies, process, organization, and technology (SPOT).
  • Then define a future, desired state: How you'd like to change your SPOTs.
  • Develop a transition plan to take you from where you are today to where you want to be.
This often involves three repetitive steps:
  1. Simplify and optimize existing strategies, processes, organization, and technology
  2. Expand into new and enhanced products, services, and markets
  3. Lock in competitive advantage through Six Sigma Improvements.
If you already own the QI Macros, the transition planning matrix is included in your templates.
Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008-2024 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, 888-468-1537, ."