Volume 2, Number 12
A Gossman Consulting, Inc. Publication
December 1996

Working Together in Plant Operations

Jim Woodford

Industry, for the most part, is running lean and mean today. Business articles tout the cost savings of just in time inventories and no industry has escaped the downsizing juggernaut. How can you keep things running the way they should with all the intense cost saving pressures including running with less people? One way is to take full advantage of the natural drive in each of your employees, including yourself.

Working with what employees will or won't do

Each of us have varying levels of four instinctive actions as identified by the Kolbe Concept®. Those instinctive actions are to probe, to pattern, to innovate and to demonstrate. The names/terms assigned to the four instinctive actions, under the Kolbe Concept, are Fact Finder, Follow Thru, Quick Start and Implementor. According to Pure Instinct (the most recent book by the originator of the Kolbe Concept, Kathy Kolbe), the probing instinct (Fact Finder) creates a need to investigate in depth; the patterning instinct (Follow Thru) causes us to seek a sense of order; the innovating instinct (Quick Start) is the force behind experimentation; and the demonstrating instinct (Implementor) converts ideas into tangible form. Simply put, the Kolbe Concept identifies what we will or won't do according to our own volition.

The great thing is that the natural drive is now easy to determine, by using a simple form called the Kolbe Conative Index©. It is easy to use, relatively inexpensive and provides insight heretofore not available. A former coach of the Phoenix Suns describes it as a means to take a look right into the heart of his players. Do you work with someone or maybe someone works for you that seems like the right fit on paper but just doesn't seem to be able to get the job done? Or maybe you know two people who have to work with each other and they seem to be at loggerheads all the time. Here's a way to get right to the heart of the matter. For instance, if you have one person with a high drive for gathering information and another who naturally resists, then putting them together on a project could be a problem unless they match up in another action mode. If they both need to plan things out and follow the plan then they may be all right. But if one resisted planning then these two would have natural tendencies in opposite directions in two of the four action modes. This will definitely create a problem. One needs to plan, follow the plan but gather very little information while the other needs to wing it with a bare bones plan (if there is one at all) but gather lots of information before getting started. Could be an impossible situation. The ideal solution here would be to move the information gatherer to a project which needs some serious research and/or move the planner to a project which needs a high degree of planning. It could even be the same project for both but give the research responsibility to the information gatherer, with a definite deadline for completing the research, and have the planner work out the project plan. This type of situation or variations can be a problem throughout the organization. Being aware of the situation that you face is a critical step towards solution.

Obstacles to getting things to run the way you want

The Kolbe Concept® identifies four obstacles to organizational effectiveness: inertia, polarization, depletion and melt-down. Inertia is when a uniformity of talent limits opportunity because everyone does things the same way. Polarization is when there is a loss of productivity that occurs because internal groups have significantly different approaches to problem solving. Depletion is when there is a loss of productivity because people are working against their natural tendencies. Finally, meltdown is when there is a loss of productivity caused by external expectations that do not match employee talent.

Natural drive is an energizing resource

You can profile a group of people, managers for instance, or you can profile the entire company, but whatever route you choose it is an important step to getting in tune with employee natural resources. What better way to get research done than by putting someone on the task that has a natural tendency to do just that? The Kolbe Concept is an invaluable tool. You dig for coal where you think it can be found. You can tap into employee drive by knowing the natural drive tendencies of your people. Why not energize things in the right direction? Perhaps you have seen the citation, "Anyone who doesn't believe in life after death should see this place after 5:00 p.m.." Why not tap into a little of that energy? The Kolbe Concept can get you headed in the right direction.