A Core Value for all companies.
Here’s a story about an important core value that I learned during my Industrial Engineering course in college. Lloyd Bittle who was my professor for the course was a retired Industrial Engineer and his goal was not only to teach us how to improve organizational processes and systems but to become better workers and managers.
Without fail, every day it was the same routine. The lecture is about to start, my classmates and I are waiting for the big entrance. In walks Professor Bittle who makes his way up to the front of the room and turns the light on for the overhead projector.
The projector displays an image of a stacked red, yellow and green circle resembling a stop sign. He slams his hand down onto the green circle and points his boney finger towards my friend Terry who’s sitting beside me. We know what’s coming and we’re ready for the volley of questions coming our way.
Bittle : “Terry, what kind of people are we?”
Terry : “We're Go People!”
Bittle : “Very good Terry…that’s what I want to hear…and what kind of people are Go People?”
Terry : “Go People are motivated team players that have an open mind and are continually trying to improve their work and environment around them. They’re forward thinkers who are involved for the common good and they make things happen. Go People inspire others to become Go People. Go People are leaders.”
Bittle then moves his focus over to Sandra. This time he slams his hand on the red circle.
Bittle : “Sandra, what kind of people do we want to avoid becoming?”
Sandra : “Stop People”
Bittle : “Ok Sandra, and why are stop people bad for the organization?”
Sandra : “Stop people wait for things to happen. They only do the work assigned to them and nothing more. They avoid taking any risks and are more interested in the status quo instead of growth and improvement. Stop people are followers not leaders. However, stop people are predictable and can be managed.”
Bittle’s eyes then focus on me while he slams his hand on the yellow circle. The answer has been repeatedly imprinted in my mind from previous lectures and I have no doubt how to answer the question…
Bittle : “Vince, what kind of people are the most dangerous for an organization and the employees we want to avoid becoming at all costs?”
Me : “Caution People”
Bittle : “…and why should we be wary of these “Caution Employees”?”
Me : “Caution is needed as these workers are unpredictable. They are focussed on their own goals rather than the team’s goals. They take credit for other people’s ideas or work and may even try to sabotage the system or processes if it serves their purpose. Caution people will sometimes try to come across as Go People but will always be exposed for who they are in the end. Caution people are posers.”
We’re Go People
Sometimes I wonder why Bittle would continually repeat the Go People exercise over and over again, but years later I understood. Bittle’s Industrial Engineering class wasn’t only about how to improve the efficiency of a machine or process, it was about improving ourselves, teams and organizations. It’s about the type of workers, managers or leaders we need to become.