The Pygmalion system works! LO5700

Tom Norfleet (
Sat, 17 Feb 1996 16:15:25 -0600

We had recently completed an advanced problem solving program in which we
had planned to have "High potential" individuals take this material and
implement it into their respective manufacturing areas and work
cross-functionally when a problem required the assistance from multiple
areas. Ok, fine and good.

The individuals though that were in attendance were not "High-Potentials".
They were individuals that each manager could easily do without for the
week of training. I have found in talking with many of my collegues in
manufacturing that this is a normal occurance. When the class began I
went in and gave a short introduction into what to expect for the week and
our expectations for them followed by presentations by two vice-presidents
with similar expectations. It was as if then magic happened. Individuals
who had talked negatively about the organization, whose work ethic left
much to be desired, and interestingly enough whose body language told the
story of someone that had given up all had become almost instantaneously
the "High-Potentials' that we had wanted in the program in the first

I had never really experienced this Pygmalion factor and thought the
novelty of it would soon wear off of the participants, if not during the
week they were in training, most definately when they returned to the
floor. Serves me right for being a skeptic and being taught the lesson
that all individuals want to be recognized for the contributions that they
each contribute. It has been over one month and these individuals have
become leaders in their own right. The class evaluations told it clearly
as one participant wrote," I had seriously considered leaving the
organization as on a daily basis I was the focus of attacks from those
that report to me and from my manager who did not seem to care about
anything with the exception of getting parts out the door. Being told
that I was a "High-Potential" individual almost made me laugh as I thought
oh great this means more work for me and they want me to be excited about
it. Throughout the week though the energy of the group grew as we had
solved a couple of problems that we had since start-up. I now feel that I
have a choice and with it I could make our organization something special.
Thank you for this opportunity."

I cannot tell you how stupid I felt upon reading this and other
evaluations that were similar. This has been a very valuable lesson for
me. I share this story to find out if others have had similar
experiences and to find out more about what had happened from a system
thinking perspective. Thank you.

Tom Norfleet <>

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