Got a Suggestion? LO12030

James F. Kutzer (
Fri, 17 Jan 1997 10:23:36 -0800

Replying to LO11965

Great post by Scott, and a situation that I've discussed more than a few
times. One of my conclusions about this phenomenon is that organizations
and the people in them simply conceive of others in the organization in a
very limited way. [I usually think, learn, and understand best when I can
lean on examples, so let me give one example.] If the organization has a
"Financial Analyst," then the people in the organization limit their
concept of who s/he is and the role that s/he fills in the organization.
S/he analyzes financial stuff. End of story. That's what the title
states, that's what the usual role is, that's what s/he gets paid to do.
S/he doesn't get paid or valued for contributing to other causes, like
suggesting improvements in how customers are served.

When this Financial Analyst has a suggestion to make regarding customer
service, no matter how good it is, it is not valued and not put into
practice. Once this happens a few times, the Financial Analyst decides
that it's just not worth making suggestions. This action, whether or not
a conscious one, reinforces the culture of thinking of others in a limited

When the organization hires a consultant, or creates a task force to study
customer service, it may very often present the same suggestions as some
of the employees. However, these get the attention of the organization.
Why? Because we view customer service consultants and task forces as
having the job of making these suggestions. That's what they get paid to
do. Based on the organization's investment, the value of their
suggestions is much greater than those of the Financial Analyst. They
have the time to "formalize" their suggestions into presentations,
reports, and proposals. They get the calendar time of managers and
influencers to present their suggestions. The Financial Analyst doesn't
have or is not allowed the time to produce this type of formal suggestion,
and certainly is not given a forum in which to do it.

It takes a cultural change in which the people in the organization think
of each other as "bigger" than the titles and organizational boxes that
they occupy. I've seen this happen, but unfortunately only in a few small

Any similar or different experiences? Any suggestions about how to
influence a culture into expecting more from its members and appreciating
all that they have to offer?

Jamie Kutzer
Business Systems Consultant
WW Grainger, Inc.

Think and learn, learn and think.


"James F. Kutzer" <>

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