Lean Talent: how we create (more) value

$1. A cup of water. A medication. A hug. Has any of these ever-had value for you? This, of course, would depend on the context and the moment you experienced them. In the right context, at the right time, any of these can have value, or not. How does the mind work to structure the experience so that you recognize–or interpret it–as having value?

Each person will perceive this in their own way. For us to create value for someone else, we have to get “on their side of the fence.” To do that well, we should first understand how it works for us. If we can understand our own internal process, and master that understanding of what constitutes value for us, then we can better begin to do it for others.

We sometimes get in our own way in trying to meet our needs and fulfilling value for ourselves. We all have patterns of thinking and behavior that are unconscious to us. Others may notice these patterns in our verbal and non-verbal behavior, whether or not they can perceive the unconscious patterns that drive those. But, learning to read those behaviors, and link them to specific patterns, is a real skill that can be taught and learned.

Value is not a material object. Rather, it is an inner experience we associate with a word. It has is also linked with a specific meaning for us in our minds. But the word may mean something different to others. We attribute value to something by associating an experience inside ourselves that corresponds to that personal meaning, in specific circumstances.

Value, can be the existence of some bodily sensation: a feeling. Value, can be any event in our senses that we can detect. It could even be a sequence of events that we associate with that internal experience, with or without words attached to it.

The behavior with which these associations are made is learned and supported by our nervous system. These become unconscious patterns of action that are automatically triggered in specific situations and contexts. To fulfill the basic human need for "positive" value we need to take action in order to make those situations available to us so that we know we are creating value for ourselves. In other words, we try to set things or experiences up to experience them valuable to us.

First, we connect with our own physical safety. When our chest or stomach or throat gets tight, or uncomfortable, we may associate these feelings with some threat to our security. It is this primary reaction that keeps a living being alive. It is the 'instinct' that tells it to fight, flee or freeze.

Second, we interact with the environment. We need food, water and other basics to survive. But, we might also attach value to our possessions (or lack of them). We might compare ourselves to others in terms of things we have. This could be money or other things.

Third our life may be defined by contact with other people. We do this first through contact with our parents, brothers or sisters, but also from the wider community. We observe them. We see the way they play, the way they fight with others or with us, or the way they detach and ignore us. And we want to make ourselves accepted. We need to deal with rejection and ultimately manage the relationship with them.

Fourth, we see that the world around us is more complex, and we dare to start to influence it. If we want to assemble a puzzle, or to influence someone, we need certain sequences of behavior. Therefore, we start to discover the strategies we need to get things done, to hear yes form the others, or see them doing the things we want them to do. We train our skills and competencies.

Fifth, we see that the world is big, or too complex, to move it all by ourselves. We need to involve others so that they move in the direction we need to get help. Like building a moon rocket. Therefore, we need to know we can influence them, or even have dominance and power over them.

Sixth, is the experience that we can 'move' freely to the future. This is the idea that we can unlock ourselves from a pure determinism of the physical environment. Even more important, we can free ourselves from social norms. Our sense of self-determination and autonomy is important.

Seventh, perhaps the one most obvious in our complex technological society: How we conduct ourselves performing complex tasks. Formatting a word document. Answering a question in class. How we drive the car in the town. These tasks are not random. Each one requires a certain structure and order to be followed.

Eighth, is another kind of order, but instead of in our behavior, in our thinking. We experience this quite distinctly when someone disagrees with us. This kind of order in our thinking includes things like formulating what is right or wrong, and the way we expect others to comply.

Ninth, is a pattern that relates to the way we reach our goals by using synergy with others. If we want to reach an object on the upper shelf we may need to find, or even build, a ladder. But most often we simply need someone to help us. And if the other person is weak in whatever area, we may need help, we may first need to help them develop themselves to be stronger in that area. Then they will be capable of helping us to create the synergy we need.

In Talent Development Programs we coach people to develop a Resilient MindSet, associated with effective behaviors, that can meet their own value in an ecological manner. This means developing these in a way that balances their values and behavior in an approach that fits for them. At the same time, they will be inclined to create behaviors that meet these values more effectively. Therefore, to create processes and behaviors that are lean and free from wasted energy or performance, by design.

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you know how you fulfil your own needs?
  2. For those you know you do, do you do it in the most effective way?
  3. How might unconscious ineffective behaviors be responsible for industrial, office or digital work wastes?

You can read more on this topic here:
Lean Talent: Agility to Meet Sustainability
Lean Talent: Stress Latency - the blueprint for 7 Wastes
Lean Talent: Value by Resilient mindset or waste by Stress mindset

About the Author, Cătălin Zaharia: M.D., E.C.P., B.Eng., Professional Coach

Since 2004 has worked with the principles of TOTE and later consulted with board members and coached top management teams in using PDCA in continuous improvement initiatives. He has an extensive background in organizing training and coaching programs for 100’s of managers in being more effective in Lean projects. Cătălin has graduate degrees in Health Care Management and BioMedical Informatics and completed his medical degree with a residency in Psychiatry. Currently, Cătălin is practicing, teaching and conducting research in neuro-linguistic psychotherapy, and is a business consultant and coach.