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VIA members told to avoid status quo

Aerospace specialist links continuous thinking to a company’s progress

Posted: August 20, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 20, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Continuous, purposeful thinking in an organization can make the difference between an organization that is proactively producing a better product or service, and a company that is reactive and even possibly mediocre.

Using real life anecdotes while speaking at the Valley Industry Association’s membership luncheon in Santa Clarita on Tuesday, Bill Bellows of Aerojet Rocketdyne spelled out how companies hurt themselves by operating with the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality.

Bellows is an Associate Fellow in Canoga Park aerospace company’s InThinking Network.
When not looking at how things might be improved, leadership begins managing by exceptions until the organization runs out of gas, Bellows said, using the metaphor of a vehicle that is running fine until the driver fails to put gas in the tank.

Describing modes of thinking in two basic groups, Bellows related “category” thinking as putting information and facts into absolutes – either good or bad, for instance. The organization doesn’t evaluate the whole of its mission in relation to the market space it could occupy if it focused on becoming better or more competitive than it already is.

“In category thinking, we (believe we) know where to go and that we’re already good so we stop progressing,” Bellows said. “We have no idea what we’re missing.”

“Continuum” thinking considers everything to be relative, there’s a sense of cohesiveness or wholeness to the organization, and this mode allows for continuous betterment in the company.

When stuck in reactive category modes of action and thinking, the opportunities to excel are missed and a firm may fail to notice that anything is wrong – or could be improved –until something actually goes wrong.

“We become surrounded by people who think status quo is okay,” Bellows said.

Basically, Bellows referred to the work habits within an organization as being a matter of people not thinking about what they’re doing, but going through the motions.

“What we do is a reflection of what we think, but we’re not thinking about it.”

The irony of not thinking and leaders thinking they know everything there is to know becomes the obstacle to “knowing better” or becoming better, he said.


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