Is Your Strength Also a Weakness?

Written by Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant

Group Discussion
One of the most interesting things you learn when you visit a lot of companies is that their greatest strength can also become their greatest weakness. We see this all the time even in leading companies. On a recent assignment we discovered that a company’s strength, which is their can-do attitude, can also become a weakness because it deemphasizes a focus on process improvements.
An article entitled, “Don’t Let Your Strength Become Your Weakness” by Gill Corkindale, published in the Harvard Business Review (October 21, 2009) says, “The fact is that our flaws are often the mirror image of our strengths, and it’s important to realize that we should not over-develop our strengths, causing them to turn into flaws.” The article points to research in the U. K. done on 18,000 company leaders which found that their strengths can become their weakness.
We were reminded of this issue in a recent assignment in a leading company that was hyper vigilant on getting the work done and then moving to the next job, neglecting to focus on improving the process.
It was not an issue the vast majority of the time when staff had to make decisions to complete each job. But it became an issue for one job that had to be run across multiple shifts with multiple people.
Here are three questions to ponder:

  • Have you ever seen an example of a strength becoming a weakness?
  • Are there things that your company does well that also have a penalty?
  • If you answered yes to either what can you do about that?

Howard Fenton is a consultant and business advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.

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