Culture: “Hide & Divide” Barriers to Optimization – Part 3

SOURCE: Kay Sever | May 1, 2020

Barriers to optimization either HIDE performance/profit potential or DIVIDE people. These barriers change the way you think… the questions you ask, the problems you solve and the problems you ignore. They limit what you believe about what is possible to achieve and change. They prevent you from tapping into the best your people can deliver. They put a box around management responsibilities and make management teams believe that there are some problems that cannot be solved, especially when it comes to people and departments. This series of articles will examine HIDE and DIVIDE barriers to optimization in greater detail.

Last month we talked about “HIDE” barriers related to equipment, systems and hidden operating potential. We introduced the concept of HOLs (Hidden Optimization Losses) and how those losses prevent “full” optimization. HOLs are responsible for billions of dollars of losses annually.

This month we will focus on “DIVIDE” barriers… things that keep people from working together in a way that would maximize the operating/income potential of the organization without violating safe working practices or regulatory requirements. Normally you DON’T associate corporate culture or organizational weaknesses with profit and loss; instead, you view your culture and organization as something that “sits on the outside” of the profit-generating part of the business.

So… let’s think about how it might be possible for organizational weaknesses and corporate cultures (the way people work with equipment and each other) to impact profit.

DIVIDE Barriers

Anything that “divides” people in the workplace is a DIVIDE barrier. When people are divided, there will be problems that will never be solved and opportunities that will never be explored. Some projects will never deliver the ROI that was promised. Losses created by DIVIDE barriers can be material and are subtracted from profit year after year without the knowledge of the management team. Some of these barriers are unintentionally created by traditional management practices. Some DIVIDE barriers are so powerful that they shape corporate culture in a negative way. The good news is that management has FULL CONTROL of DIVIDE barriers in their organization and can remove them anytime for FREE!   

How can you begin to recognize links between corporate culture and profit? When I lead companies through the optimization process, one of the first things I do is ask each person to list the top three problems that they deal with… problems that reoccur… problems that keep them up at night… problems that make them want to look for a new job, etc. You could probably make that list in 60 seconds.

Once we have a problem list, we would determine how many of these problems are linked to corporate culture and organizational attributes. Examples include:

  1. The way problems are solved.
  2.  The way departments work together
  3.  The way the management team works together.

If you had made that problem list, how many of the problems on your list would fall into one or more of these categories?

At this point, you might be wondering why this exercise is important. There are four reasons:

  1.  You may be so busy responding to problems that you have little time to think about root causes.
  2.  Making the list helps you step away from problems and apply “big picture thinking” to understand your culture and organization.
  3.  Management becomes aware of weaknesses (i.e., DIVIDE barriers) in the culture and organization, maybe for the very first time.   
  4.  This list is used to assess the economic impact of your corporate culture on profit and prioritize management’s focus on removing barriers and strengthening the organization’s weaknesses.

Accelerating Change

Have you been told that cultures like yours are very difficult to change… that “it’s always been like this here”? If your team knew the cost of the problems linked to weaknesses in the corporate culture and organization, do you think that information would help them change faster? The answer is “yes” in almost every case.

Losses linked to one weakness in the corporate culture or organization can exceed $1,000,000 annually. What if your management team could remove DIVIDE barriers and immediately begin increasing profit by that much or more? How much faster would your management team choose to change?     

Thought for the month: Companies ALWAYS make less money when people are divided. How much more money could your company make if you removed your organization’s DIVIDE barriers?   


Kay Sever is an Optimization Management Expert who reduces financial losses that prevent optimization. These losses are caused by weaknesses in corporate cultures and organizations. She has developed a LIVESTREAM management training system for Optimization Management called MiningOpportunity – NO TRAVEL REQUIRED. MiningOpportunity modules teach executives and management teams how to find and quantify their losses and apply strategies and tactics that stop them. Unique insights from Kay’s 3-year study of management’s barriers to change and optimization are included in the content. See for her contact information and several training options for your team, including the NEW “Spend a Day with Kay” option.

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Kay Sever
Kay Sever Author
P.O. Box 337 Gilbert, AZ USA 85299-0337

Kay has worked side by side with corporate and production sites in a management/leadership/consulting role for 35+ years. She helps management teams improve performance, profit, culture and change, but does it in a way that connects people and the corporate culture to their hidden potential. Kay helps companies move “beyond improvement” to a state of “sustained optimization”. With her guidance and the MiningOpportunity system, management teams can measure the losses caused by weaknesses in their current culture, shift to a Loss Reduction Culture to reduce the losses, and “manage” the gains from the new culture as a second income stream.