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The Last Great Business Opportunity
By Bill Paxton

I recently read an article where a business leader stated that his company had restructured, downsized and outsourced, and had done everything it could to be more productive. He was wrong.

He missed what may be the last great opportunity for businesses: get the round pegs out of the square holes. When you do that, productivity leaps.

Pretend for a minute that you were told that you could not write with your dominant hand at work. When it comes to handwriting, how productive would you be using your other hand? How happy would you be in regard to writing? What would you think of the organization that asked you to do this?

Such a possibility seems silly, and yet it happens daily in different ways in nearly every company. Employees have natural abilities that go untapped, and others are in jobs where they have little talent or interest. You can probably think of several examples of each situation, because it is so common. How many natural mentors don’t get to use their gift, because their job description doesn’t call for it? How many managers have very little talent for what they do? How much would productivity, morale and profitability increase if the round pegs were in the round holes?

Why don’t more companies pay attention to this? There are lots of reasons, but the bottom line is this: it’s hard. And therein lies the opportunity. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. The company that understands what each employee is designed to do, and helps them do more of it at work, will reap gains in productivity and energy that will confound their competitors.

I’ve created some tools to make the task easier. The first is the Personal Design model of human behavior. It’s a common-sense explanation of how people really work. Once managers grasp it, the world of leading and developing others unlocks for them. The second is the Personal Design Review, an online assessment that identifies what individuals are designed to do. You can learn more about these tools at

Whether you use any of my tools or not, here’s something that you can do today. Watch the people who report to you, and ask yourself, “What do they do well naturally?” Are there people who are gifted at organizing events, making processes more efficient, or developing strategy? Who works easily with a variety of people? Who is good with numbers? Who is a fountain of new ideas? As you identify their gifts, ask yourself, “How can I help them do more of that here?”

If you’re still not convinced that improving job fit will increase both productivity and morale, just spend a day writing with your other hand.

Bill Paxton is the author of the Personal Design Review, an online assessment that helps people discover what they are designed to do. Write to him at , or check out his website at

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