Avoiding Extinction – How to Add Value in a Next Gen Workplace

By Kevin McManus, Chief Excellence Officer and Systems Guy, Great Systems

How to Provide Personal Value in a Next Gen Workplace

Increasing the amount of value that you personally provide in today’s and tomorrow’s workplace will not guarantee you job security at your current employer. Learning how to add value will however make you more marketable and employable in general. The “Avoiding Extinction” process requires you to reframe your beliefs, alter your behaviors, and redesign your job. The goal is to learn to add an increasing degree of personal value on a daily basis.

Completing the six steps of this process will help you meet all three of the above requirements. Once you have completed an initial pass through this process however, you will not be finished. The pace and magnitude of change in the world will not allow you to do so. Fortunately, most of these steps set some important personal systems in motion to facilitate repeated use of the process.


In a sense, the process of adding value can be boiled down to how you spend your time — every minute of your day, each day. Making such investment decisions however is not as simple as it sounds. Spending time wisely involves much more than “simply” practicing effective time management. It is not as much about how you spend your time as it is about how you decide what you spend your time on. Avoiding extinction also involves acting and thinking differently as you spend time. You also need to stay disciplined to the goals and daily habits that support your efforts.

One major key for adding value at work involves aligning your beliefs, behaviors, and daily tasks with those that are valued by the organization. In turn, you need to know the direction the leaders of the organization want to go. You also want to know what processes they feel are important to improve, and the types of roles they expect people in your position to fill. Since cost effectiveness drives most organizations, you need to know what the key cost areas are. You can then work on strategies for optimizing those performance areas that you can influence.

About the Avoiding Extinction Process

The “Avoiding Extinction” process represents an evolving attempt to provide supervisors, line managers, and others in support roles with a practical tool for preparing themselves for the workplace of tomorrow (and today in many cases). It was created out of frustration to a large extent, as many packages that dealt with adapting one’s role to the changing workplace fell short of providing practical, usable tools for actually making such significant personal changes.

It was also designed with respect for the jobs of the line manager and supervisor in particular. When one does not work on “the front lines” on a regular basis, it becomes difficult to form a perspective of what it is like to try to change the way they do their job in the midst of the daily “fires.” This workbook attempts to show an appreciation for such time demands and job stresses. It also provides practical tools for making a personal role change possible. Part of this workbook is centered around the twelve knowledge, skill, and ability areas (KSAs) defined by the Association for Quality and Participation in their “Voices From the Field” research. I personally feel that these twelve skills are important (if not mandatory) for any individual who is considering some type of role in tomorrow’s workplace. This is particularly true if this role will include some form of leadership responsibility.

EXPLORE More: The Need for Great Front Line Leaders

Three design factors were followed to help make the Avoiding Extinction package more effective:

  • A Focus on Skill Retention and Application — Most formal training focuses mainly on creating awareness and understanding, but usually falls short of achieving skill retention and application. This process contains a variety of tools that are designed to foster both retention and application.
  • A Focus on Theory Building to Enhance Learning — This second factor can be summed up by Deming’s statement of “No theory, no learning.” Instead of tweaking tools or rearranging approaches that currently exist in the field, the package developer has worked to build new theories on such topics as personal change, role shift techniques and challenges, and time for learning into the exercises and other book content.
  • A Focus on the Individual — Last but most important, the process reflects a personal change slant. The package developer designed this process so it utilizes the “Inside Out” theory of personal change prescribed by Dr. Stephen Covey. Avoiding Extinction focuses on the future career needs of the individual first, and those of the organization second.

If you see value in this workbook or need more information about it, please send me an e-mail at kevin@greatsystems.com and we can see what we can do about getting one into your hands. I also facilitate onsite, customized workshops that are based on the concepts and tools found in this book.

Keep improving! Kevin McManus, Chief Excellence Officer and Systems Guy, Great Systems