The Three 5s
Thursday, August 15, 2013

From time to time you may come across a certain stimulus in your environment that brings back a flood of emotions. Remember those times when a scent, a word, or even a song took you back to a particular place and time? In fact it could have been a stimulus from any of the five senses.

In neuro-linguistics we call a stimulus something that triggers an emotional response an anchor. It’s an anchor because we use them to create a trigger for a particular emotion. In other words we “anchor” an emotion to a certain stimulus. When a person is in a powerful emotional state, the subconscious mind will link everything that it is “sensing” with the emotion that is felt. So it plays back the times when you encountered the stimulus in the past and shows preference to memories with the highest emotional impact.

Let’s use this powerful technique to anchor and control our emotional to our benefit. Let’s create an anchor that will help us move through change, paradigm shifts, and self improvement.

I have created three sets of five steps or rules that will help you to embrace innovation, take advantage of a paradigm shift, and improve quality. Keep in mind, in all those steps, that you have control of your emotions and you are capable to create your own anchors.

Embrace innovation

We must accept innovation as a simple process. The outcome of innovation is a discontinuous or breakthrough change in results, products, or processes. Innovation is for everyone, and can be applied in pretty much everything.

  1. Be ahead of the curve. Create a habit to become fast at brainstorming, solving problems, and combining bright ideas. We must become think leaders by synthesizing all that we learn and have fun doing it.
  2. Start assimilating and correlating two or more ideas in a systematic way. Every innovation is a unique synthesis of many ideas. Try to implement your ideas in a well-ordered manner, repeatable, and exhibiting the use of information so that learning is possible.
  3. Verify other innovations to see what is so different or co-relative about them. Associating, gathering, correlating, and combining are natural activities for our brain.
  4. Be creative. Think outside of the box! Look for innovations everywhere, empower creativity, and research any topic that interests you.
  5. Learn, learn, learn! Learn as much as possible.

Improve quality

Total quality control is an effective system for integrating the quality development, quality maintenance, and quality improvement efforts of the various groups in an organization so as to enable production and service at the most economical levels which allow full customer satisfaction.

The logic is simple and incontrovertible. Development, maintenance, and improvement efforts are the basis of sustainability. Maintenance is relatively easy.

  1. Make a commitment. If you want to improve the quality of your performance or reevaluate a current professional or personal goal, you have to commit from the beginning.
  2. Track mistakes. If you are going to commit to quality, first you must define exactly what quality is. Identify standards and create a log to track results. You should log mistakes and success.
  3. Invest in education. Identify the connection between your actions and, more broadly, your work ethic, and the organization’s overall performance. Ask yourself: What educational support do I need to help me with my quality improvement plan?
  4. Organize quality circles. Quality circles are groups of employees who are encouraged to assess processes and recommend improvements, all with the goal of promoting quality, efficiency, and productivity.
  5. Have the right attitude. Rather than pointing out inadequacy wherever it might be found, take action with your own improvement.

Take advantage of paradigm shifts


Paradigms are habits of thought, unstated rules, assumptions, or beliefs that define the boundaries we operate in. We are not usually directly aware of these habits of thought, nor are most of us taught about them in school or on the job. You cannot abandon a paradigm until you have one to put in its place, because our paradigm is that which allows us to function. Without a paradigm—good or bad—we cannot function.  In order to take advantage of a paradigm shift you will need to do the following:

  1. Accept that paradigms are common, they are all around us and we all have them.
  2. Believe that paradigms are useful. They show what is important and help keep us safe.
  3. Notice that people who create new paradigms are almost always outsiders.
  4. Notice that people who switch paradigms have to have courage, because the documentation or evidence is not there.
  5. Embrace that everyone can choose to change their paradigms (the choice is yours).

These last two rules have a great deal to do with leadership. It is said that management operates within paradigms, but moving from one paradigm to another requires leadership.

To shift paradigms, you must be willing to go back to the starting point. Albert Einstein observed that the kind of thinking that got us into the present situation is not the kind of thinking that will get us out of it.

What about the “box”?

People often say, “Think outside the box.” The “box” is what you believe about the world—the values and paradigms you use daily. What we believe about the world limits our creativity, our ability to see and solve problems, our thinking, and our action.

Organizations hire people who share their values and paradigms. Organizations promote people who actively confirm those values and paradigms. This is a time tested business practice, yet this limits the range of solutions these people will find.

  • Why do you need to listen to innovators who are “outside your box”?
  • What you are doing is not getting you what you want.
  • Your team/department/unit/organization is moving slowly and the business environment is moving quickly.
  • What does it cost if you listen to innovators who are “thinking outside your box”?

Stability falters when you move outside your box. People who think in different ways, who are innovative, tend to be disruptive, undisciplined, unruly, and generally difficult to work within a team environment. And everyone can be trained to play well with others.
And what does it cost if you don’t listen to innovators who “think outside your box”? Well, your competition may listen to them. You should take every edge you can to stay in business. Diversity in perspective will help to re-affirm your basic values while it helps you find new ways to succeed.


Barker, Joel Arthur. Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future. Harper Business; Reprint edition (May 26, 1993).

Vijav, Govindarajan. Trimble, Chris. “The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge,” Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (September 2, 2010).

About the Author


Bruno Neal is a scholar and a learning and development authority. He has written dozens of articles on learning and development, two Infoline issues on Informal Learning and Quality in Learning and Development, and one TD at Work™ on Learning and Development in Healthcare. He is a Certified Professional of Learning and Performance (CPLP), and currently works as an L&D leader for Indiana University Health. He has been appointed to the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, a judge of the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 Association for Talent Development (ATD) BEST Award, and Chair of the award committee since 2014. 

Neal was awarded with the highly esteemed American Society of Training & Development BEST Award in 2009, and part of the team awarded with the same achievement in 2011. He also was awarded with the Champion of Learning Award Certification for his contribution to learning and professional development in 2011. In 2015, Neal received the Global Training & Development Leadership Award at the World Training & Development Congress in Mumbai (India) for his contributions to the international learning and development community.

Neal also serves as contributor for ATD’s T+D Magazine. In addition, he has spoken at ATD International Conference & Exposition, local chapters of ATD across the United States, Cancer Treatment of America, Training Magazine conference, the Training and Education chapter of the National Association of Electric Distributors (NAED), Medical Users Software Exchange (MUSE), and ATD’s Learn from the BEST conferences.

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