Of all Lean topics this is one that eludes most companies. The great thing about Lean is that grasping the concepts is not that hard. The concepts, though counter to our most ingrained “bad” habits, do not require advanced proficiency on any particular subject. The cultural transformation, however, presents far more difficult challenges. Let’s discuss several aspects of creating a Lean culture:
What is Culture?
According to Edgar Schein organizational culture is defined as:
“A pattern of shared basic assumptions that a group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.”
How are cultures formed?
As individuals develop from childhood, their surroundings and the people around them influence them in a way that enables them to form certain values as to what is right and what is wrong. In today’s society having people from different backgrounds is common place. Where the majority of these values overlap is where cultures are formed:
The strength or weakness of your culture will be a measure of how receptive or resistant to change your employees will be.
Lean as part of your culture
Only your leaders (formal and/or informal) can influence the culture of your organization. Here are some behaviors that should be present if you are seeking to create a Lean Culture and some tools that will help in the process:
o Tools – Production Control Boards or Hr x Hr / SQDC Board Reviews / Standard Work
o Tool – A3 Problem Solving / Follow Up
o Tool – A firm commitment to teaching, and coaching employees, and challenging the status quo. Among the leadership principles I recommend are these.
o Tool – All hands-on meetings / Strategic Planning
Once you achieve the desired culture there are several things to consider in order to maintain your culture:
Please share some of your challenges to creating your own Lean culture in the comments section.