May 22, 2016 | Posted by Matt Elson
Can you act your way to a new way of thinking?
The philosophical underpinnings of an organizational culture often are either glossed over (“I know we say people are the most valuable resource, but orders are down, so we have to do layoffs.”) or ignored outright (“What’s the lowest level of quality that will be accepted by our customer?”).
However, there actually is a basic “thinking way” to which leaders must adhere to successfully transform an organization.
Part of making the decision for culture change is honest reflection – a very difficult thing for most leaders.
Can you stay true to the values that you are striving toward, even if it causes short-term pain? Many within the industry were surprised at the bold stance of Toyota’s plant in Texas, which manufactures the Tundra and Sequoia, when it was announced they would not lay off any employees during its three-month shutdown in the middle of the 2008-2009 recession. They also requested that suppliers do the same. The rumoured “cost” of this decision: about $1 billion.
Closely related to putting people first is the process of hiring, orientation, and training, something that is almost universally ignored or neglected.
How much time do you spend on your selection and hiring process, or do you outsource it? How about orientation and training? A day? A week? For organizations that put people first, these processes take as long as necessary to do the job properly.
Will you make the hard choices when it comes to shutting down or sending subpar-quality work on to your customer? I’ve often heard something along the lines of “Whack it and pack it … hopefully the customer won’t notice.”
That also means no more poorly designed processes, equipment, and procedures for employees. All that stops when you make the decision to put customers (internal and external) first.
Many of the leadership traits that have been previously valued by traditional thinking organizations in high-growth markets (1950s and onward) break down in slow- or no-growth economies. Many of the concepts that led to financial management, including amortization/depreciation and inventory as assets for future sales, are based on the concepts of growing demand, where extra capacity could always be used for increasing demand from the marketplace.
In addition to really putting people and quality first, here are some other differences in philosophy for a culture centered on improvement and innovation:
|Traditional (Accounting Driven) Focus||Improvement /Innovation Focus|
|Centralized command and control management structure||Servant leadership|
|Data- and report-driven decision making||Go and see for yourself to develop a deeper understanding|
|Budget-based cost cutting||Kaizen processes, based on customer needs|
|Leader/manager is expert||Leader shares experiences to develop people|
|Efficiency as asset utilization||Efficiency is lower total system cost|
|Rate of return thinking||Target condition thinking|
How can you start acting differently, starting tomorrow?
Matt Elson is a continuous improvement, leadership and strategy coach. He works with the rest of the team at True North Thinking Inc., helping businesses and organizations reach their goals.
Changing the world. One kaizen at a time.
This article originally appeared in Canadian Metal Working magazine, here.
Image courtesy: http://www.lynda.com