Monday, November 30, 2009

Culture, Schmulture

I was having a conversation today with a Lean expert, who related one Kaizen certification class that espoused that Lean was 90% culture and 10% tools. He then said 95% of the class dealt with the tools. He wondered where the class is that deals with the culture change.

Culture change comes with changes in trust levels. It comes when policies change based on that trust. Change comes when management changes and shares the rewards. Change comes when management focuses on the major issues and not the minor issues.

Change comes when you can honestly answer questions and challenges from the employees who think they're getting screwed. "You took away the Perfect Attendance award!" "Really? What did you get for the Perfect Attendance Award?" "Half a day, each quarter." "How many total days did you earn in a year?" "Two." "And we replaced the award with two personal holidays you can take any time. What do you have to do to earn the two personal holidays?" "Nothing." "And how are you getting screwed?"

Sometimes corporate culture change is not appreciated. Some employees don't like the change because they didn't have those 'benefits' earlier in their career at the company. Spite.

If you persevere, culture change will happen. And when the right culture change happens, improvement accelerates. See Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and the Korean Air chapter.

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