“Whatever a person can be, he ought to be.” wrote Abrham Maslow. What are you capable of being? This is the one and only lifetime in which to be it – so, what are you waiting for?
Wow! Is it remotely possible that only 5% of companies are successful at creating a continuous improvement organization? But, why?
According to a post by High Performance Solutions Inc., less than 5% of continuous improvement initiatives achieve long-term results and sustained improvement. Through industry member problem solving they determined it was human factors and lack of management systems that lead to failures. Actually, is this so surprising? The question we need to ask ourselves though is, why? After all, leaders want to improve the performance and efficiency of their organizations.
From what I’ve seen and experienced, the main reasons seem to be one of, or in combination of the following:
- Weak or missing vision
- CI not integrated into the mission of the organization
- Not enough focus or experience to deliberately create a CI culture
- Impatience to invest long term, which is necessary to change and/or create culture
- Disconnect between words/desires and leader actions
- Management systems do not align or are disconnected from the desired CI culture
- Leaders don’t walk the talk
- Lack of or inconsistent leader standardized work at all levels
- Misaligned outcomes or benefits between the organization and the employees
- Poor or non-existent “go & see” or gemba reviews by senior leaders to confirm the actual condition and gain engagement
Unfortunately, the list goes on….
Let’s learn collaboratively! What has been your experience as to why organizations fail at creating long-term results and sustained improvement? Leave a comment! Let’s do this!
Often people try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.
Creating a strong CI team culture does not just happen on its own, unfortunately! There are 3 crucial steps to create any culture and if any are weak, so will be the resulting culture. One or all of these steps are often overlooked, leading to a weak or undesired culture.
I recently resumed “Open Office Hours” whereby I have time slots in my calendar reserved for impromptu drop-ins or phone calls from anyone within my organization. During one of these conversations we discussed how to change a culture within an organization which prompted me to dig up a mental model I used years ago when creating the “Lexus Mindset” to launch the first Lexus plant outside of Japan. Since then, I’ve used this same model to create Continuous Improvement cultures in other organizations.
Values – The first step is to determine and align the organization with the values that are most important, and desired or necessary to have in order to meet the mission of the team or organization. These values need to be well defined and communicated to everyone within the team or organization.
Behaviours – Next is to identify the behaviours that each member of the team or organization should exhibit that demonstrates the values previously determined. These behaviours maybe different at various levels and positions within the team or organization based on the role or responsibilities.
Consistency – Everyone on the team must consistently demonstrate the desired behaviours. Organizations most successful with creating their desired and sustained cultures are those where the members actively correct and identify unwanted behaviours and show recognition and appreciation for the desired behaviours.
Only when the desired behaviours are consistently demonstrated, are the values re-enforced, which then creates the culture sought after. When the demonstrated behaviours contradict or are inconsistent with the values of the organization, the resulting culture will not be what was intended.
When we used this mental model to create the Lexus Mindset, we invested a great deal of time and discussion to determine the values we felt were necessary to meet our mission. Once these values were determined, we worked together as a team to establish the behaviours that all members of the team would need to have that would clearly demonstrate and reinforce our values. We then developed methods that we could both correct undesirable behaviours or recognize the sought after behaviours. We made it fun and engaging at all levels. I remember my team pointing out to me a few times, with a big smile on their faces, “Does this behaviour support the Lexus Mindset?”. It was actually powerful and was very effective in changing our behaviours towards the ultimate culture we wanted to have. Not only did it correct poor behaviours, but it also resulted in open discussions that challenged our old way of reacting or dealing with situations which facilitated a faster shift in our thinking and ultimately our behaviours. We won the prestigious JD Power Gold Plant Award that year for the highest initial vehicle quality within North and South America, which I don’t think would have happened had we not created the culture that we did!
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Excellence…. If you demand perfection of yourself, you’ll seldom achieve it. Fear of making a mistake is the biggest single cause of making one. Today, take a deep breath and smile. Seek excellence not perfection. Put quality into the steps of your work instead of constantly worrying about the final product.