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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