Dec 12 2013
If You’re Going to Change Your Culture, Do It Quickly | HBR Blog Network | Brad Power
See on Scoop.it – lean manufacturing
“The conventional wisdom is that it takes years to change a culture, defined as the assumed beliefs and norms that govern ‘the way we do things around here.’ And few organizations explicitly use culture as a way to drive business performance, or even believe it could make sense to do so.The logic usually works the other way — make specific changes in processes, and then hope that, gradually, the culture will change.
Yet some leading organizations are turning this conventional wisdom on its head. Consider Trane, the $8 billion subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand that provides heating, ventilating, air conditioning and building management systems. By focusing first on changing their culture, Trane has been driving results — and quickly.”
The article is supposed to be about any business organization, but the example presented is only about sales offices.
What do sales offices do? They communicate and negotiate with prospects to turn them into customers. They nurture relationships; attitude and teamwork are key to success at it. In sales, working on the “targeted behaviors of associates” is working on the process.
Manufacturing is a different. It is about production, not persuasion, and I don’t know of any successful change in manufacturing that would have been driven at the cultural level. When attempted, it quickly degenerates into the kind of exhortation and sloganeering that Deming denounced so vehemently.
I don’t know any manufacturing people who would be swayed by it. Instead, they need tangible, physical changes to the way work is being done, implemented with their input and diligently. Only the experience of improvement will change their perception of the work and the organization. Talk therapy won’t.
See on blogs.hbr.org
December 12, 2013 @ 7:54 am
Good insight on the “changing culture” comment above concerning manufacturing Michel. When GM started the Saturn Corp in the 1980’s they tried to change some of the culture at the top and at the bottom but they brought all the same engineering culture right into Saturn. Quickly this “new” company had huge quality spills up to and including National recalls (some of the biggest ever). It eventually morphed right back into just another GM assembly plant. Making changes to a manufacturing process is difficult. Especially huge automotive plants…. but it can be done.
December 12, 2013 @ 12:22 pm
To change culture I think we must first understand its nature. Culture can appear to be determined of geographic location, i.e. LATITUDE and LONGITUDE (Japanese or English Speaking World). I don’t think that is true. The biggest single element of culture is determined by ATTITUDE, which in turn will generate a matching behaviour.
We can’t change latitude or longitude, but we can change attitude..
I find this Native American story explains the origins of attitudes and behaviour.
The culture of an organisation is central to its attempt to introduce TPS/lean, this story explains how culture is created and sustained.
An elder Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them;
“A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight, it is between two wolves.
One wolf is evil; it represents fear, anger, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self- pity, guilt. resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good, and stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you and every other person too.”
The children thought about it for a minute, and then one asked their grandfather;
“Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee replied… “The one you feed.”
Which wolf are you feeding in your organisation? You will get the attitudes and behaviours to match.
I think we should ask this question of our society.
December 12, 2013 @ 1:35 pm
Excellent story Sid… “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee replied… “The one you feed.”
I knew a common automobile line assembler once who refused to “feed” with the pack. And it disrupted everything. And the present culture then took a change of course. This operator was given electronic assembly tools, electronic monitors, an electronic error proofing system and training in which to use as all fellow assemblers got. But still critical fasteners were entering the stream of commerce causing massive quality costs and recalls.
So management started having assembly operators sign in and sign out of their jobs according to the vehicle sequence build numbers despite the millions spent on electronic error proofing. They were going to bypass all this investment to find the “culprit”. This said operator said NO!!! Well…. this messed up everything because if he didn’t “have to” then nobody had to. This operator with 25 years of service then actually turned upon management and held them accountable for their failed engineering set-up’s and culture. His job was threatened by managements engineering, quality, operations, and labor departments if he didn’t “feed” with the pack. His union was stunned by his arrogance.
Still he hung in and refused because he KNEW what the root cause was and started to document everything he could and then HOLD management accountable using their own data. Within 3 years he was pulled from production put into Engineering and his methodology and device he developed to fix the engineering shortfalls was mandated by the company’s North America Engineering Operations. He was then flown to MI. headquarters to roll out his principals and taught many engineers and management how to make it work. There were no fastener related recalls during his 4 years of reign. This High School graduate retired in 2006. Recalls soon followed again.
Sid your story is so spot on… making the “needed” change can be done but why it is always so hard baffles me.
December 13, 2013 @ 1:43 pm
This makes me chuckle. I was hired in 2006 to bring lean to Trane’s Residential business. My job was to integrate lean with the strong six sigma program and develop lean leaders and lean roadmaps for each of the manufacturing facilities. In 2007/2008 when IR bought Trane, I was happy at first because I knew IR had a lean program. It is lean in name and some tools only. The very first thing to happen was the laying off of a very large faction of people. One of the first areas to go…the lean people. It is really sad to see and still hear stories of some of the great things that were done being undone.
When I arrived at Trane, the culture was great as it was. Very open to people and ideas. Making big change was not that difficult, but getting mindsets to change permanently was still hard. In fact, it was a union shop but the union agreed to have lean written into the contract because they saw the positive from it. The company agreed to write into the contract not to lay anyone off due to improvement work. Things were really going well in the early stages.
IR really changed the culture but it was in a negative manner. There is a more contentious attitude between management and the union last I heard and things really regressed from a lean standpoint.
I know the example in the article was sales and I agree with Micheal. That really isn’t a culture change.
January 2, 2014 @ 2:04 am
Your article made me think of many aspects. It this moment I’m trying to figure out a program to introduce lean in a production company (it’s a manufacturing company in a very specific field). the good think is that it is a new company, without a very powerful cultural background. the bat think is that the company is very young, without a strong cultural background.
I have known already that it can’t be approached by lipservice, not even by training or so.
Your article made me think that what actiually needs to be done is to create a culture for this company.
I know already some of the values, but not all of them. I understood (at least I think I did) the expectations of the owners.
From what you have written and from what I have experienced, I have to start with simple and visible things, that would underline those values and would illustrate the targest and goals of the owners. In my mind, I should start with the shop floor, with 5S for structuring workplaces and make everybody see what’s going on and process approach to empower process owners and operators.
What do you think, Can this be a first step to direct a company to a specific lean culture?
January 2, 2014 @ 6:44 am
While there are exceptions to everything, contrary to what much of the literature tells you, 5S is not an easy first step. You should instead dig deep into your client’s business, technical, and human issues to identify a couple of shop floor projects that can yield tangible benefits, have no prerequisites, can be undertaken with the human and technical resources available, and develop useful new skills.
It is a tall order, but it is the most valuable output of your initial assessment of the plant. If you search the blog for “5S,” you will find many posts elaborating on this point, and most specifically the following: