I recently had the opportunity to listen to an speaker on the subject of business continuity and disaster recovery. During the discussion, he mentioned the quote that I provided in the title of the blog post. I was stunned at how the quote briefly and I believe accurately defined the etheric concept of "culture".
I went about the rest of my day and did not sit down to think about the "definition" of culture until later that night. It sounds obvious, but I concluded that company culture stems from leadership (or lack thereof). If leadership is responsible for the company culture, then what should they be thinking about?
- What do we want people to do when no one is looking?
- How do people know what to do when no one is looking (i.e. meaningful communication)?
- How do we let these same people know they are supporting the desired company culture?
At this point, I encourage you to read any posted job description for a manager in a manufacturing setting (Plant, Operations, Production, Logistics, Supply Chain, Finance, etc.) and you will job requirements listed to address the questions above. This means that most companies (more specifically company executives/managers) recognize the importance of a "good" company culture.
The trick is in the definition of the word "good", a subjective measure. Each executive or management team has to define what is "good" from their perspective and experience. For instance, does that leadership team want to centralize control of or empower employees decision making and problem solving associated with their jobs.
The purpose of this article is not to debate the definition of "good" company culture. Different stages in the lifecycle of a company warrant different cultures (remember - culture is defined as what people do when no one is looking).
At this point, you may be questioning about what company culture best supports Manufacturing Excellence (i.e. lean manufacturing, 5S, continuous improvement, kaizen/high performance teams, total productive maintenance, etc.)? The answer is not about the current culture, but rather what do you want the culture to be. On a side note, do you want your Manufacturing Excellence programs to be successful?
Manufacturing Excellence programs rely on making decisions (amongst other things) quickly and accurately on the floor. Companies that implement such systems are driven toward a culture that emphasizes employee empowerment over centralized decision making (if it's not that way already). Waiting is one of the 7 wastes, so why would you want your workforce waiting to educate a manager so they can deliberate to make a decision.
But how can an executive or manager trust that their workforce is going to make good decisions relevant to their jobs? Let's face it, employee empowerment starts with trust from the executive/management teams.
Interestingly, thorough implementation and support of programs such as 5S, lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, total productive maintenance and single minute exchange of die are great ways to communicate operational expectations in a structured and measurable manner that is digestible by your operational team. You can utilize these programs to engender trust between your executive/management teams and the workforce.
So the next time you ask yourselves about your company culture, I want you to point to your manufacturing excellence programs to know what Operations is doing when no one is looking!
Call KBM Consulting, LLC today to discuss how we can help you drive your company culture to one of empowerment through implementation of Manufacturing Excellence programs.