Shortly after my last post, in which I referred to sowing the “seeds of change,” I enlisted the help of my son, Ben, to reseed a particularly bare area of our yard. I’d neglected this spot for a few years and it had become sparse and dormant. Fixing the problem was therefore not merely a matter of spreading new seed. There was a significant amount of work to be done first to prepare the soil. This essentially exposed the problem and at the same time made it amenable to improvement. Had I just sown seed on the thatch and weeds that had infested the grass, the results would have been disappointing. A seed or two might have taken root, but most would have languished.
It occurred to me as I watched Ben, fifty years my junior, steadily completing a task that would have been more of a struggle for me, that changing a culture requires sweeping away an accumulation of debris from the past. Exposing the problems is hard work and not pretty. “Make problems ugly,” is a popular expression in the Lean world, but exposing problems often elicits criticism from the keepers of the status quo. At least in this case, exposing the problems fortunately fell to the younger generation. I got the easy job: sowing the seeds. Each of us contributed to the change as we were able. After three months more of creating a favorable environment for the grass, I celebrated with a Sam Adams in the space we planted together. This time, I think, I will try harder not to take the lawn for granted. Culture change is after all, not a discrete event, but continuous improvement that engages everyone according to their individual capabilities. And not to be taken for granted.
Have a relaxing 4th.
PS Speaking of Culture Change, my organization is a big proponent of The Shingo Model and Guiding Principles to provide context for Continuous Improvement – the “know why” in the form of principles before the “know-how” which is systems and tools. It develops company culture thru analysis of how principles (along with company vision, mission, and values) inform behavior and how systems reinforce it. Benefits include a more engaged workforce that understands continuous improvement at a much deeper level and a sustained culture of excellence. When results are achieved through behavior grounded in principles, they are for the long-term. Learn more about it during our upcoming virtual seminar.
And if you’re interested in continuing your Lean tools education during the summer months, GBMP has lots of great virtual workshops to choose from – from value stream mapping to pull systems (kanban) and much more in between. Check them out here. We look forward to “seeing” you soon!