Picture the scene . . . the Director has discovered an irritating problem.
He asks his best manager to resolve it quickly and the manager drops everything to please the boss. The manager surveys the problem by asking a few involved workers to offer their opinions of causes, effects and potential solutions. The information gathered is assessed and by using common sense and experience, the manager decides the best course of action. A solution is implemented with speed and efficiency - the problem is now fixed! The manager cannot wait to inform the Director of the success.
Unfortunately a week later it is discovered that the problem has only partially been resolved. The Director feels let down and the manager is in the doghouse. What went wrong?
Absolutely nothing if you believe the Deming Cycle’s P.D.C.A process.
In a traditional business culture, senior people are expected to resolve problems and make decisions. That’s the basis of their job. However in stark contrast the culture of an excellent company has a different leadership style along with different values and beliefs – such as;
- It’s not the manager’s job to fix problems, instead they must facilitate problem solving with workers
- Finding the root cause of a problem is the best way to resolve a problem permanently
- Sometimes there are more than one root cause
- Discovering true root causes can be difficult
- The best way to fix a problem is to estimate a root cause quickly and implement a fix to see if it works
- Guessing the wrong root cause is good not bad, as it leaves you wiser
- Resolving problems is iterative - keep at it until the problem has been resolved
Imagine the difference in culture between the traditional and excellent companies.
In the former, fear is always in the background. Fear of failure, fear of letting the boss down, fear of not knowing all the answers. Often the smartest managers in the traditional company become adept at transferring blame onto others - thus apportioning the fear away from themselves.
How would an excellent company perform with the above scenario?
Once the problem has been brought to the attention of the manager, the Deming Cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act) clicks into place.
The manager mobilises a small team closest to the problem. Speed is of the essence. They quickly identify the probable cause and plan a solution. They implement the solution (do) then assess how well it worked (check). If the problem has not been completely fixed, they move onto the next cause (act) and plan another solution.
The P.D.C.A iteration continues until an adequate solution has been achieved.
So what are the major features of the excellent company? Iterations are good as new things are learnt with each cycle and failure does not exist. The workers closest to a problem are often the best ones to fix it - the manager does not fix problems, but coaches others to do so. Finally the way to respond throughout is to act quickly and not to procrastinate.
Article written by Joe Booth (April 2018)
Described by Jan Emblemsvåg, friend of access2growth:
“Edgar Schein recognized 50 years ago that culture cannot change as a project in itself. There has to be real, visible changes experienced by the people so that they actually see a new day rising. Moreover, these changes must be lasting and result in better performance. Once the performance is improved due to new ways of working, people will believe in these ways and they will stick. A new culture will emerge . . .”
Avoid devoting your time, resources and energy to useless and inefficient processes, policies and practices.
When lack of consistency is a problem, implement a S.O.P
Variations in quality can then be avoided for all areas of work . . . products, systems, reports, services, etc.
A first-class S.O.P is not just a quality aid - it can be used as a problem solving tool and a control document, to help identify gaps that may exist. In addition, a S.O.P is ideal for training and as a personal development performance monitor.
Get in touch with us via the "Contact" page on our website to play the S.O.P game
What are your thoughts . . . positive or negative?
The beginning of the year started with a bang, as we brought Leanne Shea (my daughter) into access2growth. Lean for manufacturing has been the main pillar of our business, however Leanne has the exciting task of introducing tailored Lean into offices – which is mostly unheard of.
With over 10 years’ experience in senior positions within retail forecasting and analytics, Leanne has taken to the job like a duck to water, and considering she is family, Lean was clearly in her blood already!
Leanne’s first year has been spent developing new material for our Lean Leader Programme and she is now creating bespoke versions for use in office environments. She gained her first client in Feb-17 which involved coaching a junior manager and resulted in a big promotion.
2017 saw the launch of the new and improved access2growth website (with huge thanks to Samuel Lyndsay Design). We are uploading articles and interesting reads regularly – this is one of them!
Our company LinkedIn page also had an overhaul – if you’re not already following us click the link below:
After many successful years, Paul Curtis chose 2017 as the year to slow down, work less and enjoy his downtime. He continues to work with longstanding clients, writing articles and maintaining the Lean philosophy.
As for myself, Lean manufacturing still calls to me with increased demand. I had the pleasure of working with familiar faces throughout the year in the bid to sustain culture change. I’ve also had enquiries from “blasts from the past” whom I am looking forward to working with in 2018.
access2growth continues to fire on all cylinders and the future is exciting!
Start the year as you mean to go on . . .
Paul Curtis took the time out to write his thoughts on the impact culture can have on an organisation - see his article below;
In the 1980-90s a company’s culture was seen as an important element within the strategic planning framework.
Today however it’s seen as more tactical, not something to be lived, rather something to be planned and managed. Despite designed cultures rarely working, the subject of ‘Culture’ has become a low priority. In hindsight, this was a huge mistake.
Typically, an approach is adopted that best suits the company’s perceived needs i.e. develop a strategy that will keep you ahead of the completion and in favour with the customer base (assuming longevity is a desired outcome for the business).
This thinking only relies on a critical assumption; that your strategy cannot be copied, or achieved faster by your competition.
Is it sound business practice to develop a winning strategy totally reliant on innovation (acquisition, products, service and cost) in a time where technology is growing exponentially?
If one assumes everything can be copied, then differentiating yourself on the most difficult element to copy must become a critical success factor. Culture is extremely difficult to copy, it is even more difficult to achieve.
Is Strategy successful without an established culture?
With so much time invested in market research, consultancy support, communication forums, strategy workshops, deployment workshops etc., why do we still persevere with this obsession?
We are told it’s to; provide a clear plan of what the company needs to, give stakeholders/stock market confidence and provide clarity and guidance to the employees
Or is the truth . . . Sitting amongst all the bureaucracy ‘Strategy’ has just become the pursuance of just one metric ‘Winning’ where winning means generating big profits (irrespective of any social impact).
The development culture is dying and this action is producing the same results everywhere:
- High flyers (promoted or recruited in) reduced to underperforming conformists
- Fearful, anxious, bewildered and broken-down people trying to find meaning in their lives
- People who want something to blame and blame everything that seems different
- People who see the complexity but are marginalised amidst all the noise
What can be done?
First stop looking for silver bullets. In 2003 a study was carried out by Harvard Business Review called the ‘Evergreen Project’. The aim of the research was to identify what differentiated the great companies from the others (criteria had been established to enable judging).
The great companies excelled at four practices:
- Strategy - all companies within the research could evidence a strategy that was known by all employees not just a few
- Execution - flawlessly implementing the strategy
- Culture - having the right motivation and behaviours, including how good and poor performance was rewarded
- Structure - this equated to round pegs in round holes i.e. having the right people in the right jobs in the right organisation structure
The Evergreen Project established that without Culture the other three practices are not enough to achieve greatness. Culture can kill the performance of excellent people.
The conclusion we draw is that culture has become less important in the twenty first century. Peter Drucker once said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". Perhaps it’s time to renew our thoughts on culture to ensure our strategies have a better chance of working.
Article written by Paul Curtis (August 2017)
At access2growth we develop mediocre people into stars by focusing on psychology development.
Get in touch with us via the “Contact” page
Disruption in the job is unavoidable and so we made it our focus this week.
Work that is urgent and important is often classed as fire-fighting.
What percentage of your working day do you feel is spent on this unplanned type of work?
This week we have been working on motivation, which includes the theories from Herzberg.
"if a small percentage of the investment in Hygiene Factors went on job enrichment, the economic gains would be the largest dividend that industry every reaped".
Do you think his criticism is justified?