Creating an Organizational Culture Beyond Lean Sigma Tools

Robert Baird just published an interesting new book this month titled The Four Components of a Fast-Paced Organization: Going Beyond Lean Sigma Tools, and I had the opportunity to speak with him about some of the topics presented in the book. One of the questions I asked was: "How do you create a culture of continuous improvement beyond Lean Sigma tools?" Here is his complete response: 

If you look at the characteristics of a successful organization, you will find speed as one of them. Staying ahead and achieving business results at a pace faster than competitors is a distinct advantage. Within Lean, we have some focus on just-in-time, lead time, and on-time delivery, but what are we doing about it? Are organizations focused on improving their organizational speed? We found when there is a focus on speed then industry-leading improvements come with it and people are motivated to keep going, momentum is created, and all employees are engaged to execute the strategy. These are the outputs or effect on an organization when implementing all four of the components -- leadership and mentoring, process design and visual value streams, organization structure for sustainment, and fast knowledge sharing -- of a fast-paced organization. Implementing one, two, or three of the components will certainly achieve results but not the sustained world-class results we are looking for. 

We all want a culture of continuous improvement, learning, and customer orientation and this is what the four components were designed for. Following the implementation steps will inherently develop all of these organizational characteristics. It starts with the Leadership and Mentoring component. The Leaders must be on board first and then each of the other three components are to follow. The Leadership and Mentoring component provides the base which sustains the momentum and starts the culture. Leaders take responsibility for developing people who are trained, motivated, and supported to identify, solve and fix problems. Leaders must empower people to be capable of process ownership. Leaders must guide and support a production system of continuous flow and quality products and service. Finally, leaders must build a learning organization. They are responsible for operational excellence. 

What do you think of Robert's response? Do the leaders in your organization drive the culture? Are there both leaders and mentors in your company?


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Proactive or effective leaders set the schedule and strategies. Organization’s cultures are directly or indirectly influence by their leaders and in turn the long term effectiveness of the organization.

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