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Who Owns It?

By John Carnuccio

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a speaker event at the monthly EEG meeting at Francis Tuttle. Bryan Coats, a very experienced and learned manufacturing professional gave a presentation on Total Productive Maintenance, or TPM. This presentation covered the history of TPM and the key ingredients for a successful endeavor, but the thing that struck me the most was his discussion about the “TPM culture.” This reminded me of so many other “culture” discussions I have been involved in over the years concerning Lean, quality, safety and other important elements of a high performance organization. Everyone always ends up talking about culture. It seems that success and sustainability in anything always comes down to the right culture. But who’s to say what kind of culture is “right”? And how do you know when you’ve got it?

Merriam-Webster.com defines culture as (my summary): the beliefs, customs, arts, ways of life, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time; a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business). As the definition would suggest, every organization has a culture. It may not be a good one, or a desirable one, but like it or not, it’s got one! The culture is a direct result of what the organization believes in; the way it “lives” every day; how it thinks. Obviously, most of us aspire to work in an organization that believes in continuous improvement of everything and everyone. We want to be part of something good that lives and breathes excellence in everything it does. In short, we want to work in what I call a high performance culture; otherwise we wouldn’t be interested in TPM or being on a “Lean journey” or attending EEG events!

It has been my experience that culture is a direct reflection of leadership. And although leadership is responsible for the culture of the organization, the culture itself will grow from the bottom up. Culture change, therefore, must begin with leaders who can articulate a vision of a new reality and are willing to let their people create the path to it. This cannot be done by mandate, desire or appointment. It is not achieved through coercion, promises, or threats. It only happens when everyone owns the desired change. When everyone is empowered to put their personal stamp on it. When everyone walks the walk and talks the talk and lives it every day. Not just the managers and supervisors, but everyone. This is evidenced by the way people work together; the subject matter and terminology of casual conversations; the questions that are asked at meetings; the desire to participate in improvement projects, training classes, and company events. The workforce will take on a certain swagger and attitude. These are telltale signs of the developing culture of an organization. Astute leaders will pay attention to these indicators and use them to help guide their plans and initiatives.

So as you move ahead with your lean journeys, TPM initiatives, safety programs, quality systems, etc., and you desire to achieve the “right culture,” step back and ask yourself: “who owns it?”

New Years Resolution

As we come into 2014, the Enterprise Excellence Group is wanting to, while continuing to deliver value to its existing members, begin to add value for those that share our interest for continuing improvement but who, perhaps, do not make a physical product.

One thing that we are going to try (again) is re-starting and regularly contributing to a BLOG that is interesting and relevant to EEG members. One of our founding members believes that he would like to give blogging a try, so why not? We lovingly refer to this guy as the Godfather of Manufacturing in Oklahoma City, and if you ever meet him you will begin to understand why, not only because of his Italian heritage, but because he understands manufacturing leadership better than most people out there. So I hope that you enjoy his writings, and I hope that I can get others get into the game after awhile. The hope is not for us to write perfectly about Lean, but to encourage people to really think about Lean and to share with others what they are learning because when they do, we all grow.

Over the next couple of years you are going to see additional effort made towards presenting material that is pertinent and stimulating to companies outside of manufacturing. As we progress, please let us know how we are doing, and if you have ideas, please let us know. This group is in place to support our members, because when you do well, the Oklahoma economy does well.

Without further ado, let’s get on with it!