Culture is a widely discussed topic in the Lean community. I think it’s fascinating and there are various different viewpoints about what culture is, why it’s important and how to influence it, but I’d like to start out with who it’s about.
Both management and employees are stakeholders in a company’s culture. The problem is that there is often a gap between the two ends of the company in the assessment of the culture. I believe that it is imperative to close that gap as much as possible as part of your Lean journey.
One of my favorite experiments is to have management and employees participate in a Lean Assessment Survey. The survey is the same for both, but the point is to illustrate the difference between the two points of view. It is quite common for management to be surprised that employees don’t see the company to be as “well managed” as they believe. From the employees side, they are usually surprised at how they did not understand management’s expectations or judgment of the cultural condition on the floor.
Management is usually cognizant of their responsibility for establishing the onset of the company culture and that the employees are the ones who can maintain it. The management usually scores themselves higher for the elements that they are in charge of and lower on the elements that the employees are responsible for. This is vice versa when it comes to the employees survey results.
The idea of this survey comparison is not to rub peoples nose in anything, but to provide a gap analysis to create awareness of opportunities for change. I advise this activity to anyone who is interested in improving employee-management relationships and improving the health of their company. If you would like to download a Lean Assessment Survey, I have one available. (CLICK HERE to visit the page).