Build a deliberate culture, not an accidental one [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 04-13-14

In my last Lessons from the Road column, I introduced the the idea that culture is the most important element of lean transformation. I was fortunate to have the opportunity early in my lean journey to see just how important the correct behaviors would be, regardless of how well you designed the system. If you haven’t read it, I recommend that you read Building Behaviors Bedrock of Lean Success.

I follow that piece, with my model for how you actually build culture. People become baffled by culture change. Admittedly, it is hard. But the baffling is not because it is hard, but because we seek the silver bullet, the one giant lever that we can pull to change culture. Culture change requires deliberate design and deliberate action, as I introduce here:


But how do you build a culture? Most cultures are not just the accumulation of “human nature.” If that were true, then all corporate cultures would be the same. A company’s culture is the product of people’s shared experiences. The problem is, most of those experiences are not designed to create a deliberate culture. Instead, the result is an accidental culture.

You have it in your power to create new experiences to build that deliberate culture. To build such a strategy, we utilize a framework of Learn–Apply–Reflect, which connects the head, hand and heart towards a new set of behaviors. I will focus here on many of the free tactics that enable Learn–Apply–Reflect, although none of them are easy.

You can read the rest of the column, and my advice (at least the part that fits into the size of a column) can be found in the latest edition of Lessons from the Road. Please read Build Culture Deliberately here. For more on the subject, come visit us for the Leading Lean course.