December 22, 2019

Models of Culture Change

John Shook:

The typical Western approach to organizational change is to start by trying to get everyone to think the right way. This causes their values and attitudes to change, which, in turn, leads them naturally to start doing the right things.

This, of course, doesn’t work.

Those of us trying to change our organizations’ culture need to define the things we want to do, the ways we want to behave and want each other to behave, to provide training and then to do what is necessary to reinforce those behaviors. The culture will change as a result.

For example:

When NUMMI was being formed, though, some of our GM colleagues questioned the wisdom of trying to install andon there. You intend to give these workers the right to stop the line?” they asked. Toyota’s answer: No we intend to give them the obligation to stop it — whenever they find a problem.”


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