Part 1: How would you define culture?
In a recent e-mail from Cheryl Jekiel, CEO, Lean Leadership Center, Inc., (Lean Leadership Center, Inc.) she asked the questions, “How would you define culture?” and “How would you define a lean culture?
I would like to make an attempt to answer her questions.
Since I am not an anthropologist, I would like to describe culture as defined by Jeff Liker and Michael Hoseus in their book, “Toyota Culture”, published by McGraw Hill in 2008.
Culture is like a three level pyramid with the base level being “Underlying Assumptions”. It is what people deeply believe and act on. These are beliefs about the organization and its work and purpose, and its rewards and punishment.
The middle level is Norms and Values. This is what the people say. These are the reasons why things are the way they are, or could be. These are also company philosophy, norms and justifications.
The top level is Artifacts and Behavior. This is what we see. This is what a newcomer or visitor would see when they enter the company. They would see the type of dress or clothing style, what is permitted and allowed. They would also see organization charts, layout, formality, logos, mission statement and core values.
It is fairly easy to understand what the culture of the plant is, by observing what is displayed on the walls, how the people talk to each other, whether or not the company has a vision and mission statement, the condition of the plant, and how you were greeted when you arrive.
The next question is, “How would you define a lean culture?”
Read Part 2: "How would you define a lean culture?"