Lean Culture Building

Bold and Humble, We Must Be

If “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast”, then building an intentional lean culture must come early in the journey (or NOW if the journey has begun). But what is the pre-requisite to building a lean culture?

Richard Sheridan of Menlo Innovations, asserts (with demonstrated authority and backed by LEI and Womack’s study of Toyota)

  • You can’t embark on a journey to establish a culture of leadership for its own sake. Your organization must serve a higher purpose.

  • We had a purpose from the start — and that dictated everything we built. The intention and purpose of our culture were as clear at the beginning as it is now — to “end human suffering as it relates to technology” by bringing joy back to the invention of software. 

That’s BOLD. Every action, every initiative was “in the pursuit of an intentionally joyful culture.” You have to be joyful yourself, to create joy in others and “end human suffering”.

  • The Center for Positive Organizations says that just as a plant turns to the sunlight, organizations and their people will bend towards positivity. I was bending away from fear, bureaucracy, meeting overload, unhappy customers, and chaos. I knew these things didn’t work. I had tried many of them for over a decade. So, instead, I bent toward the importance of team energy and purpose in the organization. It took me a while to realize that there is really only one source of joy: to deliver the work to the world, delight the people who use it, and work without fanfare; no matter how you get to that, you get joy.

The bold stated purpose of some organizations I love are these:

  • “Transforming design and construction” – Lean Construction Institute
  • “We choose to be a catalyst for industry-wide transformational change” – Construction Accelerator®
  • “We exist to achieve the extraordinary” – Boldt Construction
  • “Continuously improve people’s quality of life through the built world” – Pepper Construction
  • “To discover and deliver value better than anyone in any industry” – Herrero Builders

And the humility? That must come from the realization we cannot do this alone. It takes all of us in an organization to build that culture. To “work without fanfare”. And the bold purpose we choose – that we need in order to inspire us to build that powerful culture – must be bigger than ourselves, our own needs. “Transform … industry-wide … achieve the extraordinary … improve people’s quality of life … deliver better value… end human suffering as it relates to technology … bring joy … ” These are higher purposes, beyond our little selves. They are the stuff that inspires.

Only the bold and humble dare embark on such a journey.

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