On the Lean Thinker blog I came across this thought provoking lean culture deck by Mike Rother, author of (Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results) on a proposed definition of Lean:
“The permanent struggle to flow value to one customer”
Mike’s definition hinges around a key concept in great culture, that of mindset. Mindset enables people to apply a consistent cultural standard whatever the situation. Mindset becomes their foundation and starting point rather than which tool to apply.
Mike makes the case that many definitions of Lean treat it as a discrete toolset, something that Company B can pick up and apply in the same way as Company A to get the same results. For example, if Company A uses pink index cards and coloured markers to map their work out and achieved 45% reduction in overheads, Company B thinks all we have to do is get ourselves down to Staples, stock up on index cards and markers and we’ll magically achieve the same performance. Continue reading →
“Advertising is a tax you pay on having an unremarkable culture” – Robert Stephens, Founder of Geek Squad
There’s a case that pretty much all sales and marketing is a wasted cost because with great products and great culture you don’t have to sell anything, your customers do all the selling for you.
I’ll leave getting to great products for another time and space (aside from the fact great culture makes great product development so much better), but I will go further and call a bunch of other things as taxes on unremarkable, poor cultures:
- Management wasting time patching over people problems rather than system problems
- Poor staff retention = high recruitment to replace costs both in time and cash
- HR team overheads dealing with the fallout from people that are prisoners in their jobs
- Poor customer service because people aren’t invested in the enterprise
- Terrible reputation amongst consumers which means low or no repeat business
- Lack of engagement, innovation and meaningful product development
All of which builds up to a state where you have to keep shouting over the noise with your adspend. For the more mercenary readers out there the sums are simple: care about culture and your costs will fall.