Monthly Archives: January 2011

Leadership and a Trusting Culture

In a previous blog, I mentioned that the main ingredient of cultural change is trust.  I would like to examine here how trust is built and nurtured.  Restoring or establishing trust starts and ends with the leadership. Trust must be built incrementally and must be clearly established before attempting any transformational change.

In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni has identified a lack of trust as one of the most common reasons why teamwork fails in an organization. Since teamwork is an essential ingredient for building a continuous improvement culture, it follows that leadership must understand that people will not work towards a common goal until they trust each other and their leadership.

W. Edwards Deming, thought leader in quality management, provides the essential elements for establishing this mutual trust in,  “14 Points for Management”, the basis for transformation.  One of these points, to create constancy of purpose is indispensable for developing trust.  Employees will often snicker at the first introduction of yet another improvement initiative,  the “program of the month”.  Trust must be built by showing that you “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Deming also stressed the importance of creating trusting collaborative relationships with customers and vendors by warning us to “stop doing business by price tag alone”.  Most of his other points actually dealt with developing trust internally.  Leadership is about “facilitating”, that is, providing the resources, training and education, tools, and systems required to get the job done correctly.

Your role as a leader is to “drive out fear” and to eliminate goals, measurements, and rewards that divide rather than unite members of your organization.  By doing this, you start eliminating barriers and building bridges that enable trusting relationships to develop that make the transformation everyone’s job.

Making ISO 9001 Part of Your Culture

Why make ISO 9001 part of your organization’s culture?

I have seen many companies registered to ISO 9001:2008 failing to take full advantage of the structure that this standard provides.  These organizations only see the marketing benefits of the certification while missing the opportunity to improve the quality of their products and services by testing their systems against their customer requirements.

ISO 9001 is a basic business process system that provides a solid structure for future improvements. In fact, this standard expects a continual improvement approach to quality and expects that organization fully understand and meet the customer requirements.

ISO provides an excellent roadmap for developing a culture that supports positive change. To maximize the benefits of ISO implementation, the ISO requirements need to become seamless with the workings of the organization.

Internal Audits need to be scheduled and conducted during the course of the year, not just before the external auditor is due to visit.  This helps to recognize and correct any nonconformity before any adverse consequences occur.

ISO requires that the organization establish systems for controlling documents, records, nonconforming products and changes in design.  These requirements are so basic that it is hard to imagine a company operating successfully without them.

Another ISO requirement, a robust Corrective and Preventive Action System is an invaluable tool for improvement. ISO expects that with every problem or potential problem, the organization will drill down to its root cause and develop a solution based on this investigation.  ISO’s emphasis on continual improvement is totally compatible and complementary to other systems and methods of business improvement and provides a platform for future evolution of the business in its journey towards excellence.

These very basic requirements need to be made part of your organization, not because they are ISO requirements, but because to succeed you need to make these part of your culture, that is, part of the way you do business.

Making Change Happen

Things never stay the same.  They get better or they get worse.

Left to their own devices, organizations will deteriorate.  To effect change and move an organization in a positive direction, leaders must plan, share, and act on those plans.

Sustainable change requires that the organizational culture be receptive to the desired change.  The culture itself may require change.  Rapid change is possible once a receptive culture is present, but cultural changes are evolutionary.

Cultural transformations take time, patience and perseverance.

In most organizations, overt and covert resistance needs to be overcome.  Such resistance is often due to a lack of trust that has developed over time and to regain the feeling of mutual trust will also take time.

The main ingredient of cultural change is trust.  Restoring or establishing trust requires a sincere effort that cannot be misjudged as manipulation.  You cannot effect trust by merely wishing it or dictating it. Trust must be built incrementally.

As organizational members start trusting leadership, and each other, other positive changes are possible.  Then, as improvements are made, they will be sustainable.

Once trust building is recognized as a necessary element of transformation, the leader is in a better position to envision and mold an organizational culture devoted to continuous and sustainable improvements.

OSHA: Plan, Prevent, and Protect

OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program: A Proactive Approach

The U.S. Department of Labor, including OSHA has adopted a new strategy called “Plan/Prevent/Protect”.

OSHA will require employers to provide their employees with opportunities to participate in the development and implementation of an injury and illness prevention program. This includes a systematic process to address, proactively and continuously, workplace safety and health hazards. Examples of these include:

  • Internal audits
  • Safety committees
  • Safety meetings
  • Involvement in job safety analysis

This rule also would involve planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving processes and activities that promote worker safety and health, and address the needs of special categories of workers, such as youth, aging and immigrant workers.

OSHA’s efforts to protect workers under the age of 18 will be undertaken in cooperation with the Department’s Wage and Hour Division, which has responsibility for enforcing the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

OSHA has substantial evidence showing that employers that have implemented similar injury and illness prevention programs have significantly reduced injuries and illnesses in their workplaces.

This rule would build on OSHA’s existing Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines and lessons learned from successful approaches and best practices.


New Year Improvements

The New Year is time for new beginnings and building from our past successes.

The business world requires us to continually improve. A public corporation needs to shows growth in earnings from quarter to quarter and year to year.  A private company needs to improve just to keep up with increasing competition.  Even non-profits and governmental agencies need to find ways of delivering services with ever increasing pressures on fund raising and tax revenues.

As the year begins, we need to ask ourselves what can we do differently to continue to grow and maximize the benefits of our resources. Successful organizations recognize the need for change and plan for it.  There is no better time for planning than the start of a new year.

Take the time out to think about your business and your personal life. What initiatives can you take to improve the way you do your job and others around you are doing theirs?

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!