As I work on research for a sermon about why God, when He can accomplish whatever He wants without us, has us help, I recalled of something that Gene Kim said in Beyond the Phoenix Project (a recording he did with John Willis):
John Shook wrote about his NUMMI experience in the Fremont plant, a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota. He wrote, “What my NUMMI experience taught me that was so powerful was that the way to change culture is not to change first how people think, but instead to start by changing how people behave — what they do. Those of us trying to change our organizations’ culture need to define the things we want them to do, the way we want to behave and want others to behave, to provide training and then to do what is necessary to reinforce those behaviors. The culture will change as a result.
This is what I meant by, ‘It’s easier to act your way to a new way of thinking than to think your way to a new way of acting.'” (Emphasis mine.)
Gene then continues, saying it lead to the Shook Change Model. MIT Sloan Management Review has Shook’s article about his NUMMI experience (it will require you to have at least a free account):
Some interesting quotes:
It is important to note, however, that from the beginning, Toyota’s objectives at NUMMI were defined by learning rather than by the kinds of tangible business objectives that typically define a joint venture. And if there’s one thing Toyota knows how to do it is how to learn, especially where learning is most important: down at the operational levels of the company. It was that approach to learning that defined its approach to NUMMI from day 1.
If you are involved in DevOps, how fitting is that?! 🙂
I have often been asked what motivates Toyota’s employees in Japan to “work so hard.” One powerful motivator, I believe, is the concept and feeling of membership.
My immediate reaction was that this was related to the “emotion of the inventor” I mentioned in another article, but it really has to do with employees knowing that although life has no guarantees, laying them off is the last option on the table (“laying off as the last resort”).
Continuing with that thought:
At Toyota, a worker’s immediate supervisor does not have the power to hire and fire. The company will stand behind each worker as an employee, to protect him from a frivolous boss. The worker is hired by the company. He is an employee — citizen, even — of the company, not of the individual who happens to be his supervisor today. “Personnel power” is held by the company’s personnel department, not by individual managers. Employees need to feel secure in their relationship with the company.
I would say that is implicit in how the company I work for does things (I cannot just can somebody), but this tidbit is new:
Thus, including production supervisors in hiring interviews represented a breach of the basic philosophy of separation of power and would send a message, however subtle, to new employees: that their employment was a matter of their relationship with their immediate boss.
Interestingly enough, NUMMI decided against that and “production supervisors [were] included in the hiring interview process.”
But onto the whole reason for this article. How do we successfully change culture?
The individual who put the concept of “corporate culture” on our collective radar screen was Edgar Schein of MIT’s Sloan School of Management. And, interestingly, there is no one who is more skeptical than Schein about claims of easily making wholesale changes in corporate cultures. Schein teaches that culture is hugely important, but he also argues that you don’t change the culture by trying to directly change the culture. (Emphasis mine.)
Hmmm, I think I will include that in my Counterintuitive IT™ list. 🙂
Then, Shook introduces the quote that Gene Kim read with this:
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.
Instead (worth repeating from above):
What my NUMMI experience taught me that was so powerful was that the way to change culture is not to first change how people think, but instead to start by changing how people behave — what they do. 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.
This is what is meant by, “It’s easier to act your way to a new way of thinking than to think your way to a new way of acting.”
You’ll have to listen to my sermon after I preach it tomorrow :-), but this is what syncs so well with it.
Well, I’ll wrap up for now…you should read the rest of the article. However, as one last “gift” of sorts from Shook’s wisdom, of all things the andon cord was “the best example of how the culture was changed at NUMMI.” (If you are not familiar with it, it’s something that any employee at Toyota can pull if there is an issue, stopping the entire production line.) GM was not convinced it was a good idea:
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.” (Emphasis mine.)
Since my sermon’s assembly line is completely halted and I want to spend time with the family today, I’ll leave it there. Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment below with your thoughts!
Update: After transcribing Gene Kim’s quote, I then overwrote it with a cut and paste directly from Shook’s article. It hit me they might not be exactly the same, so after first publishing this, I updated Gene’s to reflect, as best as a non-professional transcriber can do, what he actually said (which differed slightly from Shook’s post).