Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"The House On The Rock" by Lance Boynton

…"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. "Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell-- and great was its fall." Matthew 7:25

As I embarked on my lean journey several years ago, this story reminded me of how critical it is to establish a solid foundation. Ensuring the first stones laid are solid and plumb is critical to success, whether you are trying to construct a building, a team or a business.

Building a lean enterprise is no different; Toyota built their house on the foundation of the “Toyota Way” philosophy. Laying the footings of standardized and stable processes on top of their core values of customer first, respect for people and continuous improvement. These solid footholds provide the base where the tools of the Toyota Production System can rest.

Although implied in Toyota’s philosophy but not explicitly stated is a concept that I believe needs to be part of the fundamental building blocks of any viable organization. The concept is education; by creating an environment where learning is part of the corporate DNA it acts as rebar in the concrete. It strengthens the base, increases the robustness and when challenged provides additional resilience to sustain all challenges.

Successful lean enterprises are not defined by a single lean champion, or a select group of engineers that are well versed in tools like Kaizen, VSM, A3, etc. Successful lean enterprises are defined by their learning cultures, aligning their values with the beliefs. This ensures that everyone shares the same language, vision and philosophy. When this occurs you create a learning organization. These entities are skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.

By aligning the core values that include education with the beliefs of the organization, the corporate culture can have a remarkable strategic advantage over its competition. Like the house on the rock, a solid foundation rooted in education allows your organization to grow higher and more stable then the house on the sand.

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