Last week Brad Feiler posted a blog on this website about the mindset of an organization and a few days later Mike Westra blogged about how two different customer service representatives addressed the exact same problem, but with different mindsets. These blogs got me thinking about how companies can truly change the mindset of its people.

I have found training and implementing tools like those used in Six Sigma, Design for Sigma, TQM, and etc. do improve a company’s bottom line, but to truly get breakthrough results, the mindset of the entire organization must be changed. Transforming the entire organization’s mindset requires changes to business processes inside and outside of engineering, as highlighted by Mike’s customer service reps. LEO customizes improvements based on each company’s needs, not a rigorous step-by-step methodology. This is very critical! LEO involves all the people, all the time. LEO redefines and expands our definition of quality to include the quality of people and the organization’s social responsibilities.

With DMAIC and DFSS, there were different approaches depending on whether a new product was being designed or an existing process being improved. In addition the approach varied depending on whether it was a manufacturing or transactional process.

Regardless of the situation, the Listen, Enrich and Optimize phases of LEO can be applied. Tools may differ, but the three steps remain the same. The common underlying structure of LEO helps simplify the confusion many companies have faced when implementing multiple improvement initiatives.

LEO is a two pronged enterprise wide execution plan involving CULTURE and PROCESSES. LEO is a business transformation methodology that incorporates “people power” and “process power” and affects both culture and processes. To change an organization, it is important to affect both culture and processes. Most organizations however only concentrate on the process side of the equation which involves actions and results. They do not address the culture side which involves the beliefs and experiences.

Affecting both is the key to deep rooted and sustainable change.

CULTURE (People Power): To positively affect culture within your company, new positive ‘Experiences’ must drive changed ‘Beliefs’. In order for this happen, 5 elements or pieces come together to form the basis of cultural change:

1. Understand: Understand the resistance to cultural change – there is individual fear such as fear of the unknown, self-interest, habits, and dependence; and there is group level fear such as threats to power or influence, varying perceptions of goals and standards, and resource limitations. Different departments within regional offices and different regional offices will have different resistance to the changes. These must be identified and understood so effective counter-measures can be implemented. Also, ongoing cultural analysis must be done to measure sustained culture change.

• Voice of the Customer (VOC) analysis for employees
• Counter-measures to change resistance identified and implemented
• Ongoing VOC analysis to insure cultural changes are positively affecting the entire organization

2. Teach: Teach all employees the basics of the LEO methodology and tools – based on the VOC analysis — so that everyone (all the people, all the time) plays a role in the change process and fully understands. This lays the foundation for cultural change by teaching the principles and behavior changes necessary for rapid process improvement.

• LEO Management Training
• LEO Project Leader Training
• LEO Team member Training

3. Apply: LEO tools applied correctly within any organization will allow any employee to identify problems, find the root causes, make the needed changes and positively affect those products and processes that are studied. By doing this, they will be creating new ‘Experiences’ and ‘Beliefs’ that will be communicated throughout the organization to change ‘Beliefs’ and ‘Experiences’ of other employees – first hand accounts of changes that have been made.

• Completion of projects to generate results
• Communication ‘bytes’ that strengthen ‘Experiences’ and ‘Beliefs’

4. Communicate: Keeping all employees informed by telling them what is expected of them regarding organizational change process and the progress status helps to ensure commitment and is critical to the success of the change. It also will continue to provide new ‘Experiences’ which will change ‘Beliefs’. In order to achieve a quality mindset for the entire organization, all employees must be headed in the same direction, especially since a lot of these changes will be incremental, so communication will need to be almost continuous.

• Communication plan
• Expectation ‘bytes’
• Status update ‘bytes’

5. Revise: Make revisions where necessary to management practices such as employee promotions, pay practices, performance management, rewards/recognition and employee selection to make sure they are aligned with the desired culture

• Analysis and alignment of Human Resource Systems to reward and promote new behaviors that align with process improvement changes

Once a company successfully transforms its culture, the full potential of the workforce can be leveraged to achieve incredible results.  I often talk about the “art vs science” of applying many of these quality improvement tools, but I think there is no larger aspect of the entire process more obviously “art vs science” than culture transformation.

In general, it is not easy for companies to apply these simple ideas. However, the attempt must be given every effort if they are to have any hope of a achieving a quality mindset.