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Building trust essential to building Lean and Agile organisations

Posted by Stephen Parry on Jun 7, 2016 2:30:33 AM


You get the behaviour you design for. That’s a truism I encounter fairly regularly when working with organisations looking to become Lean and Agile. These organisations are typically looking to develop working climates that encourage creativity and participation.

And they’re speaking with us in the first place because they need to respond to the challenges of a fast-changing business environment.

And as we begin the process, and I review the current behaviours within an organisation, it can be a very awkward experience for both management and staff.

A key part of work culture development centres around trust.

When I go into an organization, the first question I ask is ‘are you trustworthy?’.

Trust is an inside job

Digging a bit, I usually hear about seemingly arbitrary layoffs and a lack of respectful communication between management and staff.

The transformation of an organisation to a high level of trust is directly affected by the behaviour that brought it to the current state.

If there is a high degree of suspicion between management and staff, that’s going to take some hard work to fix. Reviewing past history and finding out how trust was lost involves difficult conversations that are extremely valuable in getting to the root of the problems.

In essence these conversations become the de facto building blocks for the new work culture.

To that end, I usually set out a timetable for developing a ‘Trust Strategy’ :establishing a new starting point to move on from after we clean up the way we look at the past.

In Lean and Agile, the’ taboo’ transformation not spoken about, but nonetheless essential, is the transformation of the relationships between employees and customers and employee and managers. Designing for the willing contribution of staff to engage with customers and managers is just the start of the trust strategy.

Post transformation, those still struggling to adapt will learn fairly quickly from their peers.  Lean and Agile empowers staff to address behaviour that does not contribute to the well being and creativity of the organization.

If it's been a rough past, it's going to be an equally tough challenge to go Lean and Agile. It’s difficult. But then again, nothing worth doing is ever easy.

The payoff is considerable. Management gets a staff both creative and engaged in the work of the company. And, crucially, they become a company able to prosper in the new economy.

If you see your organisation in this post and would like to talk more about creating a culture for Lean and Agile thinking people, then please be in touch.

Topics: Lean Methods, Change Leadership, Work Climate

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