Monday, April 4, 2011

Organizational Purpose...Do you have one?

As I am typing I'm in amazement that its Springtime already. I will admit Im ready to travel in warmer weather. The year is definitely progressing quickly and I've enjoyed my training sessions thus far at many different companies across the U.S. My last post was encouraging each of you to grab a copy of Jim Womack's latest book Gemba Walks. I've just finished the book myself over the past few weeks in amongst my teaching and traveling. I have found it very informative as I too, like Jim; try to reflect on my own Lean journey as a teacher/sensei over the last 13 years. With that continual reflection process I've realized how I coached 13 years ago,right after I left Toyota, and how I coach now are a bit different. As Jim states in his book its "hopeful hansei". (Hansei: critical self reflection for the purpose of improvement). It is interesting how we evolve and learn from doing and making mistakes. My Japanese trainer always said "its ok to make them, just learn to ask why they happen and dont repeat!" My goal has always been to teach others not to make those same mistakes I did by sharing my learning process or as the Japanese say shared wisdom.

I've decided to share selected short snippets from Gemba Walks across my next few posts that has reinforced my thinking and allowed me to learn from another viewpoint. We are so lucky that that viewpoint comes from Jim Womack and his experiences. As a consultant its always educational to internalize another sensei's perspective to enhance your own teaching methods. Thank You Jim for sharing with all of us your learning as you have walked over these past few decades.

This post comes from the first section of the book which is "Purpose" (pages 1-18).

As a company do you understand your purpose? How would you define that to others? Some companies may say, "To make a profit!" Is that an unrealistic purpose? Don't we need to have a profit to be successful? I think underlyingly it's a no-brainer that we should make a profit if we want to stay in business. I feel if we look at purpose in a little different perspective, then the outcome of a correctly stated purpose can be linked to your profits. Let me explain.

So if "making a profit and growth" is your company's purpose. Ask yourself, does this purpose have anything do to with what your customers want from you? A better way to look as this is to ask: What does your organization do to solve your customers' problems better than your competitors so that customers old and new will pay good money for your products and buy more over time. Now this is that outcome I was referring to before. If you focus on that question, then by default you will have profits and growth based on customer satisfaction. When we say "make money" that is a result, not a strategy for achieving it.

To some,this is a different way to think about an organization's purpose, as I've always stated in my training sessions that is if you focus on a good process then results will come I believe. In this case, a good process is defining an Organizational Purpose that solves the problems for the customer.

Ask yourself this: What do your customers want that you aren't currently able to supply?
- Lower price
- Better quality
- Rapid Response
- Better Support
- Flexibility

So what do you need to do better to satisfy your customers in order to survive and prosper?

So does your purpose support your goals, the company's, or the customer? It's definitely something to question and rethink if its all about the money for you.
Until next time
Tracey Richardson