- Posted by J. Nirdosh Reddy
- On December 13, 2018
- Company Culture
What are your sources of competitiveness? Technology? People? Strategy? Or something else?
Any enterprise’s intrinsic competitiveness is determined by its technology, human resource capabilities and its overall strategy of product and service offerings. However, recent history has shown that – given the same or similar technology, human resources and products – it is the work culture of an enterprise that has become the differentiator between the winners and the rest.
Because in many enterprises, there exists a significant gap between intrinsic potential and the potential actually utilized. This gap represents untapped potential – a hidden treasure – waiting to be discovered and harnessed. Changes in work culture hold the key for this hidden wealth.
As described in my earlier post (‘Transform work culture to sustain excellence and profitability’), work culture is how management and employees think and behave toward external and internal customers, external and internal suppliers and coworkers.
One way to get an idea of the current work culture of your enterprise is to assess how well your management’s practices have evolved to be consistent with the 6 guiding principles shown below:
- Salaries are paid by satisfied customers
- Results come from processes
- Continually improve processes
- Manage with facts, not opinions
- Management must establish priorities
- Involve everyone through teamwork
These guiding principles have a profound impact on the way the businesses conduct themselves. They touch every individual in an organization. They form the core of a culture. Use the diagram below to assess your work culture.
Where does your enterprise stand on each of these principles?
In many organizations, the mindset of the leadership team might have changed as a result of their exposure to the emerging concepts of management. The key question to answer is ‘have our management practices evolved? Are revised practices rewarded within our enterprise?’
As you go through your self-assessment, keep in mind that:
- Many of these phrases have become buzzwords
- Familiarity is not same as in-depth understanding
- Implementation is not same as merely ‘knowing’
While more elaborate diagnostic assessment is possible, reflect on the following questions to get an idea as to how well these guiding principles are institutionalized in your enterprise.
- Do all managers and employees understand that their salaries are paid by satisfied customers? Do they support each other? or, do they try to meet their targets without any regard for how their actions affect others?
- Do managers understand that results come from processes? When things go wrong, do they ask where processes are breaking down, or, are they still asking ‘who did it’?
- Are all key processes being continually improved, or do managers say ‘we have been successful, so, don’t rock the boat’.
- Is important data readily visible, even if it shows that the performance is not up to mark? or, is the data buried, and therefore, one has to dig for it?
- Are management’s priorities based on data or opinions? Are they focused on preventing process breakdowns and improving process performance or are they driven by arbitrary targets?
- Are all employees involved in improvement projects? or only a select few? Do managers believe that every employee can make a contribution?
On a scale of 1 to 10, high performance enterprises score over 9 on each of these dimensions. If your scores are over 9, you are world class. You only need to maintain them. However, if your scores are lower, then you would benefit from undertaking initiatives to improve them.
Let us take the example of Enterprise A which has scores of 5, 3, 3, 3, 5 and 2 on these six dimensions (fairly typical of enterprises operating under conventional management styles). In the Figure below, the red area covered by these scores is an indicator of its competitiveness relative to its potential. The white space surrounding this area reflects the untapped potential available for this enterprise. It represents opportunity for growth.
Transformation of work culture
As Enterprise A proceeds to transform its work culture on these 6 dimensions, its competitiveness continues to improve.
- As the workforce internalizes the concept that ‘salaries are paid by satisfied customers’, satisfying internal and external customers becomes the pre-eminent goal.
- As leadership starts asking ‘where our processes are breaking down, not who did it’, employees begin to suggest ideas for improvement.
- As emphasis shifts from status quo thinking to continual improvement, improvements become more common.
- As the fear of data is removed, more accurate data rises to the surface.
- As management priorities become more rooted on facts, implementation of ideas becomes faster and more effective. Strategies get executed properly.
- As management gives more opportunities for employees to be involved in making improvements, self-esteem of employees rises.
Its competitive picture changes significantly as shown below.
- It’s technology will be better applied.
- It’s human potential will be better utilized.
- It’s strategies will be better executed.
It will be on its way to becoming a high performance enterprise. Over time, its competitiveness approaches its full potential.
Enjoy your competitiveness journey!
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