World-Class, Lean Performance in the SMEs - Small and Medium Enterprises - by Carlo Scodanibbio, Industrial & Business Consultant - Lean Management Consultant

Carlo Scodanibbio
Industrial & Business Consultant
Lean Management Consultant

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about world-class Industrial Culture

What is (or should be) the meaning of culture in the new-world enterprise?

At individual level, culture means the "angle of view" by which phenomena are looked at, understood and judged so that actions may be undertaken accordingly.

At corporate/enterprise level, culture means the same: an enterprise industrial culture is the global, integrated "angle of view" of people in the enterprise.

With a difference, though. When the "angle of view" is generally shared we can refer to it as industrial culture.
When it is not - when people in the enterprise have different, inconsistent and even contradictory angles of view - when there is little common line or none at all - we cannot talk of industrial culture, but only of industrial mishap.

An enterprise's culture may show different features. Three possible situations:

  • "Scattered", "fragmented", "inconsistent", and even "conflicting" angles of view among enterprise's people.
    As said, this is not to be considered an industrial culture, but rather an industrial mishap.
    People have not only different ideas, different values and different principles, but also inconsistent and even conflicting objectives (conflicting with those of the enterprise...).
    This may happen not only at lower levels, but also at upper levels. Even top managers of an enterprise may fall in this situation.
    When this is the case, an enterprise exists by accident and performs by accident.
    Such enterprise is not necessarily in a failure state. Many enterprises exist and operate in similar circumstances, and still survive. They may also be, for a number of reasons, economically successful.
    However, in a new-world cultural perspective, these enterprises are to be considered an industrial disaster.
    They may go on and exist for long time, or they may disappear overnight when a significant change occurs in the surrounding environment........
  • There are some common, consistent and even shared angles of view among people, but they are not in line with those of enterprise's top management or owners.
    Possibly, enterprise's principles and values remain confined among a very limited number of people.
    Enterprise's objectives are rather well defined, but not generally supported at all levels. People's objectives are, generally, not conflicting with enterprise's objectives.
    In this type of enterprises there is a mentality (or a number of mentalities).
    At middle/lower level people operate simply because "working is a necessity". People have some interest in their work, but generally rather limited. People seem to have two minds: one for working hours and one for after-work time. "Thanks Heaven is Friday" is a shared motto. Things happen, generally because of remarkable efforts and planning from the top. The focus is on "maintaining" the status-quo. Problems are solved because "we are paid to solve problems" - often the solution is a "stopgap" solution. Change is seen as smoke-in-the-eyes. Reluctance and also resistance to whatever is new or breaks the routine is very common.
    In this situation, rather than talking of industrial culture we should refer to a "traditional" industrial mentality.
  • Angles of view are rather in line, consistent and congruent at all levels - at least, those judging points that are concerned with the enterprise's overall performance and with individual operational performance.
    Enterprise's targets - ideally, lean targets - are understood and accepted. People work objectives are well in line with the lean objectives of the enterprise.
    goal congruence
    The vision - ideally, a lean vision - is understood and shared. Corporate values and principles are understood, accepted and practised at all levels. People contribute to enhance and support the enterprise's image. Communication is rather homogeneous at all levels.
    industrial culture
    In this situation, we can state there is a world-class, lean, industrial culture.

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