Can You Explain Your Culture?

Or, do you know when you see it?

I think that is how I would think most of us would explain it. Culture is a difficult thing to describe for most of us. Let alone to put it into visuals. I have seen different attempts from 600-page books to a statement as simple as saying problem-solving to describe the Toyota Culture. I have also heard said that many Americans could not describe the culture till after they left Toyota. They could understand better what was missing in other organizations than trying to define what they had.

One of my thoughts working with a fair amount of SaaS companies in recent years is the notion of an Agile Culture. Often times, when I hear someone like Spotify explain their culture it actually is an excellent discussion on how I view Toyota from the outside and other Lean Companies. One of the better descriptions of the mindset required for Agile or Lean was categorized in the Book The Agilit Shift by Pamela Meyer. Meyer calls it; “The Three Cs of the Agility Shift”

  1. Agility’ competence consists of the skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary to respond to the unexpected and unplanned, as well as to find opportunities in new developments and emerging trends.

  2. Agility capacity is the degree of uncertainty and volatility in which a person can be effective.

  3. Agility confidence is the human need to trust in one’s own and others’ competence and capacity to be effective in changing contexts.

Those three C’s, Competence, Capacity and Confidence, I like as a way to start thinking about culture. We could ask ourselves:

  1. How do you define competence, your core capabilities?
  2. What is your capacity to explore, to have that problem-solving mindset?
  3. Do you have the confidence to trust team members, leaders?

I think defining your culture in a Lean Enterprise is extremely important. It sets the pattern for future hires and people development. I question trying to define it too early in a startup or even in a Lean Transformation. You might challenge yourself in an existing company to even develop a current and future state. It might be something to quantify during your annual Hoshin Planning.

Once your culture is defined how do you spread and reinforce it throughout the company, one of the best ways is through visuals. I think the upcoming webinar, Making Culture Visuals Come Alive – Three Easy Steps will bring an interesting perspective.3 Easy Steps

The short description of the webinar:

An engaging culture is a pivotal foundation for success in the continuous improvement world. We all KNOW the culture we want to create, and we all KNOW the importance of visuals in a continuous improvement environment, so why not combine the two for success.

During this short webinar, Gemline will share:

  • Process that assisted in the creation of their culture visual
  • Getting the leadership team to embrace the culture visual
  • How the visual “came alive” with the entire facility

Presenter: Susan Kamacho, HR Manager for Gemline

Date and Time: Wed, Aug 9, 2017 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

Registration Free: Sign Up Now

Lean People Development is part of Lean Leadership Week that starts with the 2-day Lean People Development Summit and ends with the 2-day Lean Accounting & Management Summit. Between the 2 events is a unique offering of workshops applicable to both sets of attendees. Join executives and their teams from around the globe and explore best practices as it relates to developing people and managing the business of the lean enterprise. Lean Leadership Week takes place September 11-15, 2017 in the charming Southern city of Savannah, GA! For more information visit:

About: Lean Frontiers hosts leading-edge, intensely-focused learning events for the lean community. These events take the form of Large Summits, hands-on workshops, and online learning opportunities. A unique mix of thought leaders and practitioners present, and facilitate in a variety of learning formats at each event. Everything they do is focused on involving everyone in lean thinking and giving them the skills to sustain it. Founded in 2004 by Jim Huntzinger and with business partner Dwayne Butcher, Lean Frontiers has grown considerably offering lean events in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information on Lean Frontiers, visit

Disclosure: I am working in with Lean Frontiers on the Lean People Development Summit.


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