There are limitless writings on each of these topics. Obviously, each one contributes to the degree of success, or failure, an organization experiences, but how do they all fit together? Each one has an affect on the others, but how can this dynamic be represented? My answer is that each of these elements can be represented as a set of concentric spheres, each acting to reinforce the others and providing a framework within which subordinate spheres function.
Operations: This is the core of your organization. It is the sum total of the work that your perform. You’ll notice that this is a pretty small sphere. If you’re not familiar with the concepts of Lean Operations, you might be surprised to learn that the value-added activities your organization performs are only 10% or less of all the work that you do. If you are familiar with Lean, you’re probably thinking that the value-added work is far less than 10%! Nonetheless, the work your organization does is constantly affected by change. Change seeps into your organization and permeates it, whether you want it to or not. Your operations not only respond to change, however, they also tend to cause it. Your ability to manage change within your organization impacts your ability to perform work.
Change: Change happens both internally and externally. It can be positive or negative, anticipated or utterly unexpected. Nonetheless, change requires the ability to adjust and adapt. It requires the ability to develop solutions – which is the ability to innovate. As innovations occur in the external environment, organizations must change in order to adapt. These adaptations, in turn, have an impact upon the operations within your organization.
Strategy: Your organization develops strategies for innovation, change and operations. As these strategies are developed and implemented, your organization finds that it must develop innovations in order to create and execute strategy. Doing so requires managing change, and your organization’s operations are, of course, impacted. The quality of your operations, change management and innovations also affect the type, nature and quality of the strategies you develop.
Culture: Culture permeates all aspects of the organization, saturating your ability to innovate, manage change, and conduct your operations. Culture is the globe within which all of your organization’s activities occur. Approaches such as Lean and Total Quality Management (TQM) attempt to change the organization’s culture by adjusting the way in which operations are conducted, through structured changes that promote innovation, as part of an overall strategy to become more efficient and competitive. Culture is the buffer zone between the work of your organization and the even greater and all-encompassing sphere of Waste. Waste has an even greater ability to penetrate your organization, and your first, and greatest, line of defense is your organization’s culture.
Waste: Waste is all around you. It surrounds and engulfs every aspect of your organization, and only through a dedicated focus on building a culture that recognizes waste as it occurs, can strategies be developed for dealing with waste. Through a series of innovations, changing the nature of your operations in order to eliminate as much waste as possible can take place. Without a concerted effort, inefficient operations that do not manage change well will stagnate with strict adherence to the status quo. This inability to recognize the need for change and develop innovations that result in more successful business strategies guarantees that the organizational culture will not develop, offering a weak barrier to the relentless forces of waste.
© 2010 David M. Kasprzak