April 20, 2014

Everyone owns their own shop

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curiosity shop

curiosity shop by rudeone-d372lk5 on deviantart.com

Hail the shop owner.  The relentless, never-ending driver of continuous improvement.  The person who, with utter conviction and dedication, is constantly seeking a way to increase sales, improve quality, gain word-of-mouth, lower costs, retain staff and improve customer experience in every way.

These folks understand that value is what customers are after – and that the only obstacle between delivering that value and mucking around with sub-standard nonsense is their own pride of ownership.  People who are proud of their shop always want to have that pride.  They want it to sustain and grow.  They never want to see their pride diminished.

In your workplace, do people act like shopowners?  Do they do work extra hard to take care of the shop, own its processes, design its delivery of goods and services, and constantly seek out innovative ways to provide value?  Are they looking for ways to grow the business, since that growth leads to both stability and prosperity?

Odds are, they are not.  Most people are just trying to survive it all, in return for a paycheck and some sense of satisfaction, if it can be found at all.  Most people have jobs and not purposes.  That lack of purpose prevents the emergence of any kind of pride in the ability to do the job, grow the company, satisfy the customer or improve the quality of whatever it is they are selling.  Instead, pride gets twisted until it becomes not pride of ownership, but pride of survival.

People are very proud of their ability to survive their jobs – they will tell great, lengthy stories about putting out fires and putting up with bosses & co-workers.  Very few people, however, are able to talk about what they’ve accomplished in terms of business growth, customer satisfaction, or quality improvement.  In fact, having to focus on those things is often seen as a burden since it takes away from the focus on pure survivability.

Such a reaction is not unreasonable, however.  With the way things are in most places, people are expected to simply show activity and not, necessarily, show results or competency.  As a result, there is suspicion and a lack of trust, and no one in their right minds would dare challenge the status quo when all the social and professional pressure within the organization says that maintaining the status quo for as long as possible is the correct way to go.

In order to have people work on improving the business, they must feel a prideful connection to the success of the business.  If not, then they are only working to achieve their own sense of satisfaction, which might come about through activities that take away from the health of the organization.  No shop owner would throw away their investment on frivolous, unimportant activities or projects that contribute nothing to the value of the business.

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  • http://leansimulations.org/ Martin Boersema

    During lean discussions a wise old lean guy kept asking me, “If this was your plant, your business, your personal money invested, how would you change it?”
    I think this question puts any problem in perspective and adds that personal connection to any process discussion. 

    • http://myflexiblepencil.com David M. Kasprzak

      Thanks, Martin. I think pride of ownership is critical. The shop owner example is a useful metaphor, but even a hobby that you pour yourself into serves to illustrate the point. Leveraging intrinsic motivation to fuel constantly looking for ways to make things easier, better, faster, cheaper seems to me like the end goal business leaders ought to embrace.

  • Pingback: Ownership is easy when you’re not fighting for survival