Culture and Continuous Improvement

Organizational culture can be one of the trickiest things to navigate and to shift, and its importance needs to be considered when you set up for continuous improvement.

For example, as you’re setting up your continuous improvement structure you need to understand the culture because it will influence how people will provide suggestions for improvement.  If your organization’s culture is open and everybody’s thoughts are welcomed, then make your process and structure for suggestions public and include an element of personal recognition and identification for the submitter.

If the culture is a bit more cautious, then set up your process and structure to allow for a suggestion to be submitted privately, with an opportunity to make it public and allow it to be acknowledged by the submitter after it’s gone through a vetting process where it’s been accepted and will move forward.  At that point it may be safe to give credit.

Your organizational culture impacts continuous improvement in the same way that it impacted your change effort — how do you communicate.  You’ll need to consider the culture when you decide on the right communication vehicles and methods to use to keep people informed about the continuous improvement changes.

Does your organization pay attention to the written word or are they more verbal, is there a particular communication method that your organization pays more attention to than another, will somebody only pay attention to something if it comes directly from their management as opposed to from a central source, etc.  To get your message heard and keep people informed about on-going change, consider your culture!

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