Today, many business leaders would agree that the “culture of an organization” is not a fixed quantity or preordained destiny. Rather, it results from the unique blending of values (at the business, operations, process, and individual stratums). In this context, the idea of a “value” is akin to that of a belief or truth. For example, consider the array of “attitudes” that might result from mixing the value of “quality” with that of “quantity.” A strange mixture indeed – nonetheless, a real one. Everyday, corporations must produce expected quantities of “high quality” products and services. Thus, we recognize that values drive behavior and that the resultant behavior reinforces the value (positively or negatively). Such is the cycle of renewal.
This executive has long maintained that a guided examination of the things a corporation regularly measures, tracks, reports, and rewards can uncover the “true” values of a corporation. For example, a corporation measures its profit, turnover rate, cycle time, and so on. Why do they value such things? Because they are so strongly connected to the ideas of survival, growth, prosperity, destiny, and so on. An organization measures what it seeks to reinforce and, quite naturally, we reinforce what we value.
Of course, the reasons for and benefits of measurement are intuitively obvious, profound, and often held to be sacred. But what about values like “integrity” and “community service?” Are these things valued enough to measure, track, and regularly report? Are the associated goals strong enough to be consciously intertwined with executive pay? Well, it is quite unfortunate that such values are often not prioritized to the same extent as things like profit and cycle time. This is what leads people to say: “Related to that, they only give lip service – nothing real like resources, just words.”
Extending from this line of reasoning, we understand that our behavior is a function of our values. Our values have the potential to either encourage or preclude certain behaviors. For example, if you want to change someone’s behavior (B), you must design and create an experience that is strong enough to change their values (V), like Six Sigma. Thus, we say that B = f (V). It was Dr. Morris Massey, who said: “What you are is where you were when.” This is a profound thought. It seems to imply that our values are set early in life – what is good, bad, and so on. In order to change such values, Dr. Massey asserts that we must experience a “significant emotional event.” The type of event that causes us to reexamine what we believe to be true. In this manner, the behavior changes as the value changes.
Inevitably, a corporation’s values are translated into goals and objectives. Subsequently, a corporation designs, employs and modifies various “enablers” that support the attainment of its goals and objectives. Finally, a corporation designs a reward and recognition system that is highly capable of energizing its enablers, reinforcing its goals and objectives and realizing its values on an ongoing basis at all organizational levels.
Owing to these larger cause-and-effect linkages, it is relatively easy to surmise what knowledge (and behaviors) must be mapped into a curriculum – and then eventually translated into supporting content. Naturally, any knowledge (and behaviors) that is not causally linked will eventually be extinguished. Such is the way of Six Sigma.