What are the Spices in your Culture?

A recent diner at a very dear friend’s house revealed not only the beauty of different cultures but the reality of the genuine differences. My family, third generation Italians, entered the house of our new friends from India. We were so compelled by the smells of spices we rarely use and only under the direction of a new recipe. We were greeted with delicious food, both prepared and consumed much different than our traditional dishes.

The conversation about spices came up as it was such a big part of the preparation. It was so fascinating to see the use of Cumin, Turmeric, and Mustard Seed, which spend much of their time in jars, just opened in our pantry.

During the discussion our host opened her pantry to reveal all of the spices she had for cooking. At the very top of the cabinet, in jars that appeared just opened were three spices; basil, oregano, and parsley.

What about those? we asked.

We only use those when we are trying a new recipe.

The Spices that make up an Operation’s Culture

World class organizations often embrace a model for their improvement. They may be an organization that starts with Total Productive Maintenance, believing the way to drive change is to engage with the workforce around the value of well running equipment. Other organizations may embrace Process Management as the core of their improvement philosophy believing that a stable process will deliver a stable product. Neither are wrong and almost all models for improvement revolve around a common philosophy of establishing a standard and measuring yourself against it to identify and solve problems.

The Challenge is Using New Spices

The challenge comes when a new employee from a culture devoted to Total Productive Maintenance joins an organization that embraces Process Management as its core. It can be like trying to cook with Cumin when your whole life has been basil, oregano, and parsley.

Encourage your organization to find the spices that make up their culture while always being open to new dishes.

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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