Recently, on a train trip, I had an interesting conversation. One thing we talked about were cultural differences between various nations. I won’t bore you with the details, but here is what the conversation boiled down to:
In the next post I will reveal which of the following nations was which.
- Nation A are result oriented. The process does not matter, as long as the results are good. People who do not perform as planned must expect negative consequences. From a Lean perspective this is not the best approach, as it fosters an atmosphere of blame.
- Nation B are process driven. That means not only results are enough. The process needs to be followed to the letter. This includes a consensus culture and usually involves long discussions and meetings. While process orientation is good from a Lean perspective, this includes the risk of over-processing.
- Nation C are highly flexible. This implies that deviations from processes can easily happen. This can have advantages when it comes to results, but it also can lead to perceived or real unreliability. From a Lean perspective too much flexibility reduces the chance to learn from problems and to have an organized continuous improvement. Rework waste may also occur more often.
I am no expert for cultural differences. Since I know (and worked with) some people from each of the nations I can only say: there may be some truth and a lot of cultural misunderstandings in this simplified view.
Anyhow, from my point of view it is more important to know more about my readers.
PS: Here is the next post which reveals who is Nation A, B, and C.