Nothing is as fast (or impactful) as trust, whether high or low. That is the message of Stephen M.R. Covey’s book The Speed of Trust. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Covey highlights that we are in a crisis of (mostly lack of) trust. It is killing us. Restoring trust–in society, in our businesses, in our intimate relationships, even with ourselves–makes a world of difference. Not just psychologically, but also to the bottom line and to the speed of business.
Which leads me to my real point. Organizational culture. When a culture is clear, predictable, aligned, then it is trustworthy. We know how to react to it, how to act within it, what to expect from it. Even if we don’t share all its values, we can act with confidence and ease.
Take Toyota. As Jeffrey Liker was studying the company for his seminal book, The Toyota Way, he did what most Americans would do: paid attention to the tools and techniques. He later recalls “experienced leaders within Toyota kept telling me that these tools were not the key to TPS. Rather the power behind TPS is a company’s management commitment to continuously invest in its people and promote a culture of continuous improvement.” Liker candidly continues “I nodded like I knew what they were talking about and continued to study how to calculate kanban quantities…” (p. 10)
Some twenty years later, Liker truly sees that the Toyota Way is far more than a set of lean tools. For me, the key to Toyota is culture. A culture that creates trust because it is aligned and integrated. One that acts in ways that are predictable, that make sense.
So, what’s the lesson for me? First, I must create a culture within myself as a leader which is clear and aligned. One that creates trust with myself. When I manifest that clarity in my own organization and with my clients, I help them create a culture that can be trusted.
I want to follow Toyota’s example, but I do not want to become Toyota. I hope my clients do not want to become Toyota, either. It is enough to strive to become ourselves, whether person or organization.
No one else is smart enough.