Monday, November 2, 2009

Trust, Respect and Integrity

People say you can't do business with friends and family. They strongly caution against it. They say it is a recipe for disaster.

I say this is a fallacy. My business is built on relationships. The majority of my business comes through my network of contacts. Through the business relationship we become friends and referrals follow. The key is mutual Trust, Respect and Integrity.

I've been doing a great deal of work on the topic of Lean Communication. Through my association with OEM Consultants, I have been working with groups to understand and build on this model of 100% trust and 100% respect. While I'm discovering this communication model, I'm learning that lean communication is not easy or simple. Its tough to communicate clearly, with few words and no assumptions. I know what happens when I assume things ... I make an ASS of U and ME. Yet assumptions continue to be prevalent in my life and my discussions, as I'm sure you experience in yours.

I was taught that trust and respect is earned. I preached that mindset to my kids. My professional experience has shown that there are people who will benefit from my action and ideas to my own detriment. I've discovered that this belief is one reason why change is resisted in organizations. Who will get the credit? I've also learned that this is not the norm. Most do not react this way.

If you are building a team that will effect change in an organization, you must understand the organizational culture. You must build accountability into the team. And that demands mutual trust, respect and accountability.

I started my career in management when teams were all the rage. Individual effort was ignored and individual recognition was discouraged. There is no "I" in "Team". I began to speak in terms of we, rather that I. So much so, that I once had a recruiter ask me exactly what my involvement was in an important improvement project I was describing. I had led the project and driven the results, but had been programmed to talk in terms of "we", not "I".

Times have changed. We live in an age of perceived "entitlement". People tend to think the world owes them something, yet they are not accountable for anything. Perhaps we lost that accountability by focusing on teams. Who, exactly, is "we" when the team work is not done.

There may not be an "I" in team, but there is a "me" if you look for it. Part of lean communication is understanding my responsibility, accepting that responsibility and being accountable for delivering in my role on the team.

I'm coming to understand that lean communication may be the foundation for lean thinking. If we can communicate more effectively, we drive out waste. That is a key principal in lean thinking. And lean thinking can be applied to manufacturing, health care, offices, design houses or any business model.

Lean communication starts on a foundation of trust and respect. Without trust and respect we lose accountability. We lose integrity. And without accountability and integrity we miss the results. So becoming a practitioner of lean communication my be a great foundation to becoming a lean organization.

This foundation of trust, respect and integrity is what makes friendships and family work so well. We don't betray that foundation with family or friends. So why do we in business?

If you would like to learn more about lean communications, contact George at OEM Consultants. Its a different approach. I'm finding it effective. I think its fascinating. I have a lot to learn before I become a lean communicator.


For more information, see my post on Leadership and Self Deception

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