the Invisible Visible
long can we ignore the fact that people, specifically the
people in your employ, are your most valuable resource?
South Mountain Company wins award for using employee ownership
as the foundation of a life-enhancing company
THE EMPLOYEES ARE THE OWNERS, and they are charting the course,
essential business priorities change,” says John Abrams,
founder of South Mountain Co. "Improving the community
where we live and raising our families become part of our
basic priorities. ”At South Mountain— a 30-year-old,
$6 million architecture and construction firm on Martha's
Vineyard in Massachusetts— business is about more than
growth and profit. As Abrams explains in his book, The
Company We Keep, South Mountain is about workplace democracy,
challenging the gospel of growth, balancing multiple bottom
lines, celebrating craft, committing to place, and thinking
like cathedral builders. Read
Parallels of Lean and Green
challenges the traditional belief that there needs to be
a trade off between time, cost, and quality. In fact, lean
challenges just about every existing belief and business
practice you may have in your organization. Lean does this
through the following methods: by focusing on doing nothing
that doesn’t deliver value to the customer and eliminating
any waste from that process (no small undertaking in itself),
focusing on the people who add value (employees, suppliers,
etc.), having the value flow only from demand, and optimizing
all across the organization.
Building practices normally encompass the environmental and
economic aspects of building. And when we talk about greening
a business we think of people carpooling to work, recycling
paper, or some way of being more friendly to the environment.
But what about the social aspect of green? What would it look
like to consider the human aspect of Green? What if we applied
the same thinking we have in Lean to the social aspect of
you might get are practices that consider what’s going
to work best for the employee. And since they are your most
valuable resource, the results we get could be important.
What we hear from companies like South Mountain are that the
results are counter-intuitive in that, where you expect things
might get more difficult, it’s actually easier. What
you lose in control, you gain in freedom. And when you expect
things to take longer to accomplish as a whole you find levels
of productivity you never even dreamed possible. This is what
we see exemplified at Toyota, whose practices have been a
tradition for over 50 years. I predict companies like John
Abrams’ South Mountain are breaking new ground for the
rest of us to follow.
Solutions: Breakthrough thinking the Toyota way
Million. That’s how many ideas Toyota implements each
year. Do the math: 3000 ideas a day. That number, more than
anything else, explains why Toyota appears to be in a league
all their own, playing offense on a field of innovation, while
their competitors remain caught in a crossfire of cost-cutting.
the thing: it’s not about the cars. It’s about
ideas. And the people with those ideas. But not just any ideas.
Mostly tiny ones, but effective ones nonetheless—elegant
solutions to real world problems. Not grand slam homeruns,
but groundball singles implemented all across the company
by associates that view their role not to be simply doing
the work, but taking it to the next level…every day,
in some little way. Good enough never is. When an entire organization
thinks like that, it becomes unstoppable. Read
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