As I began to discover and define the concept of culture, I learned from some experts in the safety industry that there are three stages of culture:
Stage One: The team member says, “The company is responsible for me.
Stage Two: The team member says, “I am responsible for myself.”
Stage Three: The team member says, “I am responsible for my fellow team member.”
Reaching Stage Three will represent the ultimate maturation of your organization. This should be one of your big goals for your own CI program.
Early on, I envisioned that one of the objectives of our Continuous Improvement program was to build personal accountability. Once I became aware of these three stages, it became possible to measure how far the program had come. Accountability will be discussed in full later, but let it be stated here that “accountability” will be manifest in how enthusiastic and self-directing your team members become. If they can assign responsibility and take action on their own, your CI program is doing well.
As I mentioned before, you will likely experience plateaus, “stair steps” if you will, in the course of your CI program. I will offer specific suggestions for how to improve your own company’s Continuous Improvement culture later. For now, embrace the concept that, if you understand the stages of culture, you can monitor your progress and know when it’s time to implement the next steps which will continually improve your Continuous Improvement culture.