By: Larry Parah, BlueSkye Track, Sr. Consultant

When determining your company’s principles, it is important to understand that “principles” are fundamentally accepted rules of action or conduct that are generally inarguable depending on one’s purpose or goal, such as raising a family, playing a sport, or building a business.

Stephen R. Covey, in his landmark book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Simon and Schuster, 1989), wrote:
"Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring, permanent value. They’re fundamental. They’re essentially unarguable because they are self-evident. One way to quickly grasp the self-evident nature of principles is to simply consider the absurdity of attempting to live an effective life based on their opposites. I doubt that anyone would seriously consider unfairness, deceit, baseness, uselessness, mediocrity, or degeneration to be a solid foundation for lasting happiness and success."

There are many practices that we can live that are in violation of principles. Practices in the business world can be in direct violation of good business principles. Principles first, practices second, culture third, tools fourth:

Practices: the work we do every day...

Example of Unaligned Practices:

  • Focus on short-term gain not continuous improvement
  • Focus a goal on getting ISO certified, not what ISO can do for the processes in your company
  • Focus on implementing lean six sigma as a goal, not on the improvements it should bring

Examples of Practices Aligned with Principles:

  • Focus on Root Cause analysis when a problem of significance occurs
  • Train, train, train (not with large amounts of information but for gaining useful information, tactics and techniques at all levels)
  • Focus on everyday continuous improvement, not just on specific projects
  • Focus on each and every process to eliminate waste and continually improve

Culture: the personality of an organization

  • Train it in
  • Develop leaders that live the culture

Tools: the practical tools for making process improvements

  • Lean tools
  • Lean six sigma tool
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