Create a culture of purpose-driven excellence

Friday, August 19, 2016

Aera Energy, Chair of the AME 2016 Dallas Conference

Are your organization’s improvement initiatives inconsistent? You were off to a great start on the lean journey … and then the whole initiative fizzled. How do you turn things around?

Perhaps it’s time to revisit your company’s purpose, leadership’s day-by-day activities and your strategies for building change momentum. Some ideas to spark the transformation:

Purpose: Create a Foundation

Consider your organization’s purpose. Whether you’re leading a manufacturing company – or any enterprise – all of your key decisions flow from this foundation. For example, at Aera Energy LLC, our purpose is: Our energy achieves what others cannot and creates success for those we touch.

If your purpose is to become the best lean company out there, understand that lean is not just a toolbox. It’s a way of thinking and acting that you can nurture within your organization.

Leadership Commitment and Learning

“Where do we start?” is a common question among senior leadership striving to find a better sense of shared purpose. One of the things leaders can do is to get away from their desks and talk with people, asking what frustrates them on the job, and about what they need to meet their goals. You might be shocked when you first learn about conflicting demands on employees’ time or other issues.

If you ask, “What can I change to make your life better?” and say you’re going to do something about it, you need to follow up. As you communicate more with people, you’re gaining their ideas, building trust and opening the way to acceptance of lean improvements.

Sustain and Build Improvement Momentum

Most people want to contribute. A few suggestions for building a purpose-driven environment where people are engaged:

  •     Create a learning network for sharing ideas and best practices. For example, you can share, learn and grow as you participate in AME conferences, regional events and other networking activities.
  •     Foster leadership at all levels, strengthening employees’ problem-solving capabilities.
  •     People will give you their hearts if you only ask – have you asked? Find ways to show that you really care about them and their ideas.

You can learn more about the importance of purpose within a continuous improvement journey at the AME International Conference October 24-28 in Dallas. This year's theme, purpose-driven excellence, will be woven throughout the presentations, tours, workshops, keynotes and special interest sessions. To get more program details and to register for the AME Dallas conference, visit