A Revolution

We are in the midst of a huge cultural transformation. It is a cultural revolution because it affects the entire culture. We are changing from an Industrial Age to an Information Age.

Each age is based on a particular world view, on a set of fundamental ideas and assumptions. These ideas show up in the science, philosophy, politics, art…in all aspects of the culture. For this is a revolution in thought and this means it is a revolution in everything that can be thought about.

This revolution has profound implications for organizations and management. Bureaucracies were the child of the Industrial age. But this new era calls for a new approach to organizations. We’ve heard much about the learning organization, and that is a move in the right direction. But it doesn’t go far enough.

The lean movement, as embodied by the Toyota Prouduction System, points the way to a new way of managing organizations. The best organizations in this era are those that are dedicated to serving their people, customers and society as a whole.

It is this emphasis on adding value to people that is at the core of the success of todays companies. And this is the first principle of the Toyota Production System. All other business decisions are based on this principle, even when this means sacrificing short term gain.

See the following article TPS and Lean:

TPS and Lean

jonbenn Sep 17th 2006 05:00 pm Organizational Theory,Revolution 7 Comments Trackback URI Comments RSS

7 Responses to “A Revolution”

  1. Craigon 26 Sep 2006 at 1:51 pm link comment

    Yes. Well said and relevant. I imagine that such organizations are based on a culture. So what are the characteristics of a loving learning culture? How do these develop? How can change or growth toward these characteristics be implemented or instigated?

  2. jonbennon 07 Oct 2006 at 8:40 pm link comment

    Sorry to be so long getting back Craig.

    Yes, the culture is everything. The best way to change in the direction of a learning organization is to adapt TPS and the Toyota Way to your own organization.

    I think it will also be helpful to understand the times we are in and the ideas that shape our institutions, their history and application. In this light, I hope to show how Toyota’s organizational culture fits within the larger cultural paradigm of this age.

    There are many othe examples of learning organizations that are doing the right thing and prospering. What I want to do on this site is examine the Toyota Way, in detail, and look at what elements it has in common with other successful organizations that are changing their culture and adapting to the times.

    Describing the traits of a learning and a of a loving organization will also be the ongoing purpose of this site and blog.

    It might help to deal with them separately at first.
    Here is a good link to an article on the Learning organization: http://www.lesley.edu/journals/jppp/2/sugarman.html

    This link can also be accessed from the links section of the web page.

    Peter Senge really popularized the idea of a learning organization. He outlines 5 disciplines of the learning organization in his book, “The Fifth Discipline”.

    Interestingly, Senge was attempting with his work to advance and develop the ideas of Edward Deming. And there is no bette starting point for understanding this management and organizational revolution than with Deming.

    In my next posts, I’ll address the 5 disciplines of a learning organization, and how they are a contiuation of the revolution Deming started, and how Toyota embody’s both the work of Deming and Senge.

    Finally, I want to address how the characteristics of love lead to and extend the idea of a learning organization.

  3. jonbennon 07 Oct 2006 at 9:04 pm link comment

    Thanks for your thoughts Tom,

    You raise some provocative questions about the relationship of individual character to organizational character, and even to the character of the society at large.

    How these are all related to the larger cultural paradigm is something we will be looking at in depth as this work evolves.

    Every age is guided by certain fundamental beliefs. These beliefs express the deepest understanding of reality and guide our thought and action in every sphere. I believe that the 20th century has been a century of change from one set of fundamental beliefs to another. We have grown up, and are still living through, one of the most profound changes in the history of western, and really, world civilization.

    As we begin to look more closely at this historical shift, and the ideas behind it, I think it will help to answer some of your questions.

    And lean was actually founded by Henry Ford, and the Japanese give him credit for that. Just how and why Ford drifted from this original vision is something we will be looking at more carefully. See the article on TPS and lean for more information on this, from the main menu on the site, or on the front page of the blog.

    This question of American culture and character will be an interesting one to explore.

  4. Craigon 10 Oct 2006 at 7:19 pm link comment

    I like the comments so far. What the world is and that one individual can have an impact strikes me as accurate. So the next question might be, “What is necessary to start a change?”

    Small conceptual steps (evolution) or revolution?

    What kinds of things are needed today? Are we moving in the right direction or will it be cataclysmic?

  5. jonbennon 16 Oct 2006 at 8:29 pm link comment


    What is needed to start to change is an awareness of the problem. You dont have to understand everything about the problem but become aware that there is indeed, a serious problem. Also become aware that fixing it up around the edges wont solve things. This is a systemic probem involving the fundamentals of our understanding about organizations and management. And has been indicated, it is even a bigger issue than this, involving our understanding of reality, and the world views that we build on that understanding.

    We are in a radically different age than that in which our current organizational theories were formed. Our institutions, and the logic behind them, havent caught up with the times.
    There is a lag time between theory and practice.

    If we begin to see the problem, and act accordingly, we are moving in the right direction.
    If we continue on with business as usual, it will take cataclysmic events to teach us the need for change. Katrina, and 9/11, were two such cataclysmic events that revealed some of the real dysfunction in our organizational ideas.

    People will die, today, in industrial accidents, and due to medical errors, in hospitals around the globe for a lack of understanding of these ideas. It reminds me of the admonition in the Psalms, My people perish for lack of knowledge. Or in another version, Without a vision, the people perish.

  6. Ethanon 27 Jun 2007 at 3:28 pm link comment


    It is curious to note the old sea-margins of human thought. Each subsiding century reveals some new mystery; we build where monsters used to hide themselves…

  7. California Business Web Hosting…

    I don’t agree with you in 100%, but you covered some good points regarding this topic…

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