This article is adapted from Daniel Coyle’s book, “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups.” This book promotes three concepts: psychological safety, shared vulnerability, and a common sense of purpose. In this article, the three concepts will be elaborated, then applied to ASQ’s updates Bodies of Knowledge for its Six Sigma certifications. Specifically, ASQ’s Body of Knowledge for Six Sigma Certifications has incorporated additional expectations for implementing improvements: proof of concepts, try-storming, simulations (i.e. Monte Carlo, Dynamic Process Simulation, Queuing Theory), and pilot tests.
CSSGB: V. Improve Phase: B. Implementation Planning: Apply implementation planning by using proof of concepts, try-storming, simulations, and pilot tests.
CSSBB: V. Improve Phase: C. Implementation: Develop plans for implementing proposed improvements, including conducting pilot tests or simulations, and evaluate results to select the optimum solution.
CMBB: VI. Advanced Data Management and Analytic Methods: A. Measurement System Analysis: 7. Simulation: Apply simulation tools such as Monte Carlo, dynamic process simulation, and queuing theory.
The purpose of this article is to review four of the new Six Sigma methods for implementing improvements and show how these would be supported and enhanced by the three practices described within Culture Code.
The book promotes three concepts: psychological safety (guard dog vs. guide dog), shared vulnerability (remove masks and be authentic), common sense of purpose (learn collaboratively and dynamically in best way).
The book is separated into the following skills:
- Skill 1: Build Safety
- Skill 2: Share Vulnerability
- Skill 3: Establish Purpose
The first section emphasizes Skill 1: Build Safety. The perception of being safe and connected is critical to group performance. Coyle notes that group performance depends on behavior that promotes a “safe and connected” mindset. A commitment model is critical to success when based on shared values and emotional bonds. Safe connections are essential to team cohesion, which builds social bonds and supports cognitive intelligence. The author shares multiple examples revealing that common experiences support empathy, which in turn contributes to engagement and retention. In contrast, cultures characterized by burnout, frustration, and aggravation create problems with performance and compliance, leading to apathy and misdirected priorities. When people are engaged, there is a sense of belonging that supports highly successful cultures. Difficult problems can be solved through tough, truthful feedback that does not in turn cause undesirable side effects of dissent and disappointment.
The next section, Skill 2: Share Vulnerability, describes “Vulnerability Loops” and how to build trust through disclosures of vulnerability. The vulnerability loops work because through signals of vulnerability, closeness and trust can be established. From that trust, cooperation and collaboration are induced; removing individual stature and rebuilding as a cohesive team. Cooperation is also induced by emphasizing warmth and curiosity and by adding catalysts for creativity. Coaching and “flash mentoring” enable cross-training and rapid correction of problems. Such practices are shown to be more effective in breaking down barriers, building relationships, and facilitating awareness.
The final section, Skill 3: Establish Purpose, shows how high-purpose environments are created and then reinforced with shared goals. The “learning velocity,” or the speed at which it improved the performance is critical. By performing as a team using roles with highlighted individual and collective skills, team members are explicitly encouraged to speak up if problems are observed.
From a foundation of emotional belonging and cohesion, and a culture of vulnerable disclosures, organizations can support rapid learning, high performance, and innovation more consistently with fewer instances of employee distress and burnout.
Consider how this might be applied to the development of technical systems (i.e. data management system linking measurement instruments to database servers), or business systems (i.e. online self-serve training modules with instruction, examination, and certification capabilities).
Proof Of Concepts
- Definition: First stage of idea for new or refined capabilities, increased efficiency, or material substitution.
- Potential problems: Misalignment to vision, unbalanced solution
- Impact of Psychological Safety: Participants more willing to contribute with valid inputs without fear of reprisal or isolation.
- Impact of Shared Vulnerability: Less fear of experiments, mistakes, and contradictions, promoting mutual understanding and breakthroughs.
- Impact of Common Purpose: More receptive to incremental updates from different functions.
- Expected Outcomes from Improvements: Concept is feasible, approval and support for development, Enthusiasm
- Definition: Active and rapid prototyping of derived solution, based on earlier creative brainstorming and possibilities.
- Potential problems: Misalignment to vision, unbalanced solution
- Impact of Psychological Safety: Participants more willing to experiment and adjust to desired outcomes and consensus feedback.
- Impact of Shared Vulnerability: Less fear of failure, less defensive, more complementary integrations with other applications and systems.
- Impact of Common Purpose: Faster escalation to feasible model.
- Expected Outcomes from Improvements: Model is feasible, approval and support for simulations and demonstrations.
- Definition: Demonstration of solution or components against expected situations (without requiring full construction or deployment).
- Potential problems: Misalignment to vision, inoperable under expected inputs and conditions.
- Impact of Psychological Safety: Participants more willing to experiment and advocate for features and safeguards.
- Impact of Shared Vulnerability: Less fear of failure, less defensive, more extensive experiments and scenarios.
- Impact of Common Purpose: Better understanding of product and system boundaries, potential risks and maladies.
- Expected Outcomes from Improvements: Model is feasible, approval and support for limited usage by external parties.
- Definition: Active usage and monitoring of solution in finite and controlled environment representing actual usage.
- Potential problems: Misalignment to intended use and operating environment; unforeseen complications and operating conditions.
- Impact of Psychological Safety: Participants less resistant to change, earlier and more enthusiastic adoption of new deployments, refinements, or substitutions.
- Impact of Shared Vulnerability: Less fear of failure, less defensive reactions and responses, more complementary integrations
- Impact of Common Purpose: Faster resolution of early adoption issues, more robust and resilient design.
- Expected Outcomes from Improvements: Model is feasible, approval and support for release and commissioning to intended users for designated operating or production environments.
Shared knowledge of new technology makes it easier to get approvals and consensus for Change Management and Release Management. Collaboration and shared learning supports commissioning, deployment and maintenance.
From an organizational perspective, when these events are successfully attempted and completed, this adds to the morale and reputation of the design and development function, while making products and processes more robust and resilient for greater scope and capabilities.