While flyfishing this morning, I started thinking about how many articles I have read and videos that I have watched describing the cultural effects of organizations who are going through an improvement journey.

I was casting out a new fly, hoping the fish would bite, and thought, if we look at the problem statement, could we be possibly digging too deep, too soon

When performing a 5S event, the very first step is to remove the clutter. By removing the clutter it allows us to better view the area and to get a clearer picture of what is actually going on. If we take that same concept and let us remove the clutter/environment and place a representative from CEO to Janitor on an island, and analyze their behavior only, what would we see?

Let us imagine that an organization is having a get together onboard a ship. As typical, everyone seems to be in their own separate little groups talking about shop. It is a great party, but if you look around you noticed there is not much mingling going on.

And then, some catastrophic failure causes everyone to evacuate the ship and head for the island.

They are thrown into change. There is no talking going on right now, everyone is focused and paddling towards the island. There is no one giving orders, there are no standard operating procedures, there is no qualification algorithm being charted, the only key process indicator is the forward momentum of this small organization.

Hours later they reached the shore. Exhausted, they all lend a hand in pulling the life raft up onto the beach, and then sit down and stare back at the vast ocean.

They have just completed their first milestone.

And yet not one word was spoken. Everyone on that life raft understood the target, everyone had a clear vision and a common goal.

Now begins the next part of their journey. This will be a journey of survival and sustainability. There is now more talking going on amongst all of the survivors without regards to any of the job titles or clutter that shielded them at work and onboard the ship. There is no talk about culture or the hierarchy of the organization, no, they have just completed a task together as a team and have succeeded. A culture is germinating.

Someone announces that we should get a fire started and to gather some kindling. Someone else recommends a shelter be built, another has brought up the possible need for weapons for security. A need for food and clean water is recommended by others in the group. And teams are developed and tasks have begun.

As time goes by, innate talents are discovered in people who would have otherwise been passed over. Two individuals have shown interest and satisfaction in fishing. Another member has shown a great talent for building traps and snares to catch wild game. Three of the members work really well together and take great pride in building a strong shelter, chairs, and an assortment of other needed items. There is a team whose function is to explore and to find necessary food supplies and water.

At nighttime, a fire is built and everyone sits around and talks about their day’s activities. Questions are asked and answers are given with respect. People voluntarily accept new challenges, and ideas are brought up on how to achieve the ultimate goal of sustaining their achievements until they are rescued.