construction-759298_1280Thanks to my colleague Steve Knapp I came across a 1998 article by Peter Block on the topic of Citizenship.  The thrust of the article was that a shared sense of accountability for the well-being of the larger enterprise is the price of our freedom to participate in self-governing systems, and that such systems are needed to fix our broken institutions.

Steve went on to write a paper reflecting on the applicability of the citizenship approach to the crafts person working on construction projects. We focus quite extensively on the broader engagement of foremen in work planning and learning on the projects, and because projects see some dramatically positive results that focus appears to be enough.

Steve’s paper presents a convincing case that Block’s citizenship concept needs to be applied to the craftspeople creating value, and it follows that Lean coaching need also to be available to these people. Some of our owner clients agree. It was a board member for a large healthcare enterprise that first suggested to me that while it is great for foremen to be learning Lean skills it is the people in the field that also need to learn Lean practices.

That board member is correct, and Block’s citizenship article provides some language for what we need to be doing. The Lean community discusses the creation of a Lean culture within the enterprise, as if using the word culture is enough. That leaves some us to be uncomfortable that we are not giving people new to Lean enough information with which to work. The proposal that enterprises need to establish citizenship provides a concrete model for how we need to change relationships within our enterprises.