Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Curious Cat Management Review Carnival-Part 4

Good rainy morning in the Hampton Roads area.  Slow day today in working on a hobby with my Dad (rebuilding vintage computers) and maybe getting my son off the Xbox and getting him interested in what is inside the platform he is playing.  Needless to say, I am the computer fixer in the family, even with a 14 and 21 year old in the house.

Last blog on the docket is from a James Madison University professor currently living in Charlottesville (and I thought I had a commute!).  Nicole Radziwill is a new ASQ Fellow and a fellow ASQ Influential Voice. Her blog, Quality and Innovation, is a fascinating landscape of quality, the R statistical programming language and fire dancing.  It is often an intellectually fun read.

Let's start with the personal.  If you have read a lot of my past blog posts you often see that I comment on the importance of behavior in successful improvement.  Personal behavior is paramount, especially from a leader.  Nicole's July post combines her interest in spiritual beliefs of the American Indian and Deming and how it relates to our ability to be successful. Great stuff!

For me, good bloggers challenge my paradigm.  One blog post that continues to do this is Nicole's November post on questioning whether Deming's 14 points are still valid.  My answer, Hell yes they are; all of them!  Nicole has a different perspective and some of her answers give me pause.  It makes me realize about what I have learned from Senge and to appreciate other's perspectives.  We are both right in our mind's eye.  A great topic for future discussion.  

My personal favorite is her October post on the misinformation as waste.  Integrity, in my opinion, is an important characteristic of quality professionals.  Without it, our ability to influence, mentor, and guide people looking for solutions is diminished. Which is the primary reason why anyone who becomes a member of ASQ signs a code of ethics statement.  As Quality professionals our reputation is closely tied to our ability to be successful.  

The reason I stick to the quality community is the wide range of members that are involved.  I have yet to find someone who doesn't have an interesting tale to tell or problem to solve.  Additionally, they are very willing to sit and talk about their issue or life in general.  It makes a very interesting and informed network.  The blogs that I have reviewed over the past few days are just an indicator of the wide and varied nature of quality professionals who commit their time to blog about their insights, ideas, and issues.  I wish you good journey in finding new blogs to read and explore.  If you find an interesting one, please drop me a line.  I am always interested in a new experience.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Curious Cat Management Review Carnival-Part 3

Good morning!  Writing this post while watching the IIHF World U20 Championships.  Great theater, especially with the lack of sanity in the NHL world but that's another story. It is also a great preview to the upcoming winter olympics in 2014. Today's review is of the Lean Pathways blog written by Pascal Dennis and Al Norval.  I consider Pascal Dennis the great Lean communicator.  I feel that his book, Lean Production Simplified, is THE book for anyone just delving into the world of Lean.

Let's start with a recent post. I discovered Mike Rother's Toyota Kata this year and I have to say it was one of those great books.  For me, when I talk back to the book while reading I know it is one that has an impact on me.  I don't consider this post the best review of the book but it is the most succinct. For 2013, if you can read only one improvement book, make it this one.

Another recent post, this time from Al Norval, talks about leaders going to the Gemba with a purpose AND exhibiting coaching and teaching behaviors, rather than directing behaviors.  There is a fallacy that to be a leader you have to be directive and delegative.  In fact, the more effective behaviors are the coaching and teaching ones.  I have seen more get down when a person who is having the problem determines the solution and is empowered to implement it. Leaders are best when they give direction and then step out of the way to allow subordinates the ability to execute. Further clarification comes from this August post.

I am going to end this review with a post that I think is the most important one for improvement practitioners.  Some of my fellow bloggers are zealots about a particular methodology, so much so that it sometimes detracts from the message. Al Norval's posting in July really answers this issue.  Why can't we all just get along?  Talking with my Dad last night about what I have done over the past 20 years in quality has been in some form or fashion, Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, or George (the next new improvement methodology; just kidding).  When faced with a problem my job was to fix it.  I learned the concepts and then as I gained responsibility I had to learn to communicate these concepts. It was not until being paid to teach Lean and Six Sigma for the Navy did I get to put things together and say, oh, for  this situation I used lean, or that was like a Six Sigma project. Who cares!  We solved the problem, the customer was happy, we move on.  That to me should be the prevailing mentality:  understand all the tools, apply what fits best, regardless of whether we need some credit for a certification (stepping off the soapbox).

One more blog to review.  Talk to you soon.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Curious Cat Management Review Carnival-Part 2

Welcome back, hope you enjoyed exploring Kerrie Anne's Fridge Magnets.  Today's blog under review is called the Squawk Point.  It's editor is James Lawther, a self-described middle-aged, middle manager. His blog is focused on service improvement but I think it does an outstanding job of communicating quality and management concepts with humor.  James posts blogs in three general categories: Operations Analysis, Process Improvement, and Employee Engagement.  So let's look at my personal favorite from each category.

This year the emerging concept is "Big Data."  The technology folks are wanting to create a cottage industry on how to deal with all the data that is now being collected and analyzed. James' September post, I feel, is designed to bring us back to reality.  Yes, we have access to more data than ever before.  The challenge is not to analyze it but to understand what we want out of it.  The idea of analyzing large amounts of data has been around since World War II.  Probably the best practical application was the radar system the Brits developed as part of the Battle of Britain defense.  So when you hear about Big Data in the future, don't fall for the trap that we need to invest in new technology; we need to invest in good old fashioned segmentation.

In November, James posted on my favorite "constraint," multitasking. I taught a Lean Six Sigma champion class a while back and one of my students was a military lawyer.  The class featured an excellent simulation of one-piece flow: the antithesis of multitasking.  Even after telling her the answer for success in the simulation she refused to accept the concept of one-piece flow, feeling that she was more productive multitasking.  Even when she failed she insisted that we had rigged the simulation against her and her group, even though the other group was highly successful following our guidance.  Suffice to say, if a manager comes to you and insists that you have to multitask to be successful, go find another position!

My favorite post in the Employee Engagement category was a timely one.  Recently, I was assumed a new leadership position.  For the past ten years I was an instructor or facilitator and not in a direct leadership position.  In November, I became responsible for 150 sailors and civilians.  Going through some self-reflection, I found James' October post very relevant. I really enjoyed my time teaching.  I had thought that I would spend the rest of my career in the classroom.  Now I find that I enjoy the daily challenge of creating that same environment that allowed me to have such fun teaching.  

That's a little taste of what has quickly become one of my favorite management blogs.  We are halfway through the review.  My Dad is in town this afternoon through the weekend so will try to sneak away to finish things up.  Hope your holidays are joyful!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Curious Cat Management Review Carnival-Part 1

John Hunter asked me to help out with his annual Management Improvement blog review so I am going to to take the next few days to review four blogs, two from ASQ Influential Voice colleagues and two that I have stumbled upon over the past year.  John, thanks for the privilege to contribute to the review!

First up is fellow ASQ Influential Voice Kerrie Anne Christian's Fridge Magnets. Kerrie Anne has been blogging since 2008 and her posts show off her varied interests with introspective thoughts. ASQ is a strong supporter of STEM initiatives and Kerrie Anne's February post does an excellent job of chronicling  the challenges of parents supporting and promoting STEM initiatives. What brought it home to me was the "death by PowerPoint" vignette. When I started teaching statistics, I did exactly that--huge logic leaps using PowerPoint. I had to find out the hard way how to slow down and allow students to soak it in using bite-size chunks.  The challenge is to find the right-sized chunk and deliver it at the proper speed to keep all the students satisfied.  That is not a skill taught to new teachers.

The next post to catch my eye was her June post on CEO integrity and the consequences from less than circumspect decisions. Her reference to Arthur Miller's play, All My Sons, was spot on. Frequently, we hear about some executive decision designed to hide a major problem that later creates a huge problem that would have been much smaller if it had been addressed earlier.  Our core values systems come into question and we often forget that the right decision is the decision that you can support publicly.Leaders often forget that as they rise in position they are more visible and more open to judgement by those not in their direct sphere of influence.  What we don't ask enough is, "would that decision make your mother proud of you?"

My favorite Kerrie Anne post this year is her November post on plagiarism versus knowledge sharing. Although the post was directly attributed to government, I see this as a major problem in education. A common dilemma that our young students face is what is not knowledge sharing?  Our judgement system (read academia) still treats plagiarism like a 19th century disease. When is it not plagiarism? When we don't give credit to the original idea.  Why do we place such high value on the original idea?  The pinnacle of success is to take an original idea, expand and mold it into new knowledge.  Our education system does not do a good job at showing students that process.  They promote bad behaviors by providing multiple tools to plagiarize (read technology) with little or no controls. Which is why you get so many "cut and paste" websites that will create term papers on a whim.

That's all for now!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What if I can’t get a raise?

This month’s ASQ Influential Voice topic is about making your case for improving yourself financially.  Well, unfortunately, I am in a system where I cannot do this.  Working for the federal government, if you want to increase your salary, you will have to compete with others for a new position, which means using USAJOBS and tailoring your resume to closely match the desired position description.  I have too many years invested in federal service to leave my current position and I am getting too old to go back to “chasing the paycheck” mode which is what I did during my time as a quality manager in the paperboard packaging industry. Plus, I REALLY like what I am doing now.  It is a new challenge, has new learning opportunities and continues to allow me the financial freedom to let my daughter finish her senior year at a fine Virginia university without saddling her with major debt when she enters the workforce.

So, if you are in a position when asking for a raise is job or political suicide, what do you do?  Simple: be a leader, provide value, and draw attention to others. Let’s take the first point.  Being a leader is being seen as doing the right thing for your position, even when it doesn’t matter that you need to do the right thing. Some folks call this “walking the talk,” others call this being ethical. For me, I am in charge of a large Navy calibration center.  My primary mission is to make sure that my folks have everything they need to daily accomplish their job.  Yes, I have to be cognizant of the daily operations but my job focuses more on the future than worrying about how many pieces got calibrated today.

Being a good leader is closely tied to providing value.  A leader is supposed to communicate change, provide direction, and celebrate success.  This includes, as many Lean folks say, going to the GEMBA, enforcing standards, and communicating expectations.  Providing value also means being cognizant of organizational performance and how you and your team fit into the big picture.  This includes mentoring your team so that they appreciate new opportunities and support them to challenge rules that no longer fit the current world view.   Providing value means not tolerating, “that’s the way we always have done it,” or “they say it can’t be done.” Providing value means asking your team, “how do you think we should solve this problem?”

Lastly, as a leader success follows you, it is not you.  As a leader, your energy should be towards focusing the spotlight on the team and how the team is successful. Make every effort to praise success, learn from mistakes, and communicate direction and course corrections. As a leader, we should be focused on people with the primary mission of ensuring their behavior supports the organization’s direction and mission.   That means leaders must possess intimate systems knowledge, a deep understanding of human capability and expectations, and identify the cultural behaviors to ensure individual success.

All of this sounds a lot like Deming, Scholtes, Drucker, Ohno, Imai, Senge.  The biggest mistake that we make as leaders is shifting our focus away from people and moving it towards money.  We forget that money is simply a result of what our team produces. If we as quality professionals and leaders concentrated our efforts on making people in our organizations enjoy their work life more, all the money and titles will eventually be there.  So, in my opinion, skip the raise and help your team be successful

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Celebrating World Quality Month - Wrap up of the DQG Conference

I had FUN!  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Dubai; the worst part was the long ride to get there but once there it was a great experience.  Besides the hospitality from the Dubai Quality Group staff it was a conference with great speakers, a great audience asking perceptive questions in an environment of relaxed professionalism.  DQG should be proud of the product that they are producing every year and I hope I can come back and experience it again. 

Day 2 of the Conference kicked off with Ron Atkinson talking about change and culture and how it has such an impact on how an organization moves forward.  His primary theme of being a leader and not sitting back and waiting for something to happen was supported later by the panel session composed of Ron, Stephen Hacker, and Saleh Janeeh, current chairman of DQG.  The panel was smoothly moderated by Liz Keim, who gave a lucid presentation on Lean for Service Industries. 

 In between, Ron and Liz' presentation was Steve Bailey.  Another former past president of ASQ, Steve talked about the historical of cultural aspects of the DuPont and their quality journey from the 1950's forward.  Steve explained how each major program has supported and enhanced how DuPont has grown over the years. 

Just before lunch Kavita Chakravartty gave a case study on customer satisfaction based on her experiences as Head of Loyalty programs for Apparel FZCO.  Following Kavita was Chef Colin Campbell of Abela & Co., a major provider of prepared foods in the region. He discussed how Abela & Co is using the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) model to sustain excellence in their organization. 
Marla Hacker, Dean of Academic Programs at Oregon State-Cascades concluded the conference with a presentation on producing a global foundation of excellence in education.

The conference was attended by over 160 folks from around the Arabian region.  Besides the United States, there were also participants from Europe. Almost all the presentations will be made available to the public on  the DQG website.  The DQG has done a marvelous job of growing this conference.  If you have an interest in attending a global quality conference this is one that should be put on your list. 

Until next time!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Celebrating World Quality Month - First day of the DBG Quality & Business Excellence Conference

Just a quick post before I head out to dinner. Today was the first day of the ASQ/Dubai Quality Group's (DBG) Quality and Business Excellence Conference.  Great speakers and great questions from the audience.  The audience was really engaged.

After opening comments from Saleh Janeeh, DBG Chairman and John Fowler, ASQ Global Managing Director, Dr. Ahmed Albanna, CEO of Dubarch and past DBG chairman gave us an historical perspective of the conference.

Keynote speaker Stephen Hacker talked Producing Transformation Results in Organizations which set the stage nicely for my later comments on making sure your next organization's change management strategy does not become a "flavor of the month."

Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO. Licensing Authority for the region's Road and Transportation Authority (RTA) talked about the need for integrating the services that he provides into the everyday aspect of their customers and the other emirates. RTA acts as emirati version of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  One product that RTA provides is license plate auctions.  People bid on what they want put on their license plates!

Just before lunch we heard from Dino Varkey, Group Executive Director for GEMS Education, a for-profit provider of K-12 education in numerous countries.  His presentation pointed out that education is a growth market.  There are almost a billion souls worldwide who are illiterate or do not have access to quality education.  Current public-funded education systems cannot support the demand. GEMS has been particular in how they grow, concentrating first on ensuring quality teachers to provide the necessary product.

After lunch we heard from Dr. Rajiini Ashok, an internist and Quality Director for the local Zulekha  Healthcare Group.  Her presentation was on the challenges of fitting the right doctor with the right qualifications, something that the healthcare industry call privileging.  It is their way of starting the discussion of ensuring quality healthcare for patients.

Finally, Sunil Thawani, the ASQ Country Councilor for UAE, spoke about human side of service quality and the need to understand the challenges when faced working with humans.

Two more photos from my jaunts around town the last two days.  First, a shout out to my Canadian friends. In Dubai, advertising "wraps" are a popular item, especially for store fronts.  So it makes me wonder how much this wrap cost Tim Horton's.

Lastly, I was walking down the street and saw a Harley guy get off his bike in full leathers and park his bike. Yes, there is a Harley dealership in town.  Been told that Harley's are rare during the work week but watch out on the weekend!  Until next time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Celebrating World Quality Month in Dubai: Day 1 Travelblog

To my friends back in the USA, good morning.  I am 9 hours ahead of my friends on the East Coast and it is a sunny, hazy, afternoon in Dubai.  Below is the view from my room at the H Hotel, looking east.  I thought the bottom picture of the traffic circle would be interesting for those traffic engineers and flow minded lean types who may be reading.

A number of firsts for me on this trip.  My first 14 hour commercial flight, more comfortable than my last really long flight (about almost 30 years ago, flying Space A in the belly of a C141 from Okinawa to Guam while on midtour leave).  First time in Dubai and my first introduction to John Fowler, the managing director for ASQ Global.   We are due to meet with everyone tonight to go over particulars for the next two days.  I am in the "enviable" position of speaking just before lunch. Lots of pressure not to go long.

Took a stroll up Sheikh Zayed Road to do a little sightseeing.  Got a picture of Burj Khalifa, currently the world's tallest building.  Some of you may have seen it in action as it was prominent actor in the lastest Mission Impossible movie.

We also took a taxi to the Burj Al Arab, the Sail Hotel.  Could not get into the grounds because we needed a reservation so we took a picture from outside the grounds.  Yeah, that's me telling Mark Olson to get on with it...

Wish I could spend a little more time to explore the city.  It is huge!  It is also one week away from celebrating the 41st anniversary of the union of the emirates. Lots of festivities happening especially next weekend.  Lots of Emirates flags and bunting out on many buildings.  I thought their logo was pretty cool.

More tomorrow from the conference.  I leave you with one last photo.   saw this building and it struck me that it would be a great picture to celebrate Mark Graban's Lean Meme stuff so for those Six Sigma folks out there I caption this picture as "Lost in Translation."  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why do we keep asking the same question?

Please forgive the following rant.  As this is World Quality Month do we really want to rehash the past or look ahead?

Is asking the same question over and over again a corollary of Einstein's definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again in the hope of different results) or being a nag in the hope that it will nudge some to action?  That wasn't what my parents taught me; I am responsible for my own action or inaction.

That is how I feel after reading Paul Borawski's latest blog post bemoaning the fact that leaders want quality but don't seem to want to adopt quality.  So let's offer up some ideas and see what quality professionals can do about it.

1. Academia treats quality as a lesser form of following the rules.  Now there are pockets of enlightenment but for the most part universities treat quality as a separate THING.  If they teach quality, a majority of schools teach a single undergraduate course on quality in an engineering curriculum. For others, quality is a chapter in a business school's operations management text. An enlightened example of what should be is based on a University of Michigan course called Factory Physics where Deming's "analytics" are applied to the "physics" of manufacturing processes.  Quality is an applied concept.and it is larger than any one college course.  It is a lifetime of scientific discovery through making missteps. 

2.Quality is about problem solving and our systems don't support it.  Why is this here?  The basic fundamental of supervision is problem solving.  We are very good at finding solutions and moving on.  What we don't do well is eradicate the problem, make it so it does not come back again.  This is  the true elements of Deming's 14 Points.  Quality professionals need to make processes repeatable so that leaders can make good decisions. For quality professionals to do their magic, they need leaders to invest in the most precious resource--time.  Yet, leaders are taught that "I don't have time to spend" to eradicate a problem or truly understand a system.  So many leaders bemoan the fact that I don't have time to do it right but seem to find the time to do it over when it is necessary. 

3. Faster, faster, faster!!!!  I am so confused.  Can someone tell me why when we want to go faster, we immediately gain loss of memory and sense and look for every opportunity to NOT follow the rules?  If you want to go faster, learn the concepts, live the concepts, apply the concepts.  This requires time.  Unfortunately, in our demand for faster promotions at the expense of learning a position, we get senior managers who have not failed nor have they learned.  So when faced with complex decisions they often get the "deer in the headlights" look.  

4. Change the rules, change the system.  Corporate leaders follow the rules of law and accounting.  It is a rare occurrence that quality concepts are taught in these curricula. How do leaders learn? Grounded on academia, based on experience. 

Given these things can a typical quality professional impact these issues?  On the surface, hell, no!  BUT: we as quality professionals need to continue to push our professional society to "raise the voice of quality."  When quality practitioners get into leadership positions they need live the quality principles as their own.  As for my academic colleagues, you need to tear down the walls between colleges show them that quality does not belong in a specific school because the concepts of quality belong in ALL disciplines and the concepts infused and practiced in all courses. 

Happy Thanksgiving!   

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sink or Swim

If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are? -T.S. Eliot

Part of the challenge of the quality profession is being on the hook for answers.  Quality managers are often the ones who have to coordinate answers to customer problems, performance improvement facilitators often have to guide a team to an unknown destination.  When we become good at these, we are branded for life. Many a time in the last year I have been asked personally to facilitate a session because "Scott, you get us to a solution" and "they aren't ready like you are to herd the team in the right direction."  Up until now, I could hide behind the fact that I could walk away from implementing something because my role was to act as a guide, cattle prod, flashlight, etc. 

Well, now the shoe is on the other foot and I have to get up and walk.  Last week I took the reins of one of the larger Navy calibration centers.  Just to catch people up, I am not an engineer, have not repaired precision instruments, and I only knew calibration from the customer perspective when I had contract out for services. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end of the pool. Last year the center touched 45,000 pieces of equipment.  The center is a full service production shop and reference standards lab. There are 100 sailors and 60 civilians that now call me boss. Thinking about those things make me forget how to tread water. 

Yet, I am excited, scared, and confident.  In the past 30 years I have made so many mistakes and reflected on what I could do better and that I feel I am ready to tackle this challenge. I started my Army career in a military repair operation. There are a lot of similarities between then and what I am doing now.  I still have to work with teams and guide them towards a goal. For them the goal is pretty simple; get the equipment calibrated in a timely manner. For me, it is to provide that future goal that keeps those sailors and civilians employed. 

A little over two years ago I was asked to move away from something I thought was the best job I ever had, teaching the Lean Six Sigma skill set. I had no idea where it would take me but I trusted the person who asked me to take the Master Black Belt role that I would be valued and my skill sets were needed.  The past two years have been very different. I have been challenged more than what I would have done if I remained an instructor.

Lastly, yesterday was Veteran's Day.  To all those who serve I salute you for your dedicated service to this great country.  To all those service members who are leaving the military service family, I empathize with your pain and trepidation.  You are going to a different world where folks do not understand the experiences  you have had and how they are valued in your next area of life.  I leave you with this video.  I hope it gives you the strength to leave a comfortable situation and explore the unknown. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 ASQ Service Quality Conference Wrap-Up, October Influential Voices response, and other thoughts

I have been taking the last view days to catch up on my prime mission of transitioning to a new job (I’ll talk more about that in another post) so I apologize for my tardiness. 
First off, there are a group of people who are unsung heroes in the success of the ASQ conferences.  Shirley Krentz is THE point person for finding venues for conferences and making sure contracts get executed and problems are resolved.  Daren Miller and Jessica Miller work hard with coordinating speakers and attendee registration.  These are just a few of the smiling faces I see at ASQ conferences that I attend; I know there are more so I apologize for those that I did not name.  They do great work and their efforts often are not recognized so this is my public way of saying thanks for the work that you do all year.
I did a lot of people watching this conference. It is interesting the level of quality knowledge at these conferences.  It is always fun watching the “new to quality” folks engage in conversation and, at times based on their questions, struggle with seeing a quality concept for the very first time and internally struggle with how to take this cool concept and make it work in their environment.  For me these conversations are great learning experiences and help me practice some mentoring skills to allow me better my “ramblings.” I am always impressed with the energy these folks have and the real thirst for knowledge.
Then I see speakers who are in their mid-career in quality looking to give the “perfect presentation” on their success in quality.  Dr. Tomas Velasco, a good friend from Southern Illinois University, did a textbook presentation of a health-care related “kaizen” event on improving flow in an imaging center. There were a few others at the conference as well in this category.
I am starting to lean into the “cranky old quality codger” category in that my main interest is to engage people through their brains and to take concepts further than their traditional roles.  Jim Duarte from SAS did that for me.  I mentioned in the last post that his presentation on 20th vs. 21st century Six Sigma applications gave me that rare “sit up in my chair” moment that we all look for at conferences.  We don’t see a whole lot of these at conferences but for me the search is for that presentation that provides the ambrosia that keeps me participating in the quality profession. 
This leads to this month’s Influential Voice topic that Paul Borawski communicated on his desire to move beyond the “traditional quality function.” My initial response was like Aimee Siegler’s; good quality professionals fill the vacuum where they see opportunity. Secondly, like Manu Vora, I have written a few posts on “Big Q vs. little q” so how could I politely remind the readers about these previous posts without sounding like a broken record?
But it was new acquaintance Jim Duarte who brought me “back to the future.”  There are loads of untapped areas that quality professionals need to explore that have existed for some time that continues to grow the profession.  Paul asked about how we can better engage managers and leaders.  Paul, why hasn’t the quality profession embraced management science (otherwise known as operations research)?  To me, when ASQ was really kicking we worked hard on bringing in new technologies, tools, and methodologies under the umbrella.  If you look at the Body of Knowledge, there is not much new in it since the late 90’s.  We are on the cusp of the Big Data era.  Operations Research has the tools to deal with the challenges of Big Data and gives us the thought processes to answer the more challenging questions.  This is important as quality professionals need to show how they contribute value outside the “little q.”
In summary, for quality professionals to move beyond the “traditional quality function” they must be willing to find the areas where we can provide value.  Additionally, ASQ must continue to grow, not just in reach, but in knowledge and we have not done well with that in the past.  Consider looking at Big Data and Operations Research as we move deeper into the 21st century.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 1 Recap of the 21st Annual ASQ Service Quality Conference

I am in Baltimore Monday and Tuesday attending the ASQ Service Quality Conference with about 140 other folks.  It is a nice intimate conference that gives you an opportunity to talk to the majority of the attendees and is easier to make new friends and acquaintances.  I am also here to exhibit the Six Sigma Forum booth with Liz Keim.
This year is the first time in a while that the conference has a government track so I was asked to submit a presentation for acceptance.  My talk, leading off after Joe DeFeo’s keynote address on the changing value proposition that quality professionals need to provide in a changing world, was on applying Senge’s 5 Disciplines with an internal customer focus. It seemed to be well received with a handful of folks appreciating the talk.  I also received some excellent feedback from one audience member who took me to task to remember not to lose the strategic importance of the external customer when fully focusing on the internal one.  I also have to put in a “shout out” to Joe DeFeo and Juran Institute for their kind gesture of providing a signed copy of the Juran Institute’s Six Sigma Breakthrough and Beyond as a raffle prize for an upcoming meeting of the ASQ Tidewater section (1128).
After lunch the group listened to Kerry Weems, VP & GM of General Dynamics-IT’s Health Solutions sector.  His general discussion, walking us down memory lane on the changes made in music distribution, keyed on the fact that quality professionals need to be forward thinkers and be mindful of technology disruption in the marketplace and be prepared to provide value to their organization to get through that disruption.    
I also listened to Dale Weeks and his description of the successes of governments, municipal to federal, local to worldwide, and the challenges that benchmarking these successes have on future government initiatives.  The best part was the audience discussion; lots of good ideas floated around and it did a great job in setting up Cody Dodd’s presentation immediately afterwards, on his work in Canada with the Institute for Customer Centered Service.
Lastly, Jim Duarte from SAS brought me “back to the future” with his presentation on Six Sigma for the 21st century. It is a topic I intend to explore in my October response to Paul Borawski’s Influential Voices blog.  Jim provided the case that with the increased capacity in computing power and the ever increasing availability of data we need to use operations research / management science tools to better answer the more complex questions and be able to see farther in the future that what we are capable of.  As someone who has their master’s degree in OR and was chomping at the bit to put queuing theory and discrete simulations into the Black Belt toolbox the session was a great way to find a kindred spirit.
And like every good conference, we have the obligatory networking sessions throughout the day and well into the night.  I met some new folks and caught up with some old friends.  Day 2 is already here so need to get this posted and back to the conference.  Stay tuned for more! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An Outsider’s view of Human Performance Technology (HPT)

I spent that latter part of last week at the annual US Coast Guard’s Human Performance Technology Workshop.  It is free, open to the public, and based on my past life of being exposed to HPT through my role as an instructor and Subject Matter Expert for the Navy’s Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Black Belt curriculum, I have attended the last three workshops.  Besides meeting new folks, I get to catch up with local performance improvement practitioners.  This year I manned the ASQ’s Six Sigma Forum booth.
For those folks unfamiliar with HPT and the appropriate professional society, the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) I recommend using the hyperlinks in this sentence.  Please understand my comments are solely based on a limited data sample based on exposure with the Coast Guard application of HPT and the Navy’s application of HPT, started about 2002 and shut down in 2007. I have not attended ISPI’s annual conference though I have perused the last 3 year’s programs that are included on ISPI’s website.
There is a natural synergy with HPT and Quality.  I liken HPT as a broader aspect of Big Q.  Their performance improvement model includes all aspect of performance, from training to process to work environment.  If you have followed my blog you will get a sense that for change to occur these three areas need to be addressed.  My expertise is in process performance and training delivery. 
Where I stray from the HPT being of value is my sense that HPT starts and ends with large scale instructional system design “interventions.”  I am painting with a broad brush but this statement comes from these observations:  1) the USCG implementation of HPT is closely tied to their training command.  2) Over 90% of the USCG workshop presentations the last 3 years have dealt with some facet of instructional system design or training intervention as opposed to a process improvement or an organizational development change.  A similar percentage is noted in the ISPI annual conferences. 3) Before the Navy closed down their HPT capability, a lot of their HPT folks came through my class for Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training.  From these students, I picked up on a bit of HPT arrogance; HPT is better than LSS.  I also overheard some of the same comments as some of the USCG seasoned practitioners walked by my Six Sigma Forum booth (I have a thick skin; there are some Lean zealots out there that have the same contempt for Six Sigma).
To stimulate dialog, my rhetorical question in all of this is why?  I see the same failings of HPT as I do with Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, Learning Organizations, Knowledge Management, etc.  If all performance improvement practitioners are out to do good, why are we not willing to embrace other tools as freely as we embraced the one we are espousing?   Even further, how do we make IMPROVEMENT, no matter what flavor it is acceptable by leaders so that is practiced and appreciated?  
Your comments are most welcome.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fast Quality? Slow is Faster

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy

-The 59th Street Bridge Song: Paul Simon

This month’s ASQ Influential Voices theme is on how quality can respond to a faster change pace.  My immediate thought was the classic Simon & Garfunkel song whose lyrics are above.  The human reaction to going faster is to cut out the speed governor, that thing that prevents you from going faster.  In Lean terms it is all those non-value added things that are in your process that prevent value from getting to the customer faster. However, as soon as we take away that governor, I start seeing the Sammy Hagar music video of “I Can’t Drive 55!”

I would contend that in order for us to be more responsive in an ever changing world we need to slow down and operate with discipline.  What we often find is that when we do make a process go faster the discipline behind the process disappears. For those who work in a schedule-driven environment, how often has quality suffered when you had to break into a schedule because a customer had to have it NOW?  In a good number of cases, the order usually gets rejected by the customer for some quality issue.  The order is then redone with discipline (more quality oversight than usual) and is completed, usually about the same time as if we had not broken the schedule to meet the original demand, all at double the cost.
So what drives this management decision to go faster?  A lack of trust:  in maintaining discipline and a lack of process for ongoing improvement.   Many management gurus have said that you need to plan.  Unfortunately, we plan to execute, we don’t plan for contingencies.  “We don’t have time” is often the lament.  Yet, that is what leaders are supposed to do: create the time to develop the discipline to execute and plan for the contingencies.
As quality professionals how should we respond?  Show discipline to the process.  Reinforce the value of Big Q.  Don’t compromise on your integrity.  There will be pressure to go faster but faster is not more responsive.  Being responsive requires time to gather data and to reflect.  Being responsive requires looking to the future and understanding capabilities.  Being responsive means incorporating little q and Big Q in management decisions.  Being responsive is doing the right thing by the customer. Once you are ready to execute, execute with alacrity!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Behind the Scenes of the ASQ Six Sigma Forum

I spent this past weekend in Chicago in a strategic planning meeting for the ASQ Six Sigma Forum.  It is always a hoot getting together with this group; besides working together on projects we generally play well together. 
As the steering committee we are the folks that plan activities for the forum.  The forum began as an electronic subset of ASQ members who have in interest in Six Sigma. Today, the forum has a listed membership of 10,000+ folks.  It has kept that level for the past five or so years. Mike Nichols was the first chair of the forum.  A few years back, Liz Keim took the chair and built the steering committee to execute small projects to support the membership.  Today, Joe Basala is the chair and Jeanine Becker is the HQ liaison and general cat herder for the group.  Mark Olson who used to coordinate and run the annual ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference (Phoenix, March 4-5, 2013) and is now working for ASQ Global is a longtime participant.  Rachel Delisle is the incoming chair and we invited Mary Beth Soloy to help us this year and she graciously accepted.
Below is the group doing some brainstorming.  The second photo is staged with Mark Olson taking my place behind the camera.

Some projects that you could see upcoming:
·         Mike Nichols and I are working on a project with the ASQ Learning Institute around Business Process Management.  This is NOT the computer industry version but something that Master Black Belts have to create when dealing with enterprise level application of Six Sigma.  A webinar is in the can and is soon to be published.  Mike has presented this topic as a post-conference seminar at the Lean and Six Sigma Conference the past 3 years.
·         In the next couple of months, Joe has a podcast coming out on Design for Six Sigma. 
·         Liz and I will be exploring ways to better present the tools and templates area of the forum website.  Also check out the website’s new case studies page (thanks Mark and Jeanine).
·         Rachel and Mary Beth are working on Voice of the Customer (VOC) issues and, with Mark Olson’s help, we look to expand that exploration into the global membership.  For example, we are planning a “Global VOC Focus Group” for just the non-US/Canadian attendees to the 2013 conference.
·         Another 2013 conference teaser.  See Joe and Rachel facilitate a “speed networking” session.
·         The forum has a travelling exhibit booth.  You saw it as background for Raleigh ASQ’s Quality in the Triangle seminar this past May.  The booth will make an appearance next month at the Coast Guard’s Human Performance Technology workshop in Hampton, VA as well as the annual ASQ Service Quality conference in Baltimore this October.  Of course, it will be setup for the 2013 Phoenix conference AND we will be showing it at the 2013 ASQ World Conference in Indianapolis.  If you have a workshop and you are interested in advertising the Forum or ASQ let us know.
It was a full weekend, with a full agenda of discussed topics sprinkled with a lot of laughs.  We have a large number of ideas that are on our “waiting to do” list so if you have a passion for promoting Six Sigma we can use all the help we can get with our projects.  If you want to help, drop me a line.   
Until next time!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Break All the Rules

I am borrowing the title of a popular management book because it fits the theme I want to talk about:  addressing rules that appear as barriers.   What got me started was Al Norval’s post from the Lean Thinking blog entitled, Wisdom vs. Bureaucracy. 
Every day we are faced with a rule and we are given the choice of obeying the rule or breaking the rule. For example, if you commute to work in your car and you have to use an interstate highway that is not clogged, how often do you go faster than the speed limit?  Come on, raise your hand.  You are breaking a rule.  We all know there is a risk in breaking that rule so we weigh the risk of being caught breaking it versus our perception of safely travelling to our destination in a timely manner.  In living life we experience that choice obeying or breaking a rule.  As parents, there are behaviors that we follow in setting rules for our children. There is a point in time where rules become useless, most often when they are not enforced. The question becomes, why do we still have unenforceable rules?
I am not advocating in the mass revocation of all rules.  In most cases, there was a purpose for that rule.  As improvement professionals, part of our job is to question and this is area we MUST put emphasis on: questioning a rule’s purpose.
Rules come in two forms, the written type and the perceived type.  I liken them as Bureaucracy and Excuse. Al Norval talks about the first type in his blog entry and how it is often easy to hide behind these types of rules to avoid “risk.”  These types of rules are based on easy fixes—someone’s idea of a low cost way to avoid a future problem without regard to consequence and its ease of implementation.  They are often the most frustrating and damaging—low level clerks enforce the rule in instances where judgment is needed to solve a situation never thought of when the rule was created.   With the rise of a new situation, we create another rule so the bureaucrat knows how to respond. Eventually, the low level bureaucrat has more rules than they are capable of handling and throw their hands up in exasperation and create gridlock because one rule’s interpretation is in violation of another rule. 
The more difficult one to overcome is the “I have been doing it that way for X amount of years and it has worked for me so far” rule.  Unfortunately, this type of response comes from a subject matter expert who is well respected.  It is often a defense mechanism; the older we get the less is our change tolerance.  This type of rule is more noxious. We often stop right there without having the experts explain from where their interpretation is based.  Usually, the comment is reinforced with a historical litany of past happenings that caused them to do the things that they do. 
What’s a person to do?  I don’t win all my battles but I find a little determination, a smile, and a variant of the question why go a long way to at least getting the person to think about why do they do what they do. What we often forget when confronting rules is that the executors of rules are people.  Often, we treat the “rule enforcers” with disdain and exasperation.  This behavior makes them respond in a manner less than respectful to our particular problem.  By understanding this condition, showing respect, and trying to understand why the rule exists, allow us to understand, empathize, and often offer solutions that can be beneficial to both parties. Yes, there will be times that you cannot change the bureaucracy.  But at least you will have learned something and, hopefully, offer a novel solution that can be the basis of a future improvement.  Barriers can often be sources of future opportunities.
Until next time!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Building Quality Culture = Building a “Dream Team”

Paul Borawski’s August blog post for me required contemplation.  I have written a couple of blog posts on quality culture so I did not want to sound like a broken record.  This post is going to come from another direction.  What does a quality culture feel like to me?
I have met a gentleman who has his own consultancy.  He offers a course for leaders that I think is appropriate for our topic: building a “dream team.”  There have been two times in my post-undergraduate life where I have been on a dream team.  My first participation on a dream team was my Army officer advanced training course.  I met some great people and, as a collective in the short period of 6 months, we accomplished some really interesting stuff.   We worked, played, lived as a high performance team.  It was a great time to be alive. Everyone looked out for each other.  It was very sad when we all had to go our separate ways. 
My second experience as a dream team was not so long ago when I was teaching with the NAVSEA Lean Six Sigma College.  We accomplished some phenomenal things; building curriculum, flying around the world teaching to various audiences, mentoring others.  We laughed hard, fought hard, played hard, and accomplished in a short time some pretty amazing stuff that to this day we shake our heads about.  Again, we loved going to work, sharing out thoughts, grousing about each other but knowing that the next experience coming down the road was special.   It was heart wrenching to leave that group.  But what I have come to realize is that I had to leave in order to grow professionally and personally.
The ideal state for quality culture is finicky, fleeting, and fun to be in the moment.   I don’t know if you can sustain that sweet spot because it combines the right people with the right leadership with the clear interpretation of purpose by the entire team.   However, you also have to break the team up because keeping an individual in that team could stunt their future professional growth.   Leadership is going to change, team members are going to change.  Although the underlying purpose and expectations may be constant, the human aspect of different personalities adapting to new roles are what cause that shift out of the ideal state.  It is not bad, it is reality.
So the real question is how can you sustain the “sweet spot” of the ideal quality culture?  I don’t think you can for an extended period of time.  People come and go; they have to change roles in order for them to grow professionally.  Will the next leader embrace the culture?  Fortunately, at the college we had three leaders who did and we successfully kept things going for 5 years, through a number of instructor changes. You cannot count on the next leader to accept the previous one’s direction.  Secondly, the team has to understand with clarity the culture and accept it without reservations.  Traditional recruiting methods for team members don’t necessarily help in sustaining this type of team.  For the college team we were mostly recruited based on someone knowing someone else and would they be a good fit.
So, gentle reader, when have you been on a “dream team?” What did it feel like for you? Do you look back on them with fond memories?  Please feel free to tell me your experiences.

Monday, August 6, 2012

So What DO You Call It?

Today’s post germinated from a Twitter conversation I had this weekend with fellow ASQ Influential Voice Mark Graban.  The conversation details are unimportant but it did get me thinking.  I have a project I am working on in the shipyard.  I wonder, can someone tell me if it is classifiable as a Lean event, Six Sigma project, Theory of Constraints project, Learning Cell, or something else?
The shipyard’s QA organization (the little q guys) possess a materials lab that processes all kinds of samples (solid, liquid, gaseous) in a fixed facility and a calibration lab outside the shipyard proper but have a turn-in/pick-up location at the shipyard.  Mechanics from the waterfront take the samples requiring testing to the materials lab. Travel distance ranges from .25 to .75 miles. Equipment requiring calibration is processed at the turn-in/pick-up point. Travel distance to this point is about a tenth of a mile less vice going to the lab.
From my Army maintenance days, to support our customers deployed we would send contact teams (a sergeant and a couple mechanics) to the major units we supported such that when equipment broke down, the contact team would get right on it, often enlisting the organization’s mechanics to help.  The contact teams had tools and parts and would make runs from a centralized point for repair parts, get caught up on the paperwork, etc.  What if we could do the same thing at the waterfront?  We could have a truck pick up samples and exchange equipment to be calibrated right on the waterfront, saving the mechanics a lot of time (and walking).  Plus, it supports our initiative of “non-stop execution of the mechanic performing work on the waterfront!” 
Of course, the first thing that popped into the QA director’s head when I mentioned it was “oh, like an ice cream truck!”  The two lab heads did not see the good humor in that statement (sorry, had to throw in a bad pun to keep you interested—Good Humor is an American brand of ice cream most often associated with delivery to neighborhoods in a truck).  Since it was my idea, I got tasked with figuring it out.  After meeting with the QA director requesting more info as to its feasibility, I and two other people more wise in shipyard and government procurement sat around a table for 90 minutes and fleshed out a plan of attack on how we are going to implement this idea with the goal of starting the first run at the beginning of the new year.
Now, here is the question.  We obviously are going to improve something, but what should I call it?  No, I do not intend to draw a spaghetti diagram nor take pictures of current state and future state, and I may do a process map more as idea generator rather than a requirement to understand the process.  So, I guess it is not a Kaizen event.   I am NOT going to go around and do time and motion studies to collect data and then determine the probability distribution (read no Minitab) so it can’t be a Six Sigma project.  I am not messing with any buffers so TOC is out.  I am going to change behaviors but I don’t need a special meeting to understand what behaviors need to be, it is pretty self-evident.  Ah, it just struck me, the PMI (Project Management Institute) guys will tell me it is a perfect project to use their tools, but I don’t have time to mess around with Gantt charts. What is a Master Black Belt to do?
Folks, here is my answer.  I am not going to call it anything.  It is the perfect hybrid event/project, with concepts drawn from all the major improvement methodologies.  Yet, if I submitted this event for my Lean certification, it would get rejected because I did not use the tools or they would force me into tasks that are non-value added.  Same goes for Six Sigma, TOC, and PMI.  As a former instructor of these dark arts I will admit I was guilty of a bit of this.
The Bottom Line: the less tolerant of divergence, the greater the opportunity to miss real savings. In this project, the shipyard is investing hard dollars to realize increased work capacity (soft dollars).  Yes, it is pretty evident there is a win for everyone EXCEPT for the QA department because they are the ones adding cost to the way they do business (and their budget). They will not see increased revenue (the shipyard does not generate revenue). Fortunately, the QA director and the shipyard commander understand systems thinking and they support this project.  Makes my job a whole lot easier!

Monday, July 23, 2012

In defense of ISO 9001:2008

Fellow ASQ Influential Voice Chris Herminett is begining a series of blogs based on his PhD. classwork on Systems Theory regarding the gaps in the ISO 9001 standard.  His first entry talks about the ISO 9001 "process approach."  Specifically from the ISO 9001 standard: "The application of a system of processes within an organization, together with the identification and interactions of these processes, and their management to produce the desired outcome, can be referred as the 'process approach.' " 

Chris' contention is that most organizations do not follow this approach. I think he mispeaks here but continues that since most organizations are not structured in a process oriented manner they do not exhibit the process approach espoused by the standard.  He goes on to say that because of organizations unwillingness to reorganize to a process approach, third party auditors inability to influence organizations into being organized into a process approach, that ISO 9001 is failing and thus the standard should be restructured into something that reflects the reality of a "functional approach" in which most organizations are structured and that will help with the increased acceptance of the standard.

Chris, should the NFL or CFL accept that a touchdown should now be achieved once a team crosses the opponents 5 yard line or that a soccer player no longer needs to be "onsides" to score a goal?  Then why should we change the ISO 9001 standard just because an organization is structured differently than what the standard expects?

There is a statement in the ISO 9001 standard that to me is very telling and it is on the same page as the process approach definition. "It is not the intent of the International Standard to imply uniformity in the structure of quality systems or uniformity of documentation."  Meaning, there is no need to change the structure of the standard.  There is nothing stopping the organization from structuring their quality system to match their organization.  It is the challenge of the organization to communicate how they are meeting the requirements of the standard to the auditor.  It is an "ease of use" factor that most companies structure the quality system based off the standard.

Additionally, why would we want to to change a forward thinking standard to match what most improvement professionals think of as an outdated organizational structure?  Most lean enterprise experts agree that it is best to be organized based on process, product families, etc. Why would a standard go backwards?

Lastly, the interpretation you use for process approach is actually different from the ISO 9001 standard mentioned above. Process approach cannot sub-optimize because the process approach REQUIRES systems thinking.  Mr. Conti mentioned that most companies find it hard to practice the necessary systems thinking to avoid sub-optimizing processes. 

Chris, what you recommend is a softening of the standard for convenience sake.  That is definitely not (and I am projecting here) what the TAG or the original authors of the standard intend.  As a matter of fact, the authors don't care about how well accepted the standard is, as long as the standard represents the best practices of quality.

Last shot:  Do you think that the US Military Academy is anytime soon going to change their standard of "Do not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate anyone who does," just because lieing, cheating or stealing is more prevalent (and some will say accepted) in today's society?  In your mind, should they change that standard to make it more socially acceptable?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Social Responsibility - Why is Quality involved?

Today, I am up at ASQ HQ doing some personal and professional work and the muse must have hit because while waiting for my ride to the airport I thought I would put in my take on why Quality needs to talk about Social Responsibility (SR).

There is one phrase that Paul wrote in his latest blog that is playing in my head like an old Mister Mister song:"...being socially responsible is not about philanthropy (giving money for social good), but about business: “Doing well by doing good.” "  In what my organization does, you can say being responsible is about making sure that the active nuclear reactors that are docked in my shipyard don't become the news of the day.  But that is an extreme case and I don't think that is what Paul and Michelle Mason, the ASQ point person for SR, is really talking about. To me, the question is, what are we doing to create the environment so that every day, anybody in your organization is "doing well by doing good?"    

There has to be an appreciation that doing well by doing good is a behavior. Behaviors are influenced by leaders, policy, workplace, and the application of behavior.  Leaders interact with customers, they set the culture based on their applications or creation of policies and they provide resources for the creation of the appropriate workplace.  What we often lose is the understanding of the relationship of these elements and how these combinations fit together.  Because we are dealing with the human element of things, we cannot use a prioritization matrix or DOE to optimize the level and mix of variables to create the "ultimate" behavior. It is more about cause and effect in their relation to the environment. 

Which means that there needs to be an appreciation of how people are going to react and to have a conversation around why, when faced with a situation, a person behaved in a way that was totally unexpected nor anticipated. In the past we just slapped them down, fired them, or sent them to brainwashing course (more training, sir!).  Now, we need to understand motivation, recognition and expectation.  

Does that mean we need a staff psychologist?  No, I believe it means we need to be human.  When we are away from the workplace we act differently because, in most cases, we are seen as valued individuals and not a simple number in a database. We are taught from childhood acceptable behaviors and it is expected, as we grow older, to enforce and learn new behaviors as our world changes. It also means that we should be comfortable in enforcing established norms and behaving such that we reinforce the behaviors that we expect. So why don't we apply that in a work environment?   What is stopping you or me from taking this to heart and modeling our behavior in this fashion?  What is stopping our organizations from being a representation of the humanistic tendency that we want to espouse?

All rhetorical questions, I know but until we accept that organizational performance is enhanced when behaviors support organizational goals and norms we will never truly see breakthrough performance.  

Suggested reading:  Senge's Fifth Discipline and Rother's Toyota Kata

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Effective Change Agents change the conversation

I am in the middle of reading Toyota Kata, by Mike Rother.  It is one of the few books that have me talking aloud back to the book.  No, I am not schizophrenic when that happens; it means I am trying to have a conversation with the author.  There have been quite a few books along my quality journey that have me talking back to them.  Eli Goldratt’s The Goal was one.  Denis Waitley’s Empires of the Mind was another.
Mike Rother is definitely speaking to me regarding what I am finding at the shipyard and how we have to change the conversation, which is exactly what Paul Borawski was asking the quality community about in his June blog post.  
Some tidbits that really struck home:
·         Old think:  Work + Improvement; New think:  Work = Improvement
·         No problems = Problems
·         Problems are opportunities to learn not things to avoid.
·         When you consistently “pull the andon cord” 1000 times a day, what happens on the day when you only pull it 700 times? Is it improvement or avoidance?
·         When a problem arises, which question is most often asked by supervision?
o   In which part of the process was the procedure not followed?
o   What is preventing the operators from working according to standard?
·         When experimenting with the process to see if a change will work, what is the first statement that is said?
o   “Well, let’s see if this will work.”
o   “I am not sure it will work.  What do we need to do to make it work?”
As an instructor and facilitator I was taught the power and timeliness to use open-ended and close-ended questions.  I want to change the conversation.  How do we ask questions that promote open-mindedness?  How do we engage leaders, the majority being closed-minded due to their mental models based on experience, to open their minds to questions and situations that attack typical paradigms?  Where can quality professionals acquire that skill? That, to me, is the game changer. 
So Paul, prepping the ground through mentoring future leaders helps but we have to reinforce that mentoring with asking the right questions.  Instead of open-ended or close-ended, let’s focus on questions that open minds to possibilities. How can ASQ support the community to open minds of leaders to accept that quality is no longer just about product?