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.