Volume 27 June 23, 2003
Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Helpful Hints from fellow Practitioners
Top Ten List
Feature Of This Issue
Second Feature Of This Issue
Third Feature Of This Issue
Coming in the Next Few Issues
Welcome to MASET News. A monthly publication dedicated to the communication between MASET and our many interested friends, customers and potential customers
MESSAGE FROM CHARLES LOEW:
This month we have three new workshops that will be a great help in improving your sales and marketing efforts. During the next few months. Watch the MASET NEWS for additional Products and Services and workshops that will help improve your Sales and Marketing efforts.
Recently I received an impressive poem titled, "Freedom is Not Free", by ROTC Cadet Major Kelly Strong. Currently our servicemen and women are being threatened and killed every day in remote parts of the world. I believe this poem does a beautiful job of reminding us of the price of Freedom.
Our first feature article was written by one of our own associates, S.J. Roy. S.J. and a number of our other associates have spent many years implementing Quality Circles. The useful suggestions given can also be applied to many other activities that we are engaged in on a day-to- day basis.
Our second feature article, "Is Quality Dead?" reminds us that the basics are extremely important for implementing any type of improvement initiative. Frequent fliers may relate very well to this article.
As we mentioned last month we have added a new section to the MASET NEWS titled "QBQ - The Question behind the Question!" We would appreciate your feedback regarding this addition: Do you like it or not? What else would you like to see? Enjoy this new feature from John G. Miller, the author of The QBQ! Book.
We are looking for input from readers that might enhance the column titled, "Helpful Hints from Fellow Practitioners". Submissions to assist colleagues can be ideas or proven techniques that might help others in running better meetings, working more effectively, communicating with others, etc. Please send them to me at Charles.Loew@masetllc.com. Thanks in advance for your help.
COMMENTS FROM OUR READERS:
"Many thanks for sending me the MASET News every month. You can't imagine how eager I look forward to receiving the variety of good articles, just like to the coming of an old friend." - China
"I enjoy the Maset News and read most of the articles." Florida
"Your articles are outstanding and I would like to continue receiving the Maset Newsletter." Unknown location
NEW ON THE MASET WEB SITE:
We have added three new workshops in June. The first is titled "Customer Relationship Management" focusing on understanding and application of Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
The second workshop, "Key Account Management", focuses on the identification of an organization's Key Accounts, the difference between Key and Target accounts, the steps required to relate to these accounts, and action plans for best serving them.
The third workshop, "Value Discipline Workshop", focuses on the customer and the specific attributes/ approaches an organization must utilize in dealing with its customer(s). Extensive research has verified that successful companies dominate their markets by focusing on their customers' needs and their own core competencies.
HELPFUL HINTS FROM FELLOW PRACTITIONERS:
There is nothing more deadly than having an all- day meeting and not being able to summarize the findings or actions the next morning. If the facilitator finds little time for summarization or electronic capture of the day's notes, there are many services/programs which provide over- night capture of chart board notes made during the day.
TOP TEN LIST:
Key Learnings in -
IMPORTANCE OF WRITE WORD! (Part 2 of 2)
Mark Twain once said, "The difference between the right word and the wrong word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
Here are examples of what he was talking about:
1. Notice in health food shop window: CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS
2. Spotted in a safari park: ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR
3. Seen during a conference: FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN'T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE FIRST FLOOR
4. Notice in a field: THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES
5. Message on a leaflet: IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WE WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS
6. On a repair shop door: WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR - THE BELL DOESN'T WORK)
FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:
QUALITY CIRCLES - PITFALLS AND REMEDY
By Subhra Jyoti Roy
Launching Quality Circles in an organization is often regarded as an easy proposition. However, if launching is done In haste without adequate groundwork, Circles become short-lived and counter-productive. Statistics show that only 30% of the Circles formed work effectively. About one-third are on the borderline, that is, they meet only occasionally, while the remaining one-third are inactive or Sleeping Circles. It is the responsibility of the management to take measures to ensure that Circles do remain active and vibrant.
The primary measure of effective Circles is regularity of meetings. Facilitator and Circle leaders should be trained in elements of successful group behavior, in addition to problem-solving tools. For effective Circle operation, the team must develop a code of conduct by which to operate. The following code of conduct should serve as a guideline:
- Attend all meetings and be on time
- Listen to and show respect for the views of other members
- Make others feel a part of the group
- Be critical of ideas and not persons
- Help other members to participate fully
- Be open to and encourage the idea of others
- Every member is responsible for Circle progress
- Maintain a friendly attitude
- Strive for enthusiasm
- The stupid question is the one that is not asked
- Look for merit in the ideas of others
- Pay attention -- avoid disruptive behavior
- Avoid action that delays progress
- Carry assignment as scheduled
- Give credit and honest appreciation to those to whom it is due
- Do not suppress ideas, do express
- Objectives and causes first, solution next
- Ideas generated by the group should not be used as individual suggestions
It should be made very clear that Circles can operate well if the management has the conviction (not lip service) and has belief in the Circle's wisdom and capability. The basic principles that have made this concept immensely popular are:
- Those who wear the shoes know where it pinches and given the opportunity they will find the best and simple solutions for the problems.
2. Intelligence levels are similar and have very little to do with hierarchy.
3. Two heads are better than one.
In addition, all sections management should understand its role and responsibilities to derive full benefit. The table below provides the nine major flaws (and broad recipes) that need to be guarded by against for success.
1. Lack of understanding of the concept and absence of visible support from senior and top management
- Ensure full understanding, conviction and faith before launching
- Occasionally attend circle meetings, talk to members
- Attend presentations
- Provide resources and facilities
2. Skepticism in the minds of executives that Quality Circles will:
- Show up their deficiencies
- Dilute their authority
- Blamed for not finding solutions earlier
Top management to eradicate this fear.
QC would not only bring credit to their work areas but also lead to more free
time for important work.
3. Irregular meetings
Facilitator, leader, and Coordinating department to remove all difficulties to ensure regular and fully attended meeting
4. Frustration owing to delay in implementation
Facilitator, leader and Coordinating department to provide all resources and support for speedy implementation. All progress or difficulty should be communicated to Circles regularly
5. Circle competence
6. Hurdles from non members
Invite them occasionally to meetings, presentations. Keep them posted of the activities and progress
7. Members not permitted to hold their scheduled meetings
Facilitator and Coordinating department to remove all such barriers
8. Multiplicity of language
Circle may carry out activity in any language they are comfortable with.
9. Facilitator not attending meetings even for a brief periods
Facilitator to act as teacher, guide and catalyst
With due care exercised in groundwork, launching and nurturing phases, the success in terms of tangible and intangible are assured.
And finally, good luck.
SECOND FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:
IS QUALITY DEAD?
Solving today's quality problems requires a return to the basics.
By A. Blanton Godfrey
Every day, news headlines seem to include yet another quality disaster story. For weeks we've been reading the charges and countercharges between Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone. And it's not clear who's at fault. What is clear is that the tires came apart on the highway and that people are dead. The newspapers are full of stories of skipped inspections, known problem tires being shipped and other quality breakdowns. And while this tire story was still on the front pages, an Air France Concorde crashed, most likely due to another tire problem. Then Mitsubishi admitted to having hidden automotive customer complaint data for more than 20 years.
Quality problems abound. I picked up a magazine the other day and found an article about how bad airline service is("Fly the Angry Skies," New York Times Magazine, Sept. 24). The Sept. 18 issue of Fortune featured an article on so-so software, "What Ever Happened to Great PC Software?"
The old question "Is quality dead?" now means "Does anybody have a clue about how to manage quality?" After all of these years of major quality achievements, how can so many companies still have these problems? The answer for some companies, such as airlines and software makers, is fairly straightforward: They've never implemented even the most basic of quality systems in the first place.
Airlines in particular create incredibly high expectations and then deliver truly miserable service. "We were told to expect medium-rare chateaubriand and exotic fondues and white linen antimacassars gentling our dreamy heads and fancy French wine all around and the bell ring of sterling flatware," writes Jeff MacGregor in "Fly the Angry Skies." Instead, we receive ". . . a $1,200 coach seat half the width of a human pelvis, a mismatched pair of circus peanuts and the in-flight director's recut of 'Bicentennial Man.' Behold, air rage. This has been the season of discontent for enraged passengers and the various carriers who brand, herd and ship them from point to point."
We have endured record delays and flight cancellations, flight attendants asking for more security, fights over carry-on baggage, air-traffic experts and the secretary of transportation convening summits to discuss why we're having so many problems, and pilots calling in "sick" in conflicts over pay. Airlines respond with offers for free flights. "Some airlines are even handing out free frequent-flyer miles to compensate disgruntled passengers," writes MacGregor. "Which is pretty gallingly rich: 'Now that you're sure you'd rather rot in a Jalalabad prison than ever fly with us again, c'mon back!"
Likewise, quality problems are rampant in the software industry. In "What Ever Happened to Great PC Software," Stewart Alsop cries that the software he uses "really sucks." He believes that the position of software companies is that fixing and upgrading their products is neither useful not profitable. He reports that in August he succumbed to an offer to upgrade Microsoft's Internet Explorer to version 5.5 He downloaded and installed the software and restarted his computer as instructed. His computer promptly became inoperable. He couldn't even turn it off. It took more than a day to get the computer working again-without Internet Explorer 5.5 His new Quicken 2000 upgrade runs three times slower than Quicken 98; it takes a full minute to open the simple checkbook. He hasn't been able to figure out what he's gotten in return for a much slower program. A free version of Adobe's ActiveShare intended to entice customers to buy the deluxe version was so awful the strategy backfired. He doesn't want any more of the company's software.
The answer to the question about how these quality problems are still occurring for other companies is also straightforward. Quality management is an extremely tough business. Not only must we continually apply the best known methods and tools, but we must stay focused on what is truly important. Even the smallest slip can lead to disastrous results-results that can destroy a company's reputation and profits in a very short time.
There are a number of common problems in these examples. Customers are infuriated when they're promised far more than is delivered. These promises can be explicit, as in the airline ads, or implicit. Customers expect tires to not come apart on the highway. They expect software upgrades to work better than the old versions. They expect new software to not kill their computer. They expect someone to answer the phone quickly and be able to answer questions and provide service. It's actually pretty simple: Customers expect products and services to confirm to specifications-either written specifications or implied ones.
It's time to go back to basics. Promise only what you can deliver. Create quality management systems to ensure that you deliver what you've promised. Measure quality at every stage and make sure that products work and services meet expectations. Continuously improve your knowledge about customers needs, wants and expectations. Admit to problems quickly and fix them!
Those are the basics. To actually survive in business we must do more. We must not only deliver what the customer wants, needs and expects; we must do it better than others offering similar products and services. And we must do it at a better price. That's all.
About the author
A. Blanton Godfrey is dean and Joseph D. Moore Professor at the College of Textiles, North Carolina State University. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Reprinted with permission of A. Blanton Godfrey. Article originally appears in Quality Digest, December 2001, p. 14.
THIRD FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
By - Cadet Major Kelly Strong
Air Force Jr. ROTC, Homestead, FL -1988.
I watched the flag pass by one day
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mother's tears?
How many pilot's planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldier's graves?
No, freedom is not free.
I heard the sound of "Taps" one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That "Taps" had meant "Amen",
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of all the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington,
No, freedom is not free.
THE QUESTION BEHIND THE QUESTION:
QBQ! (The Question Behind the Question) QuickNote #1
John G. Miller
Author of the QBQ! book.
"Why do we have to go through all this change?" Have you ever heard that question? It's no different than using the Seven Sinful Words: "We've Never Done It That Way Before!"
Our oldest of seven children, Kristin (19), called from her bank teller job at Wells Fargo. My "How's your day going?" question got this response: "What a drag, Dad, I'm dealing with change!" I told her, "Honey, we're all dealing with change - it's everywhere." She said, "No, Dad, a guy came in with $300 in quarters today and I got stuck rolling it - I'm REALLY dealing with change!"
Well, it's still true: We're all dealing with change, aren't we?
Of course, CHANGE is not the real problem, nor even the speed of change - it is the way we RESPOND to change with our thoughts, emotions, and actions. We are all currently challenged by:
Changing workforce: As "managers and leaders" get older, it's more difficult to understand the unique values and thinking of the younger people they employ.
Changing customer: More informed, higher expectations, more options, more assertive ... more quickly ready to "walk."
Changing relationships and roles: Restructuring, reorganizing, and "right sizing" - all breeding confusion, if not fear.
Changing view of resources: It's likely your organization and you are spending less dollars, hiring less people, and securing less space than a year ago. "Do more with less!" - right?
Changing technology: Enough said.
Not one of these is within our control. What IS within our control, though, is our response. When we respond to change with Blame, Complaining, and Procrastination, we do NOT adapt as swiftly to change as the market requires. But what would it be worth to you and your organization if we did?
We can do it - as individuals - by asking a better question, one that allows us to renew our sense of ownership, personal accountability, and individual power. When this happens, each of us is able to anticipate, accept, and adapt to change.
Instead of asking a lousy question like, "Why do we have to go through all this change?" let's ask a productive question - a QBQ! - such as: "How can I adapt to the changing world around me?"
It is a question that gets answers. Answers that move us and our organizations forward - today.
COMING IN THE NEXT FEW ISSUES:
Ethics in Business
Design for Assembly
Customer Relationship Management
Key Account Management
Six Sigma for Small Business
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