Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – October, 2020

Welcome to October 2020 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the year 2020, we have chosen the core subject of Revisiting Basic Quality Concepts w.r.t. the sustained success of the organization As of now we have visited

We take up Performance Measurement for Sustained Success as our next core concept this month–

Beyond a simple agreement about it being linked to some kind of measurement of performance there is little consensus about how to define or use performance measures. [1]

Also, selection of inappropriate measures is also seen as a wide-spread phenomenon.

The three major reasons that seem particularly relevant in this context are:

  • The overconfidence bias  
  • The availability heuristic
  • The status quo

To determine which statistics are useful, you must ask two basic questions

  • First, what is your objective?
  • Second, what factors will help you achieve that objective?

The most useful statistics are persistent (they show that the outcome of an action at one time will be similar to the outcome of the same action at another time) and predictive (they link cause and effect, predicting the outcome being measured). [2]

The great Coca-cola turnaround strategy rested on placing equal emphasis on Performance (what an enterprise does to deliver improved financial and operational results for its stakeholders) and Health (how effectively people work together to pursue a common goal),

Beyond Performance 2.0 lays down five frames of performance and health are collectively called the “5As”:

  • Aspire. Where do we want to go?
  • Assess. How ready are we to go there?
  • Architect. What must we do to get there?
  • Act. How do we manage the journey?
  • Advance. How do we continue to improve?

The following figure shows the specific steps within each of the five frames of performance and health, as well as the relevant masterstrokes – important lessons about human irrationality and how to work with it constructively.[3]

From the vast variety of literature available on the subject, the foregoing two articles possibly neatly picks up the essence of what a performance analysis for the sustained success ought to be. Here are few more additional readings on the subject:

The detailed note on Performance Measurement for Sustained Success can be accessed by clicking on the hyperlink.

We will now turn to our regular sections:

In the series the Organizational Culture, we have taken up Organizational Culture Transformation – The whole journey of change covers both internal and external environments and the gradual sense of identity regarding who we are. “Vibrant cultures have high levels of performance because they create internal cohesion, attract talented people, and inspire employees to go the extra mile.”[4]

We now watch ASQ TV, wherein we look at a relevant video from the archive:

  • Dashboards as Management Tools – Dashboards are being used as management tools that harness data from an organization to predict trends and highlight actions that should be taken as a result.

From Jim L. Smith’s Jim’s Gems this month we have picked up one –

    • Choose different words to describe quality information in a different light – as initiatives, opportunities, or preventive actions.
    • Become bilingual to use terms with which other departments are more familiar.
    • Get over the myth that the greatest economic case for quality is resolving the issues of dissatisfied customers. Instead invest in attainment of customer delight, by focusing on better understanding, and fulfilling the needs of quiet customers who are not dissatisfied but merely satisfied.
    • Redefine yourself and your role as something more than an enforcer of specifications, standards, and regulations.

You might be surprised how the organization will react to the ‘new you.’ You might be amazed to discover managers approaching to ask for your input versus talking about a poor-quality issue.

I look forward to your views / comments / inputs to further enrich the subjects of Basics of Quality and Organizational Culture and their role in Creating and Maintaining Sustained Success.

Note: The images depicted here above are through courtesy of respective websites who have the copyrights for the respective images.

[1] Performance measurement

[2] The True Measures of Success by Michael J. Mauboussin

[3] A better way to lead large-scale changeExcerpted from  Beyond Performance 2.0

[4] Importance of a culture transformation

Business Sutra |6.2| Objective versus Subjective Reality

Business Sutra |6| Measurements

We have covered five episodes of Devdutt Pattanaik’ TV serial on CNBC 18:  Business Sutra.

The 1st episode presented to us the most visible form of the business – the corporation: its meaning, its purpose and its action perspective. In the 2nd episode Devdutt Pattanaik discusses Leadership: Role of the leader, Context of the leader and Leadership in different business cycles. The 3rd episode relates to the Business Ethics and Morals:  business ethics and dilemmas, relationship between owner and the organization  and The Right (Dharma) – the Ramayana way and the Mahabharata way. The 4th episode deals with Conflicts, of the Board and the CEO and that of the means vs. ends. The 5th episode takes unto the realm of Education, wherein Part 1 covered the basics of education to the (potential) leaders in Ram’s Education, Part 2 addressed the Knowledge Transfer to Next Gen and Part 3 dealt with the issue of student motivation.

The 6th episode has taken up the oft-discussed topic of ‘Measurement’, wherein in the Part 1, What Can Be Measured, deals with the definitive need for not ‘only measurement’, but for ‘also measurement’ too.

Business Sutra |6.2| Objective versus Subjective Reality

The western literature of modern management is rich with the subject of measurement management, covering contextual definitions, measurement technique , pros and cons etc.

We have chosen a very brief peek into this huge volume of information.

Difference Between Objective and Subjective would help lay the foundation.

Stacey Barr, a Performance Measurement Specialist, in her one of the articles, Are Your Performance Measures Objective or Subjective?, puts the difference across as: ‘Objectivity means that a measure is not biased or prejudiced by a person’s feelings or opinions or perceptions or mental filters. An objective measure is as close to fact as we can get. Objective measures are like kale and blueberries for our decision-making diet. Super nutritious….But when measures lack objectivity, we call them subjective. This includes hearsay, opinion, data from very small samples (like a sample of one!), data from ambiguously asked questions, data from hand-picked samples, and assumptions or guesses. Subjective measures are like hamburgers and ice-cream for our decision-making. Junk food.’

Therein lays the apparent dislike for the subjective measures.

There is also ample literature, covering different industries, that also discusses about bringing in objectivity in the subjective measures.

The debate still goes on, and in all likelihoods, will continue to go on as well.

So, we turn over to Segment 2 of the episode 6 wherein Devdutt Pattanaik takes up the subject of Objective versus Subjective Reality. It may please be observed from the words and tone of the opening lines that the present episode is in seamless continuum of the previous episode.  

I get the conversation about not ‘only measurement’ but ‘also measurement’. But how do you propose that we  do away with a large amount of the  measurement that are that currently exists in the system? When we’re small organizations of 5 10 15 people, you can make the measurement more subjective, less objective, bringing the human element, human interaction, one-on-one communication etc. But  when you’re dealing with large organizations, when you’re dealing with organizations that employ 50,000, 1 lakh to l lakh people then some part of that measurement does have to get systemized, because that is the  only way to standardize. Because that is the only way you can measure at that scale.

Big or small, organizations are about people. Every organization is built on teams. It is a simple HR practice that a person should not have more than five or six people reporting to him. So, ultimately it is about five or six people teams that build up so large organizations. So what you have is a measurement of these five people by the boss. We also agree that 50% of these measurements will be objective – quantitative and that the rest of 50 % will be subjective, qualitative. We also agree that the leader will be biased no matter how many auditors you get in. This means that I have to work on him to strip him of bias, to bring in more integrity in his behavior. This also means that it is not just about measurement but it is also about investing in people such that his subjective call is good enough.

We generally say that too much of energy is being wasted on investing in people, so better invest on a system. A subjective measurement would want somebody to pay attention to human beings inside. The System – process is about removing this attention. Attention is about relationships, it is about people having integrity. But, I can’t guarantee integrity. I have a process and a system and a method it is not necessary to give attention and I will come to the truth.

I’m not even saying that. But look at this:

  1. I have a large number of people, and
  2. that the measurement is subjective.

Therefore, when you have a human being doing the measuring, that human being may come to the table with his or her own prejudices, and therefore, measuring the other person’s performance output through the lens of that prejudice. So maybe a system not only allows me to deal with a larger number of people be also to some extent standardizes the communication and therefore eliminates to some degree the prejudice that a human being may bring. I am not saying systems are perfect, because even human beings are not perfect.

Today the other culture is to replace human beings with systems. That seems to be the mindset, because objective measurement is all that I need. Subjectivity is being withdrawn, the need for attention required is being withdrawn. In other words, we need both – ‘also measurement’ and not ’only measurement’. That is the shift which I’m asking for.

That results in uncertainty..

That WILL result in uncertainty.

So, how do you get away from that uncertainty, because in an organizations everything is driven to a fair degree of certainty – what are you going to earn next quarter, what are you into our next year, how are people going to perform, do you have enough people on the bench? Everything is driven towards certainty.

We can measure only some things, but the universe is infinite.  The measurement is finite. The possibilities are infinite but measurement will always be finite. Talk to the entrepreneurs. Did they create the business based on measurement? Usually they use the measurement to validate their gut feeling.

                                                             Kama and Yama

The gut feeling is Kama, the god of desire, the god of lust, the god of instinct. Then comes the god of death, Yama, the god of measurement. So the measurement comes second, gut comes first.. The second one validates the first one. Overreliance of Kama cannot work, he is irresponsible, and he holds the bow in his hand and keeps shooting the arrows of wishful thinking all over the places. You need to restrain him, So Yama holds in his hand a lasso to restrain him. Too much of restraint and death will happen; too much of Kama and there will be complete chaos. So the question is how do you balance between the two and that is where the human element is critical.

When we talk about systems and processes in the extremes, we seem to aim to do without human beings. That is a very dangerous thought to happen, because what are organizations for if not about people.

So, if the western school tends to believe more in striking maximum objectivity in the subjective measures, Indian Mythology seems more inclined in retaining the essential touch of human element in the full scale efforts to bring in the objectivity in measurement processes and systems. This is where the first episode also had ended – not ‘only measurement’ but ‘also measurement’.

In our continuing journey of Devdutt Pattanaik’s TV serial Business Sutra, we will move on to the 3rd segment of the 6th episode What Are You Worth?, in our next episode.

Note: The images used in this post are the irrevocable property of their respective creator. They have been taken up courtesy the internet, so as to illustrate the point under discussion.

Business Sutra |6.1| What can be measured?

Business Sutra |6| Measurements

We have covered five episodes of Devdutt Pattanaik’ TV serial on CNBC 18:  Business Sutra.

The 1st episode presented to us the most visible form of the business – the corporation: its meaning, its purpose and its action perspective. In the 2nd episode Devdutt Pattanaik discusses Leadership: Role of the leader, Context of the leader and Leadership in different business cycles. The 3rd episode relates to the Business Ethics and Morals:  business ethics and dilemmas, relationship between owner and the organization  and The Right (Dharma) – the Ramayana way and the Mahabharata way. The 4th episode deals with Conflicts, of the Board and the CEO and that of the means vs. ends. The 5th episode takes unto the realm of Education, wherein Part 1 covered the basics of education to the (potential) leaders in Ram’s Education, Part 2 addressed the Knowledge Transfer to Next Gen and Part 3 dealt with the issue of student motivation.

Devdutt Pattanaik takes up one of the most fundamental tenet of the management theory in the 6th episode the series. In the prologue to the episode, he states that, ‘Every B-school teaches students that what cannot be measured cannot be managed. Implicit in this comment is that there are many things out there that cannot be measured, hence cannot be managed. But is that true? We cannot measure our relationships yet we manage them one way or another. The need for measurement comes from the desire to get to a truth that is independent of human bias, independent of human beings. But is truth independent of humanity. Organizations are a bunch of human beings – so an organization’s truth can never be objective. It will be subjective. It will be informed and influenced by the goalpost and the values one chooses to believe in.’

He ends his submission with the lines from the poet Alvar (Tamil mystics who lived at least a thousand years earlier):

“I wonder who is measuring.
I wonder what is measured.
I wonder who determines the measuring scale.
Are they different or the same?”

Business Sutra |6.1| What can be measured?

It would be almost axiomatic to assume that the modern western management science and the practices too, rest quite solidly on the foundation of measurements. In order to make the measurement as objective and as dynamic, it has cast its net wide into several other social, economic or pure and applied sciences. From the beginning of 20th century till now and even thereafter, all-encompassing debate keeps overflowing the western management literature.

The subject is highly researched and hotly debated, resulting into the considered outcomes that span form one of the spectrum to the other.

So, we leave the detailed pursuit of the western management thoughts on “What can be measured” to our readers and take up the Segment 1 of the episode 6 wherein Devdutt Pattanaik takes up the subject of What can be measured?.

Can everything be measured? Is all measurement accurate? Is it true that if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it? Are we headed for measurement overkill? Is that why in mythology the god of accounting or measurement is none other than Yama the god of death?

But the truth of our modern lives is that everything has to be measured – whether it’s our personal ambition, personal happiness or our professional output and therefore professional success. How do you escape measurement?

When we use the word measurement, we are trying to create an objective reality. It is the one that we all can agree is the reality. But there is another reality that exists which is the subjective reality – the personal reality.

Let me explain this in the form of a story. One day Narad came to Mount Kailasa, with a mango in his hand. He said this mango is for the one who runs fastest, who goes three times around the world the fastest and so Ganesha and his brother Kartikeya decided that we will go for the race. Karthikeya immediately leapt on his vehicle, a peacock and flew around the world three times. As he started his rounds, Ganesha sat right in the center doing nothing. He just sat there waiting, while his brother was flying around the world, once and then twice. Just when his brother was about to complete the third round, Ganesha got up and just went around his parents once twice thrice and said I won the race. Kartikeya contested the claim. Ganesha says you went around THE world, whereas I went around MY world.

What matters more in this story is the difference between objective and subjective reality. Karthikeya represents objective reality in this narrative and Ganesha represents subjective reality. Both types of realities matter. So when we are talking about measurements we focus only on one half of the truth – the objective reality. We have completely ignored the other half of the truth which is subjective reality, which is gut feeling, which is qualitative, which cannot be measured. It is about taste, it is about instinct, it is about intuition which cannot be measured. Some of the greatest success stories in the world are based not on objective reality but on the subjective realities of imagination.

But everything today in the world is driven towards measuring everything, whether it is objective or subjective. Is your argument then that some things just cannot be measured?

Some things cannot be measured. Emotions cannot be measured.

But you can create them – are you happy? Are you very happy? Are you very very happy? There is some form of measurement.

Let me tell you the danger of the story of what happens when you try to measure EVERYTHING. You’ve heard about the tragedy of King Lear, the Shakespeare play. It is about the tragedy of a king who tries to measure the love of his daughters, This play is based on a German folktale of the goose-girl which of course all Indians will claim is has its origins in India.

The story is that of a father who asks his daughters how much do you love me? The eldest daughter says I love you as much as sugar and the youngest daughter says I love you as much as salt. In the father’s mind sugar had a higher score and so he said the elder daughter loves me more and the younger daughter does not love me. He, therefore, rejects the younger daughter. Yet from the younger daughter’s perspective she was trying to say how much she loved him because you cannot eat anything unless it contains salt. You cannot eat anything unless it has some salt. So it is the matter of your perception.

The measuring scale may be objective but the measurer is not nor is the person who’s reading the measurement. So if I look at a measure scale, on one side is the person who measures and the other side is a person who is reading the measurement. There are two people, each one coming to the table with his respective bias, with his prejudices. We are completely ignoring this. We assume that if an auditor comes into the picture he will figure out the truth..

Because he is more objective…

The auditor is a human being, with his own prejudices, with his own bias, with his own power games, coming to the table. We do not realize that what the truth that emerges is not just the measure what the measuring scale tells us but a combination of the reading on the measuring scale as well as the subjective realities of the person who measures, the person who is reading the measurement and then the auditor in between. So what you get is a very warped reality.

But there is no solution to this, because we have to measure in the modern world.  In large organizations if you want to reward, you have to understand how good the performance is before you reward it. Therefore measurement is embedded in almost every stage – how the individual performs in an organization, how a team performs, how the organization itself performs for shareholders, for stakeholders, etc. So, how do you get away from measurement, while fully acknowledging that part of it is subjective and part of it is objective?

We are trying to create a world which is 100% objective and therefore we are assuming that we will create a fair world. This is The Promised Land, where everything is 100% objective. This is the goalpost – I want to create the objective world, a fair world. But if you recognize that no matter how hard we try, we will only be 50 percent objective.  Therefore, all our measurements will have flaws in them. I am closer to reality if I am comfortable accepting that the balance sheet is not THE truth, the CV which comes to me is not THE truth. It is an indicator of the truth, but not the whole truth. That recognition is sometimes missing, because of what I call as an  over reliance on measurement. Today it is only about measurement, where as it should be also about measurement.

Let me give you an example of subjectivity. You have heard the story of a king called Mahabali who will give everything to anybody whatever they want. Suddenly, a dwarf comes in front of him. The dwarf says give me three paces of land. Mahabali says yes take three paces of land. So the dwarf starts taking the first step. The moment he takes the first of the three paces, this dwarf turns into a giant and takes the gigantic paces. Within the paces covers the heaven and earth and then he has no place to put his third foot. He says where I should put it. The Mahabali says put it on my head. With that he is crushed and shoved under the earth.

The story talks about subjectivity of measurement. What I think is three paces and what the other person thinks is three paces is very different. So the person who created the measure and the person who is using the measure are looking at very differently. That is where conflicts emerge. We would like there to be this one absolute measurement scale, but everybody’s reference point is different. That is the point that is referred to in the Indian mythology – not in its philosophy. The word measure is based on a on a Sanskrit alphabet called MA, from where comes the word Measure. From this not only the word Measuring Standard comes, which is the reference measuring scale, but also the word Maya which is delusion.

So what one is basically told is be careful of measurements….

So, like the western school, Indian Mythology does not outright reject the measurement. Both have very meticulously laid out that sole focus should not be on the measurement but the measures should also be viewed holistically – from the perspective of why measure, for whom to measure, to measure in what context, how to and how much to measure, when to measure, etc.

In our continuing journey of Devdutt Pattanaik’s TV serial Business Sutra, we will move on to the 2nd segment of the 6th episode – Objective vs. Subjective Measurements, in our next episode.

Note: The images used in this post are the irrevocable property of their respective creator. They have been taken up courtesy the internet, so as to illustrate the point under discussion.

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – May 2015

Welcome to May 2015 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

In our last episode of April 2015, while casting our net to search for articles for “Improving measures of measurement of process”, we came up with a mixed bag of results. That required us to take a more detailed look at different aspects measurement of measurement processes. For the present month, we would look at the first building block -‘performance measures and metrics – of the process of measurement.

Performance Metrics and Measures There is overlap between measures and metrics. Both can be qualitative or quantitative, but what distinguishes them is important. Measures are concrete, usually measure one thing, and are quantitative in nature (e.g. I have five apples). Metrics describe a quality and require a measurement baseline (I have five more apples than I did yesterday)… measures are useful for demonstrating workloads and activity, and metrics are useful for evaluating compliance, processes effectiveness, and measuring success against established objectives…. measures are useful for demonstrating workloads and activity, and metrics are useful for evaluating compliance, processes effectiveness, and measuring success against established objectives.

Measuring Process Performance presents Process Capability and Maturity Model, using metrics to improve performance.

Performance metric measures an organization’s activities and performance. A criticism of performance metrics is that when the value of information is computed using mathematical methods, it shows that even performance metrics professionals choose measures that have little value. This is referred to as the “measurement inversion“. For example, metrics seem to emphasize what organizations find immediately measurable — even if those are low value — and tend to ignore high value measurements simply because they seem harder to measure (whether they are or not).

Measurement InversionKey Performance Indicator (KPI) and Performance Measure Development – Performance Measures are developed for each of the Strategic Objectives. Leading and lagging measures are identified, expected targets and thresholds are established, and baseline and benchmarking data is developed.

Developing Performance Metrics – Performance metrics should be constructed to encourage performance improvement, effectiveness, efficiency, and appropriate levels of internal controls. They should incorporate “best practices” related to the performance being measured and cost/risk/benefit analysis, where appropriate.

Selecting Performance Measures/Metrics

Generally speaking, one of the biggest problems associated with continuous improvement and problem solving is the selection of the most appropriate performance measures or performance metrics….The dependent variables numerically describe the level of success or failure of an organization for a specific period of time, for example, one quarter of a fiscal year. …But how organizations achieve these levels of success or failure is of greater importance… The independent variables are direct measures of the processes that constitute the enterprise systems creating products and services that generate organizational income…Independent variables such as customer satisfaction indices, defect rates, and supplier capability indices provide this information. When these factors reflect well on an organization, their dependent variables are much more likely to reflect overall enterprise success… The most difficult question for most people is what performance measures or performance metrics to use for their system, their process, or their particular step or operation within a process.

Using Metrics to Improve Team Performance – Nathan Heins – Metrics enable clear communication of process goals and current status to all stakeholders… as a new process is implemented metrics confirm that change is working.. metrics provide leadership with insights into where attention and resources are required.

Measuring Success: Making the Most of Performance Metrics – Good metrics involve buy-in at all levels of the organization—not just from management but also from those whose activities are being measured. “Performance metrics are a way to keep your strategic planning activities honest,” says Justin LaChance, Senior Vice President, Financial Planning & Analysis.

Lies, damn lies and metrics: Why metrics should be used sparingly to improve performanceMitchell Osak

CEOs looking to improve corporate performance without damaging employee engagement should heed the following lessons. They include: Metrics mask problems; Metrics create conflict; Managers become overly focused on metrics and not performance; Metrics lack credibility; Metrics can lead to unintended consequences; Know thyself; Less is more; Manage people not numbers

How to Use Metrics to Improve Performance describes a five-fold approach. Creating marketing metrics can help you deploy “big company” tactics in your small company…More importantly; it can help you make better decisions.

We will continue with present subject in some more definitive aspects in the next few episodes.

In the meanwhile, in the second part, we have Paulo Sampaio’s Blog, The Research Group on Quality and Organizational Excellence, from among the Influential Voices Blogroll Alumni. The Research Group on Quality and Organizational Excellence is a research group that develops work in the field of quality engineering and management and business excellence, inviting us to contribute to a ‘better world with Quality’.

We turn to our regular sections now:

Bill Troy, ASQ CEO has presented the three part blog series ‘A Leader’s Roadmap to a Culture of Quality: Building on Forbes Insights-ASQ Leadership Research’. Roy Lawton – author of the book Creating a Customer-Centered Culture: Leadership in Quality, Innovation and Speedproposes to provide the missing and necessary specifics for successful action. In the Part One last month, he spelt out how to successfully address point #1 – All employees must apply the four key elements of any strategy for building a quality culture.  (Page 8: Boeing’s Ken Shead). In Part Two , he spells out how to successfully address point #2 – CLOSELY UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS, on the road to cultural transformation and proposes to provide the missing and necessary specifics for successful action. (page 16: Intel’s Stan Miller and Rudy Hacker). Presently, in Part 3, Roy Lawton goes on to spell how to address #3, viz., Develop a formal quality policy, common language and leader behaviors as deployment mechanisms. (Pages 18-19, HP’s Rodney Donaville.)

Julia McIntosh, ASQ communications in her guest article, The Pros and Cons of Conferences, sets the stage to reflect on the value of conferences, networking, and professional meetings of all types. In her follow through April Roundup: The Case For Conferences, many of the ASQ Influential Voices bloggers shared their criteria for attending conferences, some wrote about memorable experiences at conferences they have attending, while others reflected on the concept of the conference itself.

We then move over to ASQ TV Episodes: You Deliver a Service– Whether you work in manufacturing, government, education, healthcare, or (of course) the service sector, you are called upon to deliver a service. This episode of ASQ TV explores ways to deliver excellence service. We also take a walk into surprising service quality, on the Lighter Side. Here an instance is investigated when exceptional service is offered, but the customer has no idea what is going on, which is known as The Carbonaro Effect. Here are 1 to 25 episodes of the show’s First Season.

Our ASQ’s Influential Voice for the month is – Guy Wallace

clip_image001Guy Wallace is known for his consulting work, writings and presentations on performance analysis and curriculum architecture in large organizations. He blogs about performance improvement, curriculum design, and development at Eppic Inc. (Enterprise Process Performance Improvement Consultancy, Inc.). We will take up just one post to gauge the content on the blog:

Learning to Live With Process Performance Gaps – “Sometimes it’s best to live with a Problem or to miss an Opportunity. Sometimes there are bigger fish to fry – elsewhere. Or – there aren’t enough resources to tackle that Issue – Problem/Opportunity – right now. Or ever.. But…Ya gotta do the math. Ya gotta map the process. Ya gotta frame the problem and/or opportunity…And ya gotta do those 3 things in the reverse order.”

I look forward to your active participation in enriching the blog carnival as we pursue our Improvement journey ………….

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – January 2015

Welcome to January 2015 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the year 2015, we would strive to follow a different pattern than that for the last year.

In the first part, we will put up articles related to Improvement – in its any shade of grey. The second part will take up the blog of any one of the Influential Voices Blogroll Alumni members and will explore that blog in some more depth. The third part will be our regular columns of Article from the blog of Bill Troy, ASQ CEO and the related monthly round up, a look up at an ASQ TV Episode and the continuing series on ASQ’s Influential Voice .

We begin our present episode with articles related to Improvement. Since we have taken up to follow this subject for the whole year, we will take up 3 to 5 articles that come up in the first cut of the search every month. This may certainly mean that what we take up each month, may not the last word, nor it may the exhaustive treatise.

Let’s be honest. How many times have you achieved all of your yearly goals?

The problem is not with goals. Goals provide focus, create momentum and help us stay on track.

The problem is with the goal setting process itself – choosing the right goals and setting up the right support for them.

1. Start with your current goals. Keep your previous goals in mind to create a sense of flow.

2. Connect your goals to a larger purpose that shows why they are important, and helps answer the question “What’s next” once they are achieved.

3. Goal setting is not always a logical process. Sometimes it can make a difference to just hold the intention of something you really want to do, even if you don’t have any idea of how you will achieve it.

4. Write your goals down and put them somewhere visible.

5. Don’t keep your goals a secret.

6. Set up processes and practices that support your goals.

The 90-day Performance Improvement Cycle

In contrast to the annual cycle, the 90-day performance improvement cycle is simply about focusing on and elevating just one performance priority over a 3-month period…. 90 days is a much more tangible timeframe than a year; we can feel its length almost viscerally and can see its end in our mind’s timeline…. It matters far less that we reach our targets each 90 days than we make steady and learned progress…. It’s through action that the world changes, not through thinking and planning.

The Hardest Part of Lean is to See the Waste William A. Levinson, principal, Levinson Productivity Systems – like poor quality, waste effort is built into the job where it is then taken for granted…

The Performance Improvement Blog is about Increasing learning and effectiveness of leaders and managers in organizations. As a way of review of the year 2014, the blog owner, Stephen J Gill has selected five blog posts that seem to have had the most interest for readers. Here are the links of these posts:

Eight Leader Habits of a Learning Culture

The World is Fast…And Learning Must Be Faster

Cultural Barriers to Organizational Learning

Why Your Organization Needs a Learning Culture

Learning to Learn Collectively

International Society for Performance Improvement ® – ISPI – and its members use evidence-based performance improvement research and practices to effect sustainable, measurable results, and add value to stakeholders in the private, public, and social sectors. Founded in 1962, ISPI is the leading international association dedicated to improving productivity and competence in the workplace. ISPI represents performance improvement professionals throughout the United States, Canada, and 44 other countries.

In the second part, we have Complexified’s Blog from among the Influential Voices Blogroll Alumni. The blog has a good deal of refreshing contents. We have selected two of the articles from the blog so as to open a peep-in window to the blog:

“Works better; costs less.”  A catchy phrase, a good slogan. When it comes to the work of government, regardless of political orientation, everyone agrees they want government to work as well as possible.

No matter what method is used, in or out of government, the successful improvement organizations have some things in common:

1)Focus on the Process, not the People.  Deming and others taught that 80-90% of the problems with the output or outcomes of a process of work, are the result of a lousy process, NOT the fault of the people.

2) Everyone has to acquire deep knowledge of the current process in order to make meaningful change.

3) Decisions need to made based on data and facts, not people’s opinions.

4) Differences of opinion need to be fully considered in open, and resolved through respectful dialogue.

5) Failure is an opportunity to learn.  All results provide information to help drive future improvements.

6) It’s not enough to just make it “better, faster, cheaper.”  Aim also at creating “more smiling faces” among your employees, customers, and suppliers.  You’ll be glad you did.

That’s the main part of it.  One more item is needed, in the private sector, but especially in government.

7) Maintain the commitment to continuous process improvement.  Leaders must support the work, making time and resources available to meet, act, and learn.

If these points, or a similar list, were drawn up as a Charter to Improve Government, would you support it?  Would you encourage your government organizations to sign the charter, and commit to continuous improvement?

We turn to our regular sections now:

Bill Troy, ASQ CEO is trying something a little different for the monthly topic for discussion – ‘Is Quality Ambitious Enough?’. The article presents Brooks Carder’s poser – whether ASQ’s mission: To increase the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world, is ambitious enough, particularly when quality is responsible for many of the things that make life better.

Julia McIntosh, ASQ communications , in her ‘’December Roundup: What Does Ambition Look Like in Quality?’ notes that – “Not surprisingly, this became a somewhat contentious topic among the group.

And then move over to ASQ TV Episodes: The Lighter Side of Quality–Stop Saying That, Please

This is an ASQ TV dramatization, wherein Quality professionals tell us through social media what they wish their co-workers would stop saying

Our ASQ’s Influential Voice for the month is – Jennifer Stepniowski

clip_image002Jennifer Stepniowski is the person that’s passionate about what they do. She is the nerd that shows up to the quality conference wearing a “Got Quality?” shirt. She is Communications Director at Pro QC International and an adjunct instructor at Hillsborough Community College. For Pro QC, her primary responsibilities included supplier development, process design and implementation, and training of on-site resources.  In her current position as Communications Director, she develops and executes the organization’s marketing strategy.  She enjoys market research, promotion, representation at trade events. She blogs @ Quality Time.

We have picked up the article, My Family Is SMART! New Year’s Resolution Success, from the blog. Incidentally, it fits with the theme of the present edition.

“Despite using the SMART template for success…we just failed on follow-through.  we failed before we even got started…we needed something visual to represent what we wanted to accomplish…I thought about linking the success of a potted plant with our goals…As time passes, the plant (and the habits we hope to change) will simply flourish as long as we are aware of them, appreciate them and give them the attention they need to thrive….Is it SMART? I like to think so, but time will tell.”

Articles Written:

Quality Progress (ASQ Print Publication) § Blog Boom (7/14) § Quality in the 1st Person – Be the Change (12/13)

Pro QC Newsletter (Editor and Content Developer)

§ A Systematic Issue Management Process – Manufacturing Quality Application § Classifying Quality Defects: Is it Major, Minor or Critical § Determining the Costs of Quality § ISO 26000: Introducing the New Social Responsibility Guideline § Marketing Quality: The Big Picture § Quality Tools for Successful New Year’s Resolutions § Understanding the Inspection Process


§ Four Common Quality Misconceptions § Grid Analysis for Simplified Supplier Selection § Quality Inspiration

Pro QC Blog (Editor and Content Development)


I look forward to your active participation in enriching the blog carnival as we pursue our the Improvement journey ………….

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – July 2013

Welcome to July 2013 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

We commence our present edition with Quality of Personal Improvement.

Dan McCarthy @ The Great Leadership, presents 20 Questions to Assess the Quality of an Individual Development Plan. The article also has further cascaded links to the earlier articles on the subject – How to Write a Great Individual Development Plan (IDP)  @ November 24, 2008; The Power of a Written Individual Development Plan  @ October 29, 2008 and  Eight Step Guide to Developing Your Leadership Skills @ November 23, 2007.
How To Align Yourself to Your Work and Achieve More – details following keys –

1)     Either find work that you love, or find things you love about your work

2)     Listen to your body~ Take care of yourself

3)     Align yourself to solutions ~ not to the challenges you are facing

4)     If getting specific is stressing you out, get general first.

The test and the clues to the alignment of us to our work lies in James Lawther’s article How are you Organised?

The modern day professional life has n-number of occupation stress hazards. Shaun Rosenberg presents us – 7 Extremely Obvious Reasons to Become an Optimist : “History is created by optimists who decide to give it one more try. Being optimistic allows you to create new things and helps humanity as a whole grow. While you may be able to dismiss new ideas with seemingly logical doubt, it is those who seek out new answers and look for possibilities that create growth, and it is with the optimists that all hope for the human race rests.”

Now let us shift our gaze from personal improvement to Process Improvement Tutorials, so exhaustively presented @ Squawk Point. This is a mine of information.

The process of improvement is closely linked to the process of measurements.

We have a quite telling article by Paul Zak – Measurement Myopia, and this what he has to say:

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”- This maxim ranks high on the list of quotations attributed to Peter Drucker. There’s just one problem: He never actually said it.
The fact is, Drucker’s take on measurement was quite nuanced. .. Drucker also knew that not everything could be held to this standard. “Your first role . . . is the personal one,” “It is the relationship with people, the development of mutual confidence, the identification of people, the creation of a community. This is something only you can do.” Drucker went on: “It cannot be measured or easily defined. But it is not only a key function. It is one only you can perform.”
This is why Drucker believed—and so do I — that conversations with colleagues are essential. The science backs this up. Expansive conversations and socializing can induce the brain to synthesize oxytocin, the “social engagement” molecule. When the brain releases oxytocin, we are motivated and internally rewarded to cooperate with others for a common purpose.
The goal of conversations (including, as I’ve written, during the annual-review process) is not only to understand the employee next to you, but the human being next to you.
So, measurement, yes. Only measurement, no.

Peter Wyss @ SUMMSO presents 3 Key Elements for Top Project Management Performance:
Completing a project on time, within the budget and with the quality which the customer or end-user expects can be a challenge and will be an even bigger challenge in the future due to growing expectations, smaller budgets and short time-spans to market…..We experience these challenges on a daily basis and find the following items as the key elements for excellent Project Management Performance:

1) Have a plan
2) Focus on your time
3) Be prepared
Measurements and Analysis can lead to the sustained improvement only on the back of a sound decision-making process.

SqawckPoint shares Can You Make the Right Decisions? : When it comes to making decisions, there are invariably only a very few factors that are important.  If you can find what they are and write down the decision making logic then you could make those decisions far more effectively.

ASQ TV Episode 5: The State of the Quality Profession : In this episode ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement attendees talk about the quality profession today, and what the future holds. A new ASQ research initiative gives us a current global state of quality. Become reacquainted with control charts. And, a Quality Progress character makes his first TV appearance. To learn more about control charts and find a template, visit

There are a few related videos on control charts and SQC techniques, viz. Welcome, Mr. Pareto Head and Control Chart

ASQ has another excellent section – Ask The Experts, for active networking with other professionals. One may easily maintain contact by e-mail subscription to the blog,

Now we start our special section of visiting ASQ Influential Voices, in the alphabetical order in which they appear.

Guy BigwoodOur first destination is Guy Bigwood. Based in Spain, Guy Bigwood is the sustainability director of MCI, an association management company. He is responsible implementing corporate social responsibility throughout MCI’s 48 global offices, and manages a global consulting practice that provides strategic guidance to businesses, associations, governments, and the United Nations. His blog is Less Conversation More Action, which has a tagline- Dispatches from the frontline of sustainability in the meetings industry.
This blog is written by Roger Simons and Guy Bigwood, with help from a few invited guests.   Michael Luehrs provided some great content.

Named as meeting industry “Green Leaders”, the blog was created to share experiences, opinions, best practices and mistakes from the front line of sustainability and the meetings industry.

Before we take up a brief detail on Green, let us complete the tour of Less Conversation More Action.

In one of the recent posts, Sustainability and quality – lets have a group hug, the author lines up the biggest challenge to Quality is to “to get the quality peStrong Teamople talking to the sustainability people and vice-versa. Many of us are focused on the same thing: i.e. Zero

  • Quality: zero defects, zero customer complaints
  • Sustainability: zero waste, zero water usage, zero human rights violations.

And for Quality professionals to embrace the sustainability, the blog has Our Work, which outlines “a few good case studies from some of our clients, to whom we provided a helping hand with strategic consulting, training, coaching, reporting and/or measurement services”; Recommended Reading, which recommends the books to help on the journey of creating more sustainable organisations, and Articles on authors; interviews and what they write for magazines and newspapers.
A brief note on Sustainability would indeed be in order at this stage.

“Sustainability, and the demands it places on our society to achieve it, requires us all to be part of the solution, rather than contributing to any of the number of challenges we face. Sustainability, and sustainable development, requires that we plan strategically to avoid the burning of fossil fuels, the mining of rare metals and the use of chemicals which persist in nature.

As a baseline, sustainability requires that we source the raw materials which fuel our society in ways which are both ecologically and socially responsible. To achieve sustainability, … real leadership and a passionate effort to share knowledge will result in the increased profits, improved brand values, healthier communities, productive environment.. and the gift of a good conscience for all.(Courtesy: GMIC).
And here is somewhat easily understandable way to appreciate the concept of sustainability: Sustainability explained through animation.
The June Roundup questions that Paul Borawasi has posed,

  • What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?
  • And, what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world?

, presents a wide diversity of answers, from a variety of industries.

And we finally round up our present edition with –

Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog Carnival #195
Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival #196
Management Improvement Carnival #197

I eagerly look forward to our exciting Blog Carnival Journey together….

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – June 2013

Welcome to June 2013 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

We begin our present edition with articles relating to Measurement of Performance.

The first article that we pick up has the message of eternal optimistic realism, so essential a trait that every quality person (or any person with a Quality Attitude) ought to ingrain –

You Will Recover From This. – By Ollin Morales

“To fall into truth, then, the illusion must be torn away from us.

But without the tearing away, without the losing of everything, we can never know that we had everything to begin with. We can never know that it is our spirit that is the core of who we are, and that nothing can ever tarnish it.”

If nothing else: if you just allow yourself to endure the night, this courageous act of resilience will be rewarded with wisdom, strength, and clarity of purpose when the dawn arrives. (A dawn that may arrive, sooner than you think it would.)

The articles that we have in this edition pose interesting questions; provide a fresh insight, and in turn lead our focus to the underlying fundamental issues.

Quantitative Versus Qualitative KPIs By Stacey Barr

The distinction between quantitative and qualitative measures is often misunderstood. Technically, every measure is quantitative.

In the field of statistics, we distinguish variables as qualitative (or attribute) when those variables are not gauging an amount but rather are simply putting things into buckets. Qualitative variables aren’t performance measures. But they are used to help us analyse our measures.

In the field of statistics, we distinguish two types of quantitative variables: continuous and discrete.

Three Rules to Deliver the Best Possible Performance for as Long as Possible

Michael Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed went looking for those companies that were good enough for long enough to be considered exceptional and to rule out luck as the primary source of their performance. What they found they have presented in The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think.

  1. Better Before Cheaper – Greater non-price value rather than by lower price.
  2. Revenue Before Cost. – Outperforming through higher revenue rather than lower costs.
  3. There Are No Other Rules – Whatever competitive or environmental changes or challenges you might face, do not give up on the first two rules.

The Toughest Things to Measure by Stacey Barr

“‘Employee Morale, Quality of life, strength of customer relationship, business reputation’ are the items found in the list of “the toughest things to measure in business”.
“The problem is not one of measurement, but one of articulation of the results we want to improve or achieve or create. When you can evidence something, you can measure it.”

Separate your charting and data analysis tools from your enterprise tools by Steve Daum

Online debate rages about whether potatoes and onions should be stored together, with the “no” side saying they both give off gases that accelerate spoilage, and the “yes” followers asserting that it makes no difference. Whether you agree or disagree, you can follow the underlying concept: some things do need to be separated in order to perform at their best. (Hence the practice of assigning twins to separate classrooms, perhaps.)

We have an interesting article that looks at Performance Measurement form a fresh, fundamental angle, linking the process to the human angle  –
What happened to belief that safety is “everyone’s responsibility?” – by Jonathan Jacobi

I believe “safety is everyone’s responsibility.”  That being said, I have seen “everyone’s responsibility” become no one’s responsibility when the buck gets passed.  This is exactly why defined accountabilities and measures of effectiveness are required elements of leading program management standards like ANSI Z10 and OHSAS 18001.
With responsibilities clearly identified and properly distributed, we can assure and not just pay lip service to the adage that “safety is everyone’s responsibility.”  What’s more, by measuring and rewarding success based on leading indicators, rather than just pinning prevention failures on scapegoats, we can help to establish a more positive, proactive safety culture.

And Leadership Thought #436 – Are You Aligned With Your Values And Priorities? By E D Robinson, also provides an excellent insight to the subject.

I’ve often heard it said that if you want to know what a person truly values, pay attention to what they do, not what they say.  Actions do speak louder than words.
I encourage you to step back and reflect on where you are at this point in your life.  Are you aligned with your values and priorities?  Are you moving towards or away from the person you truly want to be? It’s never too late to make positive changes.

People or Process? Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University and the author of The Moral Molecule.

Peter Drucker (borrowing from Marshall McLuhan) wrote that “neither technology nor people determine the other, but each shapes the other.” My own view is similar—that success stems from having the right people and the right processes in place.

8 “Be-Attitudes” of Holding People Accountable by Robert Whipple

The key to leadership is to create an environment whereby people do the best they can because they want to do it. When employees know it is clearly in their best interest to give their maximum discretionary effort to the organization, managers don’t have to crack the whip as often.  Imagine working in an environment where people do the right things not because they are expected, but because it is in their best interest.  In that atmosphere, holding people accountable would nearly always be a positive occurrence rather than negative. How refreshing!

Motivating people: Getting beyond money

With profitability returning to some geographies and sectors, we see signs that bonuses will be making a comeback: for instance, 28 percent of our survey respondents say that their companies plan to reintroduce financial incentives in the coming year. While such rewards certainly have an important role to play, business leaders would do well to consider the lessons of the crisis and think broadly about the best ways to engage and inspire employees. A talent strategy that emphasizes the frequent use of the right non-financial motivators would benefit most companies in bleak times and fair. By acting now, they could exit the downturn stronger than they entered it.

“I find that most companies also tend to reward those who protect the status quo rather than those who want to experiment with change, thereby creating a culture where any failure is a serious career limiter. This will then ensure that people become strongly risk averse and will then only do what has been done before (see “If you always do what you have always done” posted April 29, 2013). Building a culture that is risk averse means that managers will tend to recruit and/or promote only those people that fit the existing mould and who will be unlikely to test the existing boundaries. This protection of “the way we do things around here” will start on day one with the induction of new employees, to put into them the fear of being or thinking differently.”

Even as the title of the article does talk about the Process of Change, the underlying principles are as universal for Measurement of Performance, since change, necessarily, follows the measurement –

Six Simple Questions: A framework for change
In my work with organizations, I’m always trying to find simple questions that generate complex patterns of dialogue and shared learning.

Here are six simple questions to help any organization

1.    How can we best make sense of the challenges we are facing?  (what tools or methods may give us better results)\

2.    How can we best decide on what to do together? (same)

3.    Who can we learn from, and how can we best adapt new knowledge to our own challenges? (same)

4.   How can we best explore promising options and ideas for improvement? (same)

5.    How will we sustain everyone’s commitment to improvement?

6.   How will we assure that we are achieving results that are not only “better, faster, and cheaper,” but also “happier and more satisfying” for our employees, customers, and stakeholders alike?

change happens by denise lee yohn

Joni Doolin of People Report/Black Box Intelligence make an important distinction that clarified the upside of change:  change is passive, but transformation presents an opportunity for you to play an active role and create a better future.
Change is like a high wind on a mountain.  It is unpredictable and inevitable, and often comes on without much warning.  Commitment to a clearly articulated purpose and strong brand stakeholder alignment are like the gear and protection an experienced hiker always has on hand.  So, yes, change happens – but that shouldn’t stop you from summiting the highest of mountains.

Before we turn on other topics, we take look at another timeless classic – “Toyota Way” in Book Review: Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement by  Tim McMahon
Building upon Jeffrey Liker’s international bestselling Toyota Way series of books, The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement looks critically at lean deployments and identifies the root causes of why most of them fail.
The book is organized into three major sections outlining:

  1. Why it is critical to go beyond implementing lean tools and, instead, build a culture of continuous improvement that connects operational excellence to business strategy
  2. Case studies from seven unique industries written from the perspective of the sensei (teacher) who led the lean transformation
  3. Lessons about transforming your own vision of an ideal organization into reality

And, we have a gem of a communication tip in –

Pause for Effectiveness: 9 Powerful Times to Pause – Karin Hurt
A pause gives you time to think and helps calm the emotions.  Pregnant pauses give birth to vibrant ideas.  

Finally, before we take up two more topic categories as regular features in this Blog Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs, we take look at the article that has acted as catalyst for this action –

Maintaining ‘Continued Relevance’ of QualityAnshuman Tiwari

This month Paul has asked two very fundamental questions. If answered and acted upon, they could change the course of quality. Read his blog here. His questions are:

 What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?

 And, what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world?

Shri Anshuman Tiwari is one of the leading ASQ Influential Voices. “ASQ’s Influential Voices are quality professionals and online influencers who raise the voice of quality on their personal blogs. Based around the world, the Influential Voices are passionate about improvement and other key issues in the quality community. They represent countries such as India, Ecuador, China, Malaysia, Australia, and the United States, and comprise a wide range of industries.” From the next edition of the Blog Carnival, we shall, briefly, introduce ourselves to, at least, one such professional’s online “influence” contribution(s).

We shall also enlist the videos placed on ASQ TV during the previous period of the blog carnival.

Here are some very interesting videos, to begin with:

Episode 1: The Customer Experience
Episode 2: Culture of Quality
Episode 3: Recalls and Quality
Episode 4: Supply Chains

We shall also make the monthly round up on ASQ our regular feature to end our Blog Carnival edition. For the present we have May Roundup: Deming, Management & More
to accompany our constant companion,

Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog Carnival #194

I eagerly look forward to our exciting Blog Carnival Journey together….