by Dirk Dusharme
Baldrige Aims for Health
Education in '98
If Congress passes NIST's 1998 budget request, the
Baldrige National Quality Program may finally have the funding it needs to
launch its long-awaited health care and education categories. The project,
which would expand the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award to include
those categories, has been on hold ever since the pilot program ended in
A lack of federal funding for BNQP prevented the launch of the two new
categories in 1996 and 1997. But, if the 1998 budget request of $5.3
million (about $2.3 million more than the past two years) makes it through
Congress, the program could be launched in 1998, says Harry Hertz,
director of the BNQP.
Important to Congress's vote will be the amount of interest and support
the pilot program generated. Hertz points out that health care and
educational institutions have requested more than 30,000 copies of the
pilot program criteria, and more than $800,000 of private funding has been
received by the Baldrige Foundation to help launch the health care and
"With those communities coming forward and saying that they are ready
and eager and supporting it financially, I think it's a compelling case
being presented to Congress," says Hertz.
The Baldrige office is moving ahead with planning for a 1998
introduction of the health care and education categories.
- Baldrige Award budget appropriations
- (in millions of dollars)
Hot Government Web
If you're interested in government downsizing (as
a topic, not as a government worker looking for the ax), take a look at
the Government Executive Web site. The January edition of this monthly
web-zine (also available in print) contains "The Downsizing Report," a
compilation of Government Executive's past four years' articles dealing
with government downsizing.
If there is a better way for government leaders to reinvent, reduce,
retrain or reorganize, you'll probably find it here. The issue contains
more than 50 well-written articles.
What kind of spin should you expect? How about this from author James
Champy in the September 1996 article "Better Government, Not Necessarily
Smaller": "In the private sector, someone has coined the wonderfully
graphic phrase 'anorexic dinosaur' to describe a company that has simply
cut costs and laid off workers, without rethinking its intent. I just hope
that a descriptor like 'plucked Eagle' never has to be dreamed up for some
of our federal agencies."
This site is also a good jumping-off point for government-related
Very comprehensive. Check it out.
ISO Seeks QMS/EMS Harmonization
ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 harmonization and occupational health and safety
standardization were topics of discussion at the International
Organization for Standardization's Jan. 27&endash;28 meeting in
At the meeting, ISO's Technical Management Board discussed setting up a
technical advisory group to address integrating ISO 9000 and ISO 14000
standards. The TAG's goals would be to assess the needs of business and
consumers with regard to ISO 9000 and ISO 14000; recommend a strategic
plan to achieve a compatible set of quality management system and
environmental management system standards; recommend a method to monitor
the progress of harmonization within ISO Technical Committee 176 (ISO
9000) and ISO Technical Committee 207 (ISO 14000); and report and make
recommendations to the TMB, with a view to a proposal being addressed to
the ISO Council before the end of 1997.
At the same meeting, the TMB determined to take no further action to
investigate the development of an ISO standard in occupational health and
safety. The TMB noted that at ISO's occupational health and safety
workshop held in Geneva last September, main stakeholders showed little
support for such a standard. However, to aid countries that are still
interested in information on occupational health and safety standards, ISO
is asking members from around the world to report on standardization
efforts to the ISO Central Secretariat, which will act as a clearinghouse
on the topic.
American Express Builds Value
Strengthening the relationship between customers
and advisors is a crucial value ingredient for Minneapolis-based American
Express Financial Advisors, which provides fee-based financial planning
services to about 2 million households.
To help build and maintain strong relationships, the company began
surveying its customers five years ago. But rather than distribute survey
results to its 8,300 advisors as a whole, AEFA gives advisors with a
sufficient client base feedback on how their particular customers view
them. Client's names are kept confidential.
"The intent of this survey is to give individual advisors specific and
concrete feedback from their clients that they can take action on,"
explains Susan Plimpton, vice president of market information. "That is
quite unique in the industry."
By receiving specific feedback, advisors can focus on problem areas and
improve their service quality, says Plimpton.
Simply getting feedback would not be enough if advisors weren't also
given tools to help improve relationships. A year ago, AEFA began a
technology upgrade program that will eventually provide each advisor a
personal computer with software that tracks all information about a
customer, creates triggers for future contacts and ties into the company's
financial planning database. Now, advisors can generate financial reports
and do "what if" scenarios at their desk, rather then having to forward
client information to the main office for processing, thus increasing
ISO 14000 Lead Auditor Courses Accredited
The first five ISO 14000 lead auditor training courses earned
accreditation in January under the National Accreditation Program,
operated by the American National Standards Institute and the Registrar
Accreditation Board. The accreditations are the final step in a pilot
program for ISO 14000 lead auditor training firms.
Course providers receiving NAP accreditation are: Applied Quality
Systems of St. Paul, Minnesota; Excel Partnership Inc. of Sandy Hook,
Connecticut; International Quality and Environmental Services of
Northville, Michigan; Quality Systems Development of Leitchfield,
Kentucky; and Stat-A-Matrix of Edison, New Jersey.
The newly accredited course providers will train individuals to conduct
ISO 14001 audits. Successful completion of a NAP accredited EMS lead
auditor course is one requirement for certification as an EMS auditor
through the RAB. Courses that earn NAP accreditation have met strict
criteria on course administration, content, delivery and examination
Attention! EMS Registrars and Course Providers
The ANSI-RAB National Accreditation Program is now accepting
applications for EMS auditor training course provider accreditation and
EMS registrar accreditation. In addition, RAB is accepting applications
for its certification program for EMS auditors.
For more information on any of these programs or to request
applications, telephone the RAB at (800) 248-1946 or (414) 272-8575.
What's In a Name?
It might be better to ask, "What's out of a name?" In the case of the
American Society for Quality Control, it could be the letter "C." If
approved by ASQC members, the national trade organization for quality
professionals will be known as the American Society for Quality beginning
The name change has long been advocated by many ASQC members (of which
there are about 130,000), who see the current name as a throwback to
a time when quality was a control or inspection issue rather than an
"We were getting a lot of feedback from customers that the phrase
'quality control' is more associated with manufacturing and engineering,"
says Deborah Hopen, chairwoman of the ASQC. " 'Control' doesn't mean as
much to service industries. É It became clear that the right thing to do
would be to let members vote on it."
ASQC members will receive their ballots to vote on the name change, as
well as constitutional bylaw changes, in March. Results of the name-change
vote will be announced May 4 at the ASQC's annual business meeting.
GE Black Belts Take on Quality
By implementing a massive organ-izationwide
quality initiative, General Electric hopes to save $10 billion in the next
decade. The plan, based on Motorola's Six Sigma program, calls for
training thousands of "Black Belts" in quality -- full-time six-sigma
experts trained in statistical and quality improvement methods. The
program began about a year ago and has generated 1,800 Black Belts so far.
GE is aiming for 10,000 Black Belts by the year 2000 -- "a mammoth
undertaking," GE Chairman John Welch recently told The Wall Street
To become a Black Belt, each recruit goes through a four-month training
program, one month for each of the four phases of a quality-improvement
project -- measure, analyze, improve and control, according to Mikel
Harry, one of the originators of Motorola's Six Sigma program and a
consultant to GE.
Recruits are assigned a process improvement project before starting
phase one training. After three days of classroom instruction, they spend
the next 21 days measuring the process and determining how much it needs
to be improved. At the beginning of phase two, recruits are evaluated on
how they applied their phase one training to the process. This
plan-train-apply-review cycle occurs during each of the four phases.
By the end of the fourth month, the recruits have hopefully put into
place control mechanisms that address the critical process variables of
their projects. They then begin another quality improvement process. After
a certain level of success, a recruit is certified as a Black Belt and
begins full-time work supervising improvement teams.
GE broke even on the first year of the program, spending about $200
million and saving about the same in improved processes, according to a
company spokesman. In 1997, the company plans to spend $300 million and
save $400 million to $500 million. In the next decade, it hopes to save
from $7 billion to $10 billion using Black Belts.
Culture Transformation: More Than Words
Most companies recognize that cultural change
forms the basis for successful improvement efforts. But at Advocate Health
Care, one of Chicago's largest networks of health care providers, culture
transformation is so important that it is one of four strategic themes in
the company's strategic plan. It even formed a separate cross-functional
culture transformation task force to tackle the issue.
"Culture transformation is very important, given that Advocate has more
than 21,000 employees," says Dan Parker, vice president of public
relations and a task force member. "Having Advocate be a good place to
work is definitely going to translate into improved customer service,
better quality care and a sense of responsiveness as perceived by patients
and customers -- a major need in health care."
In essence, Advocate's culture will be defined by its five core values
-- compassion, equality, excellence, partnership and stewardship -- with
those values forming the launching point for every Advocate system, says
Parker. For the past 18 months, the task force has focused its efforts on
human resource systems, management systems, clinical integration,
operating unit integration and communications, with the goal of defining
in positive terms for employees the behavioral attitudes and expectations
associated with living the five values.
In human resources, for instance, the new employee evaluation process
looks at the evaluation process, the forms and the discussions between
managers and employees to ensure that they revolve around developing
appropriate behaviors that reflect living the values.
"If it's clear that a person's performance is directly linked to
behaviors and activities that support the values, and those values are
defined, that's a way of bringing those values to life, making them real,"
Advocate also honors "value leaders" at an MVP (mission, values and philosophy)
Awards celebration. Honorees are recognized for successfully integrating
Advocate's core values into their daily work lives.
Reward the Member, Not the Team
Rewarding teams can be a sticky problem with no
easy solution. However, many companies are discovering that the best way
to reward teams is to compensate team members one by one, not as a group,
according to Perry Pascarella, writing for The Conference Board.
"Keep in mind that fairness in dealing with teams does not mean equal
pay for all," says Pascarella. "Team compensation is not a payoff but a
means of nurturing behavior that fits the group."
When looking at compensation for team members, look at behavior, not
results, says David Goodall, corporate director of compensation at
Motorola. Teams are often empowered to take risks. "Sometimes the risks
they take might not be successful," Goodall points out. "The worst thing
to do would be to rap their knuckles."
Instead, reward behavior, says Goodall. Is the team member a team
player? Is the person an empowering individual? Does this person listen in
a team environment?
Individual compensation has its share of problems, notes Pascarella. In
cross-functional teams, it's not unusual to have highly disparate
salaries. An individual-based compensation structure that rewards a person
earning $20,000 per year the same as another member earning $40,000 per
year could cause problems. And tracking team members' rewards with their
salaries will slight lower-salaried members who participate with as much
fervor and commitment as higher-salaried members.
The secret may be to take the focus off of monetary compensation and
look to timely and personal (one-on-one as well as public) recognition of
a job well done. Trophies, small gifts, vacation trips and so forth have a
lot of impact if given with sincerity, says Pascarella.
My Desk is Here. . .somewhere
Have you had trouble lately trying to find things on your paper-laden
desk? Have you had trouble just finding your desk? If so, a new poll may
inspire you to take action. More than 44 percent of executives said they
consider organizational skills to be the most important quality in a
successful administrative assistant, according to a nationwide survey of
150 executives from the nation's 1,000 largest companies.
"Strong organizational skills are a key to success in any profession,"
says Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, a leading staffing
service that developed the survey. "Set aside time every day to organize
and prioritize. Try handling difficult tasks first, avoid letting incoming
mail pile up, review your project list regularly, and set hourly
deadlines. You may also consider taking a time-management course."