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 March 1997


by Dirk Dusharme


Baldrige Aims for Health and Education in '98
Hot Government Web Site!
ISO Seeks QMS/EMS Harmonization
American Express Builds Value
ISO 14000 Lead Auditor Courses Accredited
Attention! EMS Registrars and Course Providers
What's In a Name?
GE Black Belts Take on Quality
Culture Transformation: More Than Words
Reward the Member, Not the Team
My Desk is Here . . . somewhere

Baldrige Aims for Health
and 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 1995.

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 education categories.

"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)










$5.3 (requested)

Hot Government Web Site!

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 links.

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 Geneva.

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 their responsiveness.

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 procedures.

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 July 1.

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 organizational mind-set.

"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. 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 Journal.

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," says Parker.

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."




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March 97 Quality Digest