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Maset News

Volume 11  February 20, 2002

Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Helpful Hints from fellow Practitioners
New Truths on Quality
Top Ten List
Feature Of This Issue
Second Feature Of This Issue


Welcome to MASET News. A monthly publication dedicated to the communication between MASET and our many interested friends, customers and potential customers




We have instituted a number of new changes beginning with this issue of the MASET NEWS. We hope you will like them and that you will contribute to them.

The first will be a section devoted to ideas that have helped us in the journey of Continuous Improvement. We call it "Helpful Hints from Fellow Practitioners" and you will find it in the left column. Your suggestions for this section are solicited and appreciated. We want to spread the word about things that have helped anyone be a better coach, teacher, facilitator or mentor.

The second new section will be a series of monthly quotes on a subject of interest to many of you. The first series will be the "Truths on Quality". The first series were published by Motorola about 10 years ago but are still valid today. We thank Motorola for creating them. We are looking for similar series for future issues. If you have a list or would like to create one, please contact me.

The third section will be a list of "Key Learnings" that have been summarized as quick bullets for you to think about applying in your everyday pursuits. The learnings will address many different areas both personal and business. Please let us hear from you regarding our additions and changes. As always, we seek your feedback and comments about content.

Articles featured this month

  • I Love a Screamer is an article I read last year and have begun to use the philosophy described with pleasant results. With all the stress that surrounds our lives we need to learn to control our own anger and our behavior. Dirk shows us the rewards of being polite and how we can help our fellow humans after they have had a very unpleasant encounter.

  • The second article this month deals with effective use of the telephone. As many businesses are looking for ways to reduce costs, business travel has been greatly reduced. The use of the telephone has become the Customer contact method of choice. The way you conduct yourself on the phone now determines your chances of success. The feature article by Jeffrey Mayer reminds us of five simple rules to follow which will significantly increase the results we achieve.




  • "I thought that the article by H. James Harrington in the last Maset News was very much to the point, though I was a little concerned about the comment, "It's time we forget about this Six Sigma hokum". If the comment was meant to signify, to quote from the article, "Playing the Six Sigma game - looking at all the possible ways an output can be measured and summing them up to claim the item meets the Six Sigma objective," then I totally agree. We have all seen organizations that were so concerned about exactly what "sigma level" they were at, that they became totally internally focused. They completely missed the point that what matters is understanding where they stand in their customer's eyes, and then working to continually improve that measurement. However, if the comment, was meant to imply that the Six Sigma Concept is "Six Sigma hokum," then I have a real problem.

    As many of us know from first hand experience, the Six Sigma Concept is extremely powerful. The appropriate use of the tools covered by that "umbrella", together with its customer focus, can produce very significant improvements in Customer Satisfaction, cycle time reduction, huge cost savings, etc. If the concept is applied to all aspects of a business with total commitment from, and participation of, all levels of management, then that business can become a world beater. Companies that Harrington mentioned, like IBM, Motorola, Xerox and AT&T, were world beaters, but I suspect they forgot about customer focus, or chose to ignore it, in many aspects of their businesses and suffered the consequences."

  • "Keep up the good work"

  • "I look forward to receiving your monthly news letter. There is always at least one good idea that I can apply in my work"
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  • We would like to thank Mr. Vineet Agrawal, Executive Vice President, Wipro Limited, for his letter to us covering the assistance we provided Wipro during their early implementation of Six Sigma. Wipro has had remarkable success through the use of the tools of Six Sigma.

  • This month we have added a new category under our Products and Services titled "Computer Integrated Management Systems" Two new offerings have been added with many more to come. Maset has gained significant capability in the area of ERP implementation and assorted Data Base services.

  • We have added five new "Success Stories" to our list. There are many more that we are planning to add in the near future. Use our special search capability to find Success Stories that cover interventions similar to your needs.

    As always do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

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  • "You will surely find a few silent participants while facilitating a meeting or training session. The meeting may loose the benefit of the wisdom that such silent people do have. Politely and patiently, lead them to talk, encourage them, and compliment them for their ideas. You will also help them to remain awake during an afternoon session."

  • "Preparation for meetings and discussion sessions is key. Just a little thought in terms of providing a pad and pencil or pen at each place setting before a meeting immediately signals that this is a professional gathering and the facilitator has taken time to consider the needs of the participants."
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    Old Truth

  • Quality Programs Best Fit Products and Manufacturing

    New Truth

  • Quality Is Also Important in Administration and Services
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    Key learnings in - Negotiation

    1. Think as much about what the other side needs as you think about what you want

    2. Identify their priorities and yours…..see where you line up. What is important to them but not as important to you is your bargaining chip. Give it away for something important that you want back in return. That's where the heart of the negotiation is.

    3. Connect before content - build and work the relationship up front before you begin to negotiate. The tighter the relationship, the more you are able to problem solve rather than negotiate.

    4. Playing cards close to your chest just makes someone play their cards closer. Work to build trust by sharing information.

    5. Telling the truth is a smart thing to do: it leads to others able to trust what you say when you say it.

    6. Don't tell others what they should do for you…..if they wanted to do it they already would have, so telling them just makes them irritated.

    7. Sometimes playing "dumb" is smart. Ask questions. Questions get answers; statements get resistance.

    8. Failing to plan is planning to fail. A good negotiator should be prepared, in both understanding and anticipating issues as well as knowing their bottom line. If you know where it is, you won't step over it.

    9. Options keep you at the table. Come with flexibility, choices, alternatives, and you can stay at the table a long time. If you show flexibility, so will the other side.

    10. Listen. Listen. Listen.





    Dirk Dusharme

    I love a screamer-the guy who shoves his big red schnoz six inches from the airline gate agent's face, threatening to sue the airport, the airline and the ticket agent because his flight was overbooked and his seat reassigned. His decibel level slowly winds up to F-14-Tomcat-on-afterburners range, as if the sheer volume of his voice will convince the (now spittle-specked) agent to miraculously make a seat appear or, better yet, eject the passenger who had the gall to show up earlier than the screamer did. That guy. I love him-especially when I'm next in line.

    I smile at the gate agent. "Tough day, huh?" The agent is usually so relieved to have a sane person to talk to that she'd gladly kick her own son off the plane just to make sure I have a seat-or at least try a little harder to book me on another flight. The screamer, meanwhile, gets a fistful of flight vouchers and a tight little smile.

    I get special treatment all the time just by being pleasant in the face of service problems. Because I don't believe the airline is deliberately trying to make me late or that a clerk is truly trying to make me miserable (at least most of the time), I have no need to humiliate the bearer of bad news. A pleasant attitude has gotten me an entire month of long distance wiped off my phone bill, discounts on poorly handled transactions and even extra service or merchandise. It isn't that I roll over and let poor product or service go unnoticed; I point out the error-politely. Isn't it funny how people bend over backward to help correct a mistake when you treat them with respect?

    On the rare occasion this doesn't work, you need to evaluate your goal and decide whether an argument is worth the hassle. For example, it was 11 p.m. when my co-worker and I attempted to check into our hotel near this year's Annual Quality Congress venue in Charlotte, North Carolina. The hotel clerk told us the hotel had overbooked. We pressed a little, but he assured us that all the rooms were occupied and offered to put us into the hotel next door. So we accepted and were in bed before midnight. Another guest, who arrived later, argued with the hotel staff for 45 minutes and was eventually put into a suite. Did he win? Our hotel had better service, cleaner rooms and a free all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Was it worth 45 minutes of raised blood pressure and a stay in a lesser hotel just to make a point? Frankly, once you turn out the lights, there is no difference between a suite or a storeroom.

    Some time near Christmas, I managed to get in line behind a screamer (actually, more of a loud harrumpher) at a cell phone store. The store had more customers than it could handle, and the sales people were doing their best just to keep up (cell phone purchase transactions can be lengthy). The man in front of me was obviously tweaked at having to wait 30-45 minutes to be helped and let his opinion be known…loudly and obnoxiously. By the time I got to the salesperson, she was more than ready for a smile.

    I smiled. "Tough day, huh?"

    I had come to buy a cell phone for my daughter. But by the time I left, the salesperson had thrown in an extra hands-free headset and discounted my existing service for the next three months. The screamer walked out with a phone.

    You see, screamers make a crucial error. They forget that a salesperson has the power to not only solve their problems, but also to make them forget the problem even existed. In most retail or service industries, all complaints are covered by a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. Be nice or be a jerk, the error will be corrected or recompense offered just the same. But what comes next is what makes the difference. The mistake screamers simply don't seem to realize is that the person at whom they're bellowing is, in fact, a person with feelings…and well-developed passive-aggressive skills. Trust me: If you put frontline people on the defensive by getting in their faces, they will go exactly by their customer service training and give you the minimum amount of extra service required to make you shut up and go away-and do it with a smile. You would, too.

    On the other hand, if something goes wrong with your transaction and you put yourself in the position of the person who has to hear your complaint and calmly present your issue, nine times out of 10, you will come away with more than you bargained for. Because service people often deal with irate customers, their first response when they see you approaching with a complaint is to tense, waiting for the inevitable onslaught of invective. If you instead hit them right between the eyes with politeness, they crumble like mama's pie dough.

    I was in the local outlet of a large hardware store chain the other day when a screamer pounced. He was at the checkout stand, and I was in plumbing-about a football field away. It started as a slow angry rumble, key words taking odd bounces around corners- "BOTCHED ... IDIOTS ... SONS OF ... MOTHER ... " and built to a pipe-rattling screech about how he will never, ever, not-in-a-million-years shop in this store again. About 15 second later, a linebacker wearing a manager's badge came chugging down by aisle headed for the counter.

    Now, I'm sure the customer had a legitimate complaint. And I'm sure he got a discount or all of his money back or something as compensation for his immense "pain and suffering." After all, having the wrong toilet delivered can leave a lifetime of emotional scars. But I'm also pretty sure that's all he got.

    I swept a handful of pipe fittings off the shelf and into my shopping cart and got to the counter as quickly as I could.

    I smiled. "Tough day, huh?"

    About the author

    Dick Dusharme is Quality Digest's technology editor. E-mail him at


    Reprinted by permission of Dick Dusharme. Article originally published in Quality Digest, June 2001, p. 64.





    Jeffrey J. Mayer

    Five-Step Telephone Technique

    Follow my five-step telephone technique and you'll see a dramatic change in your telephone activity:

    1. Introduce Yourself.

    Always say: "My name is.... I'm with...."

    2. Can You Talk.

    Then ask: "Do you have a moment?" You are asking permission to speak to them for about 10 more seconds.

    3. Elevator Speech.

    Tell them what you do with your 6 to 10 second elevator speech.

    For example, I say: "I help people grow their business, close more sales, and make more money." A client of mine who owns an art gallery says: "We help people have beautiful homes." An investment advisor client says: "We help people manage their money so they can achieve their financial goals." What's your 10-second elevator speech?

    4. Ask Permission.

    Then say: "I was wondering if I could take a moment to tell you a little bit about what I do?" Here you are asking for their permission to continue the conversation.

    5. Turn Around Question.

    When the person gives you their permission to continue, ask a turn around question. Don't talk about you, your products or your company. Ask them questions about them, their products, and their company. People love to talk. Encourage them to do so.

    All you've got to say is: "Tell me a little bit about your company [or whatever is appropriate]."

    Use this five-step telephone technique and you'll see dramatic improvement in your telephone activity. You'll schedule more appointments, close more sales, and make more money.



    Reprint permission granted in part or whole when the following credit appears: "Reprinted with permission from "Jeffrey Mayer's Succeeding In Business Newsletter. (Copyright, 2001, Jeffrey J. Mayer, Succeeding In Business, Inc.) To subscribe to Jeff's free newsletter, visit"




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