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Maset News

Volume 37  April 22, 2004

Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Helpful Hints from fellow Practitioners
Top Ten List
Feature Of This Issue
Second Feature Of This Issue
QBQ! QuickNote
Coming in the Next Few Issues


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




We welcome Diane Prange as a new associate to Maset. Her vast array of experience includes performance improvement efforts, cross functional process mapping and Six Sigma quality as well as expertise in instructional design of leadership. She has conducted many training workshops, including Maset's new workshop, "Conducting A Benchmarking Visit", which is one of Diane's creations.

This month we begin a five part series "Creating Organizational Excellence" by H. James Harrington. The first article covers learning the processes in your businesses we believe you will enjoy this series and find it useful.

Our second article has been written for us by James F. Bracher who, in association with Dan Halloran, recently published a new book titled Integrity Matters. This month's article concerns openness and transparency. Jim addresses this in the realm of education and the news media. In addition to being a very interesting article, it also has some great advice for our youngsters.

Our QBQ article this month will catch your interest. As you begin to read the article you are lulled into complacency and then quickly learn how an organization must create believers and how great people can be lost if their belief in the organization fails.




  • "It is nice to hear that you have enlisted Dr. William Stinnett, an expert in coaching and working with executives, to the Maset team. His extensive experience in the fields of coaching and training of facilitators and trainers and extensive research in Organization Development should be the right things, which we urgently need."
    - Address Unknown

  • "I truly enjoyed each article and I want to say keep up the good work"
    - Washington DC




Benchmarking is a very important tool in assisting an organization to improve. One problem that faces many organizations is how to prepare for and maximize the visits. This could be to a visit to a competitor, supplier, trade show and even a customer. A new workshop, "Conducting A Benchmarking Visit" is a new Maset offering assisting you in getting the most from every type of visit.




First Day First Minute (of presentation, meeting, training session):

Introduce yourself, and then ask everyone to introduce themselves by answering the following questions:

  1. What is your first and last name?
  2. Where were you born and do you wish you were back there (in that location) instead of in this session and why?
  3. Who decided you should come to this session, and why?
  4. Now that you are here, what do you want out of this session when we are finished?
  5. Do you carry just a cell phone; a cell phone and a pager; a bunch of electronic devices so people can reach you, and do you get annoyed when other people have theirs ringing when you are trying to listen to what is going on in the session?




"Transition Made Easy"
  1. Understand new and changed requirements.
  2. Determine scope and permissible exclusions.
  3. Adopt the Process Approach
  4. Revise Your Quality Manual and procedures.
  5. Focus on an expanded top management role.
  6. Establish measurable quality objectives.
  7. Prepare your Transition Plan
  8. Inform your organization of changes and plans.
  9. Update your internal audit program.
  10. Identify areas for continual improvement.
       ---Thanks to BSI Inc. for this list





by H. James Harrington

Successful companies must first learn
to manage their processes

For the last 50 years, quality professionals have tried to impose quality systems on businesses, governments and academia. And our track record, hasn't been stellar, especially when you consider that quality control, total quality control, zero defects and total quality management have all failed, and Six Sigma is failing. Why is it that new quality methods inspire an initial spurt of success before slinking into oblivion like their predecessors? Their fate is similar to old toys that get stuffed in a dark corner of the closet when a new toy is found under the Christmas tree. This exercise in futility stems from applying quality initiatives like bandages to an organization when what's really needed is fundamental organizational change. Treating symptoms usually doesn't affect a cure. Organizational excellence is designed to permanently change a company by focusing on five important elements. Each of these isn't new by itself, but learning to manage them together is the key to success in the endless pursuit of quality. In this column I'll discuss the first key element: process management. As a concept, process management certainly isn't new to quality professionals; it's the basis of most improvement methodologies. A process is a series of interconnected activities that take input, add value to it and produce output. It's how organizations do their day-to-day routines. Your organization's processes define how it operates. Consider the simple process model below. In order to manage a process, the following must be defined and agreed upon:

  • An output requirement statement between process owners and customers
  • An input requirement statement between process owners and suppliers
  • A process that's capable of transforming the suppliers' input into output that meets the customers' performance and quality requirements
  • Feedback measurement systems between process and customers, and between process and suppliers
  • A measurement system within the process

These five key factors should be addressed when designing a process. However, the problem facing most organizations is that many of their support processes were never designed in the first place. They were created in response to a need without really understanding what a process is. The best methodology I know to overcome this problem is area activity analysis. AAA methodology is a simple approach used by natural work teams to define the key processes they're using. AAA defines:

  • The natural work team's mission
  • The natural work team's major processes
  • The customers for each major process and agreed-upon output specifications
  • The suppliers for each major process and agreed-upon input specifications
  • The internal process that converts input into output
  • Efficiency measurements for the process
  • The measurement system

Dividing these elements among the natural work teams reduces the effort required by any one group and puts the process understanding in the hands of those who work with it. So, what's required to manage a process? You must:

  • Prevent errors. A process must be designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, to create mistakes.
  • Understand the capabilities of each activity within the process to produce acceptable output on schedule. This can be accomplished through process capability studies.
  • Identify negative changes in the process so they can be corrected before the process goes out of control. Control charts do this well.
  • Ensure that new people are trained before they become involved in the process.
  • Detect errors resulting from activities that are incapable of producing acceptable quality levels.
  • Report detected errors.
  • Define the root cause of errors and initiate a process to eliminate them.
  • Obtain customer feedback that defines process errors so that the process can be improved.
  • Develop ongoing feedback to your suppliers about their output's acceptability and obtain their plan for eliminating unacceptable input to the process.
Simple Process Model

As you can see, when it comes to managing it, a process is almost like a small business. All processes should be designed, documented, measured and controlled. This is as true of a chip-manufacturing process as it is of hiring or accounts payable processes. Most of the work that quality professionals do is related to continuously improving our processes. Some of the tools we use include design of experiments, process capability studies, root cause analysis, document control, quality circles, suggestions, Six Sigma, Shewhart's circles, ISO 9000, just-in-time manufacturing and supplier qualification, among many others.

Next month I'll discuss project management, the key to real improvement. Basically, processes are the way we do business; projects are the way we improve our processes.

About the author

H. James Harrington has more than 45 years of experience as a quality professional and is the author of 20 books. Visit his Web site at

Reprinted with permission of the author H. James Harrington. Originally appeared in Quality Digest, January 2003, p. 107.




OPENNESS: operational transparency *
(Attribute # 3)*

Is appropriate information about your organization
(and your society) readily available?

*from Bracher Center's
Eight Attributes for Building an Integrity-Centered Company

By James F. Bracher

Earlier this week, a friend forwarded comments that have been incorrectly attributed to the world's richest person, Mr. William Gates III. In fact, this youth-centered counsel was written by Charles J. Sykes, author of the book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, Or Add. Although Mr. Sykes never uses the word Openness or even describes transparency, he is very clear about what young people need to know to function, contribute and possibly prosper in today's world. His candidness and insights emerge from one who understands the real world and is willing to offer counsel based upon experience and not simply theory. Much of his advice seems to hit home for multiple generations.

He talks about how feel-good, politically-correct teachings created a generation of younger people with little concept of reality and how these inaccurate perceptions can set them up for disappointment and even failure in the real world. Here are Sykes' fourteen points:

Rule O1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.

Rule 02: The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it's not fair. (See Rule 01)

Rule 03: Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a (designer) label.

Rule 04: If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. Most bosses don't have tenure, so they tend to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, bosses are not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Rule 05: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. However, they would have been embarrassed to sit around talking endlessly (about the latest fads and personalities) and not working all week-end.

Rule 06: It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like the very generation from which you want your independence.

Rule 07: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills; cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Rule 08: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See: Rule 01, Rule 02 and Rule 04.)

Rule 09: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Not even (Spring or Winter) breaks. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we're at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule 01 and Rule 02.)

Rule 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable (as some of the cute and attractive "airheads" who have become celebrities).

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

Rule 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

Rule 13: You are not immortal. (See: Rule 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a young person. Maybe you should start now. If you choose to thank me, please know that you're welcome.

Addressing Openness, which means operational transparency, requires serious thinking and even more serious actions. In this article our focus is in two areas.

First, Openness, transparency, touches on education, as was presented by the 14 comments presented above in bold type. Students need to have confidence that their teachers are preparing them for the real world-whether it be for additional academic pursuits, a job in business or a career in the military. Young people need to know, have trust in those who are their guides, that what they are being taught and modeled, is based upon a success formula that can be followed. Sykes pulls no punches and neither should those who teach - formally or through association with youth, as parents, coaches, adult friends, family members or leaders and heroes to whom young people look for guidance, assurance and direction.

We owe those who depend upon us to tell them what we know as well as what we do not know. Our transparency can assist others as they learn to distinguish between well-meaning opinions and substantive knowledge, usually built upon experience. There is no substitute for the truth. Our responsibility is to prepare the next generation (which often means continuing to work on ourselves) so that we are more productive and better citizens.

Second, Openness challenges those who provide our news to keep a watchful eye on what it is that they present. The members of the media are accountable for providing us with "real" news, the essential information you and I need to keep our freedoms. When those who bring us the news are forthright in telling us what we need to know, versus simply reporting what they hope we might want to know, then they become excellent stewards of the essential information that will keep us free.

Education, information and integrity are keys to our future not simply for younger people, but for every citizen. As another political season unfolds, at least in the United States, it is important to seek knowledge, truth and wisdom.

Recently, a university student sent the following question about Openness and enabled us to think, even more deeply, about the nature of operational transparency. The straight truth builds trust and offers a dependable pathway upon which to chart a constructive future. Here is the question and response:


"OPENNESS: operational transparency"

Why do you feel that openness is so important in an integrity-centered company?


Openness in organizations encourages two-way communication. Leaders listen as well as talk. Sales professionals, managers, front-line employees and customers all know that the way relationships are built in a "give-and-take" culture builds trust. As a consequence, the politics of "manipulation" is replaced with a process of direct and immediate feedback - confirming the importance of helping one another, making a legitimate profit and sharing credit for success while energetically owning mistakes. Integrity-centered organizations - whether creating cash for profits or simply enhancing the impact of a not-for-profit endeavor - accept the importance of providing stakeholders with necessary and appropriate information.

Privately-held institutions, those not having outside investors, may manage their finances and their operations more discretely; however, their values and culture will always be visible. And, if they have been in business for a generation or more, their reputation will speak volumes about who they are and how they operate.

Many years ago, while consulting with a well-known entrepreneur, he offered the following advice regarding how to lead and manage. His words were: "Never do or say anything that you would not want your parents to know about." This may not be profound, but it could have modified the behaviors of many who find themselves and their companies on trial for illegal and inappropriate actions.

Openness does not mean foolish and irresponsible "giving away" of trade secrets or profitable business relationships. Nor does openness suggest that "skilled executives" are masters of secretive manipulations, always playing their hands "close to their vests." Integrity-centered organizations know that talented individuals require trust and deserve to understand the larger picture in order to leverage their talents in the best ways possible. Such forthrightness and transparency are risky, but are not nearly as costly as not enabling those who are central to the enterprise to bring the best of their skills and abilities to bear on the projects that lie in front of them. Since human beings are not mushrooms, very few would seem to enjoy being left in the dark and simply having manure tossed on them until they could be harvested and consumed. Openness allows the sunlight to shine and bring life to the enterprise. Yes, openness is important.

Published for Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column in "The Californian," Salinas California.

James F. Bracher is the Founder of Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership - or at



QuickNote #11
"When will they improve things around here?"

Could things be better at your organization? Does your organization have problems? Actually, most don't have problems. They have "opportunities," "issues," and "situations"! Do you ever want to say, "Hey boss, come over to my world, I'm surrounded by challenge!!!"

Years ago I was driving to a sales call. I had just bought my first car phone - for $950! Hard to believe, isn't it? And that's back when car phones were actually attached to cars! The air time charges took some getting used to, but I was happy to have it that day because I was lost. I dialed the company's number and I'll never forget the woman who answered. Her name was Stephanie. With both joy and warmth in her voice (on a Monday morning, no less), Stephanie asked if I would hold. "No problem," I said. After a minute of expensive air time had passed, I was about to hang up when she came back on and said, "Mr. Miller, are you still there?" "Yes I am," I responded, and then came the words I've never forgotten. "I'm so thankful you held for me!" Her voice was sincere and positive. "No problem," I said. As she gave me directions I was thinking about her earlier choice of words. Thankful? She said she was thankful I had held for her, and I could tell that she was. And, by acknowledging my patience and thanking me as she did, she made me feel as if I had a 20-inch sign around my neck that said, "I'm special! I'm important!" So when I arrived at her building minutes later, I couldn't wait to meet her and I was not disappointed. She was everything I had imagined: Friendly, upbeat, and energetic. After getting settled into the lobby, I walked to the reception counter, leaned across, and spoke quietly. "Stephanie, if this organization isn't careful, somebody is going to steal you away." She smiled, looked left and then right, and said in a soft voice, "Someone already did. Today's my last day!"

The economy is tough, the stock market is sick, corporate layoffs and scandals are everywhere. Recently, I asked a group of eighty people from twenty firms, "How many of you know someone who has been laid off?" Every single person raised a hand. So maybe my personal favorite "meeting theme" doesn't work right now. I don't know, but I'll take the risk - here it is:

"Believe or Leave!"

There. I said it. And I said it because I still believe it. I hope it doesn't sound harsh. But in good times or bad, organizations still need people like Stephanie. People like you. Maybe more than ever. Certainly more than ever. But wherever we choose to be we need to have BELIEF - in self, colleagues, our products and services and the value they add to our customers' lives, and the institution I represent.

Stephanie's BELIEF had cracked. So she made a choice. It was her choice and the right one for her. How about you? How's your BELIEF doing nowadays?

Here's a test to measure your own BELIEF in the organization you represent:

Do the things I say about my organization while at work match what I say about my organization at home that night?

Go ahead and read that question again. What's the answer? "Yes" or "No"? If I say positive things at work and negative things at home, I probably have a crack in my BELIEF in the very institution I have chosen to be the ambassador for each day. And if that's true, who am I failing? Everyone from customers to colleagues to family to myself. There certainly is a better question than "When will they improve things around here?" Naturally, it's a QBQ!

"How can I best use my gifts, talents, and skills in today's world?"

Practicing personal accountability means answering that question honestly. If the answer means staying right where you are, then attack the problems with an attitude of BELIEF. But if it means a change of address for you, then take with you your BELIEF - and your cell phone just in case you need directions.

 John G. Miller
author of the QBQ! book.




  • Sales and marketing workshops
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