Volume 7 October 23, 2001
Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
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
MESSAGE FROM CHARLES LOEW:
In the last issue of MASET NEWS, I mentioned my recent return from a three-week vacation trip to China. Since an earlier visit in 1985, I found significant changes. The signs of growth are everywhere. In the large cities construction cranes and heavy equipment are visible on every block in the business areas. Both large and small buildings, which will house offices and businesses, are being built. The infrastructure at the airports and streets appears to be up to par. There are many more cars and modern buses with fewer bicycles and scooters compared to 1985.
The progress in most areas is quite amazing. Currently, the Chinese economy growth rate is around 8%/year. It seems very plausible that China will be at the same economic level in twenty or thirty years as the United States is today. This will create a tremendous opportunity for the world economy. Is your organization going to benefit from this growth? Opportunities abound.
We found the Chinese people appeared to be happily occupied with daily living. Many young people greet us with a smile and a "Hello". English is now a required subject at all levels of education.
Karen Su, our guide, passed along the following story. The Chinese Communist Party recently had a debate regarding the admission of capitalists to become party members. The hard-liners predictably said "No", but the subsequent overall vote was - "Yes". What an amazing change!
When we review all the successful interventions that have been performed by Maset associates, we find there is one common thread. That thread is the commitment of the Senior Executive of the organization championing the initiative.
This month's feature article, "Quality Starts with Management", by James Harrington nicely highlights this topic. Harrington looks at management and its performance rather than the product or service performance of its respective organizations. It is amazing how poorly management performs compared to the same yardstick applied to the rest of the organization.
COMMENTS FROM OUR READERS:
Some comments from our readers. All comments are welcome.
"Thanks for sending me wonderful piece of information through Maset News. These articles are really useful. You really deserve congratulations for doing service of mankind. I hope you will continue to send me Maset or any other related information".
-- Received from a subscriber in India
The following Question was also received:
Question: "Is Six Sigma only a way to reduce defects and show savings or is it something else?"
Response: Six Sigma can be implemented in any organization. The first way of implementing Six Sigma is to use it as a methodology to change the culture of an organization and get all members on board to provide Total Customer Satisfaction. Customer is defined as both the internal customer as well as the external customer. In many organizations, very few associates ever see the external customers. However, in all organizations every one has many internal customers. Total Customer Satisfaction can be achieved by understanding the needs of the Customer and totally satisfying the defined need. This methodology changes the behavior patterns of everyone in the organization resulting in a growth oriented, viable organization that is constantly trying to improve and attain Total Customer Satisfaction.
The second way of implementing Sigma Six is to drive projects within an organization to reduce defects, resulting in reduction of costs and a better product or service for the customer. The potential weaknesses in this implementation lie in the way projects are selected and the reporting methods commonly used in most organizations. Both tend to concentrate on the dollar savings and focus on internal savings, assuming the external customer will benefit. Each project usually succeeds in delivering saving, but often does not addresses the true root cause of the problem.
Contact Maset for further information or assistance in implementing Total Customer Satisfaction in your Organization.
NEW ON THE MASET WEB SITE:
Welcome Dave Skinner as a new member of the Maset team. Dave has extensive experience in working with small organizations and assisting in the early Quality initiatives. He is an expert at implementing 5 S improvement programs.
Joe Debes also joins our team. Joe has a considerable number of years of experience in the area of Project Management. He has successfully managed projects of all sizes and consistently brings the projects in on schedule and within budget.
Under the Products and Services heading we have added the information on the 5 S -- Keys to a More Productive Workplace. This is an excellent program to begin the Quality Journey. Contact us if we may assist you in this area.
FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:
QUALITY STARTS WITH MANAGEMENT
(Low expectations breed mediocre managers.)
--H. James Harrington
I've worked in the business environment for more than 47 years and have yet to find one manager who performs at a quality level equivalent to that of even the average production worker. A good production worker consistently performs at the parts-per-million error level. Most managers perform at the errors-per-hundred level. Missed schedules. Starting meetings late. Not following up on commitments. Lack of prompt feedback. The list of management errors goes on and on. Why do we live with these gross management errors? I believe we do so because no one takes the time to prepare a management activity inspection plan and conduct management performance audits similar to those conducted in the manufacturing operations. We simply don't expect managers to perform at the parts-per-million level. We have grown to accept mediocrity as superior management performance. As such, the biggest single opportunity for improvement in business today is management performance.
If you look at the major roadblocks to improvement within most organizations, you'll see they include issues such as lack of employee trust, lack of management credibility, lack of training, poor communication, fear of risk-taking, lack of delegation, untimely decision making, misdirected measurement systems, lack of employee loyalty and lack of continuity.
Without the removal of these roadblocks, the organization cannot make major progress. Nevertheless, each of these roadblocks can be broken down only by management. And the single area most often rated as the one that needs to be improved in employee surveys I've seen is trust in management.
You can buy employee's time, effort and skills, but you cannot buy their enthusiasm, loyalty or trust. Managers must earn these. Salary increases and bonuses won't do it; only a close, open, honest, personal relationship between management and the employees will. It's a two-way system that must be initiated by management's respect for and trust in their employees. Too often, however, managers quickly get disappointed when they make an investment, be it time or money, and don't see it immediately returned. Nonetheless, there is no quick fix, and management has to prime the process many times before they can overcome the negative feelings that they've built up in their employees. It requires that management develop a true and sincere interest in their employees, not just as providers of services, but as individuals with problems, personal needs, families and concerns. Too many managers today believe that loyalty is dead-that employees only look out for themselves.
Management's actions during the past decade certainly have dampened employees' spirits and increased their distrust of management's loyalty to them. You can't pick up a newspaper without seeing articles about employee layoffs, government cutbacks and organizations requesting that their employees put forth additional effort with increasingly fewer resources. In reality, loyalty and trust are decreasing because management has driven them down, which reflects the frustration that employees have with managers who haven't bothered to truly take an interest in developing a personal relationship with, and personal responsibility for, their employees. This distant style of management is really a type of self-protection, an inner sense that if managers keep the employees at arm's length, if and when something negative happens within the organization, the managers won't feel so bad about laying employees off. Managers need to truly demonstrate that they're concerned about their employees, not just their own interests. Most employees want to trust management and be loyal to the organization, but so far, they have been given little reason to do so.
As managers, we have to act in ways that merit employees' trust and loyalty. We earn their trust and loyalty by being sincerely and genuinely interested in the employee's present and future goals, and by dealing with them as adults and providing them with the information necessary to make intelligent decisions. Building trust and loyalty is difficult in today's environment, but it can be done and is being done by managers who are truly interested in their people. Those managers who take the time and make the effort find it is well worth the price they pay.
Management has destroyed its own credibility, often without knowing or understanding how or why. Typical management mistakes that destroy credibility include hiding bad news from the employees; telling half-truths and outright lying; not living up to the organizational mission, values and visions; not dealing properly with poor performers; and avoiding decision making.
Credibility builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. And loyalty breeds success not only for the individual, but for the organization as a whole. This important cycle has to start with management and is an absolute necessity before we can call upon employees to improve.
About the author
H. James Harrington is COO of Systemcorp, an Internet-software development company. He was formerly a principal at Ernst & Young, where he served as an international quality adviser. He has more than 45 years' experience as a quality professional and is the author of 20 books. Harrington is a past president and chairman of the board of both the American Society for Quality and the International Academy for Quality. Visit his Web site at www.hjharrington.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted by permission of H. James Harrington. Article originally appeared in Quality Digest, August 2001, p. 16.
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