2017 Year in Review (RECAP) – Part 2

Some of the activities that kept my brain “ticking-over” 🙂

Toolkit sharpeners (2016 – 2017):

  1. November 2017- Presenter/Speaker – “Achieving Effective Communication (in the Age of Social Media)”, 2017 ASQ European Quality Conference, Berlin, Germany
  2. October 2017- Judge – 2017-18 American Society for Quality International Team Excellence Awards ITEA (preliminary round), Charlotte, NC
  3. October 2017- Facilitator – “QI Starts with Awareness (Interactive Spaghetti Diagram)” Workshop – 2017 MUSC Lean Six Sigma Healthcare Symposium, Charleston, SC
  4. May – September 2017 – Continual Improvement for Social Responsibility (CISR-P®) course & certification – SHERPA Sustainability Institute
  5. August-October 2017 – Volunteer: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Raleigh, NC | DTM Foundation, Cary, NC
  6. February 2017- Presenter/Speaker – “Selling Lean and Six Sigma (Securing BUY-IN)!”- ASQ Lean & Six Sigma Conference, Phoenix, AZ
  7. January 2017- Presenter/Speaker – “Case of a Quality Practitioner in Public Health” – ASQ Raleigh Section Six Sigma Group, Raleigh, NC
  8. November 2016- Judge – 2016-17 American Society for Quality International Team Excellence Awards ITEA (preliminary round), Raleigh, NC
  9. May 2016- Presenter/Speaker – “Put on the Oxygen Mask First (Self-Care)” – After 5 – ASQ World Conference, Milwaukee, WI



2017 Year in Review (RECAP) – Part 1

This incredible year’s experiences and activities began in May 2016 (the beginning of a period I called “Sabbatical”). Sabbatical in the sense that I needed time off to regroup in every sense of the word – in retrospect professionally, emotionally, physically. There was no time limit or plan – the focus was to heal and rejuvenate. Not as easy to do as I thought LOL – I found it a real bugger to shutoff, winddown, tune out!!! It took about 3 months to be okay about not being on a schedule but once this state was achieved, it was the most liberating state I could have gifted myself!

blogPicDec2017Now that 2018 has begun, I find myself recapping the events of 2017. The Quality Practitioner related ones I will recap in 2 posts (Part 1 & 2).

One of my goals for this time-off was to reset the ways & means of advocating for Quality practices (completely burnt out by April 2016). Mid-2016 to the end of 2017 was spent attending conferences, facilitating workshops, speaking about OpEx, attending numerous webinars, volunteering for a few nonprofits, pursuing certification in Social Responsibility improvement and more. Aim: continuous improvement of my Quality Practitioner Toolkit!

Presenting at conferences is especially affirming, challenging, intellectually rewarding. These are some of the things that go into it:

  1. The conference itself (Quality, Social Responsibility, Healthcare…).
  2. The theme & focus areas e.g. 2017 ASQ WCQI was “Grow Your Influence”: Risk & Change, Quality Fundamentals, Focus on the Customer…
  3. Review of my Toolkit and experiences and what I would love to share.
  4. Develop PROPOSAL with the above and the audience (potential attendees) in mind.
  5. Await response of acceptance or rejection of proposal.
  6. Acceptance (YAY) – now to flesh out, develop presentation (based on presentation guidelines set by the conference organizers) and send in for review and approval of presentation content.
  7. Once presentation content is approved, move on to prepping for presentation delivery. Practice! Practice! Practice! 1-hour timeslot, I aim for 40 minutes delivery – 20 minutes audience participation, Q & A – 5 minutes wrap up
  8. All the above is done with the audience in mind. The goal is to facilitate a sharing, participating, interactive session.

*List of conferences et al will be posted before the New Year…

Another opportunity to stretch Toolkit!

picToday I received notification that workshop abstract submitted for the MUSC  (Medical University of South Carolina) 2017 Lean Six Sigma Healthcare Symposium was accepted by the Symposium Abstract Review Committee!

Abstract“Interactive Spaghetti Diagram (QI Starts with Awareness)” – an educational workshop (interactive audience participation).

To think that a few weeks ago I almost deleted the call-to-action email as spam!!!

For the past year, my responses to the “calls to action” seeking proposals for conferences and events, have provided invaluable opportunities for me to learn, share, contribute and be challenged.


Brief: Spaghetti Diagram is a Lean tool that showcases the flow of materials, information and people through a process. It helps to identify waste in movement, transportation, motion and waiting. Tool is typically used in the Define, Measure, Analyze phase of the DMAIC process.

This Workshop is an engaging, innovative, interactive way of using a visual management tool to demonstrate the NEED for AWARENESS when it comes to Quality-Process Improvement.

Awareness sets the stage for Mindfulness which leads to better team dynamics (reduced conflicts = faster more effective & sustained solutions).

15 minutes: A generic floor map is provided | Volunteers from the audience (5x) |Assigned numbers, colored markers & instructions | Flow is generated on the floor map.

15 minutes: Discussion based on the activities from above (audience participation).

15 minutes: Q&A


Keeping Brain Cells Active!

Over the past year (during my sabbatical), one of the activities that has proven invaluable as it relates to continuous improvement – continuous education is speaking & presenting at events (conferences, meetings, etc.). This is funny really since I didn’t consciously pursue speaking engagements. These came about simply by responding to “call to action” requests from organization i.e. call for proposal submissions to fit event themes and focal areas. Rising up to these requests, I have relied  greatly on digging deep into Lessons Learned, reflecting on past experiences (professional & personal), etc – this is not regurgitating books, articles, abstract unproven methods! One of the most over riding considerations, is the need to provide valuable, interactive, engaging content to attendees/audience i.e. would content be relevant, how can lessons be succinctly conveyed…

Here is a proposal I was working on for the 2018 ASQ Lean & Six Sigma Conference (missed the deadline):

– DRAFT – This is an overarching best practices approach

Topic: “Change Happens: Ways to Sustain Results (Best Practices)”

Introduction: Picture this just spent months on a Quality initiative – experienced all the joys, pains, lows and highs such an endeavor would entail such as: team conflict, lackluster team/leadership engagement, resource allocation issues, etc. Despite challenges efforts are triumphant as project goals are successfully achieved. One of the most crucial aspects of initiative management is ensuring that reverting to the old ways/methods doesn’t happen. How to ensure sustainability of results is achieved?

Definition of Changes: “To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone: to change one’s name; to change one’s opinion; to change the course of history, to transform or convert (usually followed by into)” – http://www.dictionary.com


Ways (mechanics, methods I’ve used in my practitioner – flesh these out 30+ slides) :

  1. Traditional LSS Tools & Change Enhancing Methods (Change Management):
    1. Control Plans, Communication Plans, Future State Implementation, Process Health Monitors (relevant KPIs, SPCs, Dashboards)
    2. ADKAR Method (Change Management), SOFAIR Method (Sustainability), AGILE (venture out of the boundaries of LSS tools and techniques. As Quality Practitioners, our Toolkits need to be robust holistic all encompassing – staying in one lane will hinder improvement and sustainability.
  2. People, People, People: People revert if there is no system in place to support change (buy-in, champion, resources, engagement, etc.).
    1. Involve all relevant stakeholders.
    2. Leadership Engagement.
    3. Leverage spirit of partnerships.
    4. Practice Self-Care,
  3. Culture Shift: tackle initiative from a culture shift approach versus piece meal isolated project to project “checking the box”.
    1. Holistic tied to Strategic Direction (mission, vision, purpose, goals, objectives).
    2. Embrace the use of technology, “disruptors”, innovation-mindset (examine for what they are, develop strategies for engagement then incorporate into “how we do, what we do!”.

Conclusion/Close: Change happens, change will happen, change is inevitable, change is natural & unnatural. Embracing this realities will set the foundation for achieving success, developing, implementing and maintaining results.


Note: planning to develop the above into a presentation or article!





#WCQI17 – Time for Replenishment!

The 2017 American Society for Quality (ASQ) World Conference on Quality and Improvement took place this week (April 29 – May 3).


This is an annual opportunity for me to replenish the “Quality Kool-Aid”! This event singularly resets and re-calibrates my mindset, toolkit, outlook and joy for all things Quality.

Something new this year, I signed up to be a Site Committee Volunteer. Duties entailed 8 hours of work to include session room monitor (attendee & speaker assistance), manning an information desk. Options were given to select the sessions we were interested in. I opted for sessions selection as well as being placed where ever assistance was needed.
Back-end view provided an invaluable opportunity to glimpse the immense amount of work & resources that go into the planning & execution of a world conference. ASQ being ASQ means that top-notch effort was exercised. For instance, volunteers vetted via online customer service training & quiz, 1 hour onsite in-person training, always with the request to provide feedback to inform continuous improvement of the process (talk about walking the talk, eh?).
Compulsion to provide the best customer service and contribute positively to the attendees experience. Volunteers were required to wear blue ASQ branded vests (on shift) – this provided a great opportunity to identify, chat and connect with fellow volunteers.

Looking back on my WCQI conference experiences since I started attending in 2011, I realized that my reasons for attending & takeaways have shifted over time (to coincide with my Quality experience maturity).

A few years ago it was all about voraciously gobbling up Quality knowledge i.e. fundamentals and foundation such as getting to know DMAIC (phases and the appropriate tools). Nowadays, it is about how to apply & utilize the abundance of acquired knowledge. I’m especially drawn to lessons learned and project report-out sessions (project experiences such as what worked/not, conflicts & resolution, team & project management, resources allocation, dealing with buy-in, etc). The opportunity to connect with fellow Quality Practitioners is priceless!

See you in Seattle, WA for ASQ WCQI 2018 (#WCQI18). Hope to share conference with friends based on the West Coast who were unable to attend this year!



Presentation-Speaking Butterflies!

“Call for Proposals” received. Call answered, proposal developed (per conference theme & focus areas) and submitted for consideration. Wait to receive submission status…

Fast-forward to day of presentation. Counting down the hours till time-slot. Stomach tied up in knots. These thoughts racing and jumbling through my mind – Why did I sign up for this? What was I thinking? Why do you do this to yourself? I am not going to do this again!!! Yikes! Sigh!

These thoughts are blessedly FLEETING though! 🙂 The driver/motivation behind sending in a proposal has to do with:

  • Sharing experiences which would in turn, provide content that can provide Lessons Learned that attendees/audience can incorporate into their own Tool-kits.
  • Providing affirmation or validation (via content of presentation) of attendees/audience’s own techniques and practices.

Content for my presentations are derived from professional and  personal experiences (work, home, life, education) of the past 16 years. I am apprehensive about the reception of my presentations because:

  • Fear/Worry that content might not resonate/be relate-able with audience.
  • Presenting especially to other Quality Practitioners is daunting!!! This audience knows/lives the content – if it isn’t spot on not acceptable, every effort must be made by me to make my contributions meaningful, of value and on the day deliver an interactive, fun and engaging presentation!

So on to the next “Call to Action” – invaluable opportunities to challenge complacency & Tool-kit, continuous improvement, continuous education, self reflections and all things that “stretch & contract” for the better 🙂



Yikes!!! No pressure, eh 😉

Notification: Speaker @ 2017 Lean and Six Sigma Conference!

I received an email today, notifying me that my proposal was accepted to present at the 2017 Lean and Six Sigma Conference in Phoenix, AZ on Feb 27-28, 2016!!!!!!!! Wow!

The title of my presentation is: Selling Lean and Six Sigma (Securing Buy-In). I will start fine tuning my PowerPoint slides in September and aim to submit final version in October. Looking forward to having an interactive lessons learned session with attendees!

I am still on sabbatical (i.e. not working) but my Quality Practitioner activities are very much alive and kicking. My interests are leading to uncharted professional areas. I am getting some invaluable opportunities to stretch my knowledge, skill-sets and tool-kits. So empowering and rewarding to put my brain to use 🙂