2019 conferences (speaking, judging, volunteering)…

Alas, the time has come to prep for 2019’s professional activities. Inbox held several call-to-action messages about submitting proposals for conferences, participating on judging panels, hosting workshops, continuous improvement training – coaching… The past week was spent delving into my brain-space, recalling-reliving past experiences and sorting through suitable content.

These ‘calls-to-action’ provide opportunities to contribute, learn-share lessons learned and best practices (invaluable continuous improvement channels).

I was a speaker in 2017 during the ASQ Lean and Six Sigma conference in Phoenix, AZ – session topic: “Selling Lean and Six Sigma (Securing Buy-In)”. Session was well received and this encouraged me to respond/submit a proposal for the ASQ 2019 Lean & Six Sigma conference. Submission follows (notification of proposal acceptance/not is pending…):

Focus Area: The Human Side of Lean and Six Sigma
Presentation Level: Intermediate
Presentation Audience: Manufacturing, Service/Transactional Delivery, Healthcare, Government

Learning Outcomes:

  • Process improvement cannot happen without human engagement – showcase examples of Toolkit expansion beyond LSS methodology (change management, Scrum, emotional intelligence).
  • Examples of human element aspects: tribes within organizations (Stages 1-5), personality traits (DISC, Myers-Briggs), adult learning pointers…
  • What it means to have Quality Practitioners Neutrality!

Presentation Summary: This session is coming from how a Quality Practitioner tackled the human side of LSS. To secure buy-in, the goal of the conversations Quality Practitioners have with stakeholders is to reassure them that process improvement (organizational excellence) is not personal, a witch hunt, blame game, etc. – it is about the processes and systems of how organizations run. It doesn’t take too long to see that the root causes to why LSS methodology is needed stems from human team dynamics, management-leadership engagement or lack thereof, conflicts due to resources allocation, etc.

The following become consistently clear:
– conversation to gain buy-in from stakeholders for LSS is akin to being invited into someone’s home (involves trust, safe environment, comfort = all human tendencies);
– LSS is surrounded by humans – humans work the processes, processes develop the services & products for humans;
– organizational optimization|excellence will not & does not happen without the recognition & resolution of human element issues.

With the above in mind, in order for me to be an effective Quality Practitioner, needed to expand my Toolkit beyond LSS methodology to include skills tailored to effective human engagement and ultimately achieving project goals and sustaining results.

Toolkit enhancement has included:
– change management (Prosci method): the people side of change is a crucial factor to consider and address
– social responsibility learnings led to discovering organizational tribes (Stages 1-5), the art of influencing
– human personality types (DISC, Myers-Briggs) – awareness that humans are not all the same. Caution: like all good things intent can become negative – in this instance leading to labels which can have the opposite & negative effects
– emotional intelligence: adjusting communication to audience, scanning the audience for reception (reading body language), active listening, empathy, meeting people where they are (define this)

Conclusion: Most of the time it is not personal :=) It is about maintaining neutrality so that goals can be achieved. Quality Practitioners are looked upon to resolve issues that impact multiple stakeholders with often times conflicting needs & requirements. The impact & effect of the Human Element should not be underestimated.

Presentation Description: This session is coming from how a Quality Practitioner tackled the human side of LSS. It doesn’t take too long to realize that the root causes to why LSS methodology is needed stems from human team dynamics, management-leadership engagement or lack thereof, conflicts due to resources allocation, etc. The following become consistently clear:
– conversation to gain buy-in from stakeholders for LSS is akin to being invited into someone’s home (involves trust, safe environment, comfort = all human tendencies);
– LSS is surrounded by humans – humans work the processes, processes develop the services & products for humans;
– organizational optimization|excellence will not & does not happen without the recognition & resolution of human element issues. With the above in mind, in order for me to be an effective Quality Practitioner, needed to expand my Toolkit beyond LSS methodology to include skills tailored to effective human engagement and ultimately achieving project goals and sustaining results. Toolkit enhancement has included: change management, social responsibility learnings, human personality types, emotional intelligence!

Conference Inclusion (justification): The Human Element is at the core of “why & how we do what we do”- any insight into this complex topic should be included!

Categorization: Lean and Six Sigma


I also applied to be a preliminary judge for the ASQ ITEA 2018-2019 program. Based on the experiences from my participation in 2016 and 2017, I expect to be thoroughly challenged & grow exponentially from almost 3 days of intense training, teaming and application of ASQ ITEA standards :). Notification on application status pending…


Customer Experience (CX) revisited…

Not so much revisited as called-out from my continuous improvement activities (operations-organizational excellence advocacy). My project management roots originated from developing and carving out end user fulfillment (returns, exchanges, refunds) within a global operations juggernaut (IBM). Fun times!

Most of my lessons-learned from this period is the basis for my Voice of Customer advocacy. I cannot separate this tendency from my OpEx leanings. These CX thoughts led to this summation of me in response to evaluation of my CX skillset (contributions):

  • Staunch Voice of Customer advocate, facilitator and process (systems) developer – multiple cross-functional engagements with Sales, Manufacturing-Supply Chain Services, IT, HR, etc.
  • Experienced as the bridge between the Customer and the organization (helping organizations connect the dots for the customers they have invested so much in acquiring).
  • Skilled at developing organization relationships which form the basis for penetrating and shifting siloed cultures.
  • Expert at process (systems) evaluation, assessment, optimization and re-engineering.
  • Champion of the “outside-in” approach to process (systems) improvements for “moments of truth” i.e. customer touch points.
  • Hands-on experience planning & deploying strategy i.e. from high level to tactical (daily tasks).

The journey continues…



Lots of cogitation happening in my head – some make it to hand written notes in journal, on post-its, scraps of paper, ideas board, notes function on my mobile phone. However, none of this content is making it to this platform :). Not going through a dry spell per se, but change is definitely in the air. On the crossroad contemplating which path to follow. Feelings of creativity stifled (in retrospect this has been insidiously happening for a while) which I am realizing is very much tied to ability to creatively brainstorm, resolve problems, engage, contribute…

Current status is not acceptable or sustainable. As a quality practitioner, this is invaluable experience. It brings to life that the struggle (change) is real!!! This is sure to successfully fuel stakeholder engagement, project-initiatives management, etc. all leading to achieving goals & objectives.

Change is imminent!…

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…

It Takes A Village…

Earlier this week, November 6-7, 2017, attended the 1st ASQ European Quality Conference (#AEQC2017) in Berlin, Germany. Theme: Sustaining a Culture of Excellence in a World of Disruption, Innovation, and Change! berlinI have been so excited for the event, ever since it was announced. Not just because my proposal was accepted for presentation, but because the event would provide the opportunity to interact with Europe-based Quality Practitioners.

Professionally, event is coming at a very pivotal point for me: post-sabbatical and deciding what industry to contribute to & participate in! Given the shifting tides of the Quality arena (Quality 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0) and questioning my role in the shifts e.g. being considered temporary head count (hired to address pain-point then cut at the next reshuffle), the  relevance & value of Quality in the overall scheme of organizations, the impact of future-tides i.e. Big Data, AI, Data Science, etc. It is with this state of mind that I attended the Berlin event with an open mind and neutral expectations…

The saying, “it takes a village to raise a child” is appropo to me and this event 🙂 I was privileged to meet some very inspirational, giving, sharing human beings. Sometimes you have no idea how people you come across impact you and your next steps. Or how similar life experiences turns strangers into friends. Or how supportive people can be at a time when you are at the crossroads! Lifelong friendships were made this week and I am looking forward to how our interactions pan out…

#AEQC highlights:

Day 1 keynote Greg Watson: very thought provoking session challenging the Quality

#AEQC2017 Greg Watson

#AEQC2017 Greg Watson

status quo 🙂 For instance, the current state of customer requirements is equivalent to wish, hope, prayer, hallucination! “Is it appropriate to characterize Quality as a science?” “Rethink Quality today: Do we treat Quality as an evolving science or a static system of beliefs?” ” “Different ways to evaluate data (Perl, R, statistics – not about math, it is about your mind!” “Need to reflect to make improvement!”



Day 2 keynote was Bharat Wakhlu @dilleye : his speech really resonated with my post-sabbatical state of mind – affirming, supportive, reflective, thought provoking! His content was inline with my thought processes, assumptions, inspirations, expectations. Takeaway points: Meta competencies are required – 1) Awareness meaning totally present & fully conscious; 2) Self Mastery meaning you are a work in progress refining & improving, what worked yesterday is useless today, reflect, learn, strive!

#AEQC2017 @dilleye wakhlu

#AEQC2017 @dilleye wakhlu

Quality of the future calls for these:
1 – Pursuit of self mastery (365 24/7 every moment learning process)
2 – Comfort in Ambiguity ( emotionally stable during crisis, open to experimentation, anchor for stability)
3 – Alignment of Enterprise (complex adaptive systems, divergent thinking)
4 – Decisiveness
5 – Collaboration & Cultural Sensitivity (learn, open, alert, not biased)
6 – Entrepreneurial & Networked
7 – Listening to Stakeholders
8 – Attracting & Engaging Talent (seek, nurture & engage with talent; encourage diversity)


Job Searching… eck!!!

The past few months have been consumed by the search for a Quality Practitioner role. My toolkit lends itself to undertaking robust-holistic roles involving training, mentoring, coaching, advocating for stakeholders, creating a Quality-oriented culture, developing organizational relationships which form the cornerstone to the aforementioned.

Search process has involved creating what seems to be a gazillion passwords, countless online applications, reaching out to recruiters/network/friends/family/job boards, incredible number of re-writes/edits/changes to my CV and cover letter, many highs and many lows as the process seems to drag oh so very long!

As a Quality Practitioner, I am left to wonder about the various external & internal talent acquisition processes involved. Some applications receive result in acknowledgement, status update (rare occurrence) and I’ve been privileged to receive electronic & in-person interviews.

All in all, one is hard pressed not to be demoralized by the process of job searching. On this journey, I have had the great fortune to meet other folks in the same situation – we have formed a support group (opportunity to connect with other humans, get out of the house, provide accountability, support to keep moving forward, venting sessions LOL etc.). Also. needing to make use of time and toolkit has led to community volunteering opportunities that are so inspiring & gratifying to be a part of!

Indeed gems do materialize from the experience :)! I have been able to use supplemental questions that accompany applications to develop several conference presentation content. My responses are spot on, why waste them in the nebulous unresponsive world of the job application process. Turn a 5 ingredient meal into a gourmet dinner!!! Sample below…


Organizational Growth and Change Manager role

What made you apply to this role?: The robust description of the job requirements. This opportunity would provide the use of all aspects of my comprehensive toolkit & skillsets. Quality Improvement Toolkit: DMAIC DMADV VSM KAIZEN | Voice of Customer Advocate | Change Management | Project-Program-Portfolio Management | Group Facilitation – Conflict Resolution | Stakeholder Management | Strategic Planning & Deployment | Business Process Management | Management Consultant

What do you see as the biggest hurdles and opportunities facing companies and their marketing / demand gen organizations in the coming years?: Lack of agility (weighed down in archaic systems, processes); Lack of proper strategy (short & long term); Ever dwindling resources

What will enable marketing leaders to believe in and buy organizational transformation services, and what will prevent them?
Believe: rapid rates of M&A, high employee turnover; inability to retain employees, market share, shareholders; impact to P&L; organization irrelevance in their arena. Prevent: continued misguided (arrogant) belief in organization’s relevance.

What are you most curious about, at or outside work?: The IoT. As we speak the Internet of Things is changing the way we live – collaborate, socialize, work, learn, etc. I belong to several meetup groups whose members comprise Big Data, Machine Learning, AI, Data Science, Coders, Data Miners, Administrators, Hackers, Disruptors, Innovators. More than anything this “phenomenon” will have more lasting impact on our world than we are currently able to predict or control!

What would you do differently in your career if you could go back in time?: Practice better self-care! This would have provided the opportunity to read organization signals better e.g. leadership buy-in to change thereby enabling metered execution of change initiatives (avoiding burn out).

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!