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)

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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…

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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

Body:

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.

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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).

#wcqi17

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!

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Making Peace – Moving Forward!

I’ve been feeling blocked (lack of a more appropriate word) the past few months as it relates to the search for the past few months as it relates to the search for a new Quality role. Hesitating each time it comes to updating CV. Why the hesitation? Severe distaste contemplating undertaking the tedious song and dance that is the present job search process. SIGH!!!

Once one goes through the search experience, now comes the battle for the use and adoption  of Quality methods in order to achieve excellence-realize organization’s strategy (goals & objectives). Alas, therein lies the underlying reasons for hesitation!!! Going through it all only to face the crushing letdown of rejection i.e. What happens if the organization you have been selected to assist does not support what you are bringing to the table (meaning Tool-kit)? Rejection is what it is and it is a very difficult place to recover from.

One of the methods for recovery is taking a break to re-evaluate, reflect, recharge, return to center (highly recommended). My sabbatical period to date has been 8 months – spent pursuing arts & crafts projects (achieved bucket-list of learning how to pottery wheel  – a great way to let go of anal retentive tendencies and go with the flow – literally!!!), professional development activities (speaking-presenting at conferences, meetings, etc.) and hundreds of hours spent in reflection, contemplating and anticipating next steps and how to deal-handle rejection of my Tool-kit.

In a sea of unknown, I am sure that being a Quality Practitioner is a vocation that I LOVE GREATLY!!!. A lot is unknown (next organization) but KNOWN is my passion and core filter of CARE & NURTURE. Which translates into:

  • Doing & contributing my very best;
  • Following-Up and Following-Through!;
  • Guiding and Mentoring along the way.

Therefore, I will take the strength to deal with whatever comes from my core filter: Care & Nurture!

So bring it on – let the Human Element tendencies begin… 🙂

Grass & Blue Skies (Tacoma,WA) ©Modinat2015

Grass & Blue Skies (Tacoma,WA) ©Modinat2015

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 🙂

 

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Yikes!!! No pressure, eh 😉

New Year. Transitioning into Post Sabbatical phase…

I took some much needed time-out to regroup, rejuvenate, reflect, review & rehash lessons learned. This week has been chuck full of professional affirming activities: Women in Data Science meetup, speaking engagement at the local ASQ Raleigh Six Sigma group, Prosci webinar and potential next step opportunity to wrap up the week!

These activities have been nectar to jump starting my post 8-month sabbatical transition 🙂

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To continue the post sabbatical momentum, I am speaking at the 2017 Lean and Six Sigma conference on February 27. Session: M16.  Topic: Selling Lean and Six Sigma (Securing Buy-In). I hope content stimulates robust discussion by the attendees. Looking forward to the opportunity to learn & share!

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2017 is shaping up to be a full-on year on many, many levels. It will be anything but boring/predictable. Bring it on…