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!

 

 

 

 

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Notification: Speaker 1st ASQ European Conference

Received notification today. Proposal submission to the 1st ASQ European Conference was accepted.

Topic: “Achieving Effective Communication in the Age of Social Media!”

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Focus Area: Leadership & Management

What Level of Expertise Does your Session Target? : Basic

Who is your Target Audience? :  Managers of Quality Systems

Learning Objectives:
– List the 4 segments targeted for effective communication.
– Describe the various types of communication channels.
– Describe and use Quality Tools that aide in achieving effective communication.

Description:
Communication is a means of connecting people or places. It is an imperative, crucial, critical (important does not quite cover it) component to any endeavor, interaction, relationship, undertaking, initiative. Communication MUST be agile in nature, even if organizational improvement activities are sluggish. All channels within & outside of an organization must be “catered to” (traditional / electronic).
Gone are the days when control over information was the domain of the communications departments! Social Media is King whether we like it or not. Information real or otherwise can circumnavigate the world in a few clicks resulting in loss of reputation, impact to bottom-line, loss of customers, incredible promotion of goods & services or condemnation of same. Agility is key i.e. responsive, in front of issues (not “head in sand”), proactive. Therefore, Communicating Effectively to Customers, Stakeholders, Management, Executive Leadership (segments) is crucial.
Session will define these segments, how they relate & impact Quality Management and the Quality Tools that aide in achieving, providing (catering to) effective Communication!

– PURPOSE OF SESSION –
– Session will define crucial segments, how they relate & impact Quality Management;
– The various channels for effective communication;
– The appropriate Quality Tools that aide in achieving, providing (catering to) effective Communication.

– SUMMARY OF SESSION –
– INTRODUCTION –
Definition of Communication: “Two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places. In business, it is a key function of management–an organization cannot operate without communication between levels, departments and employees.” (www.businessdictionary.com)

(1)
Communicating Effectively to these segments: Customers, Stakeholders, Management, Executive Leadership

1. Customers
– Who?
– Relation to QM?
– Impact on QM

2. Stakeholders
– Who?
– Relation to QM?
– Impact on QM

3. Management
– Who?
– Relation to QM?
– Impact on QM

4. Executive Leadership (the buck stops here (allocate/approve budgets, resources, set Culture, etc.)
– Who?
– Relation to QM
– Impact on QM

(2)
– Channels of Effective Communication – * Define the channels (what, examples, how used)
All channels within and outside of the organization must be “catered to”. Channels (traditional / electronic):
Traditional:
a. In-person
b. Telephone
c. Mail (letters)

Electronic:
a. Email
b. Web (Chat/IM)
c. Social Media/Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Discussion Boards

(3)
With the above in mind, how can one get a grip on communicating effectively? Quality Practitioners have several tools at their disposal that can be used to address communication needs/requirements. Every initiative would benefit from their use:

a. Communication Plan= matrix of Target Audience, Message, Delivery Type, Frequency (Cadence), Owner (Responsible), Objectives, Notes

b. Stakeholder Analysis= identification of individuals/groups to affect or be affected by an action – sorting according to impact on and of the action.

c. Voice of Customer via Quality Function Deployment= defining customer needs or requirements and translating them into specific plans to produce products to meet those needs.

d. Project Management Dashboards= central, real time, display of organization/operations/projects performance.

* Elaborate on the above with: what the tool is, purpose, benefits/why, how it aides in Communication, sample (image)

– CONCLUSION –
Agility is key i.e. stay in front of issues (not “head in sand”), being proactive and acknowledge outreach. The proper use of the appropriate Quality Tools will go a long way to ensure that effective communication is given to all the relevant segments!

– AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION / INTERACTIVE –
Invite attendees to share how they are addressing the Communication component with: Customers, Stakeholders, Management, Executive Leadership

– Q & A –

 

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 😉

Post ASQ ITEA Preliminary Judging Experience…

About the award: ASQ’s International Team Excellence Award is the world’s premier team recognition program—awarding achievements in improved performance in businesses
of all sizes.

 

Day 1 On-Site ITEA Criteria training:

We were split up into 4 teams – each team had a mix of new and experienced judges (my team had 7 people). Site Judge (Head Trainer) reviewed the agenda for the 2 days. There was a quiz to determine knowledge of the ITEA Criteria. The feeling of signing up for such a daunting-highly responsible task persisted for the 1st half of the day. There is no way I would be able to do this! I didn’t have a comprehensive insight into what an ITEA Judge would be doing (despite all the copious amount of material the Pre-Work section had entailed). I couldn’t let down the Teams that had submitted their presentations for review & scoring!
Experienced team members were very reassuring, supportive, empathic and instructive in clarifying the ITEA Criteria. By the end of Day 1, I was feeling more confident about my ability to apply the Criteria.
Looking forward to Day 2 when the scoring of actual presentations would begin…

Day 2 Preliminary Judging:

Our team had 2 presentations to score. Teamwork & Communication skills came into play. Ability to work successfully together – open mind, listening to each other, being respectful, speaking up to clarify position, ability to collaborate & arrive at consensus, sharing the load (dividing up Feedback content amongst the team). Time management was also used to ensure that we scored and arrived at the Feedback phase for each presentation, before we left for the day.

My takeaway from the experience:

Renewed confidence in my ability to undertake new & challenging opportunities (doing something completely foreign that I didn’t have any previous reference). Learned and came to appreciate, immersing myself into uncertain, uncomfortable, apprehensive situations (periodically) is a great way to sharpen-test-expand my Toolkit (jolt to a complacent mindset!).
As with any ASQ related activity, this was an invaluable opportunity to meet, collaborate, learn and share with other Quality Practitioners 🙂 – PRICELESS!

ASQ WCQI16 – Arrived in Milwaukee, WI…!

Annual pilgrimage to the ASQ WCQI 2016. Always an opportunity for inspiration, opportunity to reset the Quality-button, meet old and new friends.

Looking forward to a great conference – I will be presenting this year (looking forward to advocating for fellow Quality Practitioners to practice self care in order to better serve our teams and organizations).