ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

April 1998


Forging New Ways To Work

Celebrating Success

JCPenney Spells Out A METHOD For Success

Roberts Express Delivers CATs

Stories Of The Future

Taxes, Oscars And Performance Appraisals


Quality, Wherefore Art Thou?
by Peter Block

The Bottom Line Benefits Of Participation
by Cathy Kramer


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review


Celebrating Success
Fun and Theatre Help Reinforce Quality-Building Skills

What did you do the last time you got a big promotion? Did you go out for a nice dinner? Buy an expensive new car? Did you take your spouse to Hawaii? Whatever you did, you certainly celebrated your accomplishment in one way or another.

Celebration is the act of recognizing accomplishments and it is essential to maintaining a happy personal life and a healthy business. Duke Power, Charlotte, N.C., a Duke Energy Company, has reaped the benefits of incorporating celebration into their culture.

In 1994, after feeling the pinch of the utility industry's deregulation, Duke Power realized that their corporate culture needed to adapt to the more competitive environment. They developed a process designed to continuously improve their products and services. Patricia Kusek, former organization performance improvement communication manager at Duke Power, said that the company established a management philosophy incorporating a mission, vision and guiding principles to help them on their "Journey to Excellence." Changing their culture worked - production increased and Wall Street responded favorably.
The next step was to come together and celebrate their successes. Kusek believes, "If you're going to do all that hard work, you absolutely have to celebrate and recognize people. Duke Power considered it an essential element in our quality improvement plan." One way Duke Power celebrated its hard-earned accomplishments was with a large-scale corporate-wide event promoting involvement from all corners of the company. Duke Power's Excellent Adventure was an example of how a celebration could reinforce company goals.
Celebrations like Excellent Adventure have been used in the past to celebrate success by encouraging teams to present their quality improvement stories in unique ways. Excellent Adventure brought more than 6,000 teammates together for a fun-filled day of celebrating the hundreds of quality improvements made at Duke Power. The event took place at the Charlotte Coliseum (home of the NBA Hornets).

Elvis is Alive at Duke Power
Excellent Adventure consisted of 12 "unusual" stage presentations throughout the day and more than 100 quality improvement exhibits lining the Coliseum's concourse. Departments nominated their top quality improvements to compete for the honor of performing their quality improvement stories on stage. Team members worked together developing unique approaches to their presentations. One skit featured a live shoot-out between "Deputy Quality" and "Old Culture." "Old Culture" may be dead at Duke Power but Elvis was certainly alive. He rose from smoke at the Excellent Adventure with his band the "Quality Thangs" performing quality-related tunes. The "Quality Thangs" were members of Duke Power's Quality Director Network. Other presentations have included live animals, covered wagons, a three-ring circus and Duke Power's version of the popular television show, "Home Improvement's 'Tool Time.' " Kusek believes the benefits that come from Excellent Adventure are long-lasting. She states, "The talent and enthusiasm which emerged from the teams was contagious and bonds were formed that will last a lifetime."

Everyone Takes the Stage
In planning for the event Duke Power recognized that if you were going to ask people to do things they may have never done before, like performing on stage, you needed executive involvement. Executives got into the spirit of the event by performing master of ceremony duties. The duties are not limited to merely introducing the stage presentations. Kusek recalled an email she wrote to two senior vice presidents in an attempt to recruit them as masters of ceremonies. She asked them if they would mind:

o Dressing like Elvis
o Donning overcoats and fedoras for a
"Dragnet" skit
o Wearing flannel shirts and tool belts for the
"Tool Time" skit
o Wearing cowboy hats and guns for the showdown between "Deputy Quality" and "Old Culture"
o Dressing like clowns and taking a pie to the face

Overall, the executives at Duke Power were willing to do a lot in the name of quality. "To see senior vice presidents get out of their boxes and have fun, goes a long way with how they are viewed by their employees," explains Kusek.
The more than 100 exhibits that spanned the concourse demonstrated the same level of creativity as those involved with the stage presentations. Some exhibits had themes such as "Alice in Wonderland" and the "Starship Enterprise." One exhibit featured an interactive computer display designed to test an employee's ability as a leader.

No Small Task
An event of Excellent Adventure's magnitude required many of the same elements that changing corporate culture required; a tremendous amount of planning, organization and teamwork. A 25 member planning committee was divided into seven sub-teams. They began organizing the Excellent Adventure six months prior to the event.

Specifically their duties include:
o Project Management - Scheduling, budget, creation of the "flow for the day," recruiting the masters of ceremonies, selecting a keynote speaker and generally overseeing the entire event.
o Team Selection - Developing the criteria for team nominations, getting teams to compete for the event, selecting winning teams and serving as liaisons between the teams and the planning committee.
o Team Presentations - Inviting winning teams to participate, developing guidelines for the presentations, recruiting and training team coaches, organizing rehearsals and coordinating the sound system.
o Exhibits - Recruiting and assisting exhibitors, event layout, registration of exhibitors and lunch-time entertainment.
o Logistics - Scheduling and contracting with the Coliseum, all food and beverage arrangements, medical assistance, traffic control, safety, security, transportation, phones and radios.
o Communication - Developing a communication strategy for the event, all internal correspondence, posting a Q&A about the event on email, promotional items, posters, banners, brochures, photography, media relations, post-event communications and measurement.
o Administration - Soliciting registration through the Quality Director Network, recruiting event volunteers, registration, name tags and door prizes.

The most important thing about an event like Excellent Adventure was that it developed teamwork and camaraderie in an environment that transcended the workplace. Kusek explains, "Those folks who donned circus costumes will never forget their experiences and the whole team became stronger than they were before. It's amazing what people were able to accomplish when they relied on each other."

Duke Power reinforces its commitment to embrace change and succeed in the future by celebrating their past successes in ways that stretch their imagination and encourage teamwork. The skills that went into making Excellent Adventure a success are the same skills that have enabled Duke Power to react quickly to the changing utility environment. Changing corporate culture and being a part of Excellent Adventure both required energy and enthusiasm, a focus on achieving goals, teamwork, building on a solid foundation and trust and pride in their work. These elements can work together to help your organization achieve success.

Total quality is woven into every facet of Duke Energy's business. Although it no longer hosts annual Excellent Adventures, it continues to recognize and celebrate its success and to identify opportunities to improve its business. Excellent Adventure played an important role in Duke Power's "Journey to Excellence."

April '98 News for a Change | Email Editor


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