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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
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."