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


JCPenney Spells Out A Method For Success

There is a time to let things happen - and a time to make things happen.

Pamela Spears of the JCPenney Regional Catalog Distribution Center in Columbus, Ohio, has been making things happen with a quality team process for a number of years and has developed training for five divisions of the company.

She contends that while most organizations have quality teams and quality principles, the unfortunate reality is that many teams fail. The reasons for the failure are many, and as Spears believes, "Too often a decision is made to begin a quality process without considering the resources needed to ensure the success of the process."
M.E.T.H.O.D.S. to Stop the Madness, Improving the Team Process, is Spears' make-things-happen approach to the problem of team failures.

M. Measure
Spears believes, "We spend a lot of time in our organizations measuring productivity, accuracy, processes, lots of systems, but when it comes to teams, because teams are such a human part of what we do, often times we don't want to do that [measure] because we are afraid of the consequences." And besides, as Spears points out: "What gets measured gets done."

Through her method teams are evaluated based on a specific set of standards. Productivity, accuracy and process are all measured. These are standards that define expectations.
The areas of measurement delve into team problem solving, results and accomplishments, as well as impact, interaction with one another, presentation skills, degree of project difficulty, training and attitude.

E. Encourage
Vital to the success of a team is the element of encouraging improvement. No matter how successful a team has been, improvements can always be made. Those who rest on their achievements endanger the continuing success of the team.
Goals should be set to establish direction for ongoing activities and to provide motivation and direction for growth and success in significant areas. In Spears' words, "Goals provide a common sense of purpose and help to heighten performance levels by setting targets to be achieved."

T. Teach
For a team to be successful there needs to be thorough training. Personalized classes and curriculum should be developed. People, teams and organizations all have different needs, and personalization can enhance continuous improvement. Spears believes, "In a personalized curriculum you want to go back to your assessment chart and look at those characteristics that show where the performance gaps exist." If a team is struggling with problem-solving processes, then that's where the personalized curriculum should be focused.

Spears points out that learning occurs best when teaching is "fun-damental." She points out that the learning process needs to be made fun or learning might not happen. Games, skits, music and videos are all elements that will help make the classes fun and exciting, and at the same time help the participants to remember the material.

H. Hear
An effective feedback system emphasizes the point that listening is vital to what we do. If we don't listen, and don't really hear what each of us says, we will not be effective.

In addition to listening - questioning, conflict reduction and improving relationships are all part of effective feedback. Studies show that 80 percent of our waking hours are spent communicating, and 45 percent of that time is spent listening. It is often cited as the most critical of all management skills, yet Spears believes, "Most individuals are ineffective listeners. We often comprehend and retain only one quarter of what is said."

O. Optimize
Optimizing team success requires the encouragement of innovation, the identification of role models and teaching and sharing with others.

Role Models help set a standard for the team. Living the quality standards is tremendously important to the strength of the team and the organization. Role models provide the necessary hope for teams to continuously improve, help energize the organization and provide recognition for important accomplishments, while at the same time helping to show that individuals are a valuable resource.

D. Dream
Dreams, in their own way, can actually improve production, quality and the overall general condition of the individual, the organization and the team. But before you pitch a cot in the office and lay down for an afternoon siesta, consider that Spears defines dreaming as "a sequence of sensations, images, thoughts, etc., passing through - and lingering - in a waking person's mind."

What we think so often shapes what we become. For a team to be successful, it needs to have a positive vision of where it wants to be. The team members who dream and envision a positive result in their efforts will find themselves acting accordingly. Using this technique requires desire, commitment and practice. It requires discussing the dreams with others and then following through on making the dreams a reality.
As Spears reminds us, "Our imagination and dreams are the only limits to what we can realize in the future. Dreaming helps us believe that the impossible is possible."

S. Success
Success must be defined, shared, created and cycled. It can be enjoyed, but there are always new levels of success to be achieved. Those who achieve success and want to rest on that success are most likely to ultimately fail.

Spears reflects that the process she enthusiastically endorses has much to do with attitude, and that nothing excellent has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.

The words of a wise philosopher perhaps said it best: "You think, and inevitably you become."
The M.E.T.H.O.D.S. process pioneered by Pamela Spears of JCPenney underscores that adage and provides a fascinating and valuable approach to maximum effectiveness and success for teams, for organizations and for individuals.

April '98 News for a Change | Email Editor


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