ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

February 1999

Doctoring The Health Care Industry

A Toast To The Future

Business, The Final Frontier

Formula For Success: Balance Technology And People

Y2K Calling

by Peter Block

Have You Hugged Your Goalie Today?
by Bryan McGraw

Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

The Quality Tool I Never Use

Sites Unseen

Book Review


The Quality Tool I Never Use

Don Walker
Total Productivity Coordinator
Toshiba America Consumer Products
Lebanon, TN

Don Walker has held a myriad of jobs from landscaping to working with adolescents in a psychiatric hospital. He currently is an internal consultant with teamwork and efficiency at Toshiba. He has taken teams to the Toshiba International Quality Circle in Tokyo on three occasions.He also has trained Toshiba teams around the world. Walker is president of the Middle Tennessee chapter of AQP.

What is the tool that didn't work for you?
Most of the tools I use I would have a hard time doing without. Coming from a Japanese company, we take a very disciplined approach for problem-solving teams. We are taught to use the seven tools for quality control and the seven new tools for quality control. When I first got a job as a facilitator and began reading what was needed for a successful team meeting almost all of them mentioned the role of timekeeper. Wanting not to break from an almost universal list of roles for teams, I began by trying to use a timekeeper also.

Why didn't it work or why is it useless?
My first teams met with limited success using a timekeeper. It almost seemed like timekeepers would either spend the entire meeting looking at their watch or were so involved with the discussion that they forgot all about the time. I have used timekeepers in all sorts of meetings with very little success.

How would you fix the tool?
I found two things will usually remedy this problem and both involve writing a good agenda.
1) Have a strong purpose statement and communicate that to the team at the start of the meeting. If the team knows what they need to accomplish in the meeting, usually they will.
2) Go ahead, write times on the agenda next to the activity, and make sure everyone can see it. In every team, someone will pick up if the team is behind schedule and mention it. I work with leaders to instill in them this sense of timeliness.

What words of counsel/warning would you give to someone else before they used the tool?
I am sure there are many who would state that you couldn't have a successful team without a timekeeper. If you are not going to use one, you need to compensate for its absence. If you use a timekeeper, you need to make sure that the role is valued by the team. To have one just to fit some preconceived model is not an effective use of your team members.Generally people , in particular in this day and age have a well-developed sense of time since it is at a premium.

February '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
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