ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - May 2000

Issue Highlight - The Oversight Fallacy
--- There is a persistent belief in this culture that when you have a problem, the way to solve it is to find blame, institute controls and watch it more closely. If there is violence in a community, we want more police. If someone is shot, if students aren't learning, if costs are high; we assign blame, pass a law, and watch like crazy.

In This Issue...
The Costs of a New Economy
Behavior Improves Quality
Art In Museum Exhibits
Heart Challenges Brain

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change

Heard on the Street
Diary of a Shutdown

Views for a Change
Consultant Q&A

John Runyan:
- Your question is a classic one-one I have faced several times in my working life as I moved between academic and business worlds. Each time I entered an educational organization, I have wrestled with how to incorporate my experience from "the real world" into this different academic endeavor. Like you, I was often in a position to influence others in my organization, but without the power to command certain activities and behaviors.

- My suggestions come in the form of broad steps because I do not know of the specific responses with universal applicability. I recommend the following steps in engaging with and "persuading" your academic colleagues.

- Start by joining with your academic partners whenever and wherever you can on their ground. Spend your time "up front"-really inquiring, listening and communicating back what you've heard about the work challenges they face. Invite them to learn and work with you as equals in this quality improvement arena, rather than trying to "get them to do what you want them to do."

- Then most importantly, model a QI project for them where the outcome is a service or product that serves them and the quality of their academic lives in direct and significant ways. For example, you might begin by consulting with academic leaders and faculty about what is the most important deliverable to them and their students from a given set of administrative functions. Using their input, you could initiate a QI project aimed at delivering an improved version of this service in a relatively short time period as an example of both the process and the benefits to be gained from your efforts.

- As you and your administrative peers do this project, invite a few key "bellwether" academics/teachers/students to sit in on your process so that they can see, hear and influence the approach, execution and evaluation of your project.

- As this initial model project moves ahead and begins to bear fruit for them, ask your academic colleagues to respond in kind by selecting a project of their own that will serve a constituency that is important to them-for example, students, certain administrative groups, funding sources or whomever they choose. Encourage them to choose a goal and related methods that will better meet the needs of this constituency and their own needs for progress and success.

- Offer to have one or two of your administrative staff members with experience in QI processes sit with their initial project team-again as observers, consultants or participants. In particular, provide them with QI veterans (perhaps yourself?) who have the creativity and flexibility to translate QI language and steps into the terms and processes that academics can understand and use.

- Finally, help your academic counterparts craft a simple, concrete, doable QI project in this, their first attempt. Assist them and join them all along the way-listening to their concerns, helping them over the bumps and eventually celebrating their success with them.

- I realize that you are facing an uphill effort for the most part. Few academics have an inclination for such a "business-like" structured process. What I suggest may seem like a great deal of paying attention and hand-holding, but it is the best way to join your academic counterparts and get your joint QI efforts underway.

Dave Farrell responds

May 2000 News for a Change Homepage

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