ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - September 2000

Issue Highlight - Remembering What Matters
-  Peter Block explains the need to look deeper than fashion and technological trends to find meaning in our homes and workplaces.

 In This Issue...
Living Impossible Dreams
Ouch! Is it Time to Redesign Your Systems?
Searching Ourselves: Avoiding Office Boxing Rings
Believe It or Not— Workplace Bias Still Exists

Bedtime Stories for Your Organization
Economy Breeds Short-Sightedness

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change
Heard on the Street

Views For A Change

Consultant Q&A

Vincent Ventresca Responds:

Your question poses an interesting challenge that many organizations face, and has variables that you will need to explore further to arrive at the best conclusion. Some questions:

1. Does your organization have a Human Resource-based performance recognition system?

2. Does your organization have an infrastructure that will support a database to facilitate the collection of improvement opportunities?

3. Is your organization currently of the mindset that improvement ideas are a way of doing business and that recognition for them is a standard behavioral norm?

4. Does your company currently recognize employee-based improvement via financial, job-based or corporate communications rewards?

 Some of the following recommendations may be beneficial for you.

 Explore some of the existing recognition programs in the marketplace. You’ll find that several companies offer software, infrastructure and processes to support rewards that are built around the variables you wish to measure. Some organizations utilize them from a human resource standpoint, others use them from a productivity standpoint, and many use them to recognize improvements that are made within a process.

  It may also behoove you to read up on the Japanese principle known as Kaizen. Kaizen means small incremental improvements. Many U.S. and international companies adopt this method. Its premise is that small incremental improvements made by each employee will inevitably add up to a greater organizational sum.

  Regarding the build-out of a system, we have seen some organizations simply implement a database which is managed and observed by a Continuous Improvement Committee. That committee prioritizes it, and then presents it to a Steering Committee that allows management and executives to evaluate the potential improvement opportunities and set projects in place.

  In my opinion, this approach to continuous improvement is the most efficient because your organization will have bought into a homegrown solution to improving the business. Attaching a rewards and recognition system to this type of program can be done simply by a column in the corporate newsletter or sending an e-mail to acknowledge receipt of an individual’s suggestion and whether or not it was accepted and implemented. Once a program has been implemented for a period of time, you will see morale shift, and individuals take a more entrepreneurial approach to participation. It is also beneficial to have more detailed quarterly follow-ups on the portfolio of improvement projects to expose your organization to the outcome.

  In terms of possible companies to benchmark, organizations such as General Electric who practice advanced quality methods including Six Sigma would probably not be opposed to hearing from you. Other organizations include Ford Motor Company, Motorola and Federal Express.

  In closing, the best continuous improvement programs are internally built, open, allow for creativity and most importantly, have the organization responding to the participants. Your next step might be evaluating what the cultural norms are within the organization, and ensuring that they represent, or will accept, the mindset of excellence.

VINCENT VENTRESCA, PMP is a project consultant at Advanced Management Services, Inc. His firm consults and trains in continuous improvement, project management and management development. He focuses on integrating quality principles into project and organizational development practices and the synergy of people, process and technology. He can be reached at

H. James Harrington Responds
Question for Consultants

September 2000 NFC Homepage


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