ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - May 2001


Behind the Teams: We've provided you with the tools and resources that will help you in your fight to keep team efforts alive, to build a greater sense of community and unity in your organization.
Click here to check it out!

  In This Issue...

A Purpose And A Place
Do Upper Managers Earn Their Keep?
Pageturners: Effective Training Strategies
Proof Positive
Brief Cases

 One From Column B —
My Kingdom for a Team

Peter Block explores the durability of teams and why they remain fascinating after all these years.

  Behind the Teams:

Just What the Doctor Ordered
In Support of Teams
Cynthia Minor and Mike Levenhagen

Highlights of Winning Teams
Views For A Change
Pam Walsh's Unofficial Quality Tips

Return to NFC Index

  Special Feature: Behind the Teams

Unofficial Quality Tips
by Pam Walsh

Hi! I’m Pam Walsh and I’m the Team Leader of the ExcelErs at UICI Insurance Center in Dallas. My job position is Manager of General Accounting. We’re the ones who pay the bills, count the cash, balance the systems and track the commissions.

  Our team was the first team to make the “Bronze Level” in our company—an internal reward system based on the implementation of ideas rather than dollars saved. Since then, we’ve implemented ideas ranging from a savings of $7.13 to over $60,000. Our other claim to fame is that of all of the ideas logged onto the “Quality Idea Tracking Program,” 10 percent of them belong to our team. So, I’m here to share some “Unofficial Tips to Quality” with you.

WHAT BUGS ME? about my job. One team member complained about a box of spoiled checks that she stored under her desk, cramping her legroom. Why was she keeping them? Because we always had. Was it necessary? No. Not a huge thing, but it made her more comfortable and eliminated a box of stuff.

THE FILE THAT WENT NOWHERE. Figure out how things really work. One process we looked at had been designed for our North Dallas site to mirror the North Richland Hills’ process. The only problem was that—due to differences in the way the two bank systems work—one step literally was sending a file onto the mainframe bank that went nowhere—a daily job function that had no purpose.

WHO DOES WHAT? Accounts Payable: a pretty straightforward process—right? You pay the bills. But there were glitches. We invited members from two other teams for cake and flow-charting, and after covering the walls with white paper, defined the nine major functions to the process of cutting something as small as one check or as large as a batch of 200 checks, with eight different people involved in the process. We documented it, analyzed it, laughed at it and then eliminated two of the steps that were totally redundant and unnecessary.

IT’S AN ATTITUDE, NOT JUST A PROCESS. It’s important to remember that the team meeting time is not just when you “do quality.” Quality needs to be part of how we think—constantly challenging ourselves to make things smarter, easier, faster, better. One of the ways we’ve done this is to congratulate team members for every idea and input. We don’t wait for the next team meeting to bounce ideas off each other. Some of our ideas have come as one of us is working on something, has a brainstorm, calls another team member and plays the “what, why, how, why not” game.

REMEMBER THAT GROUP PROJECT IN HIGH SCHOOL? You know, two people did all the work and these other group members sailed along to get the “A.” Sometimes, it can feel that way on a quality team—that some members aren’t contributing or pulling their weight. But the important thing to remember is that results are what count. If you get caught up in, “Who did what on a team,” then you lose sight of the goal and have a lot less fun.

HAVE FUN. This is a great opportunity to get ideas heard and enacted and to make a difference and improve the company. It can be contagious and exciting—and it can be fun. We have some healthy competition going on between the teams in our department.

  As for our team—we hang our flags, pick up our awards and are planning a team meeting at the new ice cream place across the street as soon as the weather gets better. And we enjoy coming to work because quality works for us!


May 2001Homepage



  • Print this page
  • Save this page

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this item

View comments
Add comments
Comments FAQ

ASQ News