ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum


Online Edition - April 2002

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Issue Highlight — Business as Usual
- Peter Block has been thinking about all the talk about getting back to business as usual and wonders whether business as unusual might not be better for the nation.


We Said Teams Are Awesome—in Las Vegas, They Proved It!
Listen to What the Winners Have to Say

Gold Winning Team

Merrill Lynch Production Technologies Mail Efficiency Partnering Team—A Merrill Lynch Six Sigma process improvement team from Piscataway, NJ.

They also won the Gold Award in the statewide competition sponsored by the AQP Chapter in New Jersey.

Merrill Lynch’s Partnering Team consists of Merrill Lynch and its five major suppliers that were tasked with improving equipment efficiencies. Its mission consisted of increasing equipment processing throughput, reducing rework, and driving down cost. The team exceeded all of its goals. Merrill Lynch achieved an annualized cost savings of $1,088,000 while simultaneously strengthening its supplier partnerships.

The problem solving partners for Merrill Lynch's Gold Award winning team were:
Cunningham Graphics International
IBM
Pitney Bowes
Wallance
Westvaco

Robert Kroner
Title: Director
Team role: Project champion
Company: Merrill Lynch

What is your personal reaction to the team winning?

My reaction was one of intense pride. I knew the teams worked hard all year and gave a great degree of personal commitment. It was personally gratifying to see that work recognized by the nation’s business community.

Will this help your overall program—what will this do for the other teams?

It is impossible to overstate the favorable impact that this will have on our continued deployment of Six Sigma within our firm. Nothing succeeds like success. All future Six Sigma teams will have at least a road map to follow and the confidence to know that others have taken the journey and been successful.

Tony DeMartino
Title: Vice president, Six Sigma Master Black Belt
Team role: Team leader
Company: Merrill Lynch

What is your personal reaction to the team winning? What does it mean to you? What did you get out of being on the team?

I was ecstatic to say the least. Winning a national quality award has been a personal goal of mine for many years. This award was made that much more special because it promotes performance excellence through employee involvement, specifically through high performance teams. To me this award means that if you set high goals for yourself and work hard you will eventually realize the fruits of your labor. Personally and professionally it was a rewarding experience to have the opportunity to lead a team comprised of six major corporations to a national championship title. It reaffirmed what I’ve always known to be true—that people are a company’s number one asset.

How will this whole experience affect your ongoing work?

This experience has benefited Merrill Lynch’s entire Six Sigma program. Since the Six Sigma process merged so well with the AQP team excellence criteria, we plan to use the criteria and its focus on people issues to further integrate Six Sigma into our culture.

Did you learn something from other people you met at the conference that you want to share?

Yes, I learned that many teams—including Bayer, Baxter, and DST Output—run their own internal team competitions prior to the AQP National Competition. At Merrill Lynch we plan to incorporate this best practice as a way to prepare our teams for the national competition.

Mark L. Frohlinger
Title: Senior reliability engineer
Team role: Partnering company team member/stakeholder (helped in development of analysis tools and solutions)
Company: Pitney Bowes-Document Messaging Technologies

What is your personal reaction to the team winning?

It was an amazing experience. I was completely down after the bronze and silver medallists were called. I thought our presentation was worthy of winning, but our fate was up to the judges. Did we miss something? What could we have done better? Only if... It was heart-wrenching; after all of the time and effort preparing, we only had one chance left. After our team’s name was announced, I never experienced such a change in emotions. It was such a great feeling.

How will this whole experience affect your ongoing work?

We will be able to pioneer the work we’ve done with Merrill Lynch to our other customers. We will also continue to work with Merrill Lynch on continuous improvements at their facilities. I hope this also leads to more partnering efforts and future sales and service opportunities.

Did you learn something from other people you met at the conference that you want to share?

I learned that everyone has something of value to say. Be open to everyone. Then use their input and your thought process and common sense to interpret and shape life’s future events and tasks. The attendees and team participants provided a lot of insight and experience.

Holly Hickey
Title: Region manager
Team role: Partnering company team member (helped to identify and implement solutions)
Company: IBM

What is your personal reaction to the team winning?

I was so proud of the team effort put forth between so many companies and working toward one common goal.

Will this help your overall program—what will this do for the other teams?

We manage to the ISO 9000 standard at IBM and are very process-oriented. This partnership and accomplishment will just be another reason for partners and customers to work more closely in the future for cost savings and business improvements.

Did you learn something from other people you met at the conference that you want to share?

It was a great opportunity to meet some key individuals from the other companies that we can possibly partner with on other opportunities and improvements in the future.

Silver Winning Team


The Hermetic Perfectors From Emerson—a problem-solving team from Humboldt, TN.

They also won the AQP Silver Award in 1998 and the Gold Award in 2000.

The Hermetic Perfectors’ project was addressing the problem of six hours of daily rework in repairs to meet the customers’ demands with a superior product. This long existing problem was addressed with conventional problem-solving tools to completely eliminate the root causes. The project resulted in a savings of more than $13,000 in rework labor.

Ted Harpole
Title: Human Resource Development
Company: Emerson

What is your personal reaction to the team winning?

To achieve the top honors in team competition is an accomplishment and rewarding within. Yet, knowing that that level of accomplishment could never have been achieved without each member’s contribution. It is a competition that you walk away from saying: we rather than I.

Will this help your overall program—what will this do for the other teams?

Other teams need a tangible goal to know where they’re going and what is the mark of excellence. Making national finalists gives other teams a road map and a clear-cut path to travel. Companies and organizations are constantly looking for ways to recognize their teams’ accomplishments. The Team Excellence Award Competition gives teams opportunities for improvement within their problem-solving process and at the same time recognizes their accomplishments. This is benchmarking at its best.

Did you learn something from other people you met at the conference that you want to share?

The conference is addictive and keeps you wanting more. Positive attitudes and atmosphere are abundant throughout the conference. Everyone wants to bring this creative and positive environment back to his or her organization—where everything is possible.

Bronze Winning Team



Merrill Lynch Statement Efficiency, led by Jim Friscia, focused on decreasing the length of the statement without impacting client data. A 15% page reduction was achieved, with significant savings in postage and improvements in customer satisfaction. The other team members from Merrill Lynch included: Jennifer Guido from strategic marketing, Chris Tiber from statement systems (CRIS), Eric Ruoff and Irene Bartholomew from statement quality assurance, and Dave Phillips and Kevin Forest from Merrill Lynch production technologies.

Jim Friscia
Title: Vice president, Black Belt Six Sigma Entitlement
Team role: Project leader for the Statement Efficiency Team
Company: Merrill Lynch

What is your personal reaction to the team winning?

The whole experience was very rewarding and I was very proud of the team for all they accomplished on the project and in the competition. To be recognized by AQP was tremendous and our teams’ accomplishments are a tribute to the work of all of the Black Belts and Six Sigma teams at Merrill Lynch.

Will this help your overall program—what will this do for the other teams?

It added visibility to the Six Sigma program that was deployed less than a year ago. It has created added excitement amongst all of the Black Belts as the program and team’s accomplishments are being celebrated within Merrill Lynch. Other teams have already begun to envision how they can become active in next year’s competition.

Irene Bartholomew
Title: Project analyst, Statement Quality Assurance
Team role: Prototype development
Company: Merrill Lynch

What is your personal reaction to the team winning?

Our third-place award was a total shock. Not knowing what to expect, I went in with lower expectations assuming the other teams had competed in previous competitions. It is pretty exciting to place in the top three, and I will continue to work toward quality goals when working on project teams in the future. I will continue to build strong relationships with team members in the future to ensure the successful implementation of projects. We had a lot of laughs preparing for the competition and during the competition. It was an experience that will not be forgotten.

How will this whole experience affect your ongoing work?

It will strengthen the drive to communicate teamwork for all future projects. This process showed me that what we did together actually made a difference. (Cumulatively small changes would yield significant results.)

Did you learn something from other people you met at the conference that you want to share?

I thought the entire Honda process of the internal teams was really interesting. And I learned that I really didn’t like what Patch Adams is about, but throwing fish can be fun—I wonder if I should start throwing statements.

Jennifer Guido
Title: Vice president, Client Experience Marketing
Team role: Focus groups, interface with marketing and communications
Company: Merrill Lynch

What is your personal reaction to the team winning?

I was very excited and proud just to participate in the competition, but receiving the Bronze Award was an amazing and rewarding feeling. It is always a great feeling when your hard work is recognized. Our team dedicated a great deal of time and effort and it is a wonderful feeling to know it was recognized.

What did you get out of being on the team?

I realized a real sense of accomplishment and am extremely proud to have been a part of this team. We had a great story to tell and we accomplished a great deal. Everyone participated equally and had a great time in the process.

Will this help your overall program—what will this do for the other teams?

I think this competition will place a new focus on teamwork and how goals can be accomplished by partnering with various areas. I think much more can be accomplished when working outside of our silos and partnering together to achieve common goals. It’s also a lot more fun!

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April 2002 News for a Change Homepage

 In This Issue...
We Said Teams Are Awesome— in Las Vegas, They Proved It!
Heroes Wear Scrubs Too
Upcoming AQP Courses at a Glance...
Bringing Corporate Philosophy Alive
An Open Invitation to a New Conversation
What Do You Mean by Participation?
Tools for Teams: The TetraMap®
Something Shifted

What’s Up?


 Features...
Peter Block Column





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