ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — May 2003

In This Issue
Seeing Groups–
and the World–
in a New Way
AQP’s National Team Excellence Awards Diary
Ask the PowerPhrase® Expert
Looking Toward the Future



AQP Connections
Articles in Brief
News Bites
What’s Up?
Out of Context
Book Nook

May 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

AQP’s National Team Excellence Awards Diary

Sunday afternoon, February 23
The 25 finalists in the 2003 AQP National Team Excellence Awards competition have gathered to obtain last minute instructions about the process. Geetha Balagopal, project manager of the awards, warmly greets the team members and their supporting coaches. Warren Krompf, chair of AQP’s team excellence process executive committee, and some judges are present to encourage the teams. Photos of each team are taken to preserve the experience. The culmination of months of work within their organizations, regional competitions, and preparation for the nationals has arrived.

Sunday evening, February 23
The time for preparation has come to an end for the first presenting teams.

The teams have checked the meeting room where the presentations will be given. Team members have practiced and practiced—sometimes to the point where they can repeat their portions in their sleep—and many of them do.

In fact, it’s a restless night for many team members. Some have never traveled on company business in the past, and this first trip recognizes their achievements and demonstrates their organizations’ support. Others aren’t accustomed to making presentations—particularly in front of large groups. Still others want to “bring home the glory,” acting as representatives of not only their team, but also the other teams that have improved their organizations in the past and will improve them in the future.

Monday morning, February 24
AQP’s 25th Annual Conference has begun with opening remarks from AQP president, Michael Glowacki; recognition of the AQP crew composed of conference participants who have attended for the most years; and an inspirational message from the keynote speaker, Herman Cain. All team finalists receive their award for qualifying for the final round in the live competition.

After a brief break, the first team takes the stage, and the National Team Excellence Awards competition begins.

Each team has 25 minutes to share its story, making sure to address the five areas included in the evaluation criteria:

  1. Project selection and purpose.
  2. Current situation analysis.
  3. Action plan development.
  4. Project buy-in, implementation, progress, and results.
  5. Presentation.

The Incoming Customer Correspondence Process Improvement Team From Fidelity Wide Processing (l. to r.): Front Row: Mike Cook, Linda Nourse, Audrey Jett, Paula Hays, and Sue Divata
Back Row: Chris Edgington, Chris Hudak, Tom Duggan, Gregg Prebles, and Eric Carrol

Monday evening, February 24
By the end of the day, 17 teams have completed their presentations. Some are experiencing a mild degree of post-traumatic shock syndrome, mentally repeating their presentations in their heads and discussions, thinking of what they should have said that they didn’t say, as well as what they said that they shouldn’t have said. The familiar adage, “Hindsight is 20/20,” runs through their minds, and they know that they’ll be back next year with even better skills.

Tuesday morning, February 25
The day dawns bright and clear, and the final teams begin their presentations. The teams, judges, lead judges, monitors, and audiences all share the enthusiasm and excitement of shared learning as teams tell their success stories!

The Ramp Team From The Boeing Company (l. to r.): Ron Irby, Joe Irwin, Bill Beattie, Mike Howell, Rick Bones, Bita Anjomshoaa, Mike Fahrney, Joe Burgess, and Rudy Coffman

Tuesday afternoon, February 25
The judges retreat to discuss the feedback they will provide to each team.

The team members take a deep breath and offer words of encouragement. Sighs of relief are heard, and the release of pent-up anxiety is manifested in the hustle and bustle of team members as they head to other conference sessions, walk through New Orleans’ French Quarter, and attend luncheons to commemorate their experiences.

Tuesday evening, February 25
The teams gather for recognition by AQP at a reception that focuses not on the competition’s winners, but on the processes of participation and successful collaboration, quality improvement, and attaining higher organizational performance.

Each team has its own table, where the members enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages, but the spirit in the room goes beyond internal-team boundaries. Members are seen crossing from table to table, congratulating their competitors and expressing excitement about the next day’s announcement of the winners.

The Shim Cell Team From The Boeing Company (l. to r.): Daniel Munoz, Kevin Davidson, Norm Sebby, David Farrar, Jerry Simkins, Varinder Mohan, Don Pitcher, Tom DeCillis, Richard Riebsomer, Wilson Lee, Greg Jensen, and Ray Felski

Wednesday mid-morning, February 26
The time finally has come. Doug Stark, chair of the AQP conference committee and the master of ceremonies for the closing session, rises to the stage, and the announcements begin.
Jim Friscia, director of Six Sigma at Merrill Lynch in New Jersey, speaks about what has happened since his team won the 2002 Gold Award. AQP always invites the previous year’s winner to share perspectives during this ceremony.

“This year’s Bronze Award in AQP’s National Team Award competition goes to ‘The Shim Cell Team’ from The Boeing Company (C-17 Production Operations, Integrated Defense Systems), Long Beach, CA.”

The applause from the conference attendees is thunderous. Team members take the stage to receive their formal award, but there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the sound of support from their peers is the greatest award of all.

“And the Silver Award goes to ‘The Ramp Team’ also from The Boeing Company (C-17 Production Operations, Integrated Defense Systems) in Long Beach, CA.

“It’s now with great pleasure that we announce the Gold Award winner from this year’s National Team Excellence Award competition, ‘The Incoming Customer Correspondence Process Improvement Team’ from Fidelity Wide Processing, Hebron, KY.”

The conference participants rise to their feet to give Fidelity’s team and all the teams a standing ovation. But there’s far more happening in the room than recognition of the winners. There’s:

  • A feeling of pride among the teams—for their achievements, for representing their organizations, for running the presentation gauntlet successfully, and for receiving the admiration of their peers for their efforts.
  • A sense of comradery among the team members associated with the experiences they’ve shared on site during the process in the past several days.
  • A renewed energy among the teams that participated because their interest in working together to solve problems has risen to an even greater height.
  • An undercurrent of excitement that’s spread from the teams to the conference attendees. “We have excellent teams, too. We need to get them involved in this process.”
  • A belief among the national team excellence process executive committee members and judges that even more teams will participate next year and that even more organizations will benefit from using the National Team Excellence Award criteria to improve their internal improvement efforts.

Because as Tom Peters once said, “There is nothing else like this (type of) competition in the country. This is special.”


EDITOR'S NOTE: Future issues of News for a Change will include additional articles that provide coaching for new and experienced teams. Additionally, feedback from team members, executives from their organizations, judges, and observers of the 2003 competition will be offered.

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