The 2020 Quality 4.0 Virtual Summit

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WHAT AN INCREDIBLE EVENT!  

The Quality 4.0 Summit was a huge success! This past week, more than 200 quality professionals from around the globe gathered together online to learn how to draft a digital blueprint. Each of the three days was packed with amazing presentations and insights, followed by dynamic discussion.  With the variety of different events on the schedule, you had many options to chose from.  There was so much to see and do to engage with experts and peers.  There was even Happy Hour Trivia two nights in a row with the winners earning a free virtual registration to the 2021 WCQI event!  If you weren’t there, you missed an incredible Summit.   

Quality 4.0 aligns quality practices with the digital environment but we know implementing Quality 4.0 in organizations can be hard. This three-day digital event featured the most popular elements of the annual Quality 4.0 Summit–like innovative keynote speakers and future-focused sessions–while also adding new interactive components.  

For all of those who joined us for the 2020 Quality 4.0 Summit, thank you for being part of this first-of-its-kind virtual event! Keep reading to learn about some of the key take-aways from this week and put a reminder in your calendar now to plan for the Quality 4.0 Summit in 2021! 

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Sheryl Connelly presented “Confessions of a Corporate Futurist: Coming Trends that Will Revolutionize Your Business”. The future plays out in unexpected ways, despite the best efforts to prepare for the unknown. Most often, the success and failure of an organization comes down to two things: its ability to manage uncertainty and effectively identify how trends could have significant impacts to one’s business. Connelly revealed her secrets for how to think like a futurist, providing expertise and strategies necessary for effectively anticipating change. From the 10 megatrends that could change the world as we know it before the year 2050, to perspective that will forever change one’s approach to long-term planning and strategy, she delivered the insights necessary for organizations across industry sectors to prosper, innovate, and remain relevant in our world. 

Michael Gale led an interactive keynote presentation, “Excellence in a Digital Age: Where Quality Evolves in a World of Uncertain Opportunity”. Gale walked participants through the underlying shifts in thinking and architectures for the 28% of companies thriving with their digital transformations, and how they can apply that thinking to influence their own organizations. Gale showcased data from the research partnership between ASQE and Forbes Insights for the Insights on Excellence Benchmarking Tool and discussed how executives and quality professionals look at information. The session tapped into research for Gale’s best-selling book, The Digital Helix. Gale reintroduced and emphasized the five aspects of excellence, and how they can be used to implement Quality 4.0.  

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Mike Lipkin kicked off the third day of the Summit with his inspiring (and entertaining) keynote “Use Your Superpowers to Lead the Recovery”. Drawing on the post-pandemic reality organizations will have to adjust to, Lipkin provided examples of how the professional landscape is changing, and how listeners can breakthrough this new environment. Lipkin guided listeners through ten key forces that are shaping the immediate future and demonstrated the power of certainty, charisma, and conditioning.  

In the final keynote presentation, Radha Agrawal presented “Community Building 101”. She outlined the roles of attendee’s “friends”, “followers” and “users” and how all those relationships can still leave people feeling isolated. Radha Agrawal called this “community confusion.” She discussed how leaders need to cultivate their personal communities beyond business. When leaders find support, they create connections–both personal and within their teams—which studies show are key to happiness, fulfillment, and success. Radha shared the outcome of 18 months dedicated to synthesizing her key methods for community building called the CRAWL (core values, rituals, aesthetics, why, language) Method.  

This year’s event featured three focus areas that helped attendees customize their experience according to which part of Quality 4.0 was most interesting to them. Each focus area had a curated selection of workshops, and on-demand sessions. 

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For those just beginning their journey with Quality 4.0, or who want to brush up on their foundational knowledge, this focus area provided the building blocks of Quality 4.0, from terms and definitions to implementation strategies.  

In the session “Unleashing Quality to Support Industry 4.0” presenter Arron Angle outlined the issue that many quality professionals know to be true-only 15% of organizations believe that quality is a priority for executive management, but prioritizing quality can have large positive impacts to a company’s bottom line. Angle explained the value of Behavior Based Quality, or BBQ, to help executive leadership buy-in and promote a culture of quality across an organization. Angle laid out the ways that having a “breathing” BBQ can help aid participants in implementing their Quality 4.0 program.  

Attendees looking to contextualize their role within digital transformation found André Carvalho’s presentation especially useful. In “Why Digital is Not Enough: Finding Value with Quality 4.0”, Carvalho explained the limitations of technology-driven approaches to Industry 4.0. He gave examples of the ways that quality practitioner’s perspectives are valuable, even in organizational focus is heavily on technical innovation. With the variety of methodologies used in “traditional” quality, Carvalho emphasized the importance of creating an integrated approach to Quality 4.0, in order to identify the real value in the technologies, processes, and strategies adopted.  

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The ability to integrate quality into new technologies is critical for the success of Quality 4.0. With sessions highlighting data and automation, this focus area helped attendees see their role in digital transformation.  

Constantin Stan and Alexandra Niculae provided a great scope of information on the robotic process automation (RPA) in their presentation “How the 6 Sigma Belts Improve Robotic Process Automation”. They discussed how an improved process is more suitable for automation, and how a preliminary Lean Six Sigma project will bring even more results than the automation itself. The pair provided insights on how to prioritize the right processes for the robotic process automation, the right tools and deliverables for the process transformation, frequent errors – the efforts and mitigation plans, the Process Design Document which included content and traps to avoid for LSS professionals, as well as discussing roles and responsibilities of an LSS professional in every RPA project. 

In the presentation “Preparing for AI with Lessons from Your Gage R&R Past” Christopher Colaw explained how AI maturity depends on detection and classification capabilities, as well as an adequate source of training data, in addition to minimized hardware variation (visual cameras and lighting hardware). He grouped these focus areas can be grouped into two main actions for the organization; 1) qualification of the AI Algorithm, and 2) Attribute Gage R&R for the hardware which is used to capture the image and enable execution of the AI Algorithm. Colaw explained how only after these two actions are successfully satisfied can the Quality 4.0 organization display confidence in their efforts to ensure this new form of measurement variation is minimized. 

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This focus area aimed to help quality professionals understand how their organizations can build a cultural foundation of innovation through training, management, and measurement tools. 

Scott Burgmeyer and Tammy Rogers presented “Culture Through Self-Awareness & People Data”. During this workshop, participants delved into the science behind what drives people. By understanding the core drives, participants can use this people data to be an effective and productive team member and leader. Burgmeyer and Rogers used examples to showcase how understanding ourselves, our team members, and using people data builds high performance and positive employee engagement.  

Attendees of every generation found a lot of value in the session “Engaging the New Generations in Quality 4.0” lead by Luciana Paulise. Paulise provided relatable examples of the changing and evolving workplace, and how each generation behaves. It’s critical for leaders to learn how to attract, train, and engage the younger generations of quality professionals, and Paulise laid out ways to understand Millennials and Gen Z in order to build a new employee experience in Industry 4.0.  

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The Lighthouse Series helped attendees connect with the newest trends and emerging technologies in quality program implementation while learning from industry frontrunners. 

During “Easing into Big Data: From Logistic Regression to CART” speaker Kristine Nissen Bradley built upon quality professional’s foundation of data knowledge to explore the current machine learning approaches that are becoming common in the field. Nissen Bradley explains the Classification and Regression Trees learning technique and walks participants through how to interpret the analysis.  

In a very relevant on-demand session, Therese Costich presented “COVID-19-Forcing Digital Transformation”. Costich explained how the term disruption often connotes negativity when it should be considered an opportunity for positive change. In this session, participants discussed the opportunities that arise as a result of embracing disruption, how an organization can thrive by taking advantage of the opportunities, and how organizations in any industry can redefine how they do business by streamlining their digital transformation journey with an operational excellence platform. 

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On Wednesday, attendees got an exclusive preview of the new ASQExcellence offering, the Insights on Excellence Benchmarking Tool. ASQE chair Dani Picciotti and CEO Jim Templin led the presentation. The presentation highlighted how the Insights on Excellence (IoE) tool has been developed through the partnership with Forbes Insights, and described its functionality as an intuitive tool for a variety of employees within organizations. This tool will be a leading benefit of the new ASQE Organizational Membership levels, which are coming in early 2021.  

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Even though event participants couldn’t swap business cards in the hallway or chat over meals, the Summit created plenty of opportunities for the quality community to connect and learn from one another.  

Brain Dates, a new feature in the 2020 Summit, were small interactive sessions, that fostered group discussions around identifying solutions to common challenges. From learning how to publish a book, use storytelling to lead teams, to recovering customer relationships participants were able to get their questions answered and network with like-minded colleagues.  

Attendees also had the opportunity to learn more about the event sponsors, and ASQ and ASQE services through the Quality 4.0 Solutions Center. By clicking through this interactive portal, participants could explore new industry product and service offerings, download exclusive resources, and even pop into a video chat room to have real conversations with Solution Center representatives.  

At the end of the day on Monday and Tuesday, attendees were unable to unwind with Virtual Happy Hours featuring hosted trivia!  Both nights reflected an equal combination of competition and fun as attendees played to win a virtual registration to WCQI 2021.  It was a great way to end each full day of learning.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for a great Quality 4.0 Virtual Summit, we look forward to continuing to help you succeed with digital transformation, and we will see 2021!  

Be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming events, including Medical Mondays in November. This new series will offer insights into how quality professionals in the healthcare community can not only manage the current conditions facing them but build meaningful quality processes and systems that will last.

This event would not have been a success without our sponsors and exhibitors!

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We want to change the way you think about and experience measurement.  We provide high-tech 3D measurement solutions that deliver meaningful data to drive our customer’s success and we envision our technology in every area that develops, engineers, and manufactures products. 

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The Inaugural WCQI Virtual

WCQI Virtual

The global response to COVID-19 has changed how people everywhere work, connect, and learn. One thing that hasn’t changed: ASQ’s commitment to educating and inspiring members. While ASQ made the necessary decision to cancel the 2020 in-person World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI), we knew there was more we could do. Driven by the challenge to provide members with the unique value that WCQI always provides, on May 6, 2020 ASQ hosted the inaugural WCQI Virtual. Thousands of ASQ members joined this completely digital event featuring world-renowned keynote speakers, dozens of on-demand recordings, and online networking forums.

Keynote Speakers
Keynote Speaker James Clear
Keynote Speaker James Clear

Personal development speaker and bestselling author of Atomic Habits James Clear began the event with his presentation “Atomic Habits: How to Get 1% Better Every Day.” After suffering from a traumatic brain injury in his youth, Clear was forced to rebuild his life through small moments and achievements. This experience changed his life, and he realized that while luck is not within your control, habits are. Through examples from literature, biology, and economics, Clear outlined the value of incremental improvements. Achieving true excellence is not about radical change, but rather accruing small improvements over time. Clear guided members through his four stages of building successful habits and provided tactical tips to help quality professionals implement new habits in their personal and professional lives.

Keynote Speaker Shabnam Mogharabi
Shabnam Mogharabi

The second keynote speaker was Shabnam Mogharabi. Cofounder of media company SoulPancake, Mogharabi brought her experience in digital content, media, and building startups to her keynote presentation “The Power of Positive Psychology.” Mogharabi presented research from Dr. Martin Seligman on the changes to the brain’s chemical infrastructure with positive perspectives. In today’s uncertain landscape, many people are looking at corporations to lead with a sense of purpose. If professionals can learn their “why,” they can help guide social responsibility within their organization. By practicing gratitude, vulnerability, and connection, people are able to tap into positive psychology and create more authentic personal and professional lives.

myASQ Virtual Discussions

WCQI has always provided a collaborative space for quality professionals to network with people across industries, interests, and even countries. For WCQI Virtual, we knew that creating opportunities for collaboration was more important than ever. With the help of ASQ’s Technical Program Committee and World Conference Reviewers, we hosted virtual discussion boards on ASQ’s community platform, myASQ. Throughout the week, members asked questions, challenged ideas, and learned from one another on a variety of quality topics. With over 900 new members joining the community, the conversations have continued to grow. Here are a few stand-out observations:

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myASQ quote
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On-Demand Recordings

WCQI is known for bringing quality experts, industry trailblazers, and thought leaders together to teach and share exclusive content. This year, ASQ is offering dozens of on-demand recordings for both members and nonmembers. With three focus areas—Quality Foundations, Beyond Technical, and Sustaining Innovation—quality professionals can expand their knowledge and skills with topical recordings like Integrating Risk, Leading Change in a Changing World, and Designing High Impact Experiments. These recordings are available for purchase until June 1, 2020, so take advantage of this opportunity!


Without our ASQ members, WCQI Virtual would not have been the success it was. So, to our members, we want to say thank you! Your abilities to adapt, your willingness to try new systems, and your consistent drive to learn and improve made this event possible. To quality professionals seeking inspiration, connections, and access to exclusive, members-only benefits like WCQI Virtual, please consider becoming an ASQ member today. We hope to see you all for WCQI 2021!

Applying Organizational Excellence at Lean Six Sigma Conference

Six Sigma Escape Room winners
Six Sigma Escape Room winners

Building off the success of the 2019 event, over 500 quality professionals came together in Phoenix at the Lean and Six Sigma Conference where they focused on applying lean and Six Sigma for organizational excellence.

Quality professionals are uniquely positioned to lead their organizations through today’s ever-changing landscape of disruption and transformation, and this year’s conference featured sessions, workshops, and speakers aimed to help attendees optimize excellence and growth though change management, data analytics, strategic alignment, and more.

I have been able to meet people from all over the globe and from a variety of industries all focused on the same thing–continuous improvement.

Lindsay Lapatinsky
Keynote Speakers

Monday morning kicked off with Dr. Gregory Watson’s keynote address on the art of leading change in the age of Quality 4.0. As an ASQ Fellow and past chair, Watson brought his breadth of knowledge on Six Sigma to the presentation where he walked the audience through the development and popularization of Six Sigma. Organizational excellence in Quality 4.0 cannot be created and sustained by statistics alone, Watson explained. It must also be nurtured and fostered through strategic decisions and executive team buy-in. Watson discussed Deming’s profound knowledge and the quality imperative to rethink the profession and its methods to adapt to the age of Quality 4.0. For those interested in continuing to learn about the role of quality in executive leadership, Watson is currently working with the Quality Management Division on a free 12-part webinar series on managing for quality. Register for this webinar at https://my.asq.org/communities/events/28.

Award-winning illusionist Stuart MacDonald provided a completely unique look at quality at his Monday evening keynote address. MacDonald began his presentation by performing his signature magic act, much to the crowd’s delight. His performance, which fooled famous magicians Penn and Teller, was improved by lean processes. He led the audience through his professional introduction to lean and process improvement and his strategies to implement a 30-day continuous improvement plan that allowed him to improve his act by 100%. The audience left with practical tools for applying continual improvement—and a few magic tricks up their sleeves.

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Stuart MacDonald’s keynote session

Founder of The Kaplan Mobray Leadership Institute and award-winning author of The 10Ks of Personal Branding Kaplan Mobray welcomed attendees to the second day of the conference with his address on the role of passion and creativity in organizational excellence. After energizing the audience with his saxophone skills, Mobray got specific on how quality professionals can use personal performance improvement to achieve operational excellence. By using interactive and creative exercises, Mobray engaged the audience to explore new ways to solve problems and create problems to solve. “Improve the experience,” Mobray said, “and you elevate the result.”

Closing out the 2020 Lean and Six Sigma Conference was speaker and coach Gregory Offner. Offner focused his presentation on the benefits of proactive change management. Beginning his presentation by playing the piano, Offner guided attendees through his experience with damaging his vocal cords and nearly permanently losing his voice. Offner provided insight on how to disrupt effectively while maintaining daily business operations. He used his personal story of disruption and transformation, along with 16 years of sales and consulting experience, to discuss the value of micro-disruption and continuous self-improvement.

Between concurrent sessions, workshops, and Gemba walks, there were plenty of opportunities for attendees to learn about a variety of topics. A few of the standout sessions focused on artificial intelligence, escape rooms, and process observation.

One of the most buzzed about sessions was the Lean and Six Sigma Escape room. Hosted by ASQ Six Sigma Forum members Jessica Colon and Bob Kollm, this interactive session put participants’ lean and Six Sigma skills to the test through a series of clues and puzzles. Participants were split into teams and rooms where they used quality tools, strategies, and even a chi square to unlock the answers to the puzzle first.

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt Grace Duffy led the concurrent session “The Importance of PLAN in PDC/SA or DMAIC”. Highlighting the importance of effective planning, Duffy explained how a Modular Kaizen approach uses concepts of lean and Agile to fit process improvement into manageable daily work activities. Attendees particularly enjoyed the former NASA Quality Manager’s example of the importance of pre-team initiation preparation.

This year’s Gemba Walks, hosted by Master Black Belt Chad Smith and Management Consultant Bob Kollm, focused on the Ohno-Inspired Way of Truly Understanding the Current State. In this interactive session participants learned about process observation and put their learning into action. Other conference participants may have noticed the gemba walk happening, as the group traveled around the resort and conference to observe hotel staff cleaning guest rooms and “flipping” hotel space.  

Attendees in hotel room
Gemba Walk participants observe a hotel room cleaning.
ASQ Divisions

This year’s conference would not have been successful without the support and sponsorship from the Lean Enterprise Division and the Six Sigma Forum.

The Lean Enterprise Division is a global network of professionals helping individuals and organizations apply proven and leading edge lean principles and practices to achieve personal and organizational success.

“Not only are the sessions and keynotes fantastic year after year, the Lean and Six Sigma conference is one of my favorite networking events. The conference is the one opportunity a year I have to network with LSS professionals face to face. I have had the pleasure of meeting mentors, coaches, teachers, colleagues, and friends at this conference that have helped me grow professionally and personally throughout the years.”

                -Lindsay Lapatinsky, ASQ Lean Enterprise Division Chair

The Six Sigma Forum increases the use and impact of Six Sigma globally by building relationships, learning collectively, and advancing knowledge.

Sponsors and Exhibitors

Nova Southeastern University

Park Avenue Solutions

ASQ Six Sigma Forum

ASQ Lean Enterprise Division


Creato Performance Solutions

EngineRoom/MoreSteam

MoreSteam/EngineRoom

TRACtion Service

Minitab LLC

Gemba Academy

University of Tennessee

QI Macros for Excel

OpusWorks

ASQ Pheonix Section

What is the Most Effective Performance Management Approach?

In an evolving workplace, there is a growing trend suggesting end-of-year performance reviews are no longer effective. To remedy this, some companies have decided to utilize software to improve their process. Other companies have elected to eliminate reviews altogether.

What is the most effective performance management approach?

Sarah Haynes

Performance reviews are often the subject of much scorn and mockery in the corporate world.  In my 15 years of consulting with dozens of clients, I’ve only encountered ONE that actually considered their performance management process to be integral to employee development, and truly valuable to their company.  For the rest, it was a forced exercise that did not appear to be linked to results, aside from bitterness and regret. According to a Deloitte Insights survey, 58% of the companies polled reported that they view their current performance management process as not being an effective use of time and only 8% reported that their process drives high levels of value. Why is this?

Performance reviews are almost always linked to compensation.

Reviewees are motivated to score themselves as highly as possible in order to secure the best possible raise for themselves.  Reviewers (the managers) are pushed by the company to average out the performance rating across all individuals in a given cost center. So, for every employee considered “exceptional”, there must be one considered “underperforming”.  It’s a terrible trade-off, and one that often pits managers against staff. I’ve actually had a boss ask me if I’d be OK with a sub-par rating, because he really needed to give a large raise to my co-worker in order to keep him from quitting.

In order to make performance reviews effective, the direct link between reviews and compensation must be broken.  This is the only way to create an environment for an honest conversation, where employees do not have to feel like they’re fighting for dollars and cents.  Secondly, managers should be coached on how to provide effective feedback to employees.  It’s not easy, and many managers will do anything to avoid an awkward conversation.  Lastly, performance feedback should be provided on a regular basis, at least once per quarter.  If you wait until the end of year to provide feedback on annual objectives, it’s way too late to correct course.

Only one of my bosses throughout my career actually cared enough to provide me with constructive feedback, during performance reviews, that I could use to improve my performance.  I truly valued the insightful feedback he provided. Of the others, some were not involved enough with my work to be able to provide feedback, and the rest – well, I guess they just didn’t want to get into it.  I know I would have appreciated it and felt more valued as an employee, if they had.

Ted Hessing

The Science of Encouraging High Performance

We humans are funny creatures. We don’t always act in our own best self-interest. And when we get into groups we don’t always make better decisions. Sometimes we build entire organizational practices that are nonsensical, counterproductiveanachronistic, and/or that we ourselves would not want to be subject to. Case in Point; Performance Management.

let’s take a user perspective rather than a managerial perspective. After all, they should be the same thing, right? It’s always a good idea to start with the client in mind and, under this perspective, the contributors we are seeking to encourage to high performance would be our clients. This perspective can be best understood by the concepts of Servant Leadership. Here’s an overview of servant leadership if this term is new to you.

What’s My Motivation?

Most performance management techniques revolve around 2 axis; rewards or penalties. On the rewards side we can call it salary, bonus, compensation, or whatever. But generally people are incentivized to high productivity via rewards. The flip side are penalties which could range from reduction or absence of rewards to reduced or eliminated security, status, and stability.

But is that carrot and stick approach the best system to use? Turns out the science says ‘no.’

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

In Daniel Pinks excellent book Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (and eponymous TED Talks), he reveals that the research say unequivocally no. Rather than re-state Pink’s message (see above 10 min video for a great overview); Rewards don’t work the way you’d expect them to.

It turns out that after a certain amount of compensation, rewards are actually counter-productive in terms of increasing performance in any endeavor requiring a modicum of cognitive skill. After that magic level of compensation, people require other attributes to be present in order to Got that?

In other words, if you want higher performance, you have to pay people enough where they aren’t worried about money but then you have to enable 3 other key attributes; autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Thus,the overwhelmingly most popular way of incentivizing performance, reward vs penalty, is wrong. if you want to maximize performance, it turns out that you must optimize for motivation.

So, how does one do that? What’s the right way to handle performance management? If rewards are wrong (or at least only part of the story), then it seems we’d best change our performance management process to the other key factors Pink identifies; Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Let’s take each one step by step.

Purpose

Per Pink, Purpose is each team member being able to say  “I know why I am here and what I contribute with (as an individual or as a team)” How do we maximize a sense of purpose? So, as managers with a strong background in quality and strategic deployment techniques seeking to maximize performance, how do we maximize a sense of purpose?

I like Simon Sinek’s approach of ‘Start with the Why. Again, if you haven’t seen this Ted talk, you’re missing out.

To my mind, conveying Why is all about alignment. Alignment between the strategic direction of the company and the front-line personnel executing the vision. Some techniques quality leaders can use that we can use to achieve, communicate and measure that alignment are:

If we want to maximize performance management, it behooves us to make the alignment of why behind what people are being asked to do explicitly clear.

Often, when we make that alignment clear we find that much of the resources of time, talent, and energy that people are currently expending

are in pursuit of things that don’t matter or don’t matter as much as other goals they could be working towards. And that is clearly a waste.

Mastery

If the next attribute in results is Mastery, then it makes sense to incorporate this into our performance management techniques. How can we best help people pursue and achieve mastery of their professions?

Some tools we can use to monitor and maximize mastery are visual management principles and gauge R&R techniques. Perhaps the two that I like best are Skill Matrix boards – an excellent

visual management of team skill mastery and credibility as described by Ray Dalio in Principles. However, there are countless adaptations of each that we can apply to skill acquisition.

Also, it is helpful to recognize that every member of a company has a profession (what they do) and an industry they perform it in (where they do it.) It makes sense from a performance management standpoint to help contributors to develop a strong understanding of both the skills and context for their role and their industry at large. T shaped employee management is an excellent framework for this/

Autonomy

Now that we’ve addressed how to manage clear alignment and skill acquisition – the why’s and what’s of a role – let’s move on the how’s.

Again Pink helped us by illustrating how autonomy and empowerment are crucial pieces of the performance management puzzle. And we helped ourselves by showing the alignment of the highest strategic goals of the company

Now, autonomy is scary for many managers. To overcome this hurdle we could use a ‘trust but verify’ model of cascading dashboards and assigning responsible parties for work streams. And the autocratic manager will be happy with this. But autocratic leadership has it’s limits.

Sources: Business Case Studies and Cleverism

Perhaps the best way to encourage autonomy to meet our desired performance management goals is to favor the empowerment of a Team of Teams model such as the ones favored by General Stanley McChrystal (and others) in his book Team of Teams.

Autonomy is best served by employee empowerment. There is a link between employee desire to participate on autonomous teams and having a significant sense of ownership in team outcomes. Simply put, members of autonomous teams desire the ability to make decisions in an entrepreneurial climate without too much managerial interference. And arguably employee empowerment is best achieved through managers leading by illustrating a clear vision and then getting out of their way.

 Bringing it All Together

As leaders it is important for us to recognize that performance management is itself a process. It’s subject to an equation Y=f(x) where f(x) is often more complex than we think. But fortunately, like any other process, it can be measured, faults found, and hypotheses tried, tested, and improved upon.

Luciana Paulise 

The current performance appraisal methods have been hardly criticized in the last years, especially in the era of agile companies and continuous innovation. In the following article we will share some ideas and tips on how to adapt to your specific company culture.

Performance appraisals are the most common performance measurement strategy. A performance appraisal is a systematic and periodic process that assesses an individual employee’s job performance in relation to certain objectives.

Neverthless, several studies have been showing that the effectiveness of the current methods is not clear, as employee’s habits and company cultures have been changing and need different incentives to work better.
What are the main cons of a performance appraisal?

Frequency: Performance appraisals are usually done annually or quarterly. The frequency of feedback should not be defined by a standard, should be defined based n the specific need of the employee and his/her supervisor. Periodic evaluations usually generate more frustration that satisfaction to the employees because as it’s based on past performance and it’s general, it doesn’t help to actually change behaviors in the future. Millennials expect continuous feedback on each situation that helps them improve performance on the near future.

Specificity: appraisals tend to be general as they are the only opportunity throughout the year to formally discuss how we are doing. Clearly many items cannot be discussed, so supervisors tend to choose only a couple of hot topics, very good or very bad based on the general evaluation. So they really don’t tackle specific strategies for improvement, but simply try to confirm what we already know: we are in the top 10 percent, or just out of it. So 90% of the employees just get frustrated, while the other 10% get anxious about keeping the top for themselves on the next review.

All the employees have the appraisals at the same time, so instead of a real opportunity to improve, it becomes another item on the supervisors To Do lists, which they have to do as quick and neat as possible. While for the employee, it may be the opportunity they have been waiting to showcase their results or received some praise for their work.

A performance appraisal is usually focused on individuals, without considering the system or the team. Agile organizations are more prone to work in teams, so individual measurement may be counterproductive. It may impact team collaboration and promote competition instead, to achieve the individual results agreed in the individual discussion.
Subjectivity: No matter how well defined the dimensions for appraising performance on quantitative goals are, judgments on performance are usually subjective.

There are always winners and losers: When salary increases are allocated on the basis of a curve of normal distribution, which is in turn based on a rating of results rather than on behavior, competent employees may not only be denied increases but may also become demotivated. Performance appraisals turn to be unfair trying to fit everyone in the bell curve.

New strategies to have a successful performance appraisal
As peter Scholtes says in Total Quality or Performance Appraisal: Choose One, “Improvement efforts should focus on systems, processes, and methods, not on individual workers. Those efforts that focus on improving the attentiveness, carefulness, speed, etc., of individual workers — without changing the systems, processes, and methods — constitute a low-yield strategy with negligible short-term results”.

Continuous feedback

Annual performance appraisals are pretty standardized, not very much open to discussion and done only once a year. They are usually time-consuming and generate a stressful situation supervisor-employee, so doing it just once a year “looks great”. But real coaching for behavioral change should be short, continuous and spread throughout the year based on the need. It can be positive or negative, but for sure it should be based on recent situations that allow the employee to take action immediately. Innovative companies should count on that to be able to adapt quickly to the changes in the environment.

Leadership training

Many leaders say they don’t have the time in this high-pressure economy for the tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow. On the opposite, the one main task for leaders should be to facilitate their employee’s growth, and there should be no specific time for it, should be part of their day-to-day. Leaders tend to have a lot of work when they have an over dependent team. become demotivated work should not be done by them even if they can do it better, they should help their people to learn and do it better, that is their job. Leaders should be trained to develop habits that make their team owner of the tasks, autonomous and therefore more engaged. RECOMMENDED COURSE: Leadership

Fact-based

Continuous feedback doesn’t need to be based just on impressions or feelings, it can also be based on facts and data. Depending on the type of operation, leaders can use different tools to help employees ask for help or solve problems on the go, instead of hiding issue to avoid bad appraisals. Manufacturing companies can use run charts and graphics to evaluate trends and identify issues. Charts can show if the issues are systemic (all the lines are having delays due to inadequate maintenance) or individual (an employee is not well trained). In some companies, we suggest to do monthly audits with scores and detail action plans, to provide not only a fact-based measure but also a means to improve.

On demand

The best way to provide feedback is making sure the employee knows it before the supervisor, and before it’s too late. Timely feedback can be done when the information and the performance are online and accessible to everyone involved. Measures can be done by the employee himself, or through IT. For example, online retail agencies can provide to employees with online information about customer satisfaction, delays or errors so that employees can adjust the service accordingly. Many companies have 5 stand-up minutes to talk about issues and potential solutions.

Win-win

Performance measurement should be a tool to improve the team and organizational performance, not to blame employees or justify layoffs. It should help to know why a process is failing and what can we do about it, no matter who. So every measurement should not be used along with a root cause analysis and follow-up method.

Feedback at the gemba

A performance appraisal tends to be so formal that is never done on the work floor but inside an office or meeting room. As it is not the normal workplace for the employee, it can be more stressful. If it is done on the workshop, it allows for a more direct discussion. It allows for a psychological safety for the employee, which promotes more innovation and reduces the sense of failure. You can even find more solutions on the floor than in a meeting room or a cold management report. As Edwards Deming would say, successful companies must also manage what cannot be measured (the data-invisible elements).

A performance appraisal or any type of measurement is not bad per se, what matters is what you do with them. Good luck!!

Robert Mitchell

As a Baldrige Examiner, I like to begin my roundtable discussions with a review of the Baldrige Criteria. Category 5 of the Criteria focuses on the Workforce. The Workforce category asks how the organization assesses Workforce Capability and Capacity needs and builds a workforce environment conducive to Engagement and High Performance. The Baldrige Criteria defines High Performance as ever-higher levels of overall organizational and individual performance, including quality, productivity, innovation rate and cycle time.

High performance results in improved service and value for customers and other stakeholders. High performance stems from and enhances workforce engagement. Some characteristics about workforce high performance:

  • It involves cooperation between management and the workforce; cooperation among work groups and teams; empowerment of employees and building personal accountability.
  • It may involve learning to build individual and organizational skills; creating flexible job design; decentralized decision making and making decisions closest to the front line.

My career experience, and observations of applicants to state and national quality programs using the Baldrige Criteria has revealed six key processes necessary to effectively encourage high performance:

  1. A Formal on-boarding as part of the New Employee Orientation process
  2. Providing immediate, open and honest feedback
  3. Regular, periodic “pulse” surveys to measure employee satisfaction and engagement
  4. Frank, two-way skip-level meetings between management and its people
  5. A Career Pathing process to manage employee progression
  6. A Learning & Development System that supports organizational needs and employee development
  7. Systems & Structures supporting compensation, benefits and policies, rewards, recognition, as well as incentives to encourage continuous improvement, intelligent risk-taking, innovation and customer focus.

For more information about these key business and workforce processes, I highly recommend learning about the Baldrige Excellence Framework and attending Baldrige Evaluator training.