ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

October 1997


1996 Baldrige Winner Continues To Grow
Information Sharing, Dispersing Control and High Quality Standards Keys to CRI Success

Kaizen Events: Two Weeks To Dramatic Process Improvement
USBI's 'Kaizen Events' Working to Keep NASA Flying

Electronic Monitoring: There's No Place Like Home

When Cultures Collide...
Keep The Best-Lose The Rest


by Peter Block

We...They...Them...And Us
by Cathy Kramer


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review

Letters to the Editor


Letters To The Editor

If Only I Had A Chopping Block
In the article written by Peter Block in your August 1997 issue, Hammer was given the ax for not addressing people in his radical change strategy labeled reengineering. Although confessed by Hammer himself, omitting people from his dramatic drive for change in corporations is not the only sin.
The chopping and burning of methodologies that single handedly do not offer salvation for a company should be given thoughtful consideration.
Taken solely on its own, absent a framework that empowers people and builds accountability for business success, reengineering will remain an engineer's solution to a people problem. The same can be said, however, of empowerment. Empowering people sounds right and I can build a strong case for engaging people in the business. However, if I cannot provide those empowered with the processes and tools to act on that empowerment, I have failed. They will turn and bite the empowering hand because it was full of promise but empty on delivery.
Each of these management practices can be a critical tool for managers. Each addresses a different layer of business and each has the potential to fail on its own. Taken as a set of tools that managers apply prudently to their operation, these same tools can build successful and competitive organizations.
Several media releases over the last several months have implied the demise of reengineering as a management tool. I recall similar articles in the late 80's related to quality circles, employee involvement and total quality management. My hope is that organizations view this process as a learning evolution, and not trial and error, where one program is replaced by another.

Jeff Hiatt
Author of "Winning with Quality"
President, ProSci

In Defense Of Discovery
I am responding to Jack Zenger's July 1997 response to Peter Block's article in the May '97 issue.
I didn't get the same message that Jack Zenger received in terms of 'discovery learning.'
The example used by Jack, i.e., the airline pilot, I think, was out of context. Of course you don't teach airline pilots by the discovery method. But then the pilots, when in training, are in a simulator, and some discovery methods could be applied in that setting.
I imagine some learnings, beliefs, and principles about human behavior have been acquired over the years by a number of different research organizations, behavioral and social scientists, and ordinary people with a keen and practical insight into the human psychic. There are numerous books on the market that suggest all kinds of approaches on how to behave in different situations. Certainly the Bible is one of the oldest books that contains rules on how to behave. Zenger-Miller certainly has
a vested interest in their own approach toward human behavior and learning, and have integrated that thinking/approach into their training offerings.
My point is that a lot of people are out there telling us 'how to learn,' 'how to behave,' 'how to train,' and so on. Like adults can't think for themselves without some kind of model or principle to follow? I'm sure I am overstating, but give us adults a break.
It makes one wonder how we have survived the last millennium without the help of all the gurus that are available to tell us how to learn and behave.
In discovering things for yourself, retention, I believe, is higher, and I think you are more apt to use it (whatever it is) if you discovered it yourself. So, in that respect, I agree with Peter Block and his view about 'discovery'.
One of the things that really concerns me about all the 'principles' - principles of learning, principles of human behavior, principles of managing, principles of training, etc, is that in the process we are losing some of our human-ness. By that I mean, can you train or give someone a principle to care? To respect others? These two very human characteristics go a long way in relating with others in any situation.
In reference to performance appraisals, I would suggest that as soon as they cease from being used and perceived as 'report cards' (even reporting on 'how' one should develop), and modified MBO systems, then there might be hope for their use. In fact, I believe a radical paradigm shift is in store for performance appraisals by year 2000. It is one of the few areas in management where the shifts have been minor. Even using peer assessments and 360 degree feedback in performance appraisals is not new to a lot of organizations.

Al Gates
Performance Improvement Consultant
Mississauga, Ontario, CANADA

Oct. '97 News for a Change | Email Editor

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