Friday, December 30, 2005

SBC-AT&T Merger - AT&T kicks off its biggest ever ad campaign "Your World. Delivered" who will deliver? Carrot Top or Moses?

The SBC merger, valued at $16 billion, won't be the end of the AT&T name. SBC Leadership plans to change its corporate name to the (qualityg says ...) once iconic and reliable AT&T name.

"The AT&T brand reflects what customers are looking for in a provider," SBC CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. said in a statement. "They want the latest technology and services, but they also want reliability, quality and trustworthiness. Only the AT&T brand offers this ideal combination of traits." He also said its merger with AT&T "will enhance competition, help bring new technologies to market faster, and provide real benefits to consumers and businesses."

AT&T, or Ma Bell as it was affectionately known, grew to become the nation's largest and most influential telephone company after getting its start in 1877 by founder Alexander Graham Bell. Southwestern Bell, one of the so-called Baby Bells, was formed out of the AT&T break-up in 1984. Southwestern Bell later became SBC.

qualityg says ... Since 1984 the world and particularly the United States has suffered because of your moronic decision by Judge Harold Greene. Tell me where you can find a company today that has over a million employees with standardization and reliability that compared to AT&T in 1980. A million employees working and paying taxes with a good wage. No other company has ever come close to giving back to the communities in which they were located.

In order for the breakup to even have a small chance of succeeding all of the barriers would have to come down, only a bunch of government idiots would believe that start-up companies would ever be able to compete. The investment in capital for landlines, circuits, marketing and R&D will never be realized. NEVER! This is not hindsight, this was predicted in 1984!

So what did we get? Corruption, mismanagement, greed, mismanagement, layoffs, mismanagement, crap stock prices that never move and more mismanagement. Did I mention mismanagement?

What about the egos of the current CEOs from the old bell system and currently of AT&T. They have turned into leeches and waged a war to be the first to add AT&T CEO to their titles. Dream on fellas,

AT&T is dead, let her RIP - 1877 - 1984.

UPDATED 11/11/05

Like I said above the egos are running rampant.

AT&T CEO dave dorman won't remain after SBC takeover

AT&T CEO David Dorman confirmed expectations Thursday that he won't stay on long after AT&T is acquired by SBC, opting for nearly $20 million in severance pay and consulting fees rather than a subordinate post at the combined company.

"Dave made it clear that he wanted to be considered as Ed's successor, and that's not going to happen according to the SBC board's management succession plan," AT&T spokesman Andrew Backover said. "Dave respects the board's decision, wishes the new AT&T the very best and will work hard to make the transition a smooth one."

The arrogance never stops. Just wait until East meets Southwest next year in management meetings. AT&T egos are used to pushing around their counterparts/peers when a merger acquisitionton takes place. The Texans are going to ride all over them dudes from NY & NJ!

UPDATED 11/20/05

The new AT&T Inc., freshly formed by SBC Communications Inc.'s purchase of its former parent company, on Monday unveiled its new corporate logo: a variation on the familiar blue AT&T globe with the company's name spelled in lowercase letters just below.

qualityg says ... Like I said this is not AT&T, it's just a company pretending... What is the purpose of the baby letters? The circle looks like one of those fancy white chocolate candy balls. Looks good on the outside until you take a bite and spit it out.
UPDATED 11/22/05

What is going to happen to Golden Boy? My suggestion is put him in front of the Alamo in San Antonio (SBC Headquarters). He also represents a once great icon that got run over by politics and management dictators.

Updated 12/30/05

AT&T Kicks Off its Biggest Ever Ad Campaign

AT&T Inc., formed by SBC Communications' purchase of AT&T Corp, is planning the biggest ad campaign in the history of either company in a bid to convince customers to stay as competition heats up from cable television rivals.

The national campaign , which uses the slogan "Your world. Delivered," is expected to run in the hundreds of millions of dollars and is AT&T's first since it was formed last month.

qualityg says ... who will be doing the delivering? Carrot Top or Moses, either way I say Return to Sender! How many AT&T employees lost their jobs in order to have money for this Ad?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Quality - Complex Process Problems Require Complex Process Solutions

Many of the Quality type conversations I have almost always ends with the frustrations of not being able to correctly articulate, or communicate the importance of “Systems Thinking” in solving complex process/system problems.

"Everything is simpler than you think and at the same time more complex than you imagine."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

With every problem comes an opportunity. I can think of no better example that can relate the importance of “Systems Thinking” (Systems Thinking) that plague most business and educational organizations. They continue to confront the failure of improving complex independent systems that should be interdependent systems.

When complex processes/systems fail, traditional ways of thinking and managing simply will not correct the problem. You need to be able to identify these types of failures and address them accordingly.


I have found in my work that identifying complex system failures can be accomplished by recognizing the following characteristics:

· The longer they are left unattended, the more vast their effects.
· Costs always surpasses what has been budgeted to correct the situation.
· As effects emerge, unknown interdependencies rise to the top like a bad penny.
· The more that problems come into focus, the more complex they become.
· Past experience with simple systems no longer apply.
· Root causes and their effects are impossible to identify, track and control.

These characteristics identify the most troubling realization about complex systemic problems: They are inherently uncontrollable. They cannot be understood completely either before or even while they are happening; therefore, prediction and control are impossible. Conventional means of managing and problem solving will not work.

One example I think about at this time of the year was the Y2K problem and how it impacted every organization knee deep in IT type integrated code. What we realized was the Y2K problem wasn’t just about software and the lines of code that had been hastily written 5, 10, 30 years ago that did not recognize the 00 date. It was also about the microchips implanted in so many items (i.e. PCs, appliances, utilities, etc.) that affect our day-to-day lives that also would not recognize the new century. Likewise, many of the provisioning processes could not be sectionalized and managed independently by multiple departments. It took take a systemic concentrated effort by a number of groups actively working together to solve the problems.

Conventional reporting structures and old-style power relations have also contributed to complex system failures. A certain amount of honesty and partnership must take place among process owners when addressing complex system problems. Review the following statement from the eyes of a senior leader. How would you respond if a subject matter expert came to you and said, “I need your best people to work on the Y2K problem and it will probably cost over a million dollars, and one more thing, we won’t be able to work on any other productivity problems.” Now what usually happens is the problem will be filtered as it is passed up the chain of command, leaders will state that everything is under control out of fear of being fired. Would the example have been any different if the provisioning process were used instead of the Y2K problem.

Old trends, past practices, and inappropriate problem solving methods (i.e. tampering) make it impossible to understand the failures of complex processes/systems.


We have created an environment of complex processes/systems that require new methodologies to unravel existing entangled interdependencies. In order to reverse the trend, complex systems require unity, participation, and honesty to data, information and internal partnerships. These types of system problems require us to dissolve our past practices of hierarchies, boundaries, internal competition, conflicting management objectives and silence out of fear.

The failure of any complex process/system can’t be adequately addressed through functional organizational structures or by a few internal/external consultants injecting their expertise into the system. Only those who work within the system know its inner workings. They are the only ones who know how to work around the systems when they fail. Thus, implementing solutions to system wide or cross-functional processes requires practices that secure the knowledge and expertise throughout the entire system/process (this may also include experts outside the traditional boundaries of the organization). Complex system problems like provisioning require unmatched levels of participation just to understand what is going on in the process.

It is vital that senior leaders provide the focus for implementing a process that identifies the players required for developing solutions to critical customer affecting processes. For example, what can be done to promote easier access so workers can reach each other quickly? What procedures, policies, boundaries, or functional territories need to be demolished now so workers can talk honestly and skillfully without the umbrella of politics or bureaucracy hanging over their heads?

Business Leaders and Academic Administrators need to develop a new mindset for addressing complex process/system problems. Margaret Wheately of the Berkana Institute suggests the following:

· Engage the whole system. Only participation can save you.
· Continuously keep asking, “Who else should be involved?”
· Create abundant information and circulate it through existing and new channels (dedicated Web sites or Intranets).
· Develop simple reporting systems that can generate information quickly and broadcast it easily.
· Develop quality relationships as a top priority. Trust is the greatest asset.
· Support collaboration. Competition destroys capacity.
· Demolish boundaries and territories. Push for openness everywhere.
· Focus on creating new, streamlined processes/systems. There is no going back.

I would like to add one more, “Don’t force change, and rather create the conditions for change to take place.” I have often heard, ‘what we need around here are leaders who will drive change.” Leaders cannot drive change by themselves, just as I can’t stand on my deck next spring and order my garden to grow three inches every day. However, if I create an environment where the conditions are correct and I take an “active” part in nurturing it, there stands a pretty good chance that growth and change will happen in a predictable time frame.

When facing complex process/system problems, leaders need to create the conditions for the appropriate groups to come together that will identify the system interdependencies. Boundaries need to be removed and hierarchies mean nothing. Surrender control and create partnerships of shared responsibility. Abolish internal competition and support people in developing system wide solutions and contingencies that will ensure customer satisfaction.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Governor Says "Return to Learn Month" Helps Citizens Increase Earning Power, Grow State's Economy - qg says...

Governor Granholm Says "Return to Learn Month" Helps Citizens Increase Earning Power, Grow State's Economy

Full Government announcement at- Return to Learn Month

Governor Granholm has made doubling the number of college graduates in Michigan over the next decade a priority for her Administration, saying that to have a strong economy, Michigan must have the best-educated workforce in the country. The Cherry Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, appointed by Granholm and led by Lt. Governor John Cherry, recommended increased outreach to the one out of four Michigan workers who have attended college but have not earned a degree.

“Our ‘Return to Learn’ campaign is really just getting started,” said Cherry. “These institutions have an ongoing commitment to welcoming back adult learners and giving them the support they need to finish their degrees.”

qualityg says… I applaud the Governor’s announcement and I would like to see each college/university listed to provide a link for their “Return to Learn Plan.” Surely this would provide the citizens a much-needed reference as to which institution satisfies their needs.

I called a number of the schools listed. 7 out of 10 had no idea what I was talking about. Perhaps I had the wrong department or a person that was not informed. My goal is not to embarrass anyone but to have the Governor’s state education department follow-up and post the links that I mentioned for each school.

What prompted me to post this blog is because I talked to some friends who are attending one of the schools listed. Part of the schools requirements is for the students to do 15 weeks of early childhood practicum as part of their degree. In order for this to happen one would have to take a leave from their job or quit so that they can get their degree. The school is not flexible in this manner and many have to put off getting their degree because they can’t afford to lose their job or pay for 2 ½ months.

I confirmed this by calling the university and stated that I was returning to school to finish my degree and what would be required. When told that I could not afford to lose my job and offered some alternative ways to do the practicum and still work the person did not budge and said it was a Departmental policy and take it up with the Dean (I plan on doing this soon). I know this is only one school and one department but this is just the opposite of what the Governor is stating in her announcement.

Additional announcements at the State Education Site that Parents, Educators and Administrators should take a look at include:

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Education --> Another Educational Milestone Reached

Saturday December 10, 2005 a major milestone was reached for qualityg jr and his Mother. It was special for both for different reasons. qg jr recieved his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Michigan State University and his Mother's dream of both of her children getting a college degree is half done. Daughter is doing great in her sophomore year and is on target for her degree in a few years.

Both have plans to pursue advanced degrees and jr has already applied to a number of universities.

qualityg is proud too, and welcomes his children into the life-long learning club. Now it is time to learn and apply, learn and apply, learn and apply…

qualityg says… Congrats to Harold S., Jose D., and Justin P., all good friends who also are graduating from MSU.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Education --> "School Stress" updated 12/8/05 - It's Grading Time - Has your "Joy of Learning" Been Deflated?

It’s everywhere, nothing but stress and more stress at school. I’m talking 2nd grade to 16. I’m sure K & 1st probably have stress but I only have applied experience with the grades mentioned.

State testing has completed in most schools, kids and teachers are getting more sleep since they don’t have to lay awake in bed worrying if their school and jobs are in jeopardy (at least until the scores come out). I heard one instructor state that they can now begin teaching, another one said I can teach “Time (clock)” to my class since it’s not important enough to be on the state test.

After class last week a number of my classmates stopped me and asked why I seem so calm. A number of presentations and project reports are due next week. My only response is “ I don’t believe in grades.” If I’m learning I’m happy. I am learning in this class from the instructor and from my classmates. I asked would they rather receive a “C” and learn valuable information or would they rather receive and “A” do little work and learn nothing (in college students search and wait for instructors who give out no learning and easy grades, even if it means they don't graduate that semester). They all chose the “A.” Responses included “My scholarship will be revoked if I don’t keep a “B” average” or “My parents will cut off my money supply.”

I have nothing more to say…

UPDATED 12/08/05


The above post was written a month ago. I ended it by saying I had nothing more to say. I'm not sure I can add to what I wrote but I can share what our higher education system continues to do each grading period.

Perhaps it’s the tears, or maybe it’s the body language that has left a person beat-up after a ten round fight. For the life of me I can’t believe the roadblocks, miscommunications, lack of standardization that is rampant in our educational system. In most cases the students have no recourse, end of class surveys and taking your case up the ladder meets resistance at every turn. Class sizes are so big that students who are not AAA type personalities get lost in the crowd of overachievers and orators.

Everyone talks the “WHAT,” but no one really gives the “HOW” until they recognize what it is there given is not correct. Believe it or not it is not just the students. Most instructors are bound by out-dated university rules that force them to utilize grading instruments that are as old as the old school house around the corner.

Grades do nothing but force every student in a class into the same square and hope they all fit through. Those that don’t are cast off and made to feel less than adequate. Grades impact so many students that are talented, bright and above all passionate that many change majors and life ambitions because of one stinking class/grade.

qualityg jr. had trouble in his freshman and sophomore years with math. He had two foreign instructors that made it very difficult to understand what was being written and stated in class. Efforts to get help from grad assistants were futile because of the long lines and 2-3 hour wait (very low grades in both classes). He changed his major and began a string of deans list that included retaking (more time and money) the two math classes that resulted in good grades from different instructors (same math classes). This happens all the time and students feel they have no recourse because of tenure and the administration that just doesn't believe this is a problem.

Where are the school psychologists, where are the counselors, advisors and mentors? I’m telling you right now you are not worth the grain of road salt I just drove over if you don’t start to understand “Variation” and “Systems Thinking.” Keep sitting in your offices, keep telling students that they can’t challenge the system and that’s just the way it is; will someone please tell me where I am wrong, give me some data, give me some facts, give me the truth and quit hiding behind your paychecks.

Maybe it’s the snow storm I just drove through to get home tonight, maybe it’s the faces I see that describe pain that they won’t keep their scholarship or they won’t get reimbursed by their employer or worse yet it’s the young student that tries to explain to their parents they are doing their best.

Please don’t misinterpret what I am writing, yes I know there are many cases where a student fails to learn the subject matter, but there is no way that they equal the amount of students depressed, exhausted and frightened about what will happen if they don’t get the grade that will grant them a degree or further their education by going to grad school.

Please read two earlier posts on the same subject:

State colleges your dogma is doo doo. and

Report Cards, Who is failing whom?


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Misc - Hard Times vs. Fight Club vs. Any Which Way But Loose

V.S. V.S.
This Misc post is a little out of the ordinary for qualityg but I promised some folks I would respond on my blog site.

qualityg got pulled into a discussion over the weekend about movies with bare knuckle fighting. Most of the group spoke of Clint Eastwood in "Every Which Way But Loose" and Brad Pitt in "Fight Club."

Having had two bare-knuckle encounters in a backroom of a cowboy bar in Arizona over 30 years ago I can tell you the best weapon is your head. One, if your opponent is stupid enough to hit the top of your head he will more than likely break his hands and two, use the head butt (in Detroit we call it the Bobo Brazil Coco Butt) when all else fails. I did it once and got disqualified. How and the heck do you get disqualified in that type of fight?

What my movie friends did not mention was the best BN movie of all and that was "Hard Times" with Charles Bronson. Set during the Depression Era in the 30's, Chaney (Bronson) enters New Orleans on a southbound freight train from nowhere. Broke and hungry (looking lean, leathery and mean) he immediately begins to look for a way to make some money doing what he does best, fight. Quickly proving himself to be a man to be reckoned with he hires a local down-on-his-luck gambler and promoter named 'Speed' (James Coburn) to set-up his fights. Dope addict and former med student Poe (Strother Martin) is also hired on as Chaney's "cut-man" and the three are off to make some fast money. What a trio!

Jill Ireland (Bronson's real-life wife) plays Bronson's love interest. As Chaney's reputation grows an eventual showdown looms on the horizon with the toughest, dirtiest fighter in town, Jim Henry (Robert Tessier).

The big money is within reach if Chaney is really as good as he thinks. Great performances by all. Bronson and Coburn are great together (both also appear together in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape) and Strother Martin is, as always, one of the best character actors in American Films. As for Robert Tessier, well they just don't get any meaner then him. Truly one of the great bad guys of film (i.e., The Longest Yard, The Deep) with the best tattoos. Loved it when he broke Richard Kiel's nose in the longest yard.

Down goes Eastwood, his monkey and Pitt. Bronson in Hard Times is the best by far, check it out.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Does the Computer Help Learning in School?

Read a story last week that indicated that high school test scores for reading, writing and arithmetic have not improved since the introduction of the computer in the classrooms. However, learning more about a computer has vastly improved.

Is it the tool (computer) or how we are using the tool as a teaching aid?

New computers line the media center. Despite the spending, this school trails federal standards and many others in the district have continuously failed the NCLB standard.

qualityg asks... Are the computers used only in a Computer Lab setting or are they a tool (i.e., textbook) used to enhance learning. Are the teachers (other than the computer lab teacher) certified to use the computer as a teaching tool? Is there any correlation data that would support this question?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Aw C'mon now - this education stuff is getting ridiculous, isn't it? updated 11/17/05 - Student Systemic SIPOC Model & New State Standard for HS

OK, Michigan Department of Education now I am really confused. I have blogged many posts on a variety of topics concerning the status of education in Michigan.

Many educators and parents have even responded by Email thanking me for some additional information. Last week I started to read the Department of Educations "School Report Card." It can be found at MI School Report Card under current topics. I would advise you to print out the reports listed because you will go crazy trying to figure out what it all means.

In Saturday's Detroit Free Press it looks like a number of their writers tried to report the findings, they even got some quotes that really don't help, they just support the positive twist of the title "359 schools rise from failing list" State gives out more A's, B's this year."

If you glanced at the title you might think schools are improving. Based on my reading Friday at the state site I did not get the same impression. The article even states "While the state gave out more A's and B's this year, the number of schools getting the poorest grades of D-Alert and Unaccredited is also on the rise."

I don't blame the reporters, I'm sure they were just reporting what someone told them. By the time you get done reading all this stuff it's hard to tell which is which and do they support the same goals.The Michigan accreditation system is named "Education YES, A Yardstick for Excellent (qg says ... please define excellent school) Schools" and The federal program is named "Adequate (qg says... please define adequate) Yearly Progress (AYP)," under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Together they make up the Michigan's school accountability system.

I learned this by reading the "Guide to Reading the Michigan School Report Cards 2005 Edition" at Guide to Read School Report Cards. I have many questions concerning this document like I had about the others I posted, but I'm not going to respond until some other questions get answered from previous posts. The following posts range from April to August of this year:

click on the following:
qualityg again responds to Michigan School Improvement Framework
MI State Education Plan for 2005 - 2010
MEAP Scores Improving?
No more HS Grad Parties
Education - A Nation & State at Risk
Lt. Gov Cherry task force - Raise Michigan Standards
Michigan Higher Education: Promise or Dream
Michigan Education: here we go again

Hope you are still with me because it gets more confusing as I try to understand our education system from end-to-end (systems thinking). There are at least four major initiatives all going on at the same time (Lt. Gov Cherry Task Force, Michigan School Improvement Framework, MEAP scores special meeting task force, and AYP's school report card,). I'm sure there are others too. The best I can tell different groups/departments are running with these initiatives.

From a quality perspective I had hoped all the initiatives would be found in the Strategic Plan 2005 - 2010. Some are mentioned and some are not. I'm sure the associated detailed project plan that accompanies the Strategic Plan identifies those responsible for each project and the improvement plans that go with each one. It should also show overlaps and how each effort is interdependent on the other for success. Geez, I sure hope they are NOT independent efforts because then you have improved nothing and we have made another very costly effort (by the way I have been asking about dollars, where are they coming from and how much for each initiative)?

Please someone tell me who is coordinating all these efforts. The Michigan School Report Card reminds me of "Management by Objectives (MBO)," and some of you know how I feel about those business plagues. Some indicators are mentioned but others are not to be found, you assume by constantly adjusting and changing scores, variables, etc. that it helps (you are tampering), you are wrong, you think you are driving forward, you are not because your eyes are on the back of your head looking back.

Your results are based on Standardized tests and requirements (MBO), but the means by which schools obtain them are left to the individual schools and districts (you may think they are standardized but they are not, C'mon be honest). You mention best practice with no examples; you talk about snapshots, when you need a movie. I could go on, but I won't for now.

The saddest part of all is that many teachers and parents have no idea what is going on, how can you expect them to work toward moving targets, different objectives and not one common aim for our educational system. The one common aim is our children, lets have one common effort, this doesn't mean one initiative.

Aw, C'mon now, this is ridiculous, isn't it?

updated 8/29/05

Here is a link to an article in today's Detroit Free Press by Lori Higgins.

Don't Stop now, Gov tells schools

qualityg says... I think Mr. Chuck Wilbur may be on the right track, too soon to tell.

updated 9/16/05

Governor Calls for Mandatory Statewide Curriculum
Says Education is Critical to State's Economy

LANSING: In her weekly radio address, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today said establishing a rigorous mandatory curriculum for Michigan high school students is critical to the state's economic future. She also thanked the State Board of Education for moving forward on her call to establish higher standards for Michigan's high school students.

"With Michigan's economic future on the line, we can't afford to have our 500 local school districts marching in different directions," Granholm said. "Instead, we need a high standard, mandatory curriculum to get all our students on the road to higher education and a good paying job."

The State Board of Education is scheduled to unveil curriculum recommendations in mid-November.

Creating a statewide curriculum is another step toward reaching Granholm's goal of ensuring that more students are prepared for jobs of the future. She has called for a doubling in the number of college graduates in Michigan in the next ten years.

"I believe strongly in putting a degree in the hands of every single child," Granholm said. "To do that, we have to improve education at every level in Michigan. And by doing so, we'll help prepare our students for success in school, success in college, and we'll help our economy succeed."

The Governor noted that states with the highest number of college graduates are also the states with the lowest unemployment rates and strongest economies. While other states and countries have adopted requirements in critical fields like science and math, Michigan does not require a single course, other than civics, to graduate from high school. Creating a mandatory curriculum in these critical fields is an essential step in ensuring Michigan is the most well educated state in the nation and an engine for knowledge based job creation.

Earlier this year, Governor Granholm signed legislation that will require high school students, starting with the class of 2008, to take a nationally recognized college entrance exam, such as the ACT or SAT, instead of the MEAP test. She also proposed increasing funding for K-12 education to record levels.

By Mike Thompson - Detroit Free Press

qualityg says... By What Method where the "mandatory curriculum" created? And, if you really want to have more degrees you need state funding for Pre-K - 16.

Getting just a High School Dipolma is no longer acceptable (get rid of high school graduation), be bold govenor, lead the way to a new "Paradigm" about education, forget politics and do what is right.

Unveil (where will the ceremony be held)? Curriculum recommendations? Will that be the "New Michigan School Improvement Framework?

updated 9/21/05

I just wanted to let everyone know I am receiving feedback from the Governor's office about many of the questions I have been raising. Here is some additional info that I received in an Email yesterday.

Thank you for writing to Governor Granholm's office. I will be expressing your thoughts to the Governor and her Executive Staff.

The State Board of Education will be seeking input on what the needs and priorities of education are for the state. They will be having public meetings and asking for involvement from businesses, education authorities and the general public. I believe that their first meeting is on October 1st. They will post meetings on the website that can be located at:

updated 10/30/05

I recently received an email from an educator in Oregon who wanted to know if I believed in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

For those not familiar with NCLB,

For at least ten decades, American educators have failed to come up with the right and wrong way of teaching and learning. The best minds at all levels of academia have struggled with these questions.

NCLB was developed on the theory of "what's good for business is good for schools." School productivity would improve if business principles and applications were applied. If I remember correctly this is what was stated by then Texas governor George W. Bush and in Houston by Superintendent Rod Paige. If such improvements could happen in Texas, then they could happen everywhere in America.

There are many articles written on whether or not Texas indeed get better because of their standards. I do not have enough knowledge to agree or dispute those facts. However, …

Following are the problems I have with NCLB based on my facts and data:

First, let's address "what's good for business is good for schools." What businesses were used as models? The ethics and values that ran Enron, Delphi, Adelphia, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Tyco, HealthSouth and others (see qualityg’s write-up on -- CEO Fools that include examples of destructive leadership in action)? How about the mismanagement at AT&T that destroyed an icon. What about the automakers and their suppliers who are going bankrupt because of there continued short-term focus on quarterly results. I know let’s use our MBA Programs for how to do things right. Whoopsy, we have been doing that too and they are leading many of the before mentioned companies.

The last time I read over the act I was intrigued to find the Act stated “If a school fails to make test gains in two successive years, the school can be labeled a failing school and the school's administrators must write an extensive (100+pages) school improvement paper to justify their job and school.

I’m not against school administrators writing improvement plans, but I question the validity of any test that only concentrates on a critical few (reading, math, science) and neglect the useful many (art, music, physical education, drama, play). Why does the plan have to be 100+ pages? Perhaps that is all that can fit on the white board (write - I will get better because I can, over and over).

How many schools are failing in your State? Do you know do you care? When I went to Michigan’s Education site Assessment & Accountability I found all sorts of assessments (MEAP, Education Yes, Merit Exams, Michigan School Report Card, MI-Access, National Assessment of Educational Progress and there are more). I could not find any schools that have failed the NCLB. If anyone knows of a school I would be very interested in reading their 100 + page report. Double-spaced and in APA style format please!

All I can find are programs that measure what we are doing wrong, but none that display the standardized procedures that should tell us what to do correctly.

I was wondering who does the assessing for all these programs? There must be an army of assessors invading the schools weekly. At what cost does the state tax payer’s pay for all these programs. Who does the follow-up assessment?

In summary, I’m all for test and theory, but NCLB and other state programs have failed, time to move to the next one. Learn from the others and bring what was right forward and leave the rest behind. One more thing – Government need not apply to help!

Here is an added bonus for your review. Please go to MI Fed Educ Budget 2006. Is it just me or does the middle class continued to get hosed when it comes to Federal and State Aid?

To check your state go to State fact sheet fed budget 2006.

updated 11/05/05

Granholm Urges Citizens to Complete College Degrees
Proclaims November “Return to Learn” Month

“Michigan’s incredible network of universities, colleges and community colleges is really stepping up to the plate with “Return to Learn” month,” said Granholm after taping her address. “Together, we are going to make sure people across our state know that the barriers to finishing a college degree are few, but the rewards are great.”

qualityg says... It's a start, but c'mon, "barriers are few"?

For the complete proclamation got to

updated 11/07/05


From a business view many of the organizations in the United States realize that Quality must be built in the design stage in order for a product or service to have a chance in the competitive marketplace.

From an educational system point of view this has yet to be understood. Many provide lip service but most have no idea on how to implement such a program or as to where they should start. To start --> Pre-K to at least 3rd grade should get the majority of funds for designing the best standardized quality requirements and teachers that can be developed.

Implementing standardized requirements at the end of the process (12th grade) are called Quality Results. You cannot manage by Quality Results; you need to manage by Process Indicators throughout the educational process. Waiting until the end is too late, too costly and too wrong.

I'm not against them, just against them if they are stand-alone. Implementing requirements only at the high school level will bring out nay sayers that say too many kids will drop out because of the strictness and difficulty of the tests. Yes, if you wait until the end it indeed will happen, save them up front where it counts, provide them multiple opportunities through the early years to catch up and get help. Waiting to the end is just plain SILLY!

It is no different than business, children will not be able to compete in the global marketplace without Quality being built and designed in up front in the system.

updated 11/13/05

In Sunday's Detroit Newspaper (11/12/05) the following article appeared. Uncanny isn't it (see blog post directly above)? I like the concept and I really like the fact they are including all disciplines.

However, Mr. Flanagan and the state educational officials are still looking at a piece of the educational puzzle and not the whole. Also, By what methd will this be rolled out? Do we have an adequate amount of math teachers skilled enough to meet the new standards? Will all of the other programs that school districts are supposed to implement be changes to include this new standard (there is enough confusion already).

16 classes or forget a diploma
State wants to require more math, science to get high school students ready for work world.

Here is the complete story: 16 classes - Diploma

qualityg says... please review "Student Sytemic SIPOC Model" (by qg - 1993)

Click on picture twice (2) to enlarge

qualityg says ... If you study my model you can easliy see the cost to improve the educational system costs much less up front than to try and fix the problem towards the end.

It will be interesting to see the comments and local school commitees that are formed to fight this educational mandate stated by Mr. Flanagan. Many parents will challenge the strictness and difficulty of the standard simply because they don't have the knowledge to help their children at home and it will be too costly to get additional help if their local school teachers and administration are not up to the task.

Warning - I have already heard some high school teacher say they should be compensated more because all the burden of standards falls on to their shoulders.

OH MY! We have a long way to go Mr. Flanagan.

Email Sucks - Sometimes, All the Time, or Just Some of the Time?

For many moons I have had a love/hate relationship with E-Mail. It’s such a great way to pass on information, data and thoughts in such a short time. However, I hate E-mail because of the loss of personality.

How did it become a binding contract in the business world? You spend more time trying to explain what the message says, just pick up the phone, or better yet walk down the hall and meet face to face. Have you ever been CCd on a string of Emails where some idiot always responds to “Reply All?” I have many times interrupted a string by stating, “It’s clear to me that the addressees in this Email don’t understand or can’t seem to agree. Please pick up the phone and stop wasting everyone’s time and space.”

When Voice Mail came in everyone thought it was a great way to communicate. It seems once someone leaves you a Voice or Email it is gospel unless they hear back from you. People screen their Emails just like they did and still do Voice Mails. Many folks put the Microsoft “Reply to Messenger” or “Read Receipt.”

Did you ever get an Email message back that says “Deleted Not Read?” It stings when it comes from your boss and they don’t know that the message exists if you have Read Receipt on.

My biggest dislike of all is the loss of meaning. It’s bad enough when you are talking face to face and can’t seem to get your point across. Email takes the nuances of any language and destroys their intent.

My favorite was putting the “Block Message” on when you went on vacation. Well it was fun once. Now you just put a message stating the time you will be gone. Upon return almost every Email starts out with “Upon your return…” At one point in my career I was getting 200+ Emails a day. Don’t you just love the Emails your boss sends in the middle of the night, and worse yet one of your cheesy co-workers responds?

Hate the attachments that you have to go through umpteen versions to get to it only to find some useless message.

Friday, November 11, 2005

General Motors - going bankrupt?

GM: Is automaker is ripe for bankruptcy?

GM Leadership Says its solution: Cut costs and make better cars

Wall Street's confidence that GMC Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner can restore the company and avoid bankruptcy down the road is evaporating -- quickly.

GM shares slid 4.5 percent Thursday to their lowest level since October 1992, the month the automaker's directors ousted then-Chairman Robert Stempel in a historic boardroom coup.

GM Says its solution: Cut costs and make better cars

Here are the lowlights of what General Motors told investors two days ago. Instead of breaking even in the first quarter, it now expects a first-quarter loss of $1.50 per share. Instead of earning $4 to $5 for the year, the best that investors can expect is $2. Cash flow will be a negative $2 billion, not the positive $2 billion the company forecast as recently as Jan. 13.

GM Says its solution: Cut costs and make better cars

Argus Research analyst Kevin Tynan thinks there's a 100% chance the company will file at some point. "I wouldn't say two years, and I wouldn't say five years," Tynan says. He notes that GM is weighed down by inflexible labor costs, and he doesn't see how the automaker will get out from under those expenses without the aid of a bankruptcy court judge. But, "I think there are enough Band-Aids left; they could really push this out pretty far until they have to deal with the wage issue."

GM Says its solution: Cut costs and make better cars

UAW Blue-collar workers at General Motors Corp. have ratified a landmark deal to help the automaker cut its massive health-care costs, the United Auto Workers union said on Friday.

GM, the largest U.S. private health-care provider, has said the deal will save it $1 billion annually and slash its long-term costs by $15 billion.

The deal, which shifts some of GM's costs onto the backs of the automaker's hourly workers, had to be ratified by the UAW's rank and file. The process began last week and the union announced final approval on Friday.

GM Says its solution: Cut costs and make better cars
qualityg says… I thought they were already cutting costs and making better cars. Didn’t they win all those J.D. Powers awards? Something stinks in Detroit and it’s not the Rouge River Bridge over I 75.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

REPORT CARDS – Who is Failing Whom?

It’s that time of the year again when education grading periods end and report cards are sent home to parents. Some siblings in the same school but different grade levels are getting praised while others are getting grounded. How do you know that the “A” child is doing better than the “C” child? Because the teacher told you so, did you look at all the papers brought home? Did you compare grading scales? Do you care?

I can remember back in grade school (Catholic) when the pastor would pass out cards. You could tell he was coming because he smoked cigars and the halls would fill with smoke. Everyone would sit still and pray that they did not get lower than a “C” in any subject. Father would sit in the front of the room in a big chair and call us up one by one. One time the kid in front of me got a “D’ in geography. Father threw his card on the floor and told him to pick it up, when the kid bent over Father whacked him with his cane across the buttocks. Another time he kicked a kid in the butt as he bent over. He did not hit girls, just humiliated them until they cried.

Now, do you still believe in grades? Most of you know that I do not and I have written about it several times. How about “Report Cards?” Should they be standard across a school district? How about the country, after all when a child moves is it their fault if the grading system is different? What about the math teacher in my son’s high school who fails over 60% of her class on a regular basis while her counterpart gives “A’s and B’s.”

Some say so what, but when it comes to GPA and getting into a college why should a child be penalized because one teacher is too strict and one is too easy.

I have seen systems where 94 – 100 is an A, versus the old standard of 90 – 100 is an A. I have also seen report cards where below 70% is failing. WHO IS FAILING WHOM???

I have written before about calculating the Grade Point Average. If we have to have grades at least develop a fair system for how much effort a student puts in to learning as opposed to an "AVERAGE" which mathematically when used by itself (Should use measure of Central Tendency - Mean, Mode, Median and Range) is worthless. I say this because GPA by itself is a poor means of measuring one’s academic knowledge. In fact, the way a student's GPA is calculated depends on the school he/she attends. Averaging the GPA in my opinion is worthless. Why don't schools assign points per Grade ( A = 4, B =3, C = 2, and D=1). If you want a 5 for Honors or AP classes that is fine. Simply total up the final score 6 As, + 1 B = 27). The more points you have the better. This would also encourage more students to take more classes instead of the minimum in order to graduate. Is a student who takes 5 classes and gets all As (GPA = 4.0) doing more than the student who took 7 classes in the example above who would have a GPA of 3.8 under the current way of calculating GPA (27/7).

In some teachers opinion an excellent cannot be achieved because no one is perfect, where as others give them out like candy. Some parents will move to an easier district if their child is in sports, while others will even go across the country searching for the right match.

While I still don’t believe in grades (I say – you pass upon completed demonstration of applying your knowledge, if not, you are given additional learning until you do so, grades and grade levels are not important just learning) I know I am not going to see paradigm shift in education until we start seeing education as a basic fundamental right of all citizens. We must reduce the cost of education; we must respect our teachers and pay them a fair wage. We must keep politics and the governmental officials out of the decision-making. We must control the destiny of education.

So maybe the next best thing is to consider standardized report cards, at least it will start to create a more level playing field. The time has come to consider this change.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I’ve written many times about the importance of Systems Thinking and the need to look at the whole and not just the pieces/parts (end-to-end). I can still feel the pain the IT Department used to cause me because they always seem to have the code, database or implementation plan finished when it was convenient with there schedule.

I tried repeatedly to get them to understand that it is more important to meet the customer requirements and expectations than it is there internal schedules. Are they designing programs for their leisure or the customer?

This past week has brought back those memories in the form of a local city doing major construction on many suburban streets. I’m not against improving the roads and drainage systems, but why can’t the city planning people talk to their customers and survey the area before scheduling for the year. You see the work is being done all around an elementary and middle school. The trucks, mountains of dirt and workers have caused major traffic jams and rerouting through suburban streets. It’s dark in the morning and many of these children walk to school. The line-up of cars looks like a football game just finished. These are not crazy fans but parents in overdrive trying to drop off their kids and get to work on time.

Now, let’s see, when is there no school? Would summer be a good time to do these non-emergency upgrades? There are many other parts of the city that can be upgraded without disrupting the school system. Could it be the city planner’s just schedule without any concern to the degree of disruption? Could it be they don’t see the homeowners or the schools as customers that pay for their service?

I bet the amount tardy slips are way up and the school will not give the kids a break, after all they don’t see the kids as their customers either!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Math Skills ---> The NUMB3RS are still going down!

I really like the TV show numbers starring ex-Northern Exposure star Rob Morrow.

The math used in each episode of NUMB3RS is based on real FBI cases. Mathematics consultant’s work with NUMB3RS throughout production to ensure that the math used to help analyze and solve crimes is real and accurate as depicted by FBI agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) who recruits his mathematical genius brother Charlie (David Krumholtz) to help the Bureau solve a wide range of challenging crimes.

For years kids have complained that they don’t like math or do well in it because they see no real application. I’ve written previous posts about the amount of remedial math that is required when one enters college and it’s getting worse not better. Wayne State in Michigan reports an increase of 85% in the last four years.

C’mon Math teachers lets bring some real life application to Math classes. I believe the show NUMB3RS should be required watching in high school. Something has to change and it must be done now before we lose another generation to sub-standard math scores. The world is more technical and we need more math and science majors in all fields of business. However, they must not be Finance math folks, we have enough of them running around killing innovation and creativity.

Math should be taught to be fun and not grueling repetitive tables and memorizing theorems and rules. State testing is the big cause to this problem and has been for years. When you put bogus measures and guidelines in place with no plan on how to reach them you get failure. Keep moving the targets and goals without understanding where the process breakdowns are and you get traditional boring non-essential math classes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

AUTO INCENTIVES - Can they last the round?

General Motors and other auto companies who now have to give incentives to move sales each quarter are like wounded boxers trying to survive the round. Too bad, in order to win a fight you must look at the complete picture and not round by round.
General Motors seeks a jump-start to sales that have stalled since its popular employee discount pricing program ended.
It's offering a $500 gas card with the purchase of a 2005 or 2006 mid-size or full-size pickup or SUV.

The world's number one automaker also is reviving a program that allows customers who already lease GM products to get out of their contracts up to six months early. Those eligible must have leases that expire between November first and April 30th.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Granholm, Levin & Stabenow (updated 10/11/05) + Bush Admin

The top three government posts in Michigan made some critical recommendations and votes this past week. qualityg would like to review three of them.

1. Water from Detroit

I’m starting with this one because I received a $310 water bill (2 months). People talk about gas bills rising this winter but much doesn’t get said about Detroit ripping off the suburbs in water rates for the past several years.

Detroit’s Water & Sewerage Department operating revenue in 2004 was $575 million. 60% percent of that money comes from the suburbs.

Here is what Governor Granholm had to say about the issue:

"I would expect and hope that whoever is in the chair after that (the election) would engage in outreach to the entire state and that it goes both ways -- that the state reaches out to the city of Detroit," she said.

"We are only as strong as our largest city. And we have all got a vested interest in ensuring that Detroit succeeds."

qualityg says… for years I have been hearing public policy makers say, “The state of Michigan is only as strong as the city of Detroit” - WRONG

Please understand that improvement in a part (Detroit), even the largest part taken separately from the whole (Michigan) will not result in improvement. As you can see the Governor and many others public policy makers have it backwards. I used to think they were afraid to say it correctly, but maybe they just don’t know about systems thinking (systems thinking). For far to long the state has put Detroit ahead of the “rest” of the state as a whole and the whole has gotten worse!

Remember growth is an increase in number; it does NOT correlate with development.

2. Judge Roberts Confirmation

Nothing makes me cringe more than listening to politicians cow-tow to the party line. Last week was one of the worst for one of Michigan’s Senators.

As you know I have written about Carl Levin before (not nicely) and Debbie Stabenow (nicely). This time I’m flip flopping and here is why:

Senator Levin is usually the big democratic horse that blocks anything that comes out of the government administration. It was no different during the nomination proceedings for Judge John Roberts. However, Senator Levin did something that is not done enough when one needs to make a critical decision, he sat down and talked to Judge Roberts. Senator Levin voted for Judge Roberts.

Junior Senator Debbie Stabenow did not. I watched some of the confirmation hearings with Senator Stabenow and read many of her disagreements. All I can say is ‘whoever was pulling your bi-partisan strings forgot to hold up and left you dangling like a castoff rag doll.

3. Governor Granholm calls for Smaller High Schools (smaller high schools)

Sorry Governor but you are making the same mistake you made in number one above. You are taking “certain” parts (Southeast Michigan) and trying to improve them in hope that the whole state educational problems will improve.

You also mentioned Lt Governor Cherry’s Commission on Higher Education (Cherry Report). I won’t comment on that report again but you are still looking at parts (high school) and not the whole (pre-K – 16). No one is addressing the large classroom sizes in the elementary schools where teachers cannot specifically help the most in need. Those we leave behind in learning will not catch up in high school.

What data or facts makes you think it will get any better in middle schools and APPLE Computers or the Skillman Foundation cannot fix the problem when children are in high school.

You are taking the short-term band-aid view and not the long-lasting prevention view. I wonder why?

UPDATE 10/05/05

Governor Granholm Says Survey Shows Need for Mandated High School Curriculum

The State Board of Education today held a special meeting to discuss the results of the survey and the Governor’s call for a mandated curriculum.

State Board of Education President Kathleen Straus said the survey was eye-opening. “I thought we were doing a lot better than this, and it’s going to startle a lot of other people when this information gets out to the public,” she said.

The rest of the announcement is at

updated 11/11/05

Detroit News Runs Weekly Series on Crisis in Michigan Schools
About this series
This series of editorials and commentaries is based on a survey of 1,126 Michigan residents age 18 to 30. The poll by EPIC-MRA of Lansing was commissioned by the Your Child coalition and is part of an ongoing effort to measure the culture of education in Michigan. Come back to The Detroit News editorial pages to read:
• Sunday: Michigan schools fail their customers
• Today: School counseling falls short
• Tuesday: Small schools produce better results
• Wednesday: Tear down barriers to college
• Thursday: Scrap the senior year

Read each article at: schools must improve

4. Surprise – What about the Bush Administration Policy in IRAQ?

I learned a long time ago that I learn best by making my own mistakes and not by trying to duplicate someone else who thinks they have all the answers.

In other words… I don’t care what the administration says, we are commanding our solutions in Iraq and not assisting them in implementing their own solutions, whether they are right or wrong. The transformation will go much faster if we let Iraq make its own mistakes. Continue to assist and stop demanding things be done in a certain way.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Education --> Spoony Says "Less Recess + Less Gym Time + Less Play + Bad Lunch = BLAH"


The Junk in School Lunches --> School Lunch Junk

Spoony says "Eat More Fish"

Mike P ---> Master Angler?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Daimler-Chrysler’s CEO aim’s to improve --> Quality?

On 9/27/05 The Detroit Free Press Business Writer Guy Collier had a question & answer session CEO AIM (article) with Dieter Zetsche recently named “new” Chairman of the Daimler-Chrylser Auto Company starting in January 2006.

I was intrigued with one of the questions and answers:

QUESTION: What needs to be done to address quality and profitability concerns at Mercedes?

ANSWER: What you need in the first place is to improve your process. You need standardization. You need clear definition of your process and a very rigid execution across those. It's basically about doing it right the first time.

qualityg says … Great answer until the "last sentence.” Sometime in the last 10 – 15 years someone in the Quality arena stated a quote about “Doing it Right the First Time.” It took off as a mantra in many organizations, some adding words like Do it Faster the first time and then Do it Faster and Cheaper the First Time. Sure does sound like a good quote to use, it has prevention and quality assurance written all over it - NOT!!

Mr. Zetsche has it half correct – It should simply say, “ Do the RIGHT thing.” How many times do we think we are doing the right thing the first time (i.e., all new projects) and then later find out it was incorrect? Continuing to do what you thought was right thing wrong only makes it more incorrect. Now, if we make a mistake doing the RIGHT thing, and we correct it, we have increased our learning. It’s better to correct a Right thing than it is to doing a wrong thing correctly, especially the first time.

Example – I was once foolish enough to believe that institutions of higher learning's aim was to educate our children – NOT! The aim/purpose of the college or university is for certain members of the faculty and administration who want steady raises and security of employment.

I read last week that the University of Michigan & Michigan State University rank as two of the major institutions in the United States where their most powerful and highest educational faculty do not teach, the grad student does this job. This is wrong, wrong and wronger. They should be teaching, and sharing knowledge, it’s OK for a grad to student to “sub” but not to teach full time.

I have 30 years in my field of study and currently working on my 4th degree. I cannot get a teaching job at the University of Michigan or Michigan State University because I do not have a PHD (my choice). I have trained (Telecom) and instructed (CMU) over 8000 employees and students. Who would you rather teach your children, a grad student or me?

Universities, you are doing what you think is the right thing, wrong!! Application and Theory is the basis for knowledge, not helping some professor do research and following a lesson plan.

Start doing the Right Thing. At least create a sense of balance.