Thursday, April 28, 2005

Questioning it Like Beckmann - Provide the Complete View, Professor

Questioning It Like Beckmann

No, this is not about another famous English Soccer Star. This is about our own Michigan Talk Show host - Fran Beckmann of Radio Station WJR 760 (9 – 11:30 am). - click on Frank Beckmann

Whenever I’m on the road at this time of day I catch Mr. Beckmann’s show. Why, because he is fair, intelligent and thinks like a “Systems Thinker.” By that I mean he looks at the total picture and makes sure all areas are being covered so that listeners can form an intelligent decision.

Today was no exception; while I did not hear the beginning of the show I listened to two interviews that were exceptional:

1) He spoke with Kent Cooper, co-founder of , about the Website’s tracking of privately funded travel for all members of Congress and specifically the Michigan delegation. This site has some valuable information that all voters should consider before voting for someone they don’t know or on name only.

2) William Polk, Middle East expert and professor at both Harvard and the University of Chicago, talked about his book – “Understanding Iraq”. I’m telling you I never have heard such an outstanding interview. Why? Do you ever listen to an interview and think to yourself “ask him the tough question, or don’t let her off the hook.” That is what Frank did today with the good professor. Frank was well prepared, had his facts and notes and challenged the professor whose book is slanted and opinionated based on facts that have been proven false by the 9/11Commission among others.

The best part was after the interview was when Frank stated that he felt it was necessary for listeners to hear both sides and more importantly he wondered what do our children learn when Professors can spew out one side and not provide all the facts. Especially at a school like Harvard!

If you go to the WJR site and click on Frank Beckmann site
You can replay the interview (usually posted the following day).

Good Stuff Mr Beckmann.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Misc - Quality Library

Home - Quality Library: Double Click PIC to Enlarge

170 + Books (First Edition Deming Books)
60+ Videos (includes complete Deming Library)
50+ Manuals & Training Books
Countless Articles and Papers

Friday, April 15, 2005

Leadership - "Vision & Culture" Mr. John Rakolta CEO & Chairman ...

At the invitation of a friend I attended a speech given by Mr. John Rakolta – Chairman and CEO of Walbridge Aldinger Co. (International Construction Management Firm) at one of the private colleges in Michigan.

What gained my interest the most was the topic “Vision and Culture.” I’m always interested in these types of topics because it provides me the opportunity to benchmark other companies as well as to see if the leadership team is truly behind their quality effort.

Prior to the meeting I searched the Internet ( for information on Mr. Rakolta. In addition I visited their web site for some additional background on the company. Most of the main points (core vision, core values) Mr. Rakolta spoke about are found on the web site. I urge you to visit this site and note the many many community and national non-profit organizations supported by Walbridge. Clearly a company that gives back as much as it receives.

Mr. Rakolta spoke about the Right of Passage and that he followed in his father (John Rakolta Sr,) as chairman and CEO. He certainly paid his dues by having many jobs. I believe his father would be very proud.

I was impressed with his sincerity about vision and trust that must be accompanied by honest and integrity. He spoke about ethics from the time of Plato to what has happened today at Enron and other companies.

Throughout his speech, I found many of the quality principles used are also found in many other companies. For example; Stakeholder (company, customer, employees) vs. Shareholder. Every employee receives 40 hours of training each year. It costs 10 times more to keep a customer. And, what the customer wants most is competitive price, world-class quality and timely delivery.

There is nothing wrong in having similar values and visions, the key is, are they integrated into the way a company does business and does management lead the way by participation and example.

It is very hard to know in a 50-minute speech if a CEO is saying the right words or truly believes and has integrated the vision and values throughout the company. My bet the CEO leads the way.

I was one of three people who were able to ask questions within the 10-minute time frame (Mr. Rakolta had another engagement). I asked a question about their quality journey, because he used so many examples (i.e., Deming, Motorola, Kaizen, etc) did his company evolve through this, or did they start and stop many times as a new effort was introduced. He liked the word “evolution” and spoke a few minutes about Quality within his company. When I asked about the “Lean” effort currently underway I was directed to an individual sitting in the office who handed me a card (5S and 8 wastes of Lean) that all employees carry. The 5s and 8 wastes (muda) are standard when you follow Lean concepts. If you are not familiar with the concepts the following site can provide some quick definitions and examples -

Overall reception from the audience was positive. While I too found it interesting, I believe the following would have made it better:

Handouts of speech (before/after would be fine)
Reference Web Site (much more information on the topics and the company)
Allow more time for questions, if not enough time was scheduled (1 hr) or was cut off for another engagement, let this be known up front. I felt a letdown at the end.
Reception – Even though the CEO had to leave, representatives should have stayed and mingled or answered questions. After all, this was held at an institution for higher learning. Potential customers are everywhere.

Thank You Mr. Rakolta, and yes indeed "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes." Rock On Bobby Vee!


Monday, April 04, 2005