Sunday, December 14, 2008

What is the Purpose of Mainstreaming/ Inclusion for ASD Children? The System has won again and another boy's future is sealed --> Updated 12/14/08

Updated March 29, 2017

I was sent (Valerie) this link for a new web site. The magazine provides expert advice from respected professionals about autism and offers solutions for families.

Check it out it is really good!

Updated 12/14/08
This weekend I attended a number of Holiday gatherings with friends and family I have not seen in some months. Three times at two different locations I was informed Justin was no longer mainstreamed and was now in the Center Program where he will remain until he graduates.
Of course I knew this and I think of him and the other boys everyday. Somehow I feel as if I have failed him. I hope the experts are right in their decision to remove him from mainstream. But my heart says the system has failed this boy because of dollars and lack of faith.
I vow there will still be more to this story...

Today (9/04/07) was the first day back at school. I was looking forward to seeing all the teachers, children and especially interested on how the ASD boys spent their summer vacations.

As I met Justin at the front door I was told to take him to the resource room and not his scheduled room posted for 4th grade. It was then I learned that Justin was going to be put into a Contained Room to work on his behavior problems and maybe later to be mainstreamed back in for some special classes. In the meetings that took place this week his young (uninformed) parents are surrounded by psychiatrists, psychologists, principals, social workers, etc telling them what is best. I am not allowed to attend or speak to the parents about special education issues.

Needless to say I was ready to explode. No one has spent more time with him at school than me over the past years. Last year he was not asked once to leave a room by a teacher because of his behavior. I have made it a point to learn and document his triggers so I can prevent most of his outbursts. Some days I know a particular class may not go over well so I get his work and we do it together in a more relaxed environment. This was the exception and not the rule.

You see some people (i.e., principal, social worker, director, no-nothings) would walk by and see us in the resource room or hallway and "assume" he was not in class because of a behavior problem (ie., not listening to teacher). Last year that was very seldom the case. Sometimes he would get sensory overload in the music class so I would take him out and we would do homework or study science or read a book and discuss it contents. Sometimes in Art they would be working with gooey or clammy clay and Justin will have nothing to do with it, another sensory problem. My decision was rather than color a ditto we would leave and find a quiet place and work on any subject that we were behind in or need extra study. His teachers knew what was going on because I kept them informed and they went out of their way to help in any way they could. I will always be grateful to DB, SP, EB, AL, AP and the Special Ed Aides. Justin and I both learned so much and they played a big role in his learning. It was not always smooth and sometimes it was very tough but we all learned together for the betterment of the children.

I am a better person for working with such a fine group of educators and people.

Not once did anyone ever ask why we might not be in the regular class. You see people will walk by (like they do in a store or restaurant) and "assume" the aide (parent) can't control the child.

Goals (especially behavior) are not provided for the ASD children, it is the aides responsibility to provide goals. This is wrong, wrong, wrong,(they learned this from the business world managers. Administrators (Managers) own the system, they provide the goals/targets and the aides provide the means and measurements on how to achieve the goals. They are then agreed upon by both parties.

Just like in the business world if you want me to set goals I will make them every time unless I'm an idiot.They mean nothing.

Let me say this very clear and it does not only apply to Disabled individuals. Life and what a person brings to the table can not be determined/measured in a Snapshot (a series of one time observations or assumptions without asking or seeking further knowledge).

Life and Learning is a Motion Picture (on-going) and you must take into account the end to end information and data to make good sound decisions for improvement. Otherwise you tamper with the child (system) and make things worse. If I have a bad day or a teacher gets so frustrated they may yell or scream to get attention. But that is a single occurrence and no one remembers all the good days.

I asked by what method was this decision determined? I was not asked, his 3rd grade teachers were not asked, his speech therapist was not asked. I’m not going to go into all that was said but it came down to Justin was to dependent on me and will listen to know one else. At least he listens to someone and we have been working on that issue too.

What is the goal/purpose of inclusion/mainstreaming?
I Googled & Yahooed this topic and found no real concrete answers. My goal this year for 4th grade was to get 80/20. That is 80% independent and 20 % Dependent in some areas. At the same time I was hoping maturity would also play a part in his on-going development and independence. The long-term strategy is to prepare him to be very independent as he enters Middle School (7th grade).

They say he can’t learn unless I am sitting there keeping him on task. They say he won’t listen to teachers but looks to me for guidance. What they don’t say is he completed all his work and homework last year. Granted some was late but he did keep up. ASD Children in many cases will not respond to shouting or demanding, they will react in the same manner and are not intimidated like general education students.

By what method was this decision made? No one has asked for my documentation for the past 2 years or used the Daily Behavior Logs that were kept for two years. No one asked his 3rd grade teachers who promoted him. It was decided by Professionals (except Speech Therapist and Regular General Education Teachers) in an IEP meeting who made decisions based on subjective observations without asking questions or understanding the reasoning as to why we were laying on the carpet taking a Spelling Test. Heck he averaged 80% for the year and he was never asked to leave the room.

Speaking of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting without regular education teachers are was violation of
IDEA ACT 2006 Laws and Regulation (IDEA 2004, P.L.108-446). Sec. 300.321 - IEP TEAM states:

IEP Team must include the Parents; at least one of the child's regular education teachers (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment); ...


Sec. 300.324 - Development, Review and Revision of IEP says:
The Child's Regular Education Teacher, as an IEP team member, must to the extent appropriate participate ...

The answer they say is he could not do it unless I was sitting next to him. Hell if my parents had not been so strict about my studies I may have not learned much either. The point is HE is doing the work and I am not giving him the answers. He is capable but he has a disability that needs constant and consistent attention to function in a general education environment.

Perhaps I am wrong, my answer was (since know one else told me) to error on the side of the child. If I taught him manners and how to respect others and to tell me if he is upset rather than lash out then I’m wrong. If I gave him the self-worth that is drastically missing in his life then I am wrong. If I gave him right and wrong with the understanding this was for his own good then I am wrong. I am wrong if I spent my lunch hours for the last two years researching and trying new methods for Justin and the other boys to learn how to socialize on their own (read my other posts). Some days they would play kick ball or run around with their peers, other days they would wander off by themselves.

The biggest fear I have is that the Administrators who don't look pass their nose will think what they did was a success. Justin will be happy and will thrive in the contained room. He will become the ring leader because he is the oldest and the most functional. He will manipulate the teacher and aides to let him play as a means to be good. So what is my fear? THEY HAVE SECURED A PLACE IN A GROUP HOME FOR JUSTIN TO LIVE OUT HIS ADULT YEARS AND YOU CAN TELL THEM I SAID SO! They should be ashamed.
Without guidance as to what the goal is for mainstreaming, I will take a shot based on my experiences and knowledge (remember that each ASD child is as different as the stars in the sky.).

Mainstreaming's purpose is as follows:
1) Understand and follow rules and regulations as determined by the government and by the school system.

2) Follow existing work plans and procedures and create the best possible learning environment for child, teacher and aide.
3) Develop a plan to provide the child with the necessary skills to interrelate in school and community.
4) Implement a plan of action to prepare the ASD student in the early grades (K-6) to be as independent as possible and how to react to situations at the junior high school and high school.

It is false to think that most ASD children do not want to interrelate or socialize. The fact is they lack the social skills and this results in meltdowns, anxiety and frustration for the child. One way I have found to reduce this from happening is by using Visual (i.e., Calendar, Schedule, etc...) Learning.

In order to teach social skills and to lead by example a continuous and separate form of teaching needs to take place in and out of the classroom (recess, gym, parties) by the aide(s).

I have also found that Rehearsing situations prior to them happening is an excellent way to prevent and prepare the student for what is coming. Sudden changes to schedules or even a substitute teacher can trigger a meltdown or disruptive behavior.

The argument is (and perhaps valid) what happens if I am not there? I am just an instructional aide, I am not a teacher (not certified) but have four degrees. My response is nothing might happen just like before you asked me to work with him because no one else could handle him. The awards, letters and praise mean nothing to me now.

In reality there are four of us who have worked together for a number of years and in an emergency or a period of time and could step in with little transition because all of the boys are comfortable with us. At the least it would by time to make the most effective changes possible that do not disrupt the learning's of the child or the disruption of his/her class.

I have posed the dependency question to a combination of five psychiatrists and therapists (including Justin's). They all said if I was not leaving soon (leave after 6 months or a year) that nothing is wrong because what the child needs is stability and structure in sometimes a very chaotic environment (school). They also said this might be the only opportunity he gets to depend on someone (me) and socialize with his general education peers who are overwhelming supportive of Justin.

Again my question is What is the goal/purpose of inclusion/mainstreaming?

Is it that an ASD child must be able to function alone in a classroom without any assistance? I would agree and say yes. However, what is the timeline? It will not happen overnight and if there is not a consistent effort over time it will never happen.

Is it any different than the multitude of children who are not graduating today because they never had anyone to show him or her the correct way? Unlike an ASD child who will act out most of the so-called silent minority of students who are not learning are pushed through the system as long as they sit there and behave.

If this is the way it is going to be then the powers that be best get the screening process fixed, because if you are going to mainstream/include ASD Children that are to dependent through their educational career it will not happen the majority of the time.

As for me I think some of the leaders were expecting an OK response from me. It did not happen nor will it ever happen. I’ve devoted most of my time and learning’s to Autism over the past three years and I will never have enough knowledge or wisdom as I would like but I will continue to Seek Profound Knowledge. I have asked to be reassigned to another school or perhaps it’s best to move on…

If any of you parents, administrators, aides, etc would like to comment I would appreciate the feedback. I am not proud enough to say all what I did was right or all wrong. It only matters what is best for Justin.

My Note: One of the ways I use to differentiate a person who is Autistic or Asperger's is by using three criteria; Behavior, Communication and Socialization. My involvement has shown me that Asperger students (Includes High Functioning Autistic) have Behavior and Socialization issues but are very capable of communicating (This does not mean it may OK). Autistic students have trouble with Behavior, Socialization and Communication (Some do not speak at all).

I would just like to know what is the goal/purpose for inclusion/mainstreaming?

If you care to leave a comment just click on comment at the end of this post. You do not have to sign up for a user ID, just click on anonymous and leave your comment no name needs to be added. If you would rather send me an Email please do so at:

Please, I really want to do what is best for Justin (and the other ASD Children), not to prove who is right or who is wrong.

I firmly believe now that Money (too many kids not enough aides) & Oil are the roots of all evil and are the causes as to why things get so messed up and continue to do so...

Thank You,


If you would like to read my other posts on ASD click on the Label – ASD at the bottom of this post and all of the other posts will come up for your reading.


I am leaving the elementary school and going to the high school. I will miss my co-workers (friends) dearly. I am a better person for knowing these (and teachers) people. This was not a forced move but hopefully the best move for the children, especially Justin.

More on this topic at

Perhaps this Poem says it all for me:


At 11:45 we start to get antsy, he smiles like an old gray fox
At noon we go to our lockers and get our Sponge Bob lunch box
He then checks our shoes and pulls up our socks.

Then it’s back to class and get called in to line
We shuffle to the back because he said that’s where we shine
He walks with us quietly and whispers all will be fine.

As we walk quietly in line headed to the lunchroom we go
We then search for a place at a table where a friend might show
The man who is with us sits across the room avoiding the flow

Often times we don’t eat and sometimes we act like kooks
Then the lunch ladies turn and wave to the man reading the book
He then stands where we can see; he gives us the “Look” and the room just shook.

After we eat we go to recess, sometimes it’s in, but we hope it’s out
It all depends if the flags are green hanging about
Yellow means stay inside then we groan and pout

Today we go outside and play on the equipment
We hope a friend will stop and play even if it’s a minute
But most of the time we play alone and it seems to be infinite

At 12:35 the whistle blows loud and sometimes we cover our ears
You see the decibel and noise level brings out some fears
Then the man with the bag who is always around, shows up and assures he is always near

After we line up we will try not to talk and to stay in line
Then our teacher meets us and says you all look fine
And the man who walks behind smiles and says we shine!
To read my other posts on ASD please click on the label in the side column on the left on the main page or try this Link -

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Problem Solving - "DIMS" - 20 Years Later

20 years ago I created my own problem solving method with an acronym of "DIMS." I created it because when it comes to problem solving I needed some method by which I could quickly move through my analysis that did not get muddied by multiple checkpoints and quality consultant trained mumbo-jumbo.

I hope it helps you too - qualityg

Please click on the diagram to ENLARGE:

Monday, November 10, 2008

President Elect Obama's change strategy ... By What Method?

President Elect Obama exemplified many of the finer qualities of leading change. Below are some of the ones I identified during his campaign:

Leader in Managing Change:
- Have a clear understanding of what is changing
- Know who will be impacted
- Anticipate how staff members will be affected
- Know what staff members have to gain and lose
- Assess where individuals are in their transition process
- Facilitate the transition of staff members
- Lead and Manage your own personal transition
- Communicate changes and resulting benefits to staff, customers, and other key stakeholders
- Lead and Manage the work activity coverage during the transition
- Keep the pressure on to keep people moving forward

Ten Characteristics of an Effective Change Leader:
- Gains support from and confidence of others
- Listens and collaborates effectively
- Takes Accountability and Risk
- Provides constructive feedback to others up & down the chain of command
- Builds relationships with customers, peers and team members it inspires and motivates
- Communicates openly, early and often
- Builds commitment face to face it provides clear direction
- Clarifies roles and responsibilities
- Replicates the model way for your team
- Shows others by example
- Instills Credibility & Trust
- Creates opportunities for small wins
- Recognizes - plans for fun to help boost morale

"Changes that result in improvement come from application of knowledge"
- Dr. Walter A. Shewhart"
Want Change?
"Challenge Conventional Wisdom with Profound Knowledge to Seek Creativity and Innovation"
- qualityg

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Michigan Elected Officials to lead the way out of our Economic Mess?

I am very sour on our elected officials in Michigan. Every time I see Senator Carl Levin and Congressman John Dingell I think if you guys are so important/powerful in Washington how come our state is in the pits and why is it so difficult to get funding to pull us out of this mess or assistance to bring businesses back to Michigan?

Our state should qualify for FEMA dollars. We didn't have an Explosion of a natural disaster but an Implosion of our governmental system.

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team on Thursday named Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former Michigan Congressman David Bonior of Macomb County to Obama's economic advisory team.

I guess they need Michigan folks to show them what not to do.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Senators Obama & McCain ---> Who are in your Cabinet?

Why is it we never hear about who the next president elect is going to appoint to serve in their cabinet? Why is it I never hear this question asked in a debate or town hall meeting?

I don’t like to vote for just what one person says or stands for when it comes to politics. I need to know who is going to administer and carry out these promises, hopes and wishes.

I don’t buy that candidates don’t know yet or they have a few names for each position and don’t want to offend someone by mentioning their name (s).

I guess we all should be like Lemmings jumping off a cliff and assume the cabinet members named once the next president is elected will have a pill for all that ails the country.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


What (We always know the What) should be included in every leaders business plan are objectives to improve team effectiveness form a CEO’s own team to the day-to-day workforce teams that drive the company’s overall efficiency. What is usually lacking is a method (How) or means of evaluating the effectiveness of the team’s efforts.

Company leaders must be the driving force behind organizations efforts to instruct its employees to use their own experience and knowledge to prevent and solve problems and improve quality. The Corporate Quality or Lean Six Sigma departments should not be the drivers of this type of action in a business plan.

What follows are some “How’s” that should be part of each leaders business plan for day-to-day efficiency and overall effectiveness of their operations.

Level of Empowerment - The ideal: A well led organization teaches its employees to use their own knowledge and experience to solve problems and improve effectiveness. It authorizes them, within guidelines (empowerment without parameters = CHAOS), to weigh evidence, reason systemically, solve problems, take action, and assess consequences. In this way it mobilizes the intelligence, energy, and commitment of all its employees, from the front line to top management. Follow what I call the 6Es for employee development – Envision - Enlighten - Enable - Empower - Execute -Encourage.

Customer Tools/Techniques - Has the team used appropriate quality analytical tools in reaching its objective? These may be “standard” tools identified by name, or tools of the team’s own devising. Can evidence be found that the team’s use of quality tools/techniques have been transferred to their day-to-day work operations?

Customer/Supplier-Driven Goals - What evidence does the team display that they know who their customers are, what the team’s customer requirement are, and that the team’s efforts are driven toward meeting those requirements? Likewise, the team should also identify who their suppliers are and do they have evidence that they have communicated their requirements to them? They should be skilled in “Systems Thinking” and SIPOC + CCCC concepts (See my posts relating to these topics - check label section).

Leadership - Is there proof that the team was actively supported in its efforts by senior management; or that the team, in its own efforts provided leadership for others?

Standardization/Replication - Is there evidence that shows the team’s improvement efforts have been standardized and replicated in the appropriate areas?

On-going Continual Improvement – Is there proof that result’s are not of a one time request, ad hoc, or isolated event, or is it part of their day-to-day efforts for continual improvement?

Meaningful Data - How meaningful (i.e.; customer) are the data used in measuring the magnitude of the improvement achieved in the day-to-day work efforts and towards the organization’s overall goals and objectives (They must be aligned). Do you have a means for managing this data and information in an improvement way (Process Measures) or is it all after the fact result measures

Organizational Impact - How important was the team’s achievement to the organization, taking into account both direct and indirect effects on cost of quality?

Developed by qualityg

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wall Street Roller Coaster

Just about everyday you can read, hear or see headlines referring to stocks going up or down by some TV Business station, Wall Street Article or an article by some so-called newspaper business writers.

I suppose if you would try explaining to your viewers, listeners and readers about common and special cause variation it would all start to make sense as to why their stock and sales goes up and down in a mostly random type situation.

What we need is a Wacko Charismatic Statistician to entertain the public public so the business stations and writers won’t scam them as to what is really going on with facts and figures when it comes to stocks and wall street cost predictions.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Data Collection" --> When the Pressure is on to Fake Results


I’ve written about Data Collection over the years and I will provide some material in the future, but I would like to share a conversation I had with an ex-coworker earlier in the week. He is Project Managing an effort where his team members must obtain data from the rank and file workers and managers in order to succeed.

First a quote:

“The data collection process must be driven by the question that we formulate based on our needs. In short, know what the question is to be answered before collecting the data.”
- Dr. J. M. Juran

Very sound advice; so sound in my opinion that many Leaders have taken this to mean, “know what the question & answer is before collecting the data.” In other words, in today’s environment if you supply accurate negative data you will probably be asked to go look again until your boss says “yep, that’s it, I’ll send this up to the big kahunas.” Needless to say you will probably have to redo the results a few times, your boss has no idea either what they want.

Let me explain further, ever since downsizing, takeovers and mergers have become the norm, and pay for performance is the rule of thumb, collecting accurate data can be very dangerous to your health.

I'm astounded at the amount of fear that is displayed by many workers and managers. There is resistance to share data, experience, and learning’s, except to a “non-threatening” outsider (and I don’t mean consultants). Most work groups express fear of their respective leaders, internal partners and just about anyone that they have not developed a personal relationship with. This type of environment prevents process improvements and projects (i.e., establishing meaningful metrics) from being successful.

I don’t see to many end-to-end teams being successful when they are fearful to divulge improvement ideas, share their data, and communicate cross level and cross functionally (especially if each VP has his/her own objectives/personal agendas).

Fear has created a climate where only “data that is perfect” be sent up the line for publication, causing data collectors, teams and work groups additional rework and time spent getting the data right. And, let me tell you if you are not familiar with the data you are collecting or the work group you need to get the information from, plan on going down many rabbit holes before producing anything that looks like it can be used on a summary report, it will need to be put in binders. Every number to today’s worker has a name and face on it, and it looks like them!

You see, when the push for perfection and bottom line results gets combined with leadership self-esteem, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. It’s being proven everyday when we hear of another corporate scandal.

Does anyone realize the cost and time that goes into adhering to the Sarbanes-Oxley requirements? It’s just like inspecting quality in after the car comes off the line.

Oh yeah, you Bozos from Wall Street play a major part in all this mess (i.e., emphasis on quarterly results). To borrow a line from George Castanza “Sons-a-bitches.”


I have written many posts about the dangers of numerical goals and provided examples, especially in the education system where cheating and faking of numbers is rampant.

The following link is a story about higher education and research. One Michigan State University Professor states the reasons are Mental Health Issues, Poor Mentoring and Pressure to Produce Published Studies. WRONG!! Those are the "RESULTS."

The causes are the same in any business it's because top leaders are not doing their jobs. Passing down (delegating) unrealistic goals and time frames that are based on wishes and not fact are one reason.

The number one problem is Numerical Goals set for other people without a plan/roadmap as to how to reach the goal. Without a plan/roadmap the affects will be opposite of the intended result of the original assignment by top management.

Don't let the do-gooders fool you, Management by Results/Objectives/Outcomes are easy to implement (requires little or no skill), it requires no knowledge as to how to obtain, just a bunch of forms and opinions based on 1-2 days work at the end of the year, or a few hours prior to an assignment being delegated by upper management who continue to manage the outcomes/results not the causes.

When a Lion of a boss backs you into a corner, people don't usually come out fighting like a Lion, they first try to circumvent or confuse the Boss Lion, if that doesn't work they fake the results so they can sneak by the Boss Lion, then they wait like a "spastic" Gazelle waiting for the day the Boss Lion to pounce.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do the right thing - "Cut Costs for the remainder of 2008, not employees"


Enough already, it is time for Management to start earning their money for the remainder of 2008 by developing or benchmarking ways by which to improve the bottom line by cost cutting as opposed to cutting their number one asset --> people.

You hear it almost everyday – a company laying off part of its workforce - to improve profitability or as the last resort to stay in business. Why does it reach that point? Why do leaders resort to this method? Why can’t companies reduce costs without getting rid employees? The answer is they can. But it can’t be in response to short-term thinking or a crisis. It must be hands-on approach. Cost cutting must become an on-going objective that is as important as any other Accounting or Finance effort.

It is so easy and shortsighted to cut employees regardless of what Management will tell you or what you read in magazines and newspapers. So-called leading experts from business colleges do studies and research on the best ways to remove people from the bottom line with little impact on the organization. They are full of crap and when they do instruct they fill the next generation of leaders and managers with the same crap. It has been going on for years, I am a product of that schooling and I’m just lucky I found the teachings of Dr. Deming to help set me straight in 1980.

I have personally been involved and had to make decisions as to how many and what employees should be let go. Each and every time I fought for other ways by providing examples of other companies, ideas and probable solutions other than cut people. The problem with my input was it took too much time according to other decision makers and the charge to get rid of heads was to be done soon, quickly and above all quietly. Do not let employees and the most feared of all “The Press” get wind of what was in store for the company. Again, a bunch of crap, “GUTLESS” is the optimum word for these type of managers and leaders.

What I propose to do for the remainder of 2008 is to form a cross-functional team that represents all departments under the “active” leadership of a decision-making Vice President.

The type of cost cutting will be Discretionary and Headcount related (not cutting employees but may involve different jobs, movement, reporting structure, etc…).

Here are some examples and ideas that if looked at closely can save a company large amount of dollars and not lose efficiency or effectiveness of operations. Some may seem harsh but I’m betting the majority of employees (don’t say NO until you ask them) would rather keep their jobs with some signed assurances and agreements with the leaders of the company.

· Freeze all Salaries (until you no longer have to cut people)
· Renegotiate and cancel consultant agreements (trust me, you have the
knowledge inside your company, look for it, use it, trust your people)
· Your employees will always make better company decisions than 99% of
business consultants out there. Why – because they care and LISTEN!
· Reduce Company Picnics and Parties
· 2 Week - Month Vacation w/o Pay
· Giving up monthly Reimbursement Perks (i.e., phone cost)
· Use Internet as source for cheaper fares (car, plane, train) and hotels
(cancel contract with travel agencies)
· Turn in all unnecessary pagers and cell phones
· Revisit who needs cell phones and update cell phone plans to best provider
· Reduce Travel Per Diem allowance unless dining with customers
· Discontinue company-paid annual dues for professional organizations.
· Give employees the option to work 37 1/2 hour workweeks, which allows a 20%
reduction in salary. Work in combination with flexible work arrangements
· Discontinue funding for all Business Resource Groups (including registration
for annual conventions, travel fees and annual gala balls
· Remove unused and outdated Telephones and Lines (computer, fax)
· Renegotiate supplier contracts to single-source suppliers
· Remove all copiers (and contracts) and use local printers
· Return all unused equipment to vendors and free up space
· Reengineer Work Stations to save on space (sell or lease free space)
· Carefully look at an effort to move towards virtual office to realize real
estate cost savings
· Re-negotiate cost of leased space (if applicable)
· Cancel Coffee and Bottled Water contracts
· Cut out goofball training by consultants
· Prioritize work place upgrades (i.e., cafeteria, gyms, conference rooms)
· Change Sales Compensation Plan to pay at in-effect with additional incentive
for Sales to sell high margin
Allow employyes to work from home 1-2 days a week saving on energy costs.
· Revisit Procure staff guidelines / Processes / Contract. Too many mistakes
occurring and nothing can be corrected and we company is paying for the

The above items are just the beginning … C’mon do something good for the remainder of 2008, give your employees a chance to determine their own destiny, don’t punk out and take the easy management way.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

High School Droputs & Incentives - "NOT"

Email question from a teacher in Boston

“At a school meeting this week the subject of dropouts came up and one teacher suggested providing incentives to keep the kids in school. What is your opinion qualityg?"

Red Sox Fan- Boston

Please go to my sky drive for write-up and SIPOC Education 1-10-100

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Common Sense Steps to Creating a Quality Controlled Document


Following are some ideas and comments when managing a Document Control System:

1. It all boils down to this phrase – “ Document What You Do and Do What You Document.”

2. Without a document all you have is an opinion, or at best a good idea.

3. When a document does not have standardization, approval, definition, scope and agreement then no one is responsible, and worse yet workers are doing their best in a wide and varied way.

4. Within each Quality Management System (i.e., ISO Series) there is a procedure for designing a document control structure. ISO Series for example does not provide a method for controlling a document. Most companies follow the traditional style that includes numbered sections and broken down paragraphs.

5. Do not sweat the format; spend time on defining the purpose of a document and the content that needs to be included. Just remember once you have gathered the information required, go ahead and write the procedure. If your not sure just ask yourself if the documents you are creating fulfill customer requirements.

6. How can you tell if a documented procedure, instructions, forms, records, etc… need to be controlled? Answering the following questions will help:
- The process owner and user(s) understand what to do?
- The work task is standardized and performed the same across the department (all shifts)?
- The output fulfills the requirements as stated in the input?
- There is a chance that variation is widespread among workers and the risk for producing defects is warranted?
- A new employee/temp/replacement would be able to do learn a work task from notes, manuals or other workers if the experienced worker cannot perform the job?
If the answer is no or not sure to any of those questions then a controlled document should be produced.

7. Controlled vs. Uncontrolled – the following must be present in order for a document to be controlled:
- The revision status must be known
- The authorization & approval must be evident (not signed, not authorized)
- The document must be protected from destruction, damage or carry an unauthorized revision
- Electronic Media documents must also be protected from corruption, spyware & viruses
- It must be protected from unintended use.

8. The quality manual or policy states the company’s intent and goals. If you were going on vacation this would be the document that tells you where you are going. The manual serves as your map.

9. Difference between a Procedure and Work Instructions? A controlled documented procedure covers the major functions and accurately describes the process that it controls. Work Instructions (SOPs), Tasks, Forms, Job Descriptions, training Guides, Drawings, etc. requires more detail than a procedure and is usually found at the worker(s) location. A procedure creates an umbrella like scenario encompassing a whole range of work instructions or tasks. For example, the procedure for conducting system application testing may require a number of work instructions or methods needed to complete the process.

10. There is a direct relationship between documents and records. Documents provide the definition of requirements. Records provide evidence of fulfilling those requirements. Documents relate to inputs; Records relate to outputs. Together they show an excellent example of the concept of process. You cannot generate a record if you do not have an output, which is the outcome of a process. You cannot have an outcome if you did not do anything. You cannot do anything if you do not know what you are supposed to do. You cannot know what you are supposed to do if you do not have a requirement – the input to your process. Therefore, it is impossible to create a record if you do not have a requirement to match it up against.

10. Documents are living: Records are dead. Documents can be revised: A record can be added to, but it cannot be revised (to do so means fraud).

11. Forms – Utilizing Forms that are well defined and capture the correct amount of information can two purposes when controlling documents. First, having the appropriate information about a process is an excellent way for documenting requirements. Second, Forms capture the extra benefit of incorporating the record of fulfillment.

12. External Documents (international standards, statutory & regulatory requirements, product standards, operating procedures) – always debated as to if they need to be controlled. Documents of this type are not created by the organization but define requirements that are necessary for fulfilling customer requirements. The accepted thought is that because the organization does not have control over the revisions (exists with the originator) nor can they be approved internally they do not need to be controlled. However, companies that use these type of documents must ensure their people understand and control the following:
- Access
- Preservation (including disposal)
- Status of Revisions
- Process that details how to obtain the latest revisions
- Making sure requirements from external documents flow seamlessly with requirements of internal created documents.

13. The most efficient way to ensure control of external documents is to create a matrix that identifies responsibility (i.e., ownership) and the location where the document can be found by all those who need to know (location also goes for internal documents.

14. Electronic Media (i.e., Software) – tracking changes, revisions and new versions is very important. The company must ensure sufficient control of electronic media. IT Managers must make sure IT documents integrate properly into the company‘s documentation if the process it relates to is being controlled.

15. The interdependency of your controlled documents should emulate the interdependency of your processes. The employees involved in these interrelations must set up modes of communication with one another. The responsibility of these documents is shared and should be noted in the approval process.

16. Users (technicians, service reps, operators, line workers, sales folks) – play a vital role in controlling documents. Users play an important part in creating and revising documents that need to be controlled, as well as sharing ownership for the documents contents.

17. Flowcharts – In the quality and information technology field a number of people use flowcharts to describe their processes. Know your user before settling on using just flowcharts, if not you will be needing to have associated (added cost) training. Flowcharts (also illustrations) can be stand-alone documents or integrated into work instructions.

18. Acronyms & Abbreviations - like flowcharts, do not use them if your audience does not understand their meanings. Some departments seem to talk in a foreign language when communicating with one another.
To see an example of a quality controlled document template go to my sky drive folder at:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My educational journey continues ... Hold on tight to your Dreams!

Click on Pic to Enlarge

I have been lax in the past few weeks on writing new posts. It has not been because of taking a break it’s because I have been working on getting ready for my new position at a new school.

My new role provides me with creativity, innovation, development and implementation of a new program for Middle and High School students. The program is not unique in name but different in its implementation of the aim, objectives and goals.

For those of you that have visited for my posts on Autism Spectrum Disorder I will continue because I will never give up my work and advocacy.

Please visit at

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Education - Is it better to Compete or to Cooperate?


I recently had a discussion with some educators who teach college and some educators who teach high school. The topic was Cooperation or Competition in school.

As I have stated before when I was teaching in a college setting I was and I'm still not in favor of grades.

Students (Pre-School – Grade 16) worry more about grades than they do learning or being creative or innovative and that is a tragedy not only of our education system but also to those who think education is a game. Grades destroy Joy of Learning.

I wonder if there is a rise in verbal or physical abuse at home when it’s report card time. I remember our pastor would sit in front of the class and read each name, if a boy student got a “D” or lower he would toss the card on the floor, as you bent to pick it up he whacked you with his cane. I don’t remember anything being done to the girls (I guess they all got good grades). The whack was motivating, the boys spent many hours making cheat sheets and getting sick on report card day.

Many School Administrators, Middle School and High School teachers worry more about state test scores results than they do a child failing. Sorry people, state test scores DO NOT measure a child's knowledge or intelligence, they measure "Rote" learning at best. I don't blame these folks and in most cases they agree with me. The Feds and State own the educational system and they have no means by which to manage it for success.

How come so many teachers and coaches fret more about their own territorial spaces than they do the spirit of cooperation through open and honest communication. If they worried as much about a child not learning as they do with having a star player on their team we would not be in half of the messes we are today in education.

Why is our education system so competitive? I can understand sports (NOT GYM) and games, but learning should be a joy shared by all so that our whole (system) society benefits. Stop looking at the middle grades and later grades for the answers. I call it trickle down root causes that start from kindergarten (start labeling here, and self-esteem goes south) and it progresses through school years until one deems himself/herself incapable or a failure.

It's always about ME, look at ME, I want to feature MYSELF!

I guess by now you can tell what side of the fence I am on, in fact I was all by myself in this discussion. The first statements were “Competition will prepare the kids for the real world, it’s tough out their just look how many are unemployed.” And, “how will we know who is the best, the smartest, the ones who get the scholarships?” My favorite “If you don’t have competition, everyone will be able to go to Harvard and Yale and of course the University of Michigan.”

qualityg’s response “Who Cares.” They responded “We all care about education, how can you say that?” qg says… - "I did not say I don’t care about education, I said who cares about being the best when it comes to education, and if you cared about education you would understand the correlation between high school dropouts and the unemployed."

I know I’m in the minority when it comes to this topic, but I don’t see Education as a game, I don’t see it having winners or losers, because each time a student fails we all fail and the effects are enormous on the economy, workplace, family, crime, etc… etc….

Education is a basic need like food and water for our existence. Why do we want to destroy so many children starting in Pre-School with labels, negative reinforcement, put in groups by how smart you are, being the last one picked in gym class and then being put in right field, being afraid after 4th grade to admit you like music or art. Formal school years label us by grades (anyone think it might be the teacher).

I ask ‘Why are sports considered education, they are games, I have no problem with competition when it comes to athletes winning games (unless coaches and parents are living through their kids and trying to be something they could not).”

“I thought gym class was to promote fitness and well being, why do so many high schools have it as an elective, and is there any chance or correlation that this may be a factor with the obesity crisis in the United States.”

I have received Emails that say Hey qualityg, “I remember being picked last in gym class, I never wanted to go again and I skipped every chance I got.” Hi qualityg, “I remember being so upset when we graded each other’s paper, even though I was a good student I was terrified.” And, “ I liked gym class when we could run and play and make up games and have fun until the teacher turned everything into a competition.” Hey, "I was put in the 3rd group (lowest) because I could not read very well, but what was wrong with that, it’s where most of my friends were." - YIKES, and now that person is teaching my children.

Folks, education is an essential for every child, should we have a competition where the one that can pound his/her chest the hardest to stop their heart is the winner? Ridiculous, I agree, but are we not doing the same thing to our children’s education when we take the heart and soul out of them with competition being first before cooperation and learning.

This month some schools will be starting classes and the majority in September. Provide positive feedback and recognition for your child and student, they hear so many negatives as to what they do wrong a simple meaningful compliment will go a long way.


I received an Email that disagreed with me totally on this post. Basically it said "How are the children supposed to compete in the global world if they don't know how to compete?" "People will cooperate with winners not losers."

I replied, I watched the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games last night. Never have I seen so many people "cooperate" at one time and what was the underlying theme, it was about China and their people. I look forward to great "competition" during the games.

Each has it's own place and Education should be about cooperation.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mainstreamed Goals for Autistic Students

Following are goals and measurements that I created for four different Autistic Children (Names are changed to protect privacy) that I worked with in a mainstreamed (also works in a contained room) in second grade. While they are basic in nature it is extremely important to keep a daily log that align with these goals. In addition it is critical to communicate and share the goals with teachers, peers, and parents.

Click on the Pics to ENLARGE for viewing/printing:

I hope these examples can serve as a guide for you to use or provide your special education department with one that specifically will have a positive impact on your child - Greg

Please let me know!

To read my other posts related to mainstreaming please click on the ASD Label below or in the side bar.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Quality --> What Does It Stand For" & "Dr. Deming's Quality Chain"

I do NOT have a definition for Quality, only a comment " Q is the difference between What Is, and What Should Be. No more, no less, just treat your customers (internal & external) and suppliers as equals. Be honest and be fair, that is what is known as "Integrity."

Below is a diagram that I created to sometimes use to explain quality, not define it.

To Enlarge Click On Diagram.

If a company engages in an effort to "really" improve quality they can expect to gain the following from Dr. Deming's Quality Chain. It amazes me that so many companies do not follow this quality chain. They will pay outside consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars to tell them in a complex way what Dr. Deming explained in common sense so many years ago.

To Enlarge Click On Diagram.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

SIPOC Defect Sheet


Defect: Travel Plan
Affected Customer Group: Travel Group

High Level Process Flow: Click on Pic to Enlarge

Outside of Travel Agency

Affected Group’s Requirements:
1. Travel Group must receive Plan three weeks prior to the “Travel Due Date” as set by the students & Parents.
2. Travel Group must be formally notified of any changes to the Travel Plan after receiving the initial plan.
3. Travel Group must have all the travel codes upon initial receipt of the Travel Plan.

Current Situation:
· The Travel Agency Plan is almost always received on time but is not accurate. The plan then requires numerous changes to be made before the final Package is sent out to the vendor. Once the Travel Package is sent out any changes to the Plan requiring changes must be done ASAP.
· There is no process in place for notifying the travel group when changes are made to the Plan.

Possible Cost Related to Defect:
· Overtime dollars paid to vendor employees if travel agency plans incorrect.

Probable Solutions:
· Travel Agency must improve their process for creating plans or lose business.
· Travel Agency to create and implement a formal change control process complete with notification method for affected groups such as Travel Vendors.

Process Improvement Impact:
· Time and money saved on manual and incorrect work. This work is usually paid in overtime due to project deadlines.
Implementation Plans:
· To be done immediately.
Process Owner Responsible for Implementation:
· Stan Renaud

For all my SIPOC posts click on the SIPOC ANALYSIS Label below this post - qg

Created by: gmc (qualityg)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

How to "GROW" a Planning Session

“GROW” - Partnership Coaching/Planning

The following guidelines can be used by a manager, team leader, or group, for conducting a coaching or planning session.

G = Goals

1) What would we like to accomplish in the time we have available?

2) What would make this time well spent?

3) What would ultimate success look like to you ?

R = Current Reality - describes as accurately as possible the current situation.

1) How do you know your perception of “X” is accurate?

What tells you that is the case?

2) Whom else might we check with to get more data/information about the larger perspective?

3) What have you tried so far?

4) What are your beliefs about this situation?

O = Options - options for potential actions without judging the ideas merit or practicality, initial focus is on “quantity” not quality of options. Quality comes later as you reduce options down.

1) If money, time or resources were no obstacle, what option might you choose?

2) What might some “Sky The Limits” options look like?

3) Who else could help?

4) May I (we) offer some options that were thought of while you were describing your options?

W = What’s Next

1) What are you going to do and by when?

2) What’s next? What steps are involved?

3) How might you minimize/remove the barriers/obstacles?

4) What are the contingencies if you can’t remove the barriers?

5) How will you monitor performance and collect data for feedback over time for predictability?

6) On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that we will do this?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Team Goals and Objectives

Recently I have been getting a number of requests about employee objectives (see post ) . However, please remember that employee objectives must be derived from a corporate objective that is aligned with departmental objectives, then team objectives and then employee objectives.

Below is a slide of my Process & Technical Management Team objectives that I would like to share. From here team members can sit with their manager and create individual objectives that align to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Click on slide to Enlarge. I hope this helps you in your team efforts and objectives.

Designed and created by qualityg

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our Educational System needs more "Systems Thinking"

In the past few weeks I have had numerous conversations with many people about the complexity of our educational system. At times I have been frustrated 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”
than those that plague our educational 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 (Education System).
· Costs always surpasses what has been budgeted to correct the situation ($ always an issue).
· 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 and band aide solutions no longer apply.
· Root causes and their effects are impossible to identify, track and control (when left unattended for so long).

These characteristics identify the most troubling realization about complex educational 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.

As I have said in many posts, without using “systems thinking” and involving all groups (interdependencies) from beginning to end you will only continue to band aid (tamper) the system.

I guess if I just plant a bulb and do nothing else, I may get a beautiful flower on it's own, but I bet it will be eventually surrounded by weeds and strangle the little fella.

It took take a systemic concentrated effort by members of the appropriate educational departments 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.

Old trends, past practices, and inappropriate problem solving methods (i.e. tampering) make it impossible to understand the failures of complex educational 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 educational process/system can’t be adequately addressed through departmental or grade level 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 grade processes requires test cases 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 educational leaders provide the focus for implementing a process that identifies the members required for developing solutions to critical student affecting processes.

Educational 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 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.

Why? My garden needs a plan (includes the proper times, with milestones, etc…), it needs a method ( How) by which to cultivate the soil, prevent weeds, assure water and sunlight, fertilize at the appropriate times and keep the vermin (aka - doubters) away.

I guess if I just plant a bulb and do nothing else, I may get a beautiful flower on it's own, but I bet it will be eventually surrounded by weeds and strangle the little fella.

When facing complex educational process/system problems, administrative 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 student "Dreams" for the present and the future become a reality

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mr. Russert was a Champion!


Like many people this past week I was saddened with the sudden passing of Tim Russert of Meet the Press Fame.

I considered him an expert in his field of journalism and analysts of world affairs. He was always professional and a gentleman and produced a “Quality” show each and every time.

With his passing I stared thinking what is an expert he was compared to so many so-called experts that seem to be everywhere today.

Experts keep things simple and can pass information and knowledge to other people. Want an example? Mr. Russert using a “Whiteboard” and marker during the last election to explain the Electoral College. That is an expert!
Experts are everywhere; CNBC the Finance show must put on an expert in something every two minutes. Doesn’t matter that each one seems to contradict the previous one and the talking (yelling) that goes on when they have four experts and a host (another expert) debating (talking over one another) one subject with I’m smarter than you has me turning the channels quickly as I can push the remote button.

How about infomercials? I think the same people who buy these products/services are the same people who have donated money to television preachers and evangelist who build massive homes and churches the size of my local shopping mall.

Have a crisis and everyone has an expert on the radio and television talk shows and news stations. The best are the college professors from local colleges who have done some report on the subject in question, which make them an expert (aagh). I also cringe every time a Wall Street person who is introduced as an expert on money and the market.

If we have so many experts how come we are in such a mess when it comes to our money and educational situations. How come when these experts are proven wrong they are not brought back on the shows to explain their expert reasoning? Then all of a sudden a new topic or crisis emerges and they are back again on the tube and radio spewing miss information.

Mr. Russert was an expert, better than that he was a “Champion.” Champions are proven experts in their field because they work on their expertise (application) everyday, they have trained long and hard to prepare to compete at the highest levels in their field and many are awarded and respected by their peers and competitors. Best of all they don't shortcut corners, they work hard to excel at their work.

We need more champions; all you so-called experts can stay home or at your place of work and look in the mirror.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quality Tool/Technique: "Six Sigma - Been There, Done That"

Six Sigma – Been There, Done That!

I recived an Email yesterday asking my views (actually help to keep it a float in a mid size company) on Six Sigma. I decided I would post a write-up I did in 2005, since my views have not changed.

I have received a number of questions about my earlier comments on quality (see Quality and Me…) and would I provide some thoughts on Six-Sigma. I thought it must be time since I received an Email from one of the leading On-Line Six Sigma Resource Groups with the title story being “The Warning Signals of a Failing Six Sigma Program.”

Other requests have come from friends stuck in the middle of a stalled effort, and from others who are responsible for the implementation while the company they work for continues to downsize (but please remember, the officer says “this has nothing to do with the quality effort).” Gosh, how many times do they think the rank and file is going to believe this crap? When are leaders going to wake up and discover the best time for improvements are all the time not just during downtimes? That means make it part of you job, don’t flaunt it, or sell it, just do it.

I will only comment on my experiences. Please understand that Six-Sigma goes by many derivatives today (Design, Mfg, Transactional/Service, Lean, Financial, IT, etc), much like many of its quality predecessors programs (TQM, TQL, TQC, CQI, PMI, etc). Most consultants and many quality groups will disagree with my statement, because their programs are unique where others have failed. I wish everyone would just state the program they have today is an “evolution” of earlier programs, instead of taking the first training day explaining the differences of their new and better process which “they” have developed. Six Sigma was no different when it came riding out of the west (Arizona) with all the answers. A few consulting groups located in Arizona did a brilliant marketing campaign and led the way for all other consulting groups to add Six-Sigma to their bag of skills (ISO, Reengineering, etc).

The same problems that exist today (see above article for reasons) are the same problems that stalled or killed the earlier programs. Trust me on this; I am not going to show a matrix listing all the similarities. Did all that many times within my own organizations.

In the United States just about all of these programs started out in the Manufacturing sector where the quality principles and SPC tools are somewhat more applicable than the Service (many consultants also call this transactional) sector. Then as successes and momentum gain they add the Service Sector because that is the area where most of the previous programs have stalled or failed.

Many people I have talked to will not believe that Six-Sigma can work in the service factor. I know this is not true since that is the sector I have worked in most of my career and implemented many, if not all of the programs listed above in the last 25 years. Granted, they all came and went, but there were some real gains and improvements for those work groups and departments willing to make quality of way of life in how they do their everyday work. Those that failed, refused to take the time to understand this key factor and chose to have quality remain exclusionary with the Quality Experts and Staff groups owning the show and being responsible. Of course the Quality Department’s view was that they are there to help you with trained experts (i.e., black belts), and it is your responsibility (Department VPS).

My Six-Sigma Journey: I will not provide the names of the quality groups involved. The point here is the message, not the messenger group (there are too many).

1) Since the late 80s one of my responsibilities as the quality guy was to attend the training and seminars by the many consulting companies (this also included companies that spun off their quality departments to provide training to other companies) promoting improvement techniques and determine if our company should pursue a contract. I also attended (60+) on my own to keep up with the latest learning’s.

2) The one effort we did when the Baldridge Award was at its highlight was to take our officers and Quality People on trips to the winners companies and learn from them the secrets of their successes. We did this for the first three years of the Baldridge Award; this really held the momentum of our quality effort. I must say, that the best of the best (I have visited many on my own too) was Milliken in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Tremendous people and leaders who really understood the importance of improvement and that were their customer and their people.

3) I attended my first training and seminars on Six Sigma in 1998 and 1999. Much was being published, all the Quality magazines adds were now shifting from TQM, Process Mgt and ISO to Six Sigma and many companies jumped at the chance to learn from the consultants who once worked at GE and Allied Signal and opened up shop in Arizona. One of the instructors was someone I had 10 years earlier for Team Leader Training.

a. The training material at this time was written for the Manufacturing Sector (one of the groups asked me to help them write one for Transactional – I declined).

b. 95% of the training was a combination of the successful predecessor quality programs. The remaining 5% was devoted to using more SPC Tools i.e., ANOVA, Chi-square, Order of Significance Charts, etc) than the common Control Charts and Histograms. The other difference was the new tools could be done by computer software so employees should no longer be afraid of statistics. I asked if the rank and file employees had become smarter since I had found most of our employees had 7 – 8th grade math skills. I was told that was the glory of Six Sigma, the computer will provide the answers and your Black Belts, or Master Black Belts will provide the support. Looked to me like exclusionary (rank and file teams supported by a quality department separate group or outside experts who eventually train in-house experts) rather than inclusionary implementation (part of how I do my job, I should not have to rely on outside help).

c. Another big difference the new consulting groups did which I thought was a good idea, although very expensive was to have your people trained to be Black Belts at their location. The idea was to go to class for a week or two and then come back and apply your learning’s to a process that would produce big savings, thus attacking the bottom line, where other quality efforts did not (not true where I worked). Total time would be about six months. Black Belts or Master Black Belts were not handed out easily, a number of successes had to be acquired before receiving your belt to add validity to the position.

d. In 1998, a much larger company who was rich in Quality having won many of the National and some International Awards for Quality acquired the company I worked for. The old style quality which one them accolades was being fazed out and Six Sigma was to be implemented because on of our major suppliers (big kuhunas of Six Sigma) said if we want to continue doing business with them we need to have Six Sigma Processes.

e. Quality at my old company was being internalized and was beginning to be considered part of everyone’s job; we earned some ISO Certificates (another story) and were consider value added members of the company. Once the merger took place and things settled down we were integrated with the much larger Quality Department (I took another job in the field which allowed me to continue my skills transfer program with the working folks) who was starting to look at Six Sigma Programs.

f. This took about a year for them to decide and they selected one of the old time consultant groups who had just added Six Sigma to their name. I attended the first training class and would eventually be certified as Green Belts after taking 5 classes over a 2month span.

At this time the Six Sigma effort was taking off and many consulting groups were offering training faster and cheaper. Faster meant many things to many people and less costly got upper managements ear. What earlier took months, even a year to obtain a Black Belt was now being done in weeks.

At my company the Six Sigma Department (first consultants did not want the old quality groups leading six sigma) was the old quality department. When we went to training all of our material supplied by the outside consulting group was done in a process management-manufacturing format (Where it used to say Quality or Process it now said Six Sigma, I know because they forgot to change some headings and I used to instruct process management classes). During the 5 classes training sessions we helped the instructor re-write the manuals to add transactional examples so that our employees could relate.

Eventually training was rolled out, those employees that went through the old Process Management Training saw little difference, and new employees saw value to the training. Because it took a year or so for the Six Sigma to take hold in “some” departments, the Six Sigma Group decided to change the rules.

My Department was one that took on the Six Sigma effort and since I had the background I was chosen to represent us in developing a Six Sigma Team and making process improvements. There were 8 teams all total from other departments led by others who had taken the reduced 3-day training. They even named a VP to lead the effort (no Quality or Six Sigma background).

My team chose to use Design for Six Sigma as our approach (this was a problem for the Six Sigma Department, they had not heard of Design for Six Sigma and challenged my process, they eventually understood after I sent a number of examples and documentation on DFSS). The team did a masterful job (especially the designer JCR) and we gave at least 10 presentations. The key was to present the new product/service and not sell Six Sigma. Let the results sell the process (Six Sigma Dept was not happy, they wanted to take credit).

As I mentioned earlier, the training classes went from 5 days to 3, and best of all, the Team Leader would earn a Black Belt after your team finishes. Since our product/service was getting the attention of the President and VPs, the Six Sigma Department wanted me to apply for my Black Belt so as to bring attention to their efforts because one of their main objectives was to have so many Black Belts by the end of the year.

I chose not to apply even though my team’s effort actually saved thousands of dollars and productivity time. Sad to say the 4 of the 8 original teams never got past the Define or Measure Stages, the other 3 teams finished but never provided any savings. They all earned Black Belts.

I informed the Director of the Six Sigma Department that I would not be certified under their program since it would undermine my previous certifications and those that were truly earned by others in different companies, nor would I contribute to another flawed implementation that was now being run by a group that had to have so many Black Belts and Green Belts to save their jobs.

Go to this site for 10 Six Sigma Quality Reports

Click on to read a related post by me on Six Sigma,

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Bus, the Big Apple and it's time for "Dreams"

The past three weeks have been very eventful and a time for reflection and good sense. Prudence is key and decisions like the ones I need to make can only been done in the silence of one’s own mind.

Since I retired early from what I now call my "Early" stage career I am now faced with staying in my current "Mid" career job or moving to the next chapter. I still consider this my mid stage because my next move will not be retiring it will be a shift in a new upward direction.

At one point in time I felt old because I was always looking backward. I now look ahead to each day because looking forward keeps me young in heart, spirit and physical sense of ability.

Sometimes one can learn more with their eyes closed for about two hours on a bus ride in the middle of the night when all is silent as opposed to during the day with over fifty geeked kids on their way back from the Big Apple spending a week in the most vibrant city in the world.

What a great week it was, never have I seen so much in a week with so many people (majority middle school age). Accompanied by school officials and parents it was a very excitable and learning experience for all. For me the best part was meeting some new friends. You get to know them fast when you spend two 11+ hour days on a bus together plus 16 hours a day during our trip.

Our trip brought excitement, reflection and sadness with every turn of the bus while we were in the city walking from one highlighted place to the next. While I had been there before in my business career I never was able to spend the time walking the streets during the day and night and seeing so many people all at the same time that make up the naked city.
The city did not disappoint, we saw every facet of life (good and bad). However it does seem that I encounter some of the strangest folks (Wacko Willie the pervert, bums, lost boy on Liberty Island, pick pocketed student, crazy bus (I don't like driving at night, I can fit through the toll)and cab drivers, bus driver with two autistic children and some I just can’t put a name on).

My most memorable moments are from the Special Education students who behaved admirably. All parents worry before field trips but none as much as the parents of a special child who often need daily medication. Out of over 150 students I did not once notice or hear of one them having or causing a problem. I can’t say the same for some of the General Education students who took every opportunity to cause a problem or suddenly have "selective Hearing" when instructions were sent hour on where to be and with whom and at what time. All in all it was a very well run and managed trip.

Lesson Recalled - continue to encourage young people they hear so much negative.

Lesson Recalled – tell young people the truth, they know when you are lying or what I call being plastic (not sincere).

The trip provided me with the time, information and experience that I needed to make a decision in the upcoming weeks as to stay in my current position or move to a new venue in the educational arena. I choose to move to my next leg of the journey.

Prior to my trip I had a very insightful meeting that stroked all my early career stage passions as well as those in my mid career stage. It’s about "Dreams" and what can one do starting from a canvas and rock and paint a masterpiece upon a foundation built from the ground up.

For me, everything starts with a “Dream” but the dream requires plans, hard work and execution for it to become reality.

The new position in a different school system will provide me the opportunity to guide students, staff and administrators on the positive things they should do as opposed to the negative, which is what I believe, must happen for positive change to occur.

Daily I continue to think about what my next opportunity will bring and the new friends I hope to make. I am convinced that each stage and change I make will lead me to the next door of opportunity as long as I am vigilant.

The best part of all is that it is time to bridge the new things I have learned over the past 4 years with those things I have learned from my 30-year business and teaching career that I already know. I believe now I can even be more effective in my on-going quest for "Profound Knowledge" and serve others who look to me for guidance and structure to obtain one’s dreams and my own for a passion for educational excellence.

It’s now time once again to challenge conventional wisdom and the balance of things to come. Through servant leadership all dreams can become true and the kicker is one can also be happy doing it at the same time.

As with any job change it is always hard to say goodbye, especially to the students and the friends I have met and worked with over the years.

Sadly, I heard this week that someone said I was leaving because I did not like some of the people I work with on a daily basis. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would have not left for any other reason than the new door that has opened and I must go through to continue my journey.