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: