July - August, 2011

Volume 1, Number 7

In This Issue

·    It’s Back to School Time

·    Organizing for Improvement

·    Leading a Team with Integrity

·    Who is in Charge Here?

·    Link of the Month

·    How Healthy is Your Business System?

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It’s Back to School Time

It’s that time every schoolboy and girl comes to loathe – summer vacation is winding down and the newspaper ads are touting their “Back to School” wares.  A new school year is just rounding the corner and that signals a time of change. 

Guess what?  Learning never stops.  Just because traditional school may be behind you, doesn’t mean you are exempt from “back to school” season!  Take a few moments to inventory what you have learned so far this year.  Have you acquired any new skills?  What is your learning plan for the next 6 months?  What would you like to learn yet this year? 

There may be many interesting skills or facts you can learn in your spare time without impacting your current, already overburdened schedule.  It’s also a good time to go back and practice skills you haven’t put to use in a while.  “Sharpen the saw” as Stephen Covey likes to call it.  Don’t let your kids have all the fun -- grab your pencil box, crayons and notebook paper and let’s learn! 

Happy learning and have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

Organizing for Improvement

Have you ever made a process improvement or a policy change and then struggled with how to communicate the changes?

One simple and effective method is to use Stephen Covey’s model of Stop – Start – Continue.

·         Show the things you need to STOP doing because of the change

·         Indicate what you need to START doing to make the change work

·         Review those things people should CONTINUE to do

Try this out on your next project – it’s effective for any type of change!

Leading a Team with Integrity

We’ve all been on good and bad teams during our careers, and witnessed team leaders of varying degrees of skill.  Are there a few behaviors correlated to the best team leaders?

In a recent NY Times article entitled “Tearing Down All the Silos in a Company,” CEO F. Mark Gumz shared several leadership best practices:

Follow these four tips to lead with integrity:

·         Don’t make any promises you can’t keep

·         Keep every promise you make

·         If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know the answer

·         If you say you’re going to get back to me with an answer, get back to me

Who is in Charge Here?

Have you reacted to changes you’ve encountered in life or have you responded to them?  Do you drive change on a daily basis or are you driven by change?  Who is in charge of all this change anyway?    


You can either make positive change happen in your life and business or wait around and go with the flow – let your future follow the path of least resistance.

In his best-seller Managing at the Speed of Change, Daryl Conner wrote a compelling statement “We have the chance to be either architects or victims of our future.”   While changes will come at you for the rest of your life, YOU are fully in charge of how you choose to respond to those changes!  To learn more about architecting your future, read the full article here.

Link of the Month

If you are trying to improve a process in your organization, would it be valuable to have information on the best practices of other companies for that type of process? 

That is exactly what the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) provides.  APQC is a Houston, Texas-based best practices consortium that studies processes across a variety of industries and publishes reports.  Some of them are free and others you pay for.  Check out their website at www.APQC.org 

How Healthy is Your Business System?

Since 1988 our nation’s highest honor for performance excellence has been The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA). 

The President presents the award annually to winning applicants in areas such as Manufacturing, Service, Healthcare, and Education. 

Winners then share their best practices with others in the spirit of spreading operational excellence throughout the country.

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence focus on the seven Categories of:

·         Leadership

·         Strategic Planning

·         Customer Focus

·         Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management

·         Workforce Focus

·         Operations Focus

·         Results

Each of the Categories are broken down further into several Items each.  The focus is on an organization’s approach, deployment, learning, integration, and results for a number of vital areas to address.

Most companies using the MBNQA criteria never apply for the award itself!  Assessing your organization against the criteria is an excellent way to give your company an “annual physical” and generate a key list of strategic Opportunities for Improvement. 

To get free copies (e-versions or hard copies) of the criteria and to read summaries of past winners visit:  http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/index.cfm


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