Friday, December 21, 2012

Requesting a Raise?

In A View from the Q this month, Paul Borawski asks "What’s your case for a raise?"

I believe in the premise that the work should speak for itself.  The first step is to establish goals.  Then, if we are successful at achieving our goals we should be recognized for the achievement.  In a work environment that recognition must come as a merit increase.  Therefore, the case for a raise must be established during the goal setting stage not upon completion of the activities.  If our work takes us above and beyond the established goals, then the goals should be adjusted within the cycle and not upon completion of the cycle period.

2012 recap - 2013 goals

At the beginning of 2012 I established personal and professional goals.  I am posting the goals and results below:

Personal -

I must loose 15 pounds and maintain my new weight through the year. I start the year at 187 lbs. I will lose 5 pounds for each of the next 3 months and then maintain that loss. I expect to end 2012 weighing 172 max.
           - I managed to lose 7 lbs total

Spend more quality time with my wife.
           - While Sharon might not believe we've spent more alone time together we have managed to get out sans children more in 2012 than we have since before the kids were born.  Additionally, we are planning a long weekend just the two of us for some time in the very near future.

Increase my seasonal ski days with my children from 20 to 25.
           - In a season with zero snowfall on the east coast I managed to log 22 days last season (Alex boarded 26 days).  With zero snow this season so far we are already at 1 day!

Increase my poker bank-roll by at least $20k.
          - I fell about 6 or 7k short of this goal, WSOP main event buy-in notwithstanding.

Cash at the World Series of Poker.
          - Oops I did it again - failed to cash; failed to get past day one.  Maybe in 2013!
Professional -

Achieve ISO 9001:2008 registration for the Flexible Packaging division of Tekni-Plex.
          - Our Somerville facility achieved re-registration in Dec 2012; Blauvelt is on target for a mid to late 2013 registration; Flemington should follow...

Eliminate frivolous paper from the operations of Tri-Seal Blauvelt.
          - The delay in QMS software resulted in a delay of this goal.  It is in progress now!

Reduce customer complaints by 10%.
          - Total reduction of credits from customer complaints was about 40%; number of complaints is down by about 20%.
Guide all 10 ASQ section of Region 3 to Total Quality for 2012. (This goal cannot be realized until 2013).
          - The QMP program was put on hold by SAC; therefore this goal is unacheiveable.

Help improve the overall Safety at Tri-Seal Blauvelt.
          - While the Blauvelt faciltiy is still in the bottom 3 of all Tekni-Plex facilities for DART rate we are improving.  We are now completing our second consecutive quarter without a lost time accident.

So what is on target for 2013?


1. Lose that weight - get down to 175 max
2. Exercise 3 times per week (at least 1/2 hour on treadmill to start - expand from there)
3. Increase quality time with my wife
4. Poker:
       Cash in at least one significant tournament WSOP; Borgata Poker Open; WPT; etc.
       Increase bankroll by $20k


1. Achieve ISO registration in Blauvelt
2. Complete MiniTab Training
3. Improve the resin reprocessing process
4. Visit 6 customers
5. Implement Supplier Management including 4 key supplier audits - this is for the flexibles division

Thursday, November 29, 2012

World Quality Month - Nov 2012

In honor of World Quality Month 2012 A View from the Q asks, "Why does it take so long for what is known to be true to become common practice? Or, perhaps more importantly, what can we do to accelerate the rate of adoption of quality?"

The problem is that we have to ask these questions.  The Quality arts and sciences began developing into mainstream business practices in the mid to late 20th century driven by the teachings of Drs Juran and Deming and supported by other Quality gurus including Crosby, Feigenbaum, Taguchi, and others.  Now in the 21st century we expect Quality to be a top priority and cultural norm of all organizations.  This is not so, as indicated by the two questions asked this month by Paul Borawski.

To add a little levity to this discussion, let's jump ahead to the 23rd century...there is no Quality department on the Starship Enterprise.  Why, because by the 23rd century Quality is everyone's responsibility and all crew members know this.

So what needs to be done in the 21st century to jump-start the future...

We need to educate our workforce in a manner that will make the concepts stick, make every member of the team believe that Quality is part of their job.  We've succeeded, to a point, in doing this with safety...nobody wants to go home missing body parts or having sustained an injury on the job so safety is imbedded.  Okay, maybe we don't have the same goal in quality but if we can influency our workforce to adopt quality in a similar manner then we will succeed in waste reduction, improved performance, improved customer satisfaction and the list goes on. To do this our senior leaders must walk the talk, use performance metrics as fluidly as they use financial metrics.  We as quality practitioners are regularly told that we must speak the language of senior management (money-speak), I say that Senior Management must speak the language of Quality!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Beyond the traditional quality function

I always enjoy posting in response to Paul Borawski's post on A View from the Q and this month is no exception.  The question of the month: 'How well understood and embraced are the contributions of the quality professional beyond what is traditionally thought of as the quality function?'

Let me begin my answer by telling a story:

I've been working in my current position for about 2 1/2 years.  As Senior Quality Assurance Manager my primary site (I have responsibility at 3 sites within our division) has the QC Supervisor as my direct report.  He is an older gentleman who joined this company about 20 years ago after selling his own business and semi-retiring.  His perspective on Quality is, in my opinion Old World.  His primary concern is the inspection for acceptance / rejection of product...this is a necessary evil in this business.  My primary concerns are (1) Customer Satisfaction (both internal and external) and (2) Continual Improvement.  He continually comments to me that I don't know what I'm doing, I'm always getting into things that are not Quality's concern, I am trying to undermine him.  For instance, I volunteered to be a member of the Safety committee.  He questions this asking, what does that have to do with Quality.  No matter how many times and different ways I explain to him that without a safe work environment we cannot produce a quality product he just disagrees with me and says I'm into things that I shouldn't be involved with.

Okay, enough he said / I said.  This is not the first time I've been down a road like this and I can deal with it.

With 4 generations in the workplace old style and new style approaches to all aspects of business, including Quality, will clash.

Expanding the involvement of the Quality function beyond our traditional silos is paramount to our overarching goals of Customer Satisfaction and Continual Improvement.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Quality Culture and Feelings

Paul Borawski ASQ CEO touches upon the concepts of Quality Culture and its relation to Feeling in this months A View from the Q.

 For a long time know I've heard many organizations discuss transitions to a Safety Culture, a Quality Culture and Customer-centric Culture, etc.  Every discussion seems to be the same.  We want to change the way we act, perform, think to _______ (fill in the blank).  In my opinion, these cultural changes are only required because we've developed inherent weakness in the way we conduct business.  A company, any company is in business for one purpose - to make money for it's stakeholders / shareholder.  To do this we must provide a service or product that meets our customer's needs and expectations.  To do this we must produce that product or develop and deliver that service.  I be successful, the level of quality must satisfy the customer.  We must also operate in a safe manner to protect our personnel.

So by definition and extention, to be in business we must deliver quality products or service and do what we do safely.  So why do we need to 'develop a _____ (again, fill in the blank) culture when that should be inherent in what we do.  Okay, to answer my own question, we need a culture transition because we've strayed from the original path and we must right ourselves.

So why does the transition to the right path have to be painful (make us feel uncomfortable).  I believe it is because we reach a level of comfort that does not allow for achieving the overall goal...making money by satisfying our customers.

That said, let me now address one of Paul's questions:

              "If you’re working on a culture of quality, or sustaining one, what do you look for in the people you
               hire into the organization?"

When I am hiring into my team I look for people that meet the job criteria, with personalities that fit the personality (culture) of the organization, that I believe will stick around for an extended period of time and for people with whom I can work comfortably and succesfully.  This applies regardless of the perceived culture of the organization.  I most instances I am also considering succession planning when hiring.  Is this person capable of moving up through the organization and, if hired into the right position, eventually becoming my replacement.  I guess all of this means, does the person fit the culture of the organization now.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Business Speak

When blogging as a member of the ASQ Influential Voices team I begin by saying ASQ CEO Paul Borawski in his blog A View from the Q asked the staying true to form...Paul asks: Do you speak the “language of business”? How important is it, in your experience?

Let's start with the language of business...
I've been hearing this discussion about the language of business since I started as a quality professional back in the days of enlightenment...the 1980's.  I'm sure the discussion was not new then.  So why are we still trying to encourage our quality professionals to speak this languauge...shouldn't this be motherhood and apple pie by now?  The reason we need to keep selling the business speak is that our Engineering schools are still failing us.  As an Engineering student I was required to take a course called Engineering Economics.  It was a senior year requirement and basically taught about break-even points.  No other required course in my Engineering program discussed Business, Money, Costs, Expenses, Income, Revenue, or any other language of business.  I did take Accounting as an elective so I was a bit ahead of the curve.  Still neither course mentioned touched on Business speak...Failure STEM!

How important is it in my experience?
Try to solicit funding in your organization for simple quality tools like QMS software, new test equipment, SPC software, or even new furniture without a cost justification, an ROI or details of all the expenses associated with training and installation and see how far you get.  Even preparing a simple expense report for business travel requires a simple understanding of business speak.  Again, without basic training in the language of business, we as Quality professionals will fail...yet another failure of STEM, in my opinion.

Sure, Engineering students have among the heaviest course loads in any college or university yet we fail to teach them what they really need to know for success...change the requirements for Engineering programs to include Business 101, Business Law and basic Accounting 101.  Once this is done there will be no need for this discussion of speaking the language of business.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

ASQ WCQI Anaheim, CA May 2012

Hello my friends,
I am in Anaheim, CA for ASQ (#ASQ) World Conference on Quality and Improvement (#WCQI12).

Before the conferece begins there are meetings, ceremonies and gatherings for both Member Leaders and Members.

On Sat, May 19 I attended 4 activities for Member Leaders:
  • Ideas to Action Gathering (#ITAG)
  • Community Leadership Institute (CLI)
  • Quality Management Process (QMP) Awards ceremony
  • Member Leader (ML) Dinner / Reception
Overall it was a great day of learning, guidance, meeting new MLs, and catching up with friends - the ASQ family.  However, there were a few minor disappointments.

My major take-aways from the day include:
  • Speakers on Panel Discussions must listen to the questions being asked and answer those question.  In other words, get off your own agenda and address the concern of the moment.
  • ASQ is not broken as one ML may think...he needs a time machine to go back to the first ML Summit (grand-dad to the ITAG) and feel the pains then see the growth and improvement we've had as a result.
  • There is a preception of drive to improve ML satisfaction.
  • Creating an email to communicate with Members is a lot more complex then the typical section may know.
  • QMP is going through a major overhaul.
  • Stuff that is motherhood and applepie to me as a long time ML is virtually unknown to many both new and long time MLs due to limited communications.
  • Perception of MLs is ASQ still sends too many emails.
  • The ability to opt-out of different types of emails is improving through personal preference updates.
I was a bit disappointed by the participation in QMP awards this year.  The number of TQ Sections was down, especially in Region 3 (my region) and attendance at the ceremony was also down.  Maybe the aforementioned change is needed!

Stay tuned...more to come!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Does Happiness = Job Satisfaction

When blogging as a member of the ASQ Influential Voices team I begin by saying ASQ CEO Paul Borawski in his blog A View from the Q asked the why should this month be any different...this month Paul talks about Happiness and Job Satisfaction.

I will start with a few definitions from Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary

     hap·pi·ness noun \ˈha-pē-nəs\
1: British : that is for hire for a given service or period British
          1 obsolete : good fortune : prosperity
          2 a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy
             b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience
    work noun \wərk\
          activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something:
          a : sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result
          b : the labor, task, or duty that is one's accustomed means of livelihood 
          c : a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity
    job adj
         2: used in, engaged in, or done as job work individual is with his or her job. The happier people are within their job, the more satisfied they are said to be. Logic would dictate that the most satisfied (“happy”) workers should be the best performers and vice versa.
         3: of or relating to a job or to employment

    sat·is·fac·tion noun \ˌsa-təs-ˈfak-shən\
         a : fulfillment of a need or want
         b : the quality or state of being satisfied : contentment
         c : a source or means of enjoyment : gratification


I digress - Webster does not have a definition for Job Satisfaction but they do have a definition for another type of 'Job'...something you might do to create a glass bottle.

From Wikipedia - Job satisfaction describes how content an

Now the question is, what do I think?!?!
Let me begin by stating something that I have always said about my career as a Quality Professional, "I love what I do but I don't always like where I am doing it".  Does this make me a happy worker.  Not always.  Happiness and Job Satisfaction and closely linked and have multiple variables such as:
  • Is the work itself satisfying?
  • Do I enjoy the environment in which I am performing my work?
  • Do I enjoy the company of the people I am working with?
  • What is the culture of the organization and do I fit into that culture?
  • It the organization progressive?
  • Am I making a difference in the organization?
And there are some soft variables that have effected my satisfaction including:
  • the commute (is it too long?)
  • the external environment to the facility (can I find a decent place or places for lunch or do I have to bring it with me?)
  • the benefits (enough vacation time, flexible schedules, is it financially satisfying?)
  • is there room for personal and professional growth
Currently, I am happy with my job. 
  • The job itself presents many challenges. 
  • I enjoy the team with which I am working.
  • I feel I am adding value while improving my own skills.
  • There are many frustrations that I face daily, however, these frustrations are the ingredients for making the job a challenge and providing me with satisfaction.
If it were easy they'd get someone else to do it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Selling Quality

About a 1 1/2 years ago I was invited to be a part of the ASQ Influential Voices team (see the list of bloggers running down the right side of this page). This team responds monthly to questions posed by ASQ CEO Paul Borawski in his blog A View from the Q. This month Paul discusses the topic of 'Selling Quality'.

My first questions with regard to this topic is "should we need to sell quality?". Unfortunately, my answer is yes, and I am sure most readers would agree. The reason I say unfortunately is because we do have to experience is that most purchasers of a product or service will place price before quality. I my experience you typically get what you pay for. Good costs less than Great typically but will never last as long...example: years ago I worked in an IT management function. We were purchasing new laptops for about a dozen employees including myself. One of my Technicians identified a company that produced Dell clones at an extremely discounted rate. We purchased 12. Over the next 12 months every one of them was returned to the supplier for replacement mother boards. In the long run my laptop lasted the longest of all 12. I managed to keep mine alive for nearly 3 years. within that 3 years the supplier went out of business. Needless to say, we got what we paid for. Had we purchased Dell's I believe they would have outlasted and outperformed the clones 3 fold.

Next - to whom must we, the quality professionals, sell quality? We must sell quality to everyone - the customer, the consumer, our organization's leadership and our company's producers (line operators, supervisors, etc.). We are the stewards of the practices of quality and the quality profession, therefore, it is in our organization's best interest that we walk the talk and be able to influence others to do the same. I just had a Quality sell moment that I'd like to share (you may need to read between the lines). I am sitting in Panera with my daughter. She is doing school work while I write. When we arrived we stepped up to the cashier (customer service) to place our order and I recieve a warm hug from my friend Nicole. I had no idea she worked here. Nicole is the Asst. Manager of this restaurant. She treated both Danielle and me like VIPs. This did not surprise me since we've had a good friendship for quite some time now. While sitting and writing I've observed Nicole 'doing her job'. At the table next to us she asked the newly seated patrons if everything was okay. The woman at the table said she had asked for apple slices as opposed to an apple. Nicole happily abliged the woman bringing her a big bowl full of apple splices. She also explained that the slices are not normally served as a side order but are for a particular salad. This act of Customer Service above and beyond will likely bring this patron back to this restaurant. Nicole was selling quality to a customer without necessarily knowing that was what she did.

The sale of quality can be direct or indirect. Influencing Senior Management to make sound decisions based on factual data is our best tool for selling quality. Continaully satisfying our customers with superior products and prerformance paves the road to company success.

Friday, February 10, 2012

STEM - Scientists, Technologists, Engineers, and Mathematicians

In his Feb 2012 blog, in A View From The Q, ASQ CEO Paul Borawski discusses the need for students to enter the STEM -Science Technology, Engineer and Mathematics professions. He discussed the fact that his daughter is visiting colleges in anticipation of a fall entry into an Engineering program. Paul, first of all congratulations on your daughters upcoming graduation and her acceptances to her chosen institutions of higher learning for the nobel profession of Engineering. Second, I applaud you as a parent for helping her see the future at such a young age and guiding her to realize that there is more to life than Facebook and YouTube!

Okay, that last line was kind of personal on my part. I, too, have a daughter graduating this June with eyes toward a college career. She has applied to and been accepted at numerous schools for Biology (we too are looking at the sciences). And, even though her face is glued to her Facebook page or watching YouTube videos as often as she is in her books she is achieving high honors in school and working diligently toward fulfilling our hopes for her successful future.

While I don't have a vast sampling plan I can look at the Hendrick Hudson (HenHud) High School (HHHS), Montrose, NY Class of 2012 as a benchmark of the future. At least 4 of my daughters closest friends applied for Engineering and Science related programs, 2 or 3 are looking at Film, several applied for general Business and others are undecided.

So this benchmarked sample indicates to me that approximately 30% of the graduating population is looking into STEM opportunities.

All I ask is that statisticians not attack my sampling plan nor my rash pronouncement of the future based on the limited sample size.

Yesterday my son told me his proposed class list for his Jr year at HHHS. While he chooses not to take Physics (a New York State regents track course) he is looking at several AP sciences, AP Stats and of course AP Calculus (this is an 'of course' because his girfriend's mom is the AP Calc teacher!). So there is hope for another generation of science / math type within my family.

Having so many teens around us that are looking at the sciences is encouraging to me. Maybe our kids see the future and the future is the US will once again become a mecca of manufacturing! We can only hope!

Welcome! New Influential Voices

It is my pleasure to welcome the 16 new Influential Voices bloggers to the world-wide list of voices recruited by ASQ to share their perspective on Quality with anyone who cares to read / listen!

You join a great team that can only be made better by your active participation.
I am humbles by all your achievements and look forward to sharing experiences and reading your perspective on the same topics each month.


On a separate note, I am saddened to see some of our team leave this year.
I understand that life changes and some of us need to move on periodically.
To those that have stopped being a member of the Influential Voices team remember, you still have a blog and you still have a not hesitate to chime in from time to time!

With my deepest respect,

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Personal and Professional Goals / Resolutions

With the new year I must post my goals and resolutions. This year I will post my personal resolutions separate from my professional goals.

Personal -
  • I must loose 15 pounds and maintain my new weight through the year. I start the year at 187 lbs. I will lose 5 pounds for each of the next 3 months and then maintain that loss. I expect to end 2012 weighing 172 max.
  • Spend more quality time with my wife.
  • Increase my seasonal ski days with my children from 20 to 25.
  • Increase my poker bank-roll by at least $20k.
  • Cash at the World Series of Poker.

Professional -

  • Achieve ISO 9001:2008 registration for the Flexible Packaging division of Tekni-Plex.
  • Eliminate frivolous paper from the operations of Tri-Seal Blauvelt.
  • Reduce customer complaints by 10%.
  • Guide all 10 ASQ section of Region 3 to Total Quality for 2012. (This goal cannot be realized until 2013).
  • Help improve the overall Safety at Tri-Seal Blauvelt.

2011 Wrap-up

In January 2011 Paul Borawski asked the ASQ Influential Voices about their new years resolution. Now, in Jan 2012 it's time to check back and see where I am with regard to those resolutions. Then I will post some new goals for 2012 on another blog post. Last year's goals were:
  • Develop and implement an improved QMS for my division of the organization to achieve ISO 9001:2008 registration.

The system is developed and awaiting launch. Currently we are pursuing an Intranet based QMS software package to utilize across the division with room for expansion throughout the entire enterprise. We expect to achieve registration by July 2012.

  • Improve the process controls of our manufacturing operations. This can only
    happen after we transfer some of the inspection operations to our production

In Dec 2011 we began transferring the Inspeciton operations to Line Operators. This was done in conjunction with a reduction in force which resulted in one of our inspectors returning to operations. His new position includes 'self-inspection' due to his experience as a QC Technician for the company. Next step is train more operators to self-inspect then introduce the use of process control concepts. We have also convinced our CEO that a Quality / Process Engineer must be hired for our facility.

  • Improve overall product quality to reduce customer complaints / credits by
    10% from 2010.

While complaints in 2011 were higher than 2010 this is partially due to better definition of what constitutes a complaint and several uncontrollable customer actions. The complaint system has identified many process improvements that will result in reduction in complaints in 2012.

  • Attend appropriate training to improve my understanding of FDA regulations
    for our business.

I had the opportunity to attend a couple of ASQ Tappan Zee section sponsored FDA requirment training / seminar sessions.

  • Pursue Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training and eventually ASQ SSBB

This goal was not achievable in 2011, however, I did attend several webinars on Lean and Six Sigma to better familiarize myself with the basic concepts.

  • Re-establish my leadership role within ASQ as Regional Director for Region

As of January 1, 2012 I am, once again, ASQ Region 3 Director for another 2 year term.

  • Increase overall Quality time spent with my family (this I am currently
    doing with the kids via seasons passes to ski which we are doing every Saturday plus 6 days during the holiday week).

My kids an I skied over 20 days together in 2011. And this season we are off to a great start with 7 days since the start of the local season. We've also seen numerous movies together, went out for countless dinners and lunches, attended every performance in which my children were featured (chorus, band, plays and musicals), traveled including a drive to Florida from New York including visiting several colleges for my daughter, a trip to up-state-New York, other college visits in MA and NY, a visit to our nation's capital, played lots of games, watched lots of TV and had lots of laughs...all in all a good year with the family.