Improving How Organizations Improve

1. A Message from the President: Improving How Organizations Improve
2. Lean Six Sigma Forum — Rochester 12/5
3. Self-Defeating Habits of Otherwise Brilliant People — Conflict Resolution Workshop 12/11
4. Proven Ways to Enhance Strategic Thinking — Twin Cities Workshop 1/22
5. More than a Quick Fix: Organizational Change that Sticks — SE MN Workshop 1/23
6. Strategic Planning for Middle Managers — Minneapolis PEN 12/6
7. Why Good Employees Underperform — St. Paul PEN 12/12
8. Celebrating Quality in SE Minnesota: 2012 Karl Shurson Awards — SE MN PEN 12/4
9. Exploring Best Practices in Process Improvement: A Panel Discussion — Twin Ports PEN 12/19
10. Four US Organizations Honored with the 2012 Baldrige National Quality Award
11. Enhancing the Career Development Discussion — MNODN 1/10
12. CEBC Roundtable Focuses on Ethics — CEBC 12/12
13. Hamline University Announces Upcoming Six Sigma Courses — Network Members Receive Discount
14. South Central College Announces Upcoming Courses; Network Members Get 10% Discount
15. U of M College of Continuing Education Announces Upcoming Courses; Network Members Get 10% Discount

A Message From the President: Improving How Organizations Improve

A study conducted by Industry Week a few years ago indicated that 74% of companies are not making good progress with Lean – they simply are not achieving desired results. Other studies suggest that about 60% of all Six Sigma initiatives fail to yield desired results, and I imagine that failure rates are similar with other process improvement methods. This is occurring, all the while, as organizations are facing accelerating levels of change, increasing customer demands, and an ever-increasing need to improve (see my column last month on the need for change).

So what gives? Why are so many organizations trying to improve but so few actually making sustained gains? Why are improvement methods falling short, and what can organizations do about it? I believe there are several reasons why improvement efforts aren’t working, but I also believe there are solutions…

In a Wall Street Journal article last summer, Satya Chakravorty posed an insightful question: “what do weight-loss plans and process-improvement programs such as Six Sigma and ‘lean manufacturing’ have in common? They typically start off well, generating excitement and great progress, but all too often fail to have a lasting impact as participants gradually lose motivation and fall back into old habits.”

Chakravorty studied process improvement programs at large companies over a five year period to gain insight into how and why so many of them fail. What he found he described in a metaphor – that when confronted with increasing stress over time, these improvement programs react in much the same way a metal spring does when it’s pulled with increasing force; that is, they progress through “stretching” and “yielding” phases before eventually failing entirely. Here is a paraphrase of how Chakrovorty’s metaphor goes…

When a metal spring is pulled initially, it stretches to accommodate the pressure – just like how employees eagerly tackle new tasks and challenges early in a process improvement project. Improvement experts (Master Black Belts, Lean Sensei’s, and the like) are assigned to projects, guiding and training a team. And senior leaders pay close attention to initial projects, giving the organization signals of the importance of these initiatives. Processes are changed and results often immediately improve as employees begin to transition to a new way of operating. Leaders celebrate the accomplishments by rewarding improvement teams, success is declared and widely communicated.

But then something usually happens: attention gets diverted. The Six Sigma (or Lean or XYZ process improvement) expert moves on to another project, and senior leaders begin to turn their focus onto another process to be improved and other work groups to tackle it. Organizational priorities shift (or at least appear to have shifted), and the employees involved with the initial improvement effort begin to struggle to maintain their original gains. Why? Chakravorty asserts that it’s because they often lack the skills themselves to analyze and implement additional improvements (now that experts have moved on) and they lack the direction from senior leaders on what to do next as well as the support to make things happen. Inevitably, some – perhaps many – employees begin reverting back to old habits, much like the individual on a weight loss program begins to skip workout sessions when other priorities demand attention.

Process performance stops improving, and in some cases, starts to regress. Team members get discouraged, and they eventually stop caring about the improvement effort (especially if it’s not tied to their performance goals). Team members are unable or unwilling to tackle improvement challenges, and the effort – much like the metal spring after much stretching and yielding – ultimately collapses.

Have you seen this sequence of events in your improvement efforts? Unfortunately, it’s all too common, if 60-74% of process improvement efforts fail. But Chakravorty’s research also gives us hope: he identifies four powerful insights on how to improve process improvement efforts. Here are his (plus some of mine own at the end):

* First, organizations definitely need a process improvement skillset, either in-house or from hired consultants. And those experts need to be involved for longer periods of time, as knowledge and expertise is transferred to managers and employees within the process. Certainly, cost is a consideration, but perhaps part-time experts dedicated to several improvement efforts/teams could spread this investment over additional processes and over a longer period of time.

* Second, incentives need to be fully aligned in making the process improvements stick: performance appraisals need to be tied to successful implementation of process improvements for managers, process improvement teams, and for workers directly involved in the new process. And rewards need to be longer-term, focusing not just on the activity of making the process changes and on early wins, but also on sustaining performance over the long-term. This is the only way changes will be “hardwired” into the organization.

* Third, keep the improvement teams small (Chakravorty recommends six to nine members) and the improvement project timeline tight (Chakravorty recommends six to eight weeks). In Chakravorty’s research, the bigger the team, the greater the chance members will have competing interests and the harder it is for them to agree on goals. And the longer it takes to implement, the more opportunity there is for distraction – organizations lose focus, and people and resources can (and will) get diverted to other projects.

* Fourth, leaders need to directly participate in improvement projects, not just support them or sponsor them. Not only will this give executives a firsthand look at what’s working and what’s not (and therefore the ability to make quicker course-corrections and resource adjustments, as needed), but his/her involvement sends a stronger signal to the organization of the importance of their work and the importance of the changes.

In addition, I offer six more factors that increase the odds of success with improvement efforts:

* The organization needs to recognize that successful, sustained improvements require cultural changes, not just changes to process steps and systems. They usually involve people, and therefore require all of the principles of effective change that I referenced in last month’s column:

  • Give people control
  • Ease people into change
  • Reduce uncertainty
  • Minimize transitions
  • Use data
  • Make change relevant
  • Measure change
  • Acknowledge that change takes effort
  • Let go of the past
  • Mobilize the crowd
  • Be aware of unintended consequences
  • Be genuine
  • Institutionalize change

* Organizations need to focus not just on specific process improvement projects and initiatives but on hardwiring the changes to processes, systems, and behavior. This is why frameworks like the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are so valuable: they put process improvement projects in the context of the larger organizational system, helping leaders to identify alignment and integration points, gaps in resources, and tradeoffs between various parts of the system. I’ve often said: Lean and Six Sigma can get you to pretty good, but they won’t get you to excellent because they only focus on certain parts of the whole.

* Chakravorty suggests having shorter project cycles (and I agree), but at the same time, organizations need to keep a long-term view of improvement. Indeed, improvements may be a series of short-term interventions in the context of a much larger change effort. This is challenging, because Americans (and maybe it’s all people) are way too focused on the short-term – this quarter’s financials, 90-day action plans, and so forth. While short-term focus is good at building momentum and accelerating action, sustained improvement initiatives need to be managed over a longer time horizon. For example, don’t just reward improvements over the first 90 days or even first year, but reward improvements several years into the future – reward people for sustaining the gains. Organizations will find that momentum builds, and a culture of improvement will germinate.

* Pick the right process improvement tool(s). Lean is good for eliminating waste; Six Sigma for reducing variation; scorecard for monitoring performance against strategy; ISO for ensuring minimum standards of performance; and so forth. You’d rather not have a screwdriver when you need to pound a nail. Appreciate the strengths and limitations of each tool, and use the right tool to make the type of improvements that you desire.

* Learn from other organizations that are making similar improvements – there are literally tens of thousands of other organizations using the same improvement tools to make similar process changes. With today’s technology and social media, we have greater information availability and much more accessible insights to process improvement. And with powerful networks (such as our own Performance Excellence Network), you can much more easily participate in knowledge exchange, best practice sharing, and learning through benchmarking. Visit our Improvement Clearinghouse (for hundreds of articles, whitepapers, and links), join our blog discussions on LinkedIn, attend our knowledge forums (or reach out to us and/or our partners directly) to get access to other great ideas that could be used to improve your processes.

* Finally, process improvement methods need to be evaluated and improved themselves. After each Six Sigma deployment, after each Kaizen event, after each Lean 5S project, and after each PDSA cycle, gather some data on how the improvement effort itself worked. How did the team work, what process results were achieved, how did the tool(s) work, how did training go, how effective was communication, and so forth? Those insights should be incorporated back into improving the improvement method itself, so that future projects, future improvement efforts are done with more precision, more effectiveness, and more efficiency. Indeed, this close-loop thinking creates a culture of accelerating, more sophisticated improvement. In fact, it creates a learning organization.

The question all organizations face in today’s environment of accelerating change is not whether your processes need to be improved, but rather which ones, by how much, and by when. And given that 60-74% of process improvement efforts fail, the issue is not just WHAT to improve but HOW to make the improvements. A little bit of effort up front to select the right improvement tools and to build the right improvement infrastructure and supporting culture will help organizations considerably in the downstream execution of improvement initiatives. In other words, it will improve how your organization improves.

BTW, if you’re interested in a half-day discussion on best practices related to training and deploying Lean Six Sigma, consider our Lean Six Sigma Forum December 5 in Rochester (article below).

Want to participate in a discussion on this topic?? Visit our LinkedIn group and/or our blog our to post a comment!

Yours in Performance Excellence,

Brian S. Lassiter
President, Performance Excellence Network (formerly Minnesota Council for Quality)

Lean Six Sigma Forum — Rochester 12/5

The Performance Excellence Network is pleased to announce the next Lean Six Sigma Forum on Wednesday, December 5 from 8AM to 12PM, hosted by the Rochester Event Center in SW Rochester.

The December 5 Forum will feature five higher education institutions, each outlining how they are improving their own operations using Lean, Six Sigma, Baldrige, and other methods, and each also sharing what resources and training offerings they have to support Lean and/or Six Sigma deployments in the community. The discussion will feature:

  • Rochester Community & Technical College,
  • South Central College (Mankato),
  • University of Wisconsin-Stout (Menomonie),
  • Western Technical College (LaCrosse), and
  • Winona State University.

Offered in partnership with the Joseph M. Juran Quality Leadership Center at the Carlson School of Management, the Lean Six Sigma Forum provides a means for leaders and practitioners from organizations using Lean, Six Sigma, and/or other techniques to share knowledge and best practices on successfully using process improvement methods. The Forum is open to the public, but there is a capacity constraint at our host facility.

We look forward to seeing you then!

Cost is $125 for members of PEN ($250 for non-members). To register, email

Self-Defeating Habits of Otherwise Brilliant People — Conflict Resolution Workshop 12/11

This session sold out last year — don’t miss it!

Through thousands of seemingly insignificant interactions, teams unknowingly create environments that are either cohesive or adversarial. The average manager spends between 30 and 50% of their time grappling with the fallout of mistrust and lack of cohesiveness. In a recent Gallup poll, nearly 70% of employees admitted they are disengaged from work or actively undermining the efforts of others. At a cost Gallup estimates, of 34¢ on the dollar.

Fortunately, organizations can reverse these discouraging trends.

The Performance Excellence Network is pleased to announce a special workshop December 11 in the Twin Cities: “Self Defeating Habits of Otherwise Brilliant People.”

The session will be facilitated by Anna Maravelas of TheraRising (Thera is Greek, meaning “to heal”). In this seminar, the specific behaviors, and their far-reaching consequences, become stunningly clear. You will learn why negative assumptions pick up momentum and spread,
how to short-circuit destructive disagreement, and eliminate unconscious behaviors that spark power struggles and mistrust. Thera Rising’s conflict resolution work consistently generates return on investment between 600% and 900%!

Executives and front-line employees testify that this seminar transformed the way they respond to disagreement – in their professional and personal lives. Thera Rising’s strategies have been featured in dozens of publications including The New York Times, HR Magazine, Harvard Management Update, Oprah Magazine, and MSNBC.

Attendees have reported:

* Less anger, depression, and resentment
* A proven strategy to prevent anger from derailing group efforts
* Skillfully handling ongoing frustrations – demands, delays, and disagreements
* Renewed energy, collaboration, and optimism
* Improved morale and restored trust

At the end of the day you will be able to:

* Turn resentment into shared responsibility
* Avoid the mistakes that derail productivity and erode cohesiveness
* Reverse power struggles
* Short-circuit the hidden costs of contempt
* Shift the focus off people and personalities to the five root causes of workplace tension
* Turn self-righteous indignation into a search for solutions
* Be hard on the problem, soft on the people
* Build teams that endure – even during times of rapid change

Cost is $200 for members, $400 for non-members.

Space is limited. Please register by emailing your name, organizational affiliation, and membership status.

This session sold out last year (and had nearly 100% attendee satisfaction!). Don’t miss this valuable program!!

Proven Ways to Enhance Strategic Thinking — Twin Cities Workshop 1/22

Let’s face it. Times have changed. It’s easy to get consumed by the ever-increasing daily challenges posed by sponsors, team members, business partners, and other stakeholders. Only, to be able to determine how best to respond, what we often do not realize is that we must immerse ourselves in the future. We need to figure out how to create meaning from all the uncertainties, trends, and conjectures that appear on the horizon but in reality have already begun. And to know when to stop analyzing and breaking about the data and learn to synthesize the thousands of pieces of information about the future into breakthroughs that will catapult your project forward.

The Performance Excellence Network (formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality) is pleased to welcome Lori Silverman, strategist and the owner of Partners for Progress, to a special workshop January 22 in the Twin Cities: “Proven Ways to Enhance Strategic Thinking in Yourself and Others.”

Discover why organizations require leaders at all levels that can think strategically, anticipate issues, solve problems, and make decisions based on new and emerging information and the long-term vision for the project and the enterprise. Walk away with myriad of practical strategic tools and techniques you can apply immediately in your work.

Workshop Objectives:

1. Distinguish between strategic thinking and analysis thinking

2. Integrate information about the future into the work that is done prior to creating a project plan.

3. Talk to a project team about creating a future story to expand upon the project’s vision.

4. Identify what is needed to sustain a project after implementation and integrate it into the project plan up front.

5. Identify high-level interdependencies between your project and other projects and initiatives in the organization.

6. Begin to identify the new assumptions underlying your project and those being used by key stakeholders and project members that may be in conflict.

7. Outline the various rungs on the ladder of inference for a specific project situation and know how to address this.

8. Listen for critical thinking issues in conversations and intervene to get more information.

Cost is $200 for members, $400 for non-members.

Space is limited. Please register by emailing your name, organizational affiliation, and membership status.

More than a Quick Fix: Organizational Change that Sticks — SE MN Workshop 1/23

When changes in strategy, technology, processes, equipment, leadership, and culture are introduced in an organization, they typically impact far more than anyone initially anticipated. As a result, implementation deadlines get pushed out, actual program and project costs are greater and frustration mounts. Quite often, the benefits are never truly realized.

Why does this occur? Most of us are only familiar with how to make change happen one person at a time. But organizational change requires a different set of considerations

The Performance Excellence Network SE Region (formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality) is pleased to welcome Lori Silverman, strategist and the owner of Partners for Progress, to a special workshop January 23 in Rochester: “More Than a Quick Fix: Organizational Change That Sticks.”

In this workshop, you will learn about:

* Four types of organizational change and why they are all a part of every change effort.

* The three core elements of every successful change and what you need to do to put each of them in place.

* A framework for assessing what needs to be incorporated into a project plan from an organizational change viewpoint

* Techniques for heightening commitment and accelerating implementation.

Cost is $200 for members, $400 for non-members.

Space is limited. Please register by emailing your name, organizational affiliation, and membership status.

Strategic Planning for Middle Managers — Minneapolis PEN 12/6

You have a great enterprise strategy that was by senior leaders, who have asked you to deploy it throughout the organization. Now what?

The Performance Excellence Network (formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality) is pleased to welcome Jim Nelson, Quality Assurance Manager at Loram, to our December 6 PEN: “Strategic Planning for Middle Managers.”

Jim will share some tools that managers at all levels can use to align their goals, objectives, and action plans to business/ enterprise-level strategies. Jim will demonstrate how Hoshin Kanri (a planning process and tool) and some basic quality tools can be used to help you and your team translate corporate goals into department/unit-level action.

The discussion is from 8:00-9:00 a.m. on December 6 (networking and continental breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m.) at MCTC, 1501 Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis (near the Basilica).

Admission to PEN is FREE for Council members; $15 for partner organizations; $30 for the public.

Space is limited so register today by emailing

Why Good Employees Underperform — St. Paul PEN 12/12

People are an organization’s greatest asset. Then why is it that oftentimes organizations sub-optimize their greatest resource? When HR works closely with operations in any organization, you can find new levels of productivity and can develop cost-effective solutions that bring maximum value to the business.

The Performance Excellence Network (formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality) is pleased to welcome Rick Swanson, founder of Learning Meets Quality LLC, and current president of MN-ISPI, to our December 12 PEN: “Why Good Employees Underperform.”

Rick will share how the Human Performance Technology (HPT) model can be applied to issues such as new hire training, cycle-time reduction, and safety performance. This PEN meeting is a joint presentation of the MN Chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement (MN-ISPI), a key partner of PEN, and Learning Meets Quality LLC.

The discussion is from 8:00-9:00 a.m. on December 12; networking and continental breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m.) at Metro State University, 700 E 7th Street, downtown St. Paul.

We thank our sponsor, Metropolitan State University, for their support of this session, helping us to keep it complimentary for members.

Admission to PEN is FREE for Council members; $15 for partner organizations; $30 for the public.

Space is limited so register today by emailing

Celebrating Quality in SE Minnesota: 2012 Karl Shurson Awards — SE Minnesota PEN (RAQC) 12/4

For those who knew Karl Shurson, you certainly knew of his passion for quality. It was evident in his conversations with colleagues, employees, customer, friends, and even his family. Karl emphasized the need for continual learning for all employees and saw the benefits of engaging all employees in personal and organizational improvement. In a statement about Karl’s passing, his friend and Pemstar co-founder, Al Berning, remarked: “He was very passionate about quality, customer satisfaction — doing the right thing for the customer — and education.”

The Performance Excellence Network, SE Region, is pleased to celebrate our annual 2012 Karl Shurson Quality Awards December 4. Join us on as we hear from those who worked with Karl, reflecting on some of his success stories, best practices, and philosophies regarding continuous improvement. It’s a day for “Celebrating Quality” in the region, as well as celebrating the 2012 Karl Shurson Quality Award recipients.

Karl Shurson was one of the executives instrumental to leading IBM Rochester to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1990. Karl was among the seven original directors who left IBM Rochester after a 32-year career to start Pemstar in 1994. Shurson served in a variety of roles at the contract manufacturer, but was always one of Pemstar’s main face-to-face contacts for its major customers. Karl’s strong passion for quality, customer service, workforce, and his community is still admired and seen as a best practice. Karl passes away in September 2002, and we honor Karl’s legacy and passion through this annual quality award.

The session is Dec 4 from 7:30-9:00 AM RCTC.

Space is limited. Please register by contacting (or 507-213-8132).

Exploring Best Practices in Process Improvment: A Panel Discussion — Twin Ports PEN 12/19

An estimated 60-75% of improvement initiatives fail to achieve desired results. With so many tools – Lean, Six Sigma, ISO, scorecard, and others – what gives? Why are so many organizations trying to improve but so few actually making sustained gains? Why are improvement methods falling short, and what can organizations do about it?

The Performance Excellence Network (formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality) is pleased to host a panel discussion – exploring best practices and lessons learned from implementing various improvement methods – at December 19 TPPEN discussion.

Panelists will share their insights – what has worked, what has fallen short – in using various improvement tools. We’ll explore Lean, Six Sigma, ISO, Baldrige, balanced scorecard, and others. Panelists to be announced. Come prepared to share, learn, and network with other leaders and professionals also on the journey to excellence.

The session is from 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Dec 19 (networking and continental breakfast begin at 7:00 a.m.) at a location in Duluth TBD. Admission to TPPEN is FREE for Council members and guests ($20 for non-members).

Space is limited so register today by emailing

Four US Organizations Honored with the 2012 Baldrige National Quality Award

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank recently named four U.S. organizations as recipients of the 2012 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. The winners in this, the 25th anniversary year of the award, represent four different sectors, one repeat recipient and a health network recognized for the same honor earned previously by its flagship hospital.

The 2012 Baldrige Award recipients—listed with their category—are:

MESA previously received a Baldrige Award in 2006, also in the small business category. Another 2006 award winner, North Mississippi Medical Center in the health care category, is the primary hospital of this year’s much larger recipient, North Mississippi Health Services.

“The four organizations recognized today with the 2012 Baldrige Award are leaders in the truest sense of the word and role models that others in the health care, nonprofit and business sectors worldwide will strive to emulate,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “They have set the bar high for innovative practices, dynamic management, financial performance, outstanding employee and customer satisfaction, and, most of all, for their unwavering commitment to excellence and proven results.”

This year marks the silver anniversary of both the award and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) that supports it. To date, more than 1,500 U.S. organizations have applied for the Baldrige Award, and there are Baldrige-based award programs in nearly all 50 states. Internationally, the program has served as a model for nearly 100 quality programs. A December 2011 study by Albert N. Link and John T. Scott measuring the Baldrige Program’s value to U.S. organizations conservatively estimated a benefit-to-cost ratio of 820 to 1, while a 2011 report by Thomson Reuters found that health care organizations that have won or been in the final review process for a Baldrige Award outperform other hospitals in all but one metric the company uses to determine its “100 Top Hospitals” in the nation (and were six times more likely to be among the top 100).

The 2012 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from a field of 39 applicants. All of the applicants were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. The evaluation process for each of the recipients included about 1,000 hours of review and an on-site visit by a team of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in the applications.

For the first time this year, Baldrige Award applicants were required to have previously received their state’s performance excellence award (see Another innovation added to the Baldrige Award process in 2012 is ability to recognize best practices in one or more of the Baldrige Criteria categories by organizations that are candidates for the award but are not selected as a winner (see This year, the Baldrige judges have chosen to honor the following organizations (listed with the criteria for which they are being acknowledged):

  • Maury Regional Medical Center, Columbia, Tenn. (strategic planning, workforce focus)
  • Northwest Vista College, San Antonio, Texas (leadership, customer focus)
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Practice, McLean, Va. (leadership, workforce focus)

The 2012 Baldrige Award recipients are expected to be presented with their awards at an April 2013 ceremony in Baltimore, Md.

The BPEP is managed by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in cooperation with the private sector. It also is a partner in the Baldrige Enterprise, which includes the private-sector Baldrige Foundation, the Alliance for Performance Excellence—a body made up of the 33-plus state, local, regional and sector-specific Baldrige-based programs serving nearly all 50 states; and ASQ, an international organization promoting quality. The program raises awareness about the importance of performance excellence in driving the U.S. and global economy; provides organizational assessment tools and criteria; educates leaders in businesses, schools, health care organizations, and government and nonprofit organizations about the practices of national role models; and recognizes them with the Baldrige Award in six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education and nonprofit.

Thousands of organizations worldwide use the Baldrige Criteria to guide their operations, improve performance and get sustainable results. This proven improvement and innovation framework offers organizations an integrated approach to key management areas. The criteria are regularly updated to reflect the leading edge of validated management practice.

The Baldrige Award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 93 organizations have received the award.

For more information, including profiles of the 2012 Baldrige Award recipients, go to

Enhancing the Career Development Discussion — MNODN 1/10

The MNODN, an affiliate partner of the Performance Excellence Network, is pleased to announce its next program: “Enhancing the Career Development Discussion.” The session will be January 10, 5:30-7:00 PM at University of St. Thomas, and will be facilitated by Karen Kodzik, President and Owner of Cultivating Careers.

Time and time again employers get low marks in the area of employee development on employee engagement and satisfaction surveys. Employees state that they often don’t know what their career options are, what development opportunities exist or even how to approach their manager about the topic. Ironically managers often feel equally ill equipped for that discussion and pressured to have all the answers.

This presentation talks about how to equip employees to come to the career development dialogue as an equal partner in the process by understanding and being able to articulate skills, values, interests and goals. It also addresses how to better prepare managers for that dialogue both by creating an open and trusting environment as well as understanding the various resources available to help an employee develop. The goal is to enhance the dialogue so that managers and employees create a sustainable career development plan.

The session is $25 ($20 for Network members, as allied partners). More information at

CEBC Roundtable Focuses on Ethics — CEBC 12/12

An ISO 26000 assessment process is the topic for a roundtable at the Center for Ethical Business Cultures (CEBC) planned for December 12 from 8:00-9:30 AM at University St. Thomas in Minneapolis. One of the center’s sister organizations developed the Business Ethics Assessment Method (BEAM) –based on ISO26000, the guideline on corporate ethics and social responsibility. BEAM helps leaders perform an evidence-based appraisal of their organization. Arnie Weimerskirch, former Vice President of Quality at Honeywell, led development of the process along with T. Dean Maines, President of the Veritas Institute at St Thomas.

To register go to: Or and see “Assessing Your Org’s Progress on ISO26000.”

Hamline University Announces Upcoming Six Sigma Courses; Network Members Receive Discount

Hamline University is offering a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training class, beginning on April 8. Completion of Green Belt training is a prerequisite to attending this class (offered January 28). The cost for Performance Excellence Members is $2200. This is a 27% discount from the regular class price of $3000. Additional details about the class can be found at or by calling (612) 670-7339.

These programs develop in students the skills necessary to solve an organizations most challenging issues, including Customer Satisfaction, Cost Reduction and Complexity Reduction. Achieves a phenomenal Return on Investment (ROI), executing projects with an average ROI of 10x-25x PER PROJECT (many projects achieve a 50x ROI or better). The training approach is equally applicable to Transactional, Service and Manufacturing environments.

For more information on any of these courses or to register, contact Bridget at or 651-523-2650.

South Central College Announces Upcoming Courses; Network Members Get 10% Discount

South Central College is pleased to announce their upcoming quality and performance improvement curriculum. Network members are entitled to a 10% discount.

The following courses are scheduled soon (prices before member discount):

Dec 11-12: Understanding ISO 9001 & Internal Auditor Skills; Mankato, $445

For more information, please contact Laura Hardy at 507-332-5802 or at or Tom Kammer at 507- 389-7336 or

U of M College of Continuing Education Announces Upcoming Courses; Network Members Get 10% Discount

The University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing Education, an alliance partner of the Performance Excellence Network, is pleased to announce their upcoming improvement and business courses. Network members receive a 10% discount on all CCE courses.

December 4, 2012 Negotiate for Agreement

December 6, 2012 Lead Successful Team Intervention Strategies

December 7, 2012 Working Assertively

December 11, 2012 The Human Resource Audit

December 11, 2012 Implementing Process Change

December 14, 2012 Writing for the Web

Most courses are 9AM-4PM on the St. Paul Campus.

For more information on any of these courses or a complete listing of coursework, visit the University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing Education’s website at or call 612-624-4000.