Message from the Chair May 2019
Marc D. Berson, CSSBB, PMP
Chairman of ASQ Government Division
The ASQ Government Division’s theme this year is “For sustainable change in Government … lead with meaningful performance measurement!” This is an extension of the theme, “Leading Change”, from ASQ’s 2019 World Conference for Quality and Improvement (WCQI).
The adjectives, sustainable and meaningful, in the Division’s theme are essential to conveying our main point. Without these two words, the theme would be short-term-focused. And this is a common problem in Government – fighting fires, reactive versus proactive, frequent leadership changes, reprioritizing goals based on incomplete information, etc. – all of which becomes an obstacle to thoughtful strategic planning, decision-making based on facts, efficient use of limited resources, and more rapid advancement for the common good of our citizens and communities. These require a continuous and long-term trajectory.
Hence the terms, sustainable and meaningful. Once we make a positive change in Government, we also need to build the supporting structures (e.g., governance, business processes, metrics, automation, funding, SOPs, repeatable practices, organization, training, etc.) to make the change sustainable over the long term. And we really know whether the change stuck if it’s carried forward even if leadership changes.
Furthermore, meaningful, to me, implies forward-thinking and a desire to acquire insight for a specific purpose. It’s one thing to create a performance measure that tracks what’s going on and to report on it – it’s quite another to create a performance measure with the specific intention of using it to learn and identify an opportunity for improvement. In the latter case, it often requires asking different questions … like, “What do we need to know that will help us improve?” or “What data are we not collecting that we should be?” These kinds of questions enable us to design more focused and useful performance measures, with the intent of taking an action toward change.
In other words, our work is not over once we have collected performance measure results. If we stop at this point, we may be missing the primary purpose of collecting performance data – to allow the data to lead us toward fact-based changes. If we use the data for this purpose, and repeat that process again and again, then we are beginning to embrace continuous performance improvement. And if we can build this concept into the culture of the organization where leaders and employees deeply care about improving quality and performance in any area they can, then you have established a burning pursuit for performance excellence!
Evidence of Government Pursuing Quality and Performance Excellence
Some Government organizations have specifically chosen this journey to pursue performance excellence, evidenced by public sector National Baldrige Award recipients, such as Tri County Tech Public School, OK (2018); City of Fort Collins, CO (2017); Pewaukee School District, WI (2013); City of Irving, TX (2012); Montgomery County Schools, MD (2010); Veterans Affairs CSP (2009); Iredell-Statesville Schools, NC (2008); City of Coral Springs, FL (2007); and US Army ARDEC (2007); Jenks Public Schools, OK (2005); Community Consolidated School Dist 15, Illinois (2003); Chugach School District, Alaska (2001); and Pearl River School District, NY (2001). There are many state-level Baldrige Award recipients in the public sector as well.
In addition, there are countless other examples of Governments implementing noteworthy programs that are aimed at improving performance, quality, efficiency and service delivery. Here are some:
- City of Tyler, Texas – Performance Excellence Program (PEP) (http://www.cityoftyler.org/Departments/CityManagersOffice/PerformanceExcellenceProgram.aspx)
- Louisville, Kentucky - Performance Improvement & Innovation (https://louisvilleky.gov/government/performance-improvement/performance-improvement-system)
- County of Ventura, California – Service Excellence Program (https://vcportal.ventura.org/CEO/service-excellence/docs/Program_Overview.pdf)
- King County, Washington – Continuous Improvement Team (https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/executive/performance-strategy-budget/lean.aspx)
- Illinois - Operational Excellence “Rapid Results” Program (https://www2.illinois.gov/advancing-illinois/Pages/AttackingWasteDollarsEffectChange.aspx)
- Minnesota – Office of Continuous Improvement (https://mn.gov/admin/continuous-improvement/)
- Ohio - LeanOhio Program (http://lean.ohio.gov/Results.aspx)
- Arizona – Arizona Management System (AMS), Lean and People Systems (https://ams.az.gov/ams-lean-and-people-systems)
- Colorado - Lean Everyday Ideas (https://www.codot.gov/business/process-improvement/local-lean)
- Washington – ResultsWashington Program (https://www.results.wa.gov/lean/agency-list)
- Wisconsin – Lean Government Program (https://lean.wi.gov/Pages/Results/Metrics.aspx)
- New Brunswick, Canada - Performance Excellence Process (https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/executive_council/excellence.html)
- New Zealand - Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) (http://www.ssc.govt.nz/performance-improvement-framework)
A greater number of public sector entities are establishing governance structures (e.g., Centers of Excellence, Offices of Performance Improvement, Sustainable Solutions Offices, etc.) to lead quality and performance improvement initiatives. The Government Division is a strong advocate for such governance models as well as the appointment of a Chief Performance Officer (or equivalent position) who would have responsibility to lead these initiatives. The Division also encourages Governments to improve how and how often they “tell the story” of successes and lessons learned to motivate others to take action – adopting a strategic, thoughtful, and comprehensive communications plan.
The Government Division’s Role in Supporting Champions of Change
All of this brings me to where I see the ASQ Government Division’s role in offering support to champions of change, whether they are elected officials, organization leaders, policy-makers, government employees, consultants or other non-profit entities. First, we are a growing community of practitioners who are either in Government or work with Government organizations, and intimately understand the challenges that the public sector faces. As quality professionals, industrial engineers, management analysts, process improvement experts, university professors, public servants of all kinds, we know that Government can function more efficiently and effectively for its citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders. There is clear evidence of this presented above – Government is doing great things in several places. Yet, there is still plenty of room for improvement throughout the public sector.
Over the years, the Government Division has continued to become more ambitious with a greater appetite for making a difference. For the 2019 calendar year, we established 13 distinct objectives with 17 primary action items, all of which align to our mission of supporting quality and performance improvement champions of change. Fortunately, the Government Division Leadership Council (GDLC) has also grown in size; however, we are always in need of additional volunteers (so if you are interested in joining us, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Based on our 2019 goals and objectives, I have assembled highlights (below) of what we have accomplished thus far this year and what we are still expecting to work on as we approach 2020.
- Sharing Success Stories, Lessons Learned, and Best Practices – As of January 2019, we have held a webinar at the beginning of every month on timely, relevant, and useful topics. We have presenters booked on upcoming webinars through September. There has been no shortage of topics, speakers, or attendees to listen! Also, as of January, we have substantially increased the frequency of our e-Blasts that contain articles and announcements. Our goal with webinars and e-Blasts was to boost the number of times we connected with our members. If you wish to write an article for the newsletter, please reach out to Bonnie Gaughan-Bailey at Bgaughanbailey@hotmail.com. If you wish to conduct a webinar, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
- Raising Awareness of ASQ and the Government Division – As we announced our webinars on various social media outlets, we ended up with an extra benefit – we were inviting prospective ASQ members also, and raising their awareness and interest in ASQ and the Government Division. Also, in 2018, we had exhibited a booth at several non-ASQ conferences to promote ASQ and the Division, and we are evaluating these events to determine whether we will repeat this initiative and which conferences we will sponsor. We have also been working on a promotional video that will be made available on the Government Division website.
- Migrating the Government Division Website to the New MyASQ Format – We have had a team working diligently on moving material and composing content to get prepared for launching the Division’s new website using the MyASQ format. The new format offers members and non-members a much more user-friendly experience while navigating the ASQ and Government Division webpages.
- Forging Stronger Relationship with Enterprise Members – We have been working closely with ASQ HQ leaders on ways to increase the Division’s ability to connect with individuals who are part of enterprise or organizational memberships, and who also have an interest in Government. One of our goals is that all such individuals have access to the same webinars, e-Blasts, and materials that other Division members receive.
- Seeking an Understanding of our Customers – We are continuing to pursue two important action items, both of which we expect, will help us gain insight into the needs and desires of our stakeholders: (1) the development and dissemination of a comprehensive web-based survey and (2) the sponsorship of a Government Performance Excellence Forum. Both of these action items will be discussed in detail during the annual Government Division Strategy Session in late May.
- Developing a New ASQ Standard - The Division published a set of three prototype standards for evaluating government processes and systems in 2016, and has been working with Federal, State and Local government representatives since that time to increase understanding and gain support for their use. These include a process management standard, a system management standard, and an aligned leadership objectives standard. Together these three standards provide an objective and uniform framework for evaluating quality practices and the pursuit of performance improvements in government organizations. The Division is now planning to submit a Technical Report for possible ASQ adoption and would like to evaluate the option of moving towards an ANSI standard. This is a unique effort which not only looks comprehensively at government organizations, but also their maturity, quality-orientation, efficiency and effectiveness for achieving desired results. If you would like to volunteer as a team member to draft the document, please contact Rich Mallory at firstname.lastname@example.org or Christena Shepherd at email@example.com.
is the Chairman of the American Society of Quality’s (ASQ) Government Division and a Senior Member of ASQ. He is also the President of Practical Management Envisioneering (PME) LLC, and is serving as a 2019 National Baldrige Performance Excellence Examiner. Mr. Berson has over 30 years of experience supporting Federal, State and Local Governments as a program director, practitioner, advisor and instructor for performance measurement and improvement; performance metrics development; quality assurance and control; industrial and management engineering, business process reengineering; lean six sigma (LSS); organizational efficiency, redesign and restructuring; workforce planning, analysis and modeling; multi-sector sourcing options; and acquisition. He has worked with many Government agencies such as: Dept. of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Federal Aviation Administration, Dept. of Energy, State Dept., Internal Revenue Service, Texas State Government, Howard County Government, Frederick County Government, Prince George’s County Public Schools, etc. Mr. Berson is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) and Project Management Professional (PMP). He has a Masters of Engineering Administration from Virginia Tech and a BS in Commerce and Engineering from Drexel University.