Saturday, April 29, 2006

Optimizing The Value of The Human Side of Organizations: The FACES Model

Managing human capital in an environment characterized by down-sizing, right-sizing, reengineering, technological innovation, and global competition is increasingly challenging for organizations. An effective strategy for managing the internal attributes of an organization must rely heavily on the capabilities of people to provide a competitive edge. Barney (1995) describes four internal attributes important to an organization’s ability to develop, manage and deliver products and services: physical, financial, organizational, and human. Of these, the human element is the cornerstone of the internal resources of an organization, and effective management of this element can make or break a business or other entity.

Enhancing the effectiveness of people in organizations requires consideration of a number of factors. The purpose of this article is to summarize relevant recent literature related to these dimensions, and present a conceptual model for effective management of the human element of the organization. The dimensions are summarized into five categories: fit, attitudes, compensation, empowerment, and selection (FACES). Components of the FACES model are:

1. Fit - matching an employee’s attributes to an appropriate employment climate, often
known as person-organization fit.
2. Attitudes - recognizing the importance of employee attitudes and satisfaction with the employment environment.
3 Compensation - considerations of effective compensation and performance management systems.
4. Empowerment - elements of employee success, development and wellness.
5. Selection - effective methods for selecting appropriate employees.

Matching people with appropriate organizations has a number of positive benefits. Perhaps the most important effects derived from matching individuals to the organization’s environment were determined through a study by Bretz and Judge (1994). Their study found that person-organization fit accounted for statistically significant increases in both tenure (up to 11 percent of the variance) and job satisfaction (up to 32 percent of the variance).

Rynes and Gerhart (1990) found that interviewers rate applicants differently on general versus firm-specific criteria. Interrater reliability was higher for firm-specific criteria than for general employability criteria, suggesting that interviewers in the same organization share common ideas about applicant-organization fit. This research was confirmed by Adkins, Russell and Werbel (1994), who also found that recruiters perceptions of person-organization fit are distinct from those of general employability. Adkins, et al. (1994) noted that higher person-organization fit ratings were associated with similarities in work values between recruiter and applicant.
Barrett (1995) examined person-environment congruence as measured by the Performance Priority Survey (PPS). This survey requires supervisors and subordinates to indicate priorities for behaviors important to the subordinate’s job. Correlations between scale values are assigned to assess the degree of congruence between supervisor and subordinate scores in two areas: applicant-supervisor pairs and applicant-organization congruence.

The author hypothesized that significant agreement between subordinate and supervisor would predict the supervisor’s satisfaction with the employee. Also, “high agreement between the applicant and organizational climate would lead to the prediction that the applicant would fit the organization” (p.658).

Barrett (1995) analyzed three studies which utilized the PPS to determine correlations of agreement scores and applicant-supervisor and applicant-organization fit. Analysis of the agreement ratings through various jobs and organizations revealed a moderate positive correlation between agreement scores and supervisor ratings of subordinates, and to a lesser degree subordinates’ rankings of supervisors.

Correlations between agreement scores of subordinates with averaged supervisor scores, postulated to be representative of organizational climate, indicated that agreement scores correlated with supervisor performance ratings. This correlation showed predictive validity for organizations with which the employee had no prior contact and for organizations with which the employee was familiar.

Employers should note that recruiters apparently distinguish between general employability of an applicant and an applicant’s suitability for a particular organizational environment. Given the associations between person-organization fit and tenure and satisfaction, employers should consider congruence between applicant and organization.

A recent survey by Hewitt Associates, LLC, found that, of 46,500 employees from 38 companies, 74 percent reported general satisfaction with their work, (“How satisfied”, 1997). The work itself and people/coworkers received the highest satisfaction ratings, with advancement opportunities, recognition and pay issues ranked the lowest.
Issues related to employee attitudes and satisfaction are important to the assessment of how human resources management and planning contribute to performance objectives (Morris, 1995). Morris (1995) recognizes seven elements related to employee satisfaction.

1. The job itself - including content, variety, training.
2. Supervisor relationships - related to respect, recognition, feedback and fairness in evaluation.
3. Management beliefs - related to trust, information sharing, and valuing employees.
4. Opportunity - for career advancement and job security.
5. Work environment - physical facilities, availability of resources.
6. Pay, benefits, rewards - compensation and rewards.
7. Co-worker relationships - cooperation, teamwork, communications.

These categories are evidenced in the Hewitt Associates survey results. Lieber (1998)summarizes the components needed for high levels of satisfaction into only three categories: inspiring leadership, great facilities, and a sense of purpose for employees.
Chase (1996) claims that even reengineering, done properly, can result in improvement in employee attitudes and satisfaction. Chase (1996) indicates that reengineering efforts related to processes benefit from employee input, and that input can be encouraged in a non-threatening (e.g. no job reductions) manner.

Further, involvement of people in studying processes can result in increased levels of trust.
Discussion of person-environment fit indicated possible connections between a match between employee and organization and job satisfaction. This relationship was explored by research conducted by Sims and Kroeck (1994)in terms of the ethical climate of a firm. They found that employees choose to work for companies that have ethical climates similar to that expressed by their preferences, that this similarity was negatively associated with turnover intentions, and that similarity increased organizational commitment. The relationship between ethical climate and job satisfaction was not statistically significant. However, both organizational commitment and negative turnover intentions imply some degree of satisfaction.

A study of the impact of leadership styles on employee attitudes was conducted by Savery (1993). This research investigated the connection between closeness of fit between perceived and desired leadership styles and job satisfaction. Additionally, it was hypothesized that perceived democratic leadership would have a positive impact on job satisfaction. This study confirmed that smaller differences (or dissonance) between perceived and desired leadership styles correlated with greater job satisfaction. However, perceptions of democratic leadership style did not necessarily lead to increased job satisfaction. In sum, the actual leadership style is less important to job satisfaction than the congruence between perceived and preferred styles (Savery, 1993).

The practical upshot of job satisfaction and positive employee attitudes is that in addition to the benefits realized by employees, organizations benefit from higher perceptions of customer service. Schmit & Allscheid (1995) simultaneously studied samples of both employee attitudes and the company’s customers’ perceptions of quality service. The results indicated that there was a relationship between positive employee attitudes and perceptions of customer service.

Although workers generally report that having an interesting and meaningful job is the main key to job satisfaction, good compensation and rewards systems and meaningful performance management processes can enhance employer-employee relationships. Accordingly, inequitable or ineffective systems can result in reduced levels of satisfaction.
Compensation and Rewards.

Compensation is affected by both external and internal factors (Sherman & Bohlander, 1992). External factors include labor market conditions, local wage rates, collective bargaining efforts and governmental regulation. Internal factors include the employer’s ability to pay, worth of the job, and the value of an employee’s relative contribution. Also important to compensation systems are fringe benefits. Fringe benefits often add 25 to 30 percent to compensation costs, over and above base salaries (Penson, 1995).

Compensation plans traditionally have been formal plans rooted in job hierarchy and individual performance, controlled by a bureaucratic human resources function. Recent trends indicate a shift, to more flexible models focusing on team and organizational performance, with control of compensation decisions fixed more with line managers and even workers (Risher, 1997). Risher (1997) notes that the structure of organizations is becoming more team oriented, resulting in the need to compensate individuals to some extent based upon their contributions to achieving team and organizational goals.

Compensation systems have not kept pace with organizational structures that utilize more work teams. In a recent survey, 87 percent of responding companies reported use of work teams, but only 41 percent offered some form of team-based compensation (“Paying for teamwork”, 1997). While few advocate dropping all considerations of individual employee performance in compensation decisions, the importance of team achievements should not be overlooked. It is also important to assure that emphasis on team performance is not undermined by the rewards system. For example, it would be difficult to focus employee efforts on team achievements if a piece-work incentive is in place (“Paying for teamwork”, 1997).

As reengineering efforts have revised work processes, organization structure has become flatter and more work teams are utilized (Flynn, 1996). Compensation and rewards systems need to be reviewed in light of these developments. Broadbanding is an attempt to increase flexibility in compensation plans in order to deal with compensation issues based upon team and productivity issues. Broadbanding is an infrastructure concept which allows compensation schemes to incorporate elements other than pay grades or ranges in determining pay and bonuses (Schuster & Zingheim, 1996). Essentially, broadbanding allows pay ranges to vary more so that compensation can include incentives other than those related strictly to individual performance. Advantages include reducing the hierarchical pay grade focus, providing more flexibility in determining employee rewards, and giving managers more power and latitude in compensation-related decisions (Flynn, 1996).

Contributions to productivity by individuals and teams are recognized through gainsharing (Jackson & Roper, 1996). Gainsharing provides compensation based on operational, financial or team performance (Masternak, 1997). Masternak (1997) studied 17 facilities involved in gainsharing plans. He suggests several elements that contribute to an effective gainsharing plan:

1. Each organization should customize gainsharing plans according to the nature of individual plants, locations, or business units.

2. Structured employee participation is necessary, particularly in developing fair and achievable performance baselines and goals.
3. Regular communication of performance goals and gainsharing results.
4. Provide individual, team and organizational recognition to promote the gainsharing plan and maintain employee focus.
5. Support the gainsharing plan by providing employees the resources for success, including training.
6. Payments related to productivity should become significant over time, and distributed frequently in order to sustain momentum.
7. Maintain organization-wide commitment to the plan.

Changes in the nature of relationships between suppliers and customers have provided the basis for other trends in compensation, especially in sales. Many customers have shifted their purchasing strategy from one of low initial cost to one that considers the total value (including quality and service issues in addition to costs) of the product to the customer (O’Connell & Marchese, 1995).

This trend has resulted in many firms reducing their number of supplier relationships drastically, which has resulted in pressures to reward salespersons appropriately for retaining customers, not just acquiring new business. This has led firms to develop life cycle compensation systems to help retain sales representatives (and their established client bases) throughout their entire careers. These new plans include awarding bonuses for accounts retained and contracts renewed, and recurring payments in consideration of multi-year sales results.
Another recent trend involves increased flexibility in employee benefit choices and administration. Owens-Corning, for example, has reduced the fixed level of guaranteed benefits in favor of employee credits. These credits can be used to purchase traditional fringe benefits, as well as other rewards such as time off or even additional money (McCafferty, 1996).

Performance Management
In order for employees to be accountable and rewarded for performance it is necessary to develop individual and team performance objectives, determine reward structures, and provide clear feedback of performance results (Jones, 1996). According to Sherman and Bohlander (1992), a performance management system has four objectives:

1.To allow employees to discuss performance issues and standards with supervisors on a regular basis.
2.To allow supervisors to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of employee performance.
3.To provide a mechanism for developing individual performance improvement programs.
4.To provide a basis for compensation decisions.
Additionally, regular performance appraisal serves as a means of documenting performance which can serve as a basis for disciplinary decisions, thereby providing notice to employees as part of due process. One positive result of good performance measurement is that it can provide insight into training needs to support an organizational development plan.
The predominant trends in compensation, rewards and performance management relate to individual and team incentives. Many organizations have flatter structures due to reduction in organizational layers and other elements of bureaucracy (Flynn, 1996). Compensation based upon individual, team, and organizational performance is gaining acceptance. Managers have assumed more responsibility for compensation administration and pay decisions (Flynn, 1996). Elements of employee responsibility for the success or failure of their employers is becoming a focus of compensation, rewards and performance management.

Recent trends toward flatter organizational structures and use of work teams have resulted in increased pressures on employees in terms of both performance and decision making. In order to succeed in this environment, employees must have the knowledge and resources, and organizations must empower employees through training, development and concern for their wellness.

Training is a particularly important component of the development and learning process. Nadler and Nadler (1994) have developed the Critical Events Model (CEM), an open systems model designed for the systematic implementation of training and learning programs. Implementation of the CEM is a sequential process which includes the following components:

1.Identifying the needs of the organization. This involves discussions with managers and other diagnostic efforts to determine the goals and objectives of the training. The diagnosis is followed by evaluation and feedback.
2.Specify job performance. Discussions with first line supervisors and employees helps determine job performance in terms of quality and quantity.
3.Identify learner needs. This involves analysis of the gap in knowledge, skills or abilities to be addresses by the training in order to achieve the desired level of performance.
4.Determine objectives. The specific measurable objectives are derived from analysis up to this point in the process.
5.Build curriculum and select instructional strategies. This involves determining the content of the training and the methods of delivery. Choices for delivery techniques include general to specific, specific to general, and concrete to abstract concept techniques.
6.Obtain instructional resources. This includes development of reference materials, physical space and scheduling considerations.
7.Conduct the training. An opening meeting is conducted, reference materials are distributed, and the training schedule is begun.
8.Evaluation and feedback. Both during training, to correct for any weaknesses determined in the process, and at the conclusion of training, to determine its effectiveness.
Organizational Development.

In addition to training efforts, which generally provide process-related instruction, organizational development interventions are used to improve the social functioning of organizations, using behavioral science techniques applied to organizational processes. They focus on interactions among people within organization, with the goal of increasing organizational effectiveness and health (Hodge, et al., 1996).
Organizational development can target both the structural and process dimensions of an organization (Theodore, 1996). The support for planned organizational change must come from top management, but in order to be effective, change has to affect all employees involved. The components of organizational development may include gathering information from workers and providing feedback, study of organizational processes, team building, and various types of training (Hodge, et al., 1996).

Neuman, Edwards and Raju (1989) conducted a meta-analysis of organizational development interventions to determine their effects on satisfaction and attitudes. This analysis divided organizational development interventions into three categories: human processes, techno-structural, and multi-faceted interventions.
Human processes organizational development interventions include laboratory training, participation in decision making, goal setting, team building, grid OD, survey feedback techniques, and management by objectives. Techno-structural interventions include job redesign, job enlargement, job enrichment, and flextime. Multi-faceted interventions use combinations of intervention techniques.

Multi-faceted interventions proved to have greater impact in modifying satisfaction and attitudes than any single technique. Of the individual interventions, team building and lab training had the greatest impact on changing attitudes and satisfaction. Overall, the authors concluded that organizational development appears to affect attitudes more than satisfaction (Neuman, et al., 1989).

Management development is another key element of the empowerment and development process. The development of management competencies required for implementing strategic change and enhancing the understanding of competition is the focus of Holistic management (Wilson, 1994). According to Wilson (1994), this is accomplished by emphasizing “functional relationships between the organization’s parts and the whole” (p. 12).

Holistic management involves both quality systems and human resources; both the way individuals work and the way they are trained (Hoare, 1995). Successful implementation of strategies through the holistic approach requires a shared vision communicated throughout the organization, communicated through a strategic plan which has been endorsed by top management (Wilson, 1994).

Employee Health and Wellness
The American Institute of Stress estimates that illnesses related to stress cost the American economy $150 billion per year in terms of lost productivity and health costs (Minter, 1991). A recent survey by Harris Research found that of 5,400 adults in 16 countries, 54 percent reported that the leading cause of stress was work (Romano, 1995). Job and career path uncertainty is the top cause of workplace stress, but other factors such as poor communications and perceptions of workload inequity contribute as well (Minter, 1991).

Holmes and Rahe (1967) defined “stress” or “stressor” as any environmental, social, or internal demand which requires the individual to readjust his or her usual behavior patterns. Stressors related to organizations include factors intrinsic to the job, organizational structure and control, reward systems, and leader relationships (Ivancevich & Matteson, 1987).

Research over the past few decades has linked personality to stress-related illnesses, especially coronary heart disease. The “Type A” behaviors associated with susceptibility to stress-related illnesses include hard-driving, competitive, aggressive, hostile, and time-urgent behaviors (Ivancevich & Matteson, 1987).

Addressing the problems of workplace stress, including those exacerbated by Type A personality factors requires a concerted effort. Dewe (1994) suggests that many stress interventions fail because they offer only a partial solution or place the burden for change on the individual. Dewe (1994) suggests a three-level approach to the problem:

1. Primary interventions - reduce organizational-level stressors such as poor communications, role ambiguity, poor leader relationships, and red tape.
2. Secondary interventions - equip individuals to better cope with stress through relaxation training, meditation, biofeedback, cognitive restructuring, and exercise.
3. Tertiary interventions - assist individuals who have stress-related illnesses through Employee Assistance Programs and wellness programs.
Maintaining the health and well-being of employees is critical to productivity and employee satisfaction. Given the costs associated with this problem, both in terms of financial and human capital, employers must be pro-active in dealing with these issues.

Managing human capital involves a great deal of emphasis on selecting the right employees for the organization and for specific jobs. Effective employee selection is important, as the cost of replacing an employee is estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor to cost an employer one-third of an employee’s salary to acquire a replacement (White, 1995). Employee selection methods include employment interviews, assessment centers, realistic job previews, and the use of a variety of test instruments.

Employment interviews are the most widely used method of assessment, but their reliability is suspect, as they rarely show correlations with performance greater than .20 (Lane, 1992). However, Pulakos and Schmidt (1995) found that experience-based interviews derived from thorough job analysis found correlations with supervisory ratings as high as .32, indicating that this type interview can be a good predictor of performance.

Assessment centers utilize a variety of methods to judge performance, including in-basket exercises, leaderless group sessions, often complemented by cognitive ability and personality tests. According to Dulewicz (1991), assessment centers are the best predictors of future performance of all generally researched assessment tools, and can provide correlations with performance as high as .43 (Lane, 1992). Although considered rather costly, assessment centers have the advantage of showing little adverse impact on any protected group (Lane, 1992). Determining key competencies through job analysis and thorough training of assessors improves the validity of assessment center ratings (Dulewicz, 1991).

Realistic job previews are used by organizations to provide potential employees a balanced picture of the positive and negative aspects of the jobs they are seeking. The use of realistic job previews has been demonstrated to have a positive impact on job satisfaction and to be negatively correlated with turnover (Collari & Stumpf, 1995).

One author estimates that 5,000 to 6,000 employers use personality tests as part of their hiring processes (O’Meara, 1994). Research suggests that personality tests can be better predictors of job performance if the factors that comprise effective performance in a specific job are clearly understood, and even then, should be used to complement other methods and not as a stand-alone selection tool (Adler, 1994).

Barrick and Mount (1991) classified results from 117 criterion-related personality studies into personality dimensions according to Norman’s “big five” taxonomy. The “big five” personality dimensions are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness to Experience.

Analysis across occupational categories revealed that Extraversion was positively correlated with performance in management and sales jobs, ones which involve good interpersonal skills. Agreeableness was expected to be positively correlated with performance in management and sales, but very little support was found for this hypothesis.

The Emotional Stability dimension was expected to predict success across all occupational groups, but actual correlations were, in fact, mixed (even negative for management jobs). The most consistent predictor of performance across occupational types was the Conscientiousness dimension. The authors found that the Openness to Experience and Extraversion dimensions were associated with training proficiency.

In order to use personality factors in the selection process to predict performance, it is necessary to choose an instrument. Employers must be concerned whether an ostensibly neutral employment practice such as personality testing can be shown to have an adverse impact on a protected group or invade privacy, (O’Meara, 1994).

The FACES model provides a framework for enhancing the effectiveness of people in organizations. Employee-organization fit, employee attitudes, effective compensation and performance management systems, employee empowerment, and effective selection methods are components of the internal organizational environment which, if optimized, contribute to achieving this goal.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Leadership Styles & Patterns: A Sociocultural perspective

Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. There are normally three styles of leadership :
  • Authoritarian or autocratic
  • Participative or democratic
  • Delegative or Free Reign

Each of the above styles reflect on the the leader/followers relationships as follows:

Socio-Emotional versus Task- These two styles of leadership represent extreme forms. Most leaders tend to exhibit behaviors from both styles. Some leaders are actually high on both Task leadership and Socio-emotional leadership (combination style). However most leader favor one of these types.

  • Task Leaders- Task leaders are generally concerned with completion of tasks, accomplishment of goals, and the general effectiveness of the work group. Leaders utilizing this particular leadership style are often referred to as directive leaders. They use conditional reinforcement as a management tool. This means they tend to base rewards on performance of tasks, they differentiate among workers based on their relative contribution to the group. They also tend to show more support for given employees when these employees or group members achieve goals. Task leaders also emphasize deadlines, structure tasks, set and maintain definite standards for performance, enforce standardized procedures and generally insure that subordinates work up to capacity. Employee motivation to perform and behavioral change, rather than employee satisfaction is emphasized by the task leader. Task or directive leaders tend to specify not only desired outcomes, but desired means (behaviors) to achieve these outcomes or goals as well. Behaviors and perceptions of task leader include:

  • Main concern appears to accomplishment of group goals

  • Often appears to followers as "company man/women"

  • Solves problems by telling follows how to change their behavior

  • Rewards good performance or disciplines unacceptable behavior.

  • Meeting group goals even at the expense of individual group members

  • Socio-Emotional Leaders (Relationship Building)- Socio-emotional leaders are generally more supportive and accepting of subordinates. They tend to look out for show concern for the welfare of their subordinates. They use unconditional reinforcement, by acceptance of employees and recognition of their worth independent of task performance and goal attainment. This often comes at the expense of corrective action in that socio-emotional leader often withhold criticism, fail to point out errors, or fail to attribute blame or responsibility for poor group performance to employees or group members. They work to build up and affirm the self concept of their subordinates and group members. Employee satisfaction and the building of relationships is the dominate concern of the task leader. The socio-emotional leader's primary objective to the maintenance of a high quality relationship with group members. Building trust is the key to a high quality relationship. Relationship building behaviors include:

  • Supporting (showing acceptance, positive regard, and concern for the needs of others)

  • Making the followers feel that they are important to the success of the team

  • Bolstering the person's self concept through positive feedback and recognition of skills and worth

  • Providing assistance and guidance when needed

  • Taking time to listen to the followers' problems and showing empathy

  • Be willing to help solve followers' problems

  • Developing (increasing skills and facilitating adjustment)

  • Coaching- helping followers to analyze there own performance and skills

  • Mentoring- showing concern for the development of the followers, promoting person's reputation

  • Career development- developing skills for future jobs

  • Recognizing

  • Recognizing significant achievements, important contributions, and high effort

  • Showing true appreciation

  • Empowering followers

  • Seeking advice from followers

  • Conflict Management

  • Keep conflict de-personalized

  • Attempting to develop win-win solutions

  • Recognizing the interests and points of view of followers by the development of shared objectives

  • Combination (Task & Socio-Emotional)- This style is difficult in that it involves the use a high level of interpersonal or emotional intelligence skills. The combination leader works to accomplish group goals by making you effective and recognizing your value. To improve the group's performance, she or he is likely to involve you in the improvement process and involve you in self-diagnosis of your own contribution. You are likely to feel secure in your job and valued. Many times the difference is subtle and determined by the leader's skill in communicating lower than desired performance. Most task leaders make you believe that all they care about is the job that you do. Those who are characterized more as combination leaders also create the perception that they are concerned that you do the job well (company goals), but they are also concerned with you and your development. The combination style is very difficult, but by keeping the focus on group success and using the skills and abilities of followers to solve problems (rather than simply telling them what they did wrong) to make follows feel a part of and proud of that success, leaders approach this style.

Autocratic versus Participative Leaders- The seven basic level of participation are listed and described below. While leaders may use an number of these approaches to problem solving, they tend to have a dominate approach which they use most often
AI: Autocratic or directive style of problem solving. The leader defines problem, diagnoses problem, generates, evaluates and choose among alternative solutions.
AII: Autocratic with group information input. The leader defines the problem. Although the leader diagnoses the cause of the problem, the leader may use the group as an information source in obtaining data to determine cause. Using his or her list of potential solutions, the leader may once again obtain data from the group in evaluation of these alternatives and make a choice among them.
AIII: Autocratic with group's review and feedback. The leader defines the problem, diagnoses its causes, and selects a solution. The leader then presents his or her plan to the group for understanding, review, and feedback
CI: Individual Consultative Style. The leader defines the problem and share this definition with individual members of the work group. The leader solicits ideas regarding problem causes and potential solutions. The leader may also use these individuals expertise in evaluation of alternative solutions. Once this information is obtained, the leader makes the choice of which alternative solution to implement.
CII: Group Consultative Style. Same as CI, except the leader shares his or her definition of the problem with the group as a whole.
GI: Group Decision Style. Leader shares his or her definition of the problem with the work group. The group them proceeds to diagnose the causes of the problem. Following diagnosis, the group generates, evaluates, and chooses among solutions.
GII: Participative Style. The group as a whole proceeds through the entire decision making process. The group defines the problem and performs all other functions as a group. The role of the leader is that of process facilitator.

The follwoing diagram should illustrate the how the level of subordinates maturity impacts how often a leader will interfer with his people work, and the extent of delegation he/she is going to give:

Transformational Versus Transactional Leadership

  • Transactional Leaders- Transactional leaders views the leader-follower relationship as a process of exchange. They tend to gain compliance by offering rewards performance and compliance or threatening punishment for non performance and non compliance. The transactional leader tends to use compliance approaches 1-5 listed below, in that they attempt to tap the intrinsic process and instrumental sources of motivation.
  • Transformational Leaders- Transformational leaders, in contrast, are more visionary and inspirational in approach. They tend to communicate a clear and acceptable vision and goals, with which employees can identify and tend to engender intense emotion in their followers. Transformational leaders use compliance approaches 6-10 below in that they attempt to tap the self concept and goal identification sources of motivation. Rather than exchanging rewards for performance, transformational leaders attempt to build ownership on the part of group members, by involving the group in the decision process. When transformational leaders are success, they are able to move followers from external to internal control, that is, the desired behaviors or behavioral patterns become internalized rather than being driven through extrinsic exchange. When the behavior becomes internalized, the leader need to monitor employee behavior is greatly reduced. Transformational leaders facilitate this transition from external to internal control by:
  • Changing the mental models of employees
  • Linking desired outcomes to values held by employees
  • Creating employee ownership in outcomes so that positive outcomes validate the self concept of employees.
  • Building strong employee identification with the group or organization.

Compliance: Influence Zones
Every directive, request or command issued by a leader is not the same in the eyes of the employee. Some request involve behaviors the employee would do on his or her own, while directive would not be carried out under any circumstances. Below is a model that describes the degree of resistance a leader would encounter to various requests. The lower down on the list, the greater the resistance. The greater resistance, the more power the leader must have in relation to target to insure compliance.

  1. Preference Zone- Behaviors in the preference zone are those behaviors and activities the target actually enjoys doing and would probably do with any request.
  2. Indifference Zone- These behaviors represent activities for which the target has no preference and is indifferent to. For example, if an employee really does not care if she is assigned to the Boston office or the Providence office, this decision would lie in the indifference zone.
  3. Legitimate Zone- These are behaviors which the target would rather not do but recognizes that it his or her responsibility, as an employee to do when asked. The represent what is called Adequate Role Behavior, which defines the lower limits of acceptance work performance.
  4. Influence Zone- Behaviors in the influence zone represent tasks and activities which the target views as outside his or her normal work duties and responsibilities. To carry out these directives would mean going beyond job requirements and as such are terms Extra Role Behaviors. While the individual perceives these activities as extra roles, he or she can be motivated to perform if the proper source of motivation is tapped by the leader.
  5. Non-Influence Zone- These are behaviors in which the target would not engage under any work related circumstances.

Compliance: Influence Approaches
How does a leader get compliance to a request or directive?

  1. Enjoyment- The leader attempts to convince the target of the enjoyment he or she will experience along with compliance.
  2. Coercion- The leader uses or implies threats, frequent checking
  3. Reward- The leader offers favors, benefits, or future rewards for compliance
  4. Legitimate- The leader seeks to establish legitimacy of request by claiming the authority or the right to make it, or by verifying that it is consistent with organizational policies, rule or practices
  5. Reciprocity- The leader appeals based on feeling of debt (based on past favors) to the leader
  6. Expertise- The leader bases appeal on his/her expertise
  7. Loyalty or Identification with leader- The leader appeals to feelings of loyalty and friendship toward the leader
  8. Appeal or challenge to traits- The leader appeals to the individuals traits such team player, hard worker, or risk taker to gain compliance.
  9. Appeal to Values- The leader appeals to the individual’s values such as concern for students, concern for the environment.
  10. Appeal to Competencies and Skills- The leader appeals based on affirmation of the individuals values skills, such as good leader, or best negotiator
  11. Appeal to goals- Identification with goal- The leader attempts to show that the request is in the best interests of the group and its goals.

Leadership, in my opinion, should always be approached in a holistic way. Focusing on one or few aspects would not substantiate how each of its apects compelements the other aspects that contribute to the development of unique leaders who combine managers' tecnical skills and the personal characteristic that single them out as leaders.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Integrating Critical Thinking in Teaching

The integration of critical thinking skills into the online curriculum is an essential to (image placeholder)providing intellectually challenging and relevant learning experiences for students. The paper will offer a basic description of critical thinking and discuss how to engage students in higher order thinking skills.

Nature of Critical Thinking
Distance education literature contains frequent references to the importance of critical thinking and teachers are encouraged to cultivate reflective thought in their students. Yet, even veteran teachers will admit that integrating critical thinking instruction into their classes is one of their most difficult tasks. Teachers who want to enhance the teaching and learning process realize that fostering critical thinking skills will require extra work to effectively communicate complex ideas to their students. Bullen’s research (1998) reveals that a student’s ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills during online discussions is influenced by four major factors:
  1. cognitive maturity

  2. teaching style of instructor

  3. student’s prior learning experiences

  4. degree of understanding the critical thinking process
The list of factors reveals that students will vary in their understanding of critical thinking skills and cognitive abilities. Therefore, teachers will need to develop a set of strategies that will help them to meet a diversity of student needs. A good starting point is to examine the literature on critical thinking to create an educational philosophy that reflects the latest research studies and teaching ideas.

Teaching to Enhance Critical Thinking
A review of critical thinking research can be somewhat confusing at times due to writers discussing various aspects of thinking. Sormunen and Chalupa (1994) bring some clarity to this problem by stressing that educational models classify critical thinking as both a product and process that combines psychological (i.e metacognition) and philosophical (i.e constructivist reasoning) elements. The good news is that there are a growing number of research studies that highlight how teachers can help their students improve their thinking skills.
Contemporary teachers face the reality that most of their instruction tends to focus on content knowledge and not on the process of learning transferable reflective skills Halpern (1998) relates, “despite all of the gains that cognitive psychologists have made in understanding what happens when people learn, most teachers do not apply their knowledge of cognitive psychology (paragraph 11).” In contrast to this report, the author has been encouraged by his observations of veteran teachers at the University of Phoenix. The author conducts peer reviews of faculty members and has noted that distance educators are devoting more instructional time to cultivating critical thinking skills.
Halpern (1998) stresses the dispositional aspect of thinking refers to whether individuals have developed reflective habits. Critical thinking requires mental effort and the personal discipline to work with complex problems. Individuals with a critical spirit are often inquisitive about the mysteries of life and strive to find the most reliable information. Facione (1998) notes, “critical thinking is about how you approach problems, questions, issues. It is the best way we know to get to the truth (paragraph 26).”

Teaching Strategies
Teachers will need to develop a class structure and online teaching style that encourages creativity, reflective thinking, and self-directed learning. It is important that teachers enable students to have the freedom to ask questions and take intellectual risks in their written assignments and discussion groups. Teachers can provide valuable guidance by keeping dialogues focused, relevant and probing deeper into issues. This will require moderating discussions and creating a list of key ideas, references and student contributions. Distance educators can pose a diversity of questions to foster reflective comments. Collision, Elbaum, Havvind & Tinker (2000) have created five types of questions to encourage richer student responses that are called full-spectrum questions:
  • Questions that probe the “so what!” response- relevance, interest level, urgency and context?
  • Questions that clarify meaning or conceptual vocabulary- ambiguity or vagueness and common concepts?
  • Questions that explore assumptions, sources and rationale- qualities assumed and study evidence?
  • Questions that seek to identify causes and effects or outcomes-primary or secondary and causes, internal or external factors?
  • Questions that consider appropriate action- weigh different courses of action ?

Teachers should view the full-spectrum questions as tool for enhancing dialog. The choice of questions can be used to guide the discussion and help energize online interaction. It is wise not to overuse a question approach because students will the discussion become too predictable. Therefore, try to use pictures, cartoons, simulations or graphics instead of questions at different times during the course. Currently, the University of Phoenix is using more computer simulations in their business courses to promote realistic decision-making scenarios. Students enjoy learning activities that bring a slice of reality into the class that relates to their professional work environment.

According to Brookfield (1987), a major problem in our society has involved placing a placed a greater value on action oriented activities. He states “thinking is not seen as action, despite the fact that thinking is one of the most tiring activities in which we engage on a daily basis (p. 229).” Distance educators need to create relevant assignments that help students practice their critical thinking skills. The author teaches an online doctoral class on the philosophy of knowledge. Lectures are designed to help students to creatively apply philosophical ideas to contemporary social issues. The following brief mini-lecture will reveal how teachers can use popular culture to teach critical thinking skills. Students will learn some of the ways that a philosopher or historian of intellectual history might look at the television world and specifically at portion of the Star Trek television series.

Using Star Trek to Cultivate Critical Thinking Skills (Muirhead
The television industry is continually promoting its own views of reality that need to be challenged and examined by the American public. Reflective thinking enables people to be thoughtful citizens who resist simplistic answers to complex social problems.
Guiness (1994) notes that television shows contain four major kinds bias that influence it messages:
1. It has bias against understanding because it stresses images and emotions but it often lacks context and meaning that creates an illusion of knowledge.
2. Television conversations have a bias against responsibility by having a rapid approach that packages news into segments of intense images of dramatic events.
3. Programs have a bias against historical events because news reports are focused on today as being far more important than the past.
4. Television shows have a bias against rationality because attention is on performance by high profile individuals who prefer drama over reflective thought.
The popular Star Trek television series can be viewed as an interesting slice of American intellectual history. The following notes on Star Trek will highlight how various cast members from several different shows represent a certain perspective on understanding knowledge and truth.

Star Trek
Spock- completely rational solves problems with reasoning skills and represents the ideal Enlightenment man. Often, he resolves difficult problems for the crew members of the Enterprise.
Mission Goal- objective knowledge of the entire universe "the final frontier" and humans pursue the goal alone.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Data - replaces Spock and he is an android who works with other crew members to find solutions to their problems.
Counselor Troy - uses her intuition to perceive human feelings and truthfulness.
Q - a divine being who is all knowing but morally ambiguous who displays a combination of cynicism, benevolence and self-gratification.
Mission Goal - to go where no man has gone before. Man needs the help of androids and other life forms to discover knowledge. Life is more complicated for people because appearances can be deceiving and truth is considered relative and incomplete.
Observation - the Star Trek series portray an optimistic technological future, but one filled with constant conflicts as the crew travels on their odyssey through space. The show sometimes diminishes the role of human reason and the possibility of objective knowledge. The Voyager series includes a first officer who is a Native American. He is a spirit guide that utilizes a combination of science and mysticism to help manage crisis situations. Ironically, the greatest threat is not being lost in some distant quadrant of space, but it is the loss of personal inner stability.

After sharing highlights from the Star Trek programs, teachers can discuss how the television series reflects different perspectives on truth, knowledge, ethics and intellectual trends. Students might notice that human reason is less important and there greater emphasis on relativism. What is a basic definition of the term? Barzun (2000) relates “it means flexible, adaptable, a sliding scale that gives a different reading in similar situations (p. 761).” Relativism appears to make few distinctions between moral codes, cultures and religions. They each reside in a certain time and place in history that should be respected and tolerated. Yet, Barzun argues that a civilized society often utilizes relative standards for applying the law to individual criminal cases. He maintains that the anti-relativists who embrace moral absolutes cannot effectively answer the question “Whose Absolute are we to adopt and impose? (Barzun 2000, p. 762).” This brief example reveals that popular culture can offer numerous instructional opportunities to help students refine their thinking skills through reading and reflective dialog.

Evaluating Critical Thinking Skills
Contemporary testing methods often fail to provide teachers with information on how students arrive at their responses to test items. Quantitative and qualitative assessment procedures can be useful but it is vital that “….the assessment must be sensitive enough to identify changes that have occurred in students’ thinking skills (paragraph 14).” Critical thinking assessment instruments can include commercially designed tests, teacher made tests, check lists, open-ended questions, problem-solving scenarios or simulations. For instance, check lists can be used to evaluate a variety of student work such as gathering information on student online comments or portfolios. Check lists are useful tools to document evidence of student problem solving and decision making skills (Sormunen & Chalupa, 1994).

Teachers can integrate critical thinking into their classes by presenting information from a diversity of perspectives that involve both the cognitive and affective learning domains. The author has found that students really enjoy reading nonfiction short stories about individuals and their personal learning adventures. Teachers can share interesting and informative stories that offer insights into concepts such as perseverance in problem solving. Short stories can be included in lectures and handouts that stress descriptive information on critical thinking. Stories bring a human element into the online class environment that makes learning new ideas much more meaningful. Also, students should be given examples of creative thinking such as published journal and magazine articles. The following chart is an effective way to help students understand the multidimensional aspects of critical thinking.

Essential Critical Thinking Skills (Woolfolk, 1990, p. 278)

  • Defining and Clarifying the Problem
  • Identify central issues or problems.
  • Compare similarities and differences.
  • Determine which information is relevant.
  • Formulate appropriate questions.
  • Judge Information Related to the Problem.
  • Distinguish between fact, opinion and reasoned judgment.
  • Check consistency.
  • Identify unstated assumptions.
  • Recognize stereotypes and clichés.
  • Recognize bias, emotional factors, propaganda and semantic slanting.
  • Recognize different value systems and ideologies.
  • Solving Problems/Drawing Conclusions.
  • Recognize the adequacy of data.
  • Predict probable consequences.

Online Instructional Challenges
The affective and psychological dimensions of distance education are important aspects of the teaching and learning process. Distance educators face the dilemma of how to foster critical thinking with students who vary in their need for academic guidance. Often, this problem is portrayed as teacher-directed versus student self-directed learning models. In reality, the online teacher will have to adapt his/her teaching style to meet the needs of their students. Berge (1999) relates that interaction in education “involves a continuum from teacher-centered to student-centered approaches”

Distance educators are challenged by using a text-driven form of education. Today’s online classes rely heavily on printed materials and teacher created lectures and handouts. Therefore, the use of language becomes a focal point for teachers and students because the entire communication process is closely linked to thinking. Kirby & Goodpaster (2002) note “language works intimately with all aspects of our thinking …sensing, feeling, remembering, creating, organizing, reasoning, evaluating, deciding, persuading, and acting. As we become more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of language, and as we increase and refine our own language, we will think better

A major adult education goal is helping students become self-directed learners who learn to monitor and improve their thinking skills. Distance educators need to integrate meaningful instructional activities into their classes that promote internalization of critical thinking skills and knowledge. It is one of the unique challenges of teaching online but it is essential to fostering classes and degree programs that prepare students for leadership roles in our society.

Barzun, J. (2000). From dawn to decadence: 500 years of Western cultural life. New York: HarperCollins.
Berge, Z. L. (1999). Interaction in post-secondary web-based learning. Educational Technology, 39 (1), 5-11.
Brookfield, S. D. (1987). Developing Critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bullen, M. (1998). Participation and critical thinking in online university distance education. Journal of Distance Education. 13 (2).Available:
Collison, G. Elbaum, B., Haavind, S., & Tinker, R. (2000). Facilitating online learning: Effective strategies for moderators. Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.
Facione, P. A. (1998). Critical thinking: What it is and why it counts. Available:
Grenz, S. J. (1995). Star Trek and the Next Generation: Postmodernism and the future of evangelical theology. In D. S. Dockery (Ed. ). The challenge of postmodernism (pp. 89-103). Wheaton, ILL: Victor Books.
Guiness, O. (1994). Fit bodies Fat minds. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Halpern, D. F. (1998). Teaching critical thinking for transfer across domains: Dispositions, skills, structure training, and metacognitive monitoring. American Psychologists. 53(4), 449-455.
Kirby, G. R. & Goodpaster, J. R. (2002). Thinking (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Muirhead, B. (2000).Using Star Trek to Enhance Critical Thinking Skills. ASKERIC Lesson Plan. Available:
Richards, T. (1997). The meaning of Star Trek. New York, NY: DoubleDay
Sormunen, C. & Chalupa, M. (1994). Critical thinking skills research: Developing evaluation techniques. Journal of Education for Business. 69 (3), 172-178. Retrieved from EBSCOhost from the online library at the University of Phoenix Online.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Philosophy of Culture Change


Culture is often described as "the way we do things around here." In fact it is more complex. It is also feelings, underlying beliefs, values, history, and assumptions about an organization. Those are rooted in experiences, stories, and behaviour patterns sometimes decades or centuries old. The culture tells people what is and is not okay. Culture is enduring, difficult to develop or reshape.

The pursuit of management excellence has many labels - reform, renewal, modernization, transformation, re-alignment - but all are about changing the behaviours that characterize Public Service management culture. For purposes of illustration this guide focuses on Modern Comptrollership, but it is generic in nature and its approach can be applied to any effort to change management culture.

Change models
No single approach can fit all. Instead, every organization needs its own model of change corresponding to its needs and issues. When change efforts fail, it is common to blame organizational resistance but this is an inadequate explanation. Change goes wrong for systemic reasons: poor vision, inadequate communications, insufficient planning and resources, failure to make a compelling case, and inconsistent messages with leaders not following through.
Change models fall into three types: top-down; transformational leadership; and strategic approaches. Overall experience shows that with careful and appropriate application.
Top-down models emphasize leadership. The CEO can orchestrate relatively rapid change by developing a vision, communicating it and involving employees. The leaders set goals, clarify desired outcomes, provide feedback, give rewards for desired performance and take action when goals are not met. They do not ignore the human factor - they care about people and want to see them grow - but they focus on performance driving cultural change, not the reverse.
Transformational leadership: In his latest book, Managing Politically, McGill University Professor Henry Mintzberg looked at three federal departments. He has long argued that change bubbles upward. "You can't drive change down an organization," he says. "You facilitate the situation so that change can come up. Create a climate where people can individually and collectively think for themselves, take initiatives, and build interesting things. Change grows from the grass roots, where people know what needs to be done."
Transformational leadership works by influencing the values and priorities of followers, thereby motivating them to achieve more. Leaders inspire followers through the mission, optimism, enthusiasm and emotional appeal. They provide personal support and encouragement, show concern and offer coaching. They set a personal example, sacrifice for the group and show good ethics. They challenge people to view problems from new perspectives and to find new solutions, while making it safe for them to express negative emotions and business concerns. Followers then connect more to the mission, seek ways to improve their performance and thus enhance the organizational culture.
Of course, despite the cover stories in magazines, not all great leaders are larger than life. Many prefer responsible, behind-the-scenes actions. They lead by quiet example and by working through others.
Strategic approaches: Perhaps the best-known author on change is Professor John Kotter. He lays out an eight-step strategy:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency.
  2. Create the guiding coalition.
  3. Develop a vision and strategy.
  4. Communicate the change vision.
  5. Empower employees for broad-based action.
  6. Generate short-term wins.
  7. Consolidate gains and produce more change.
  8. Anchor new approaches in the culture.
Notably, his model does not start with vision. That only comes after an organization's leaders have established a sense of urgency for change and built a coalition to help them push for it. Skipping the first stages, warns Kotter, will lead to failure.
And although cultural change is critical to long-lasting change, Kotter puts it at the end rather than the start of the process. "Culture changes only after you have successfully altered people's actions," he says, "after the new behaviour produces some group benefit for a period of time, and people see the connection between the new actions and the performance improvement."

Find a change model to fit the situation
A top-down approach apparently can be effective, but only if the leader controls the levers of recruitment, promotion, incentives and dismissal - and at the same time pays attention to the people factor and is open to feedback. New behaviour will eventually be accepted and become the culture.
In another view, culture change comes through changing the way things are done in an organization so that, over time, people will change as well.
A third view holds that if you change how individuals feel and provide them with new experiences, they will eventually adopt the new behaviours, leading to the emergence of a new culture.
What matters is to find what works best in the specific situation, given your understanding of all the factors.

Stages of culture change
Common themes emerged from the interviews with executives and the review of management literature, advising that significant change in complex organizations requires:
  1. strong leadership, a vision, and a change team or guiding coalition charged with implementation;
  2. perseverance and commitment to follow through;
  3. understanding of the current culture, where the resistance will come from; and
  4. the courage to tackle resistance head-on.

Stage 1: Before anything else, leaders must build an understanding of the organization's current culture by collecting information on the types of behaviours being practised. In other words, they have to understand their own leadership style, the organization's culture and where it is now.
Stage 2: Next is developing a vision of where the organization should be, and performing a gap analysis; this reveals where the organization falls short of the vision. To fill the gaps, design a strategic plan that articulates the vision, outlines priorities for improvement and establishes measurable targets with an eye to early successes. A team must be established, trained and mandated to implement the change. Ultimately, the whole organization must be involved, although specifics will vary according to the scope of the plan and the nature of the organization.
Stage 3: Next comes implementing the plan: The deputy/head and the guiding coalition must make the case for change, communicate again and again (and again), and build capacity.
Stage 4: At the same time, there is a critical transitional period in which people "let go" of one set of behaviours as they move to another. This is the stage where many change initiatives begin to lose momentum. It's important to celebrate wins and early successes, communicate widely and often, and find innovative ways of motivating people to adopt the new behaviours, processes and systems.
Stage 5: Finally, following up. It's important to keep measuring progress, seek feedback, and continue to adjust and improve. Over time, the leadership must build a deeper understanding, update the strategy and get better at implementation.

The following diagram illustrates both the components and the steps to apply a successful culture change management.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Why Six Sigma: Concept & Mastery Levels

For Motorola, the originator of Six Sigma, the answer to the question "Why Six Sigma?" was simple: survival. Motorola came to Six Sigma because it was being consistently beaten in the competitive marketplace by foreign firms that were able to produce higher quality products at a lower cost. When a Japanese firm took over a Motorola factory that manufactured Quasar television sets in the United States in the 1970s, they promptly set about making drastic changes in the way the factory operated. Under Japanese management, the factory was soon producing TV sets with 1/20th the number of defects they had produced under Motorola management. They did this using the same workforce, technology, and designs, making it clear that the problem was Motorola's management. Eventually, even Motorola's own executives had to admit "our quality stinks,".
Finally, in the mid 1980s, Motorola decided to take quality seriously. Motorola's CEO at the time, Bob Galvin, started the company on the quality path known as Six Sigma and became a business icon largely as a result of what he accomplished in quality at Motorola. Today, Motorola is known worldwide as a quality leader and a profit leader. After Motorola won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1988 the secret of their success became public knowledge and the Six Sigma revolution was on. Today it's hotter than ever.

It would be a mistake to think that Six Sigma is about quality in the traditional sense. Quality, defined traditionally as conformance to internal requirements, has little to do with Six Sigma. Six Sigma is about helping the organization make more money. To link this objective of Six Sigma with quality requires a new definition of quality. For Six Sigma purposes I define quality as the value added by a productive endeavor. Quality comes in two flavors: potential quality and actual quality. Potential quality is the known maximum possible value added per unit of input. Actual quality is the current value added per unit of input. The difference between potential and actual quality is waste. Six Sigma focuses on improving quality (i.e., reducing waste) by helping organizations produce products and services better, faster and cheaper. In more traditional terms, Six Sigma focuses on defect prevention, cycle time reduction, and cost savings. Unlike mindless cost-cutting programs which reduce value and quality, Six Sigma identifies and eliminates costs which provide no value to customers: waste costs.

For non-Six Sigma companies, these costs are often extremely high. Companies operating at three or four sigma typically spend between 25 and 40 percent of their revenues fixing problems. This is known as the cost of quality, or more accurately the cost of poor quality. Companies operating at Six Sigma typically spend less than 5 percent of their revenues fixing problems (Figure 1). The dollar cost of this gap can be huge. General Electric estimates that the gap between three or four sigma and Six Sigma was costing them between $8 billion and $12 billion per year.

What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a rigorous, focused and highly effective implementation of proven quality principles and techniques. Incorporating elements from the work of many quality pioneers, Six Sigma aims for virtually error free business performance. Sigma, ?, is a letter in the Greek alphabet used by statisticians to measure the variability in any process. A company's performance is measured by the sigma level of their business processes. Traditionally companies accepted three or four sigma performance levels as the norm, despite the fact that these processes created between 6,200 and 67,000 problems per million opportunities! The Six Sigma standard of 3.4 problems per million opportunities is a response to the increasing expectations of customers and the increased complexity of modern products and processes.

If you're looking for new techniques, don't bother. Six Sigma's magic isn't in statistical or high-tech razzle-dazzle. Six Sigma relies on tried and true methods that have been around for decades. In fact, Six Sigma discards a great deal of the complexity that characterized Total Quality Management (TQM). By one expert's count, there were over 400 TQM tools and techniques. Six Sigma takes a handful of proven methods and trains a small cadre of in-house technical leaders, known as Six Sigma Black Belts, to a high level of proficiency in the application of these techniques. To be sure, some of the methods used by Black Belts are highly advanced, including the use of up-to-date computer technology. But the tools are applied within a simple performance improvement model known as DMAIC, or Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control. DMAIC can be described as follows:

A very powerful feature of Six Sigma is the creation of an infrastructure to ensure that performance improvement activities have the necessary resources. In this author's opinion, failure to provide this infrastructure is the #1 reason why 80% of all TQM implementations failed in the past. Six Sigma makes improvement and change the full-time job of a small but critical percentage of the organization's personnel. These full time change agents are the catalyst that institutionalizes change. Figure 2 illustrates the required human resource commitment required by Six Sigma.
Leadership .

Six Sigma involves changing major business value streams that cut across organizational barriers. It is the means by which the organization's strategic goals are to be achieved. This effort cannot be led by anyone other than the CEO, who is responsible for the performance of the organization as a whole. Six Sigma must be implemented from the top-down.

Champions and Sponsors
Six Sigma champions are high-level individuals who understand Six Sigma and are committed to its success. In larger organizations Six Sigma will be led by a full time, high level champion, such as an Executive Vice-President. In all organizations, champions also include informal leaders who use Six Sigma in their day-to-day work and communicate the Six Sigma message at every opportunity. Sponsors are owners of processes and systems who help initiate and coordinate Six Sigma improvement activities in their areas of responsibilities.

Master Black Belt
This is the highest level of technical and organizational proficiency. Master Black Belts provide technical leadership of the Six Sigma program. Thus, they must know everything the Black Belts know, as well as understand the mathematical theory on which the statistical methods are based. Master Black Belts must be able to assist Black Belts in applying the methods correctly in unusual situations. Whenever possible, statistical training should be conducted only by Master Black Belts. Otherwise the familiar "propagation of error" phenomenon will occur, i.e., Black Belts pass on errors to green belts, who pass on greater errors to team members. If it becomes necessary for Black Belts and Green Belts to provide training, they should do only so under the guidance of Master Black Belts. For example, Black Belts may be asked to provide assistance to the Master during class discussions and exercises. Because of the nature of the Master's duties, communications and teaching skills are as important as technical competence.

Black Belt
Candidates for Black Belt status are technically oriented individuals held in high regard by their peers. They should be actively involved in the process of organizational change and development. Candidates may come from a wide range of disciplines and need not be formally trained statisticians or engineers. However, because they are expected to master a wide variety of technical tools in a relatively short period of time, Black Belt candidates will probably possess a background including college-level mathematics and the basic tool of quantitative analysis. Coursework in statistical methods may be considered a strong plus or even a prerequisite. As part of their training, Black Belts receive 160 hours of classroom instruction, plus one-on-one project coaching from Master Black Belts or consultants.

Successful candidates will be comfortable with computers. At a minimum, they should understand one or more operating systems, spreadsheets, database managers, presentation programs, and word processors. As part of their training they will be required to become proficient in the use of one or more advanced statistical analysis software packages. Six Sigma Black Belts work to extract actionable knowledge from an organization's information warehouse. To ensure access to the needed information, Six Sigma activities should be closely integrated with the information systems (IS) of the organization. Obviously, the skills and training of Six Sigma Black Belts must be enabled by an investment in software and hardware. It makes no sense to hamstring these experts by saving a few dollars on computers or software.

Green Belt
Green Belts are Six Sigma project leaders capable of forming and facilitating Six Sigma teams and managing Six Sigma projects from concept to completion. Green Belt training consists of five days of classroom training and is conducted in conjunction with Six Sigma projects. Training covers project management, quality management tools, quality control tools, problem solving, and descriptive data analysis. Six Sigma champions should attend Green Belt training. Usually, Six Sigma Black Belts help Green Belts define their projects prior to the training, attend training with their Green Belts, and assist them with their projects after the training.

Staffing Levels and Expected Returns
As stated earlier in this article, the number of full time personnel devoted to Six Sigma is not large. Mature Six Sigma programs, such as those of Motorola, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, AlliedSignal, and others average about one-percent of their workforce as Black Belts. There is usually about one Master Black Belts for every ten Black Belts, or about 1 Master Black Belt per 1,000 employees. A Black Belt will typically complete 5 to 7 projects per year. Project teams are led by Green Belts, who, unlike Black Belts and Master Black Belts, are not employed full time in the Six Sigma program. Black Belts are highly prized employees and are often recruited for key management positions elsewhere in the company. After Six Sigma has been in place for three or more years, the number of former Black Belts tends to be about the same as the number of active Black Belts.
Estimated savings per project varies from organization to organization. Reported results average about US$150,000 to US$243,000. Note that these are not the huge mega-projects pursued by Re-engineering. Yet, by completing 5 to 7 projects per year per Black Belt, the company will add in excess of US$1 million per year per Black Belt to its bottom line. For a company with 1,000 employees the numbers would look something like this:
Master Black Belts: 1
Black Belts: 10
Projects: = 50 to 70 (5 to 7 per Black Belt)
Estimated saving: US$9 million to US$14.6 million (US$14,580 per employee)
Do the math for your organization and see what Six Sigma could do for you. Because Six Sigma savings impact only non-value added costs, they flow directly to your company's bottom line.

Implementation of Six Sigma
After over two decades of experience with quality improvement, there is now a solid body of scientific research regarding the experience of thousands of companies implementing major programs such as Six Sigma. Researchers have found that successful deployment of Six Sigma involves focusing on a small number of high-leverage items. The steps required to successfully implement Six Sigma are well-documented.

1. Successful performance improvement must begin with senior leadership. Start by providing senior leadership with training in the principles and tools they need to prepare their organization for success. Using their newly acquired knowledge, senior leaders direct the development of a management infrastructure to support Six Sigma. Simultaneously, steps are taken to "soft-wire" the organization and to cultivate an environment for innovation and creativity. This involves reducing levels of organizational hierarchy, removing procedural barriers to experimentation and change, and a variety of other changes designed to make it easier to try new things without fear of reprisal.

2. Systems are developed for establishing close communication with customers, employees, and suppliers. This includes developing rigorous methods of obtaining and evaluating customer, employee and supplier input. Base line studies are conducted to determine the starting point and to identify cultural, policy, and procedural obstacles to success.

3. Training needs are rigorously assessed. Remedial skills education is provided to assure that adequate levels of literacy and numeracy are possessed by all employees. Top-to-bottom training is conducted in systems improvement tools, techniques, and philosophies.

4. A framework for continuous process improvement is developed, along with a system of indicators for monitoring progress and success. Six Sigma metrics focus on the organization's strategic goals, drivers, and key business processes.

5. Business processes to be improved are chosen by management, and by people with intimate process knowledge at all levels of the organization. Six Sigma projects are conducted to improve business performance linked to measurable financial results. This requires knowledge of the organization's constraints.

6. Six Sigma projects are conducted by individual employees and teams led by Green Belts and assisted by Black Belts.

Although the approach is simple, it is by no means easy. But the results justify the effort expended. Research has shown that firms that successfully implement Six Sigma perform better in virtually every business category, including return on sales, return on investment, employment growth, and share price increase. When will you be ready to join the Six Sigma revolution?