The University Record, June 7, 1993

M-Quality: a way ‘to strive to do the best possible job’

By Jane R. Elgass

Why is the University investing time and money in its M-Quality initiative? Does this mean that we aren’t doing a good job, that our activities do not measure up to high standards?

Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Robert B. Holmes, assistant vice president for academic affairs and executive adviser for M-Quality.

“This is a time of change for the University,” Holmes told a capacity crowd at the May 25 and 26 Workplace of the ’90s Conference. And the University has decided to address the challenges and opportunities inherent in change “by investing in the problem-solving abilities of its people.

“What better time,” he asked, “to mount a huge training program for the University that will enlist the intelligence of everyone.”

Holmes noted that “M-Quality is not meant to imply that we are not doing a good job now. Rather it’s a way to ensure that we continue to strive to do the best possible job.”

He said that he initially was “a real skeptic of M-Quality,” but discovered that it “grows from one’s vision of the University—what we want it to be in the future. M-Quality is one of the ways of accomplishing the vision, a framework that can be used to tap the wisdom of our staff.”

Holmes said that over the past two years he has heard many things about what the University should strive to be. These include a university where:

  • There is a focus on who we serve and how well we are doing that in their eyes.

  • People enjoy working.

  • There is an enhanced sense of community.

  • People can reach their full potential and feel a responsibility to help others do the same.

  • Investment in people and their problem-solving abilities through training is a priority.

  • Priority is placed on giving people the tools to do their jobs better.

  • Decision-making is done at appropriate levels.

  • Risk-taking to improve processes is encouraged.

  • Communication takes place across the various levels of the organization and among people from diverse backgrounds.

  • People help shape and understand their unit’s values and vision, not simply through “doing their job” but by way of having ownership of those values and visions.

  • Contributions are recognized and appreciated.

  • You would want your best friend or child to work someday because you think they will “feel at home.”

    Holmes also noted that many elements of the M-Quality initiative are similar to the reasons people attended the conference.

  • It’s an opportunity to learn from and teach one another.

  • It provides a networking environment.

  • It serves to break down barriers.

  • It gives people a chance to see their friends and colleagues.

  • It’s a time for some laughing and some fun.

  • It challenges you with new ideas.

  • It offers an atmosphere of support and affirmation of your skills and talents.

    These elements are no different from those expressed in the M-Quality initiative,” Holmes said. “One of M-Quality’s basic principles is respect for people and ideas, of learning to do a better job of listening to each other. To a great extent,” he added, “M-Quality is just good common sense, and many of us already use that in our daily activities.”