The University Record, May 9, 1994

Business and finance units hold first M-Quality forum

By Rebecca A. Doyle

“Organizations don’t do anything—people do,” asserted Farris W. Womack, vice president and chief financial officer, as he addressed team leaders and facilitators at the first M-Quality Forum for Business and Finance Units.

“There is not another organization on campus doing what we are doing in pushing for betterment of this organization and this University,” he said. “And the reason is not M-Quality, not any of the other buzz words—it is you.”

More than 120 representatives from the units attended two of the three available presentations during the April 29 forum. Lana Berry, corporate lead facilitator for the Medical Center, gave her listeners a 13-point list to consider before choosing the team approach.

Among key questions, she noted, are:

  • “Is there data to support that a gap in quality exists?

  • “Is someone else working on the process?”

  • “Is the area ready for QIT?”

  • “Will management support the team?”

    If the answer is no to any one, then a team is not the approach to use and the problem should be reevaluated.

    Berry recommends small teams with six members who all have a high commitment to the task. She also outlined the advantages of action teams, which solve critical issues quickly and are composed of those closest to the work.

    “It works like this,” she said. “First, you must identify the pressing business issue, then gather data that support it. Bring together the right people with the right information and include people who can make the decision. When you add the pressure of facilitation, focused energy, tight time frames and public accountability, the teams quickly formulate a recommendation.”

    Warren Cohen, staff development associate for Human Resource Development, moderated a panel discussion on what works and what doesn’t in M-Quality.

    Panelist Mary Decker Staples, clinical department administrator in anesthesiology, noted that team members and managers both need to understand the roles that team members play.

    “It is important to prepare both managers and the team for the empowerment of the members.”

    She also said that one of the most important things she had learned was to first make sure that a process, not the structure, is causing the problem.

    Kari E. Gluski, systems project coordinator for the Information Technology Division, said she was grateful for the tools that M-Quality provided.

    “Before the first meeting, my preparation took lots of time, but it is an important step. M-Quality has given us tools we can continue to use,” she said. One of the important lessons she has learned is to plan, do and check in a small way, to make corrections and then proceed.

    Alan T. Stevens, coordinator for plant customer services, stressed the importance of contact between the facilitator and team leader in a group.

    “The team leader and facilitator complement each other, and decide between themselves whether the facilitator will play an active or inactive part,” he said.

    Some participants also attended a presentation on Steven Covey’s approach, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” which the University has accepted as complementary to the M-Quality program. Joel Allan, associate director of public safety, presented the main points of the Covey program.

    Following the presentations, participants exchanged individual stories and tips about their experiences in M-Quality team leadership and facilitating. Attendees also received a list of more than 200 trained facilitators and team leaders within the business and finance units so that they could contact others for advice when they face problems.

    “This is an opportunity for those in the division to have education on an ongoing basis concerning M-Quality and total quality management,” said Philip A. Smith, manager for employment and staff planning and chair of the M-Quality Forum Planning Committee. “We are very pleased that so many people came and enjoyed the program. We are planning a similar forum for fall.”