By Doug Von Feldt and Thomas Underwood
Center for Organizational Excellence, Washburn University
When facilitating a project or initiative, we have found it helpful to establish some simple rules to guide the project. We suggest that simple rules be established and agreed to at the onset, and revisited frequently. By so doing reminds the stakeholders and project team members the guiding values or principles to move the project – and the organization – forward.
There no “truisms” for simple rules, they will vary according to organization culture. Nevertheless, the following are some that we have found particularly useful:
No Blame – Focus on the process, not on individuals. W. Edwards Deming proposed that 94% of all issues are the fault of processes, but all too often our first response to focus blame on a person or group. Organizational excellence is processed-focused. Pointing fingers does not move the organization forward.
Affinity – What are our strengths? What do we offer that we can capitalize on? Recognize the positive and the potential for growth. Don’t dwell on what is lacking.
Innovation – Think about things differently; focus not on what “is” but on the what “can be.”
Solution Agnostic – Do not have a solution in mind; be open. As professionals, or job is to solve problems and we are rewarded for finding solutions. But all too often we jump to solutions without allowing having a good understanding of the problem.
Collaboration – Innovation requires working with diverse groups; avoid “silos”
Customer-focused – Keep the customer – both internal and external – requirements in mind. Who are the customers? How do we know their needs or requirements? The end result must make the customer experience better. Otherwise, we should ask if the project is truly worthwhile.
Doug Von Feldt is the primary developer of the curricula used by the Center for Organizational Excellence at Washburn University and serves as the lead instructor/consultant. Doug has over 20 years of experience leading projects and change initiatives in industries including manufacturing, distribution, education, and retail. He has held senior leadership positions including CIO of two different organizations along with other leadership roles in the areas Continuous Improvement, Innovation, Project Management, and Operations. Doug’s current work focuses on helping organizations become more profitable by aligning work processes, people, and culture to achieve operational effectiveness and efficiencies.
Doug has helped numerous companies implement Continuous Improvement, Project Management, and Innovation programs. He has authored training material in several disciplines including Lean Six Sigma and Innovation and has taught thousands of people all over the world. He regularly speaks at conferences in the areas of lean six sigma, process improvement, innovation, and project management. He is a contributing author to the book “Next Level Supply Management Excellence: Your Straight to the Bottom Line® Roadmap” (J. Ross Publishing).
Doug holds a BA in Computer Information Systems from Washburn University. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and a certified Project Manager (PMP). He is a senior member of the American Society of Quality and has been a Baldrige Performance Excellence Program examiner.
Assistant Dean for Academic Outreach
As the Assistant Dean for Academic Outreach, Thomas Underwood is responsible for the overall management of non-credit professional education, including planning, development, implementation, and evaluation. He also serves as the Executive Director for the Joint Center on Violence and Victim Studies, a consortium program between Washburn University, California State University-Fresno, and the University of New Haven.
His primary areas of expertise include professionalism, adult education, and social service practice and policy. He regularly instructs professional development courses and conferences and he has several written publications in these areas. He also serves as an adjunct instructor for the Department of Human Services at Washburn University and the Criminology Department at California State University-Fresno.
Thomas has a doctorate in Adult and Continuing Education for Kansas State University, a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas, and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Washburn University.