See it!!! Feel it!!! Change it!!!


In the beginning of March I will be traveling to Raleigh to participate in the Capital Associated Industries Conference “HR 20/20: Focus, Evolve, Lead, facilitating a breakout session on identifying waste in your organization. As I look around the HR space many conferences are including similar programs on change management. However the real question do HR managers really understand what change management means? In order to be involved in authentic change management, HR managers need to take three very distinct steps.

See It!!!

Every organization has problems. Each of these problems involves the failure to meet the demands of the stakeholders of the organization. The real difficulty is that we know they are there but we do not truly understand the implications of the process obstacles that we know are present. In order to fully understand the ramifications of the problems we need to get our of the office and see first hand where the problems occur. In two different books I recently read, the authors made reference to a manufacturing environment where they utilized 42 different pairs of gloves. Each of the pair’s was ordered from a different provider. Taiichi Ohno, from the Toyota Manufacturing Company, required his manager to stand in a circle for a minimum of twenty-five minutes to see what problems existed.

Feel It!!!!

It is one thing to see the problem; it is an entirely different issue to feel the impact of the problem on the organization. Both management and the rank and file employees need to feel the impact of the issue at hand. They need to see what is in it for me if this problem continues. Rank and file will need to deal with the angry customer who did not get their order on time. Managers need to deal with stakeholders who are asking how the organization can operate by ignoring the issues at hand.

Change It!!!!!

Of the three steps this is the most difficult. We can see the problem. We can feel the impact of the problem. But unless we change the new normal within the organization the previous steps are for naught. We can’t operate from a point of view that this is the way we have always done it. To successfully solve the operational problems we have to change the corporate culture. Every level of the organization needs to understand why we must change the way we do things. They need to understand the urgency of the moves that management is implementing.

It is only after we see the problem, feel its impact and change the corporate culture to the new normal that we can begin to resolve the issues confronting the organization and hindering its ability to be strategic, innovative and aligned to the mission and values of the organization.

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Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery and today is present

You read that real quick didn’t you? But go back and really consider the implications of the words themselves to the human resource professional in the daily exercise of their responsibilities.

Yesterday is history

There is no organization that is free from having made really bad human resource decisions. We have all fed into the corporate mantra, even though we may believe differently. We have been fed the Kool-Aide that the corporate organization is always right. We all are guilty of telling an employee, asking us a question –“That is not my job” resulting in the alienation of the very talent we need to maintain the organization. We have all enforced decisions which in the basis of our moral beliefs we felt were wrong. We failed to send a candidate on for further consideration because the hiring manager said he/she would not hire someone like that. The EEOC press releases are filled with very stupid actions on the part of management. We can’t go back and change them. These actions are now part of organizational history forever enshrined in the persona of our organizations. The good news is that these actions are in the past.

Tomorrow is a mystery

Flip the coin over. We are not psychics that enable us to predict the future. As human resource professionals we have an uncertain view of the road ahead of us. We are certain that the nature of our jobs will change. Demands on our time will increase whether from regulatory requirements or the implication of change within the organization. Some are suggesting that we return to the time when we were called Personnel. I would suggest that we covered that in yesterday is history, we can’t reasonably return to the past and expected to be productive in the new environment called the global workplace. The role we increasingly play as the gatekeeper of talent management is not very well served by going back to the future. Our organization’s future will not be well served by returning to an era when we were just paper pushers. We moved to that era following the change away from the Quaker business model to the human capital as numbers mentality. It did not work when we changed to a knowledge economy.As result it is critical that we prepare the organizations for that uncertain future. The way we do that is to delve into the present to resolve issues that in the past have been a detriment to the organization.

Today is present

Taiichi Ohno of the Toyota Motor Corporation is reported to have said “the past is the past and what is important is the current condition and what we will do next to go beyond where we are today.” As the human resource professional within the organization, it is critical that we become the change leader for the organization. We can’t afford to rely on the strategic response that this not how we do things here. We can’t rely on the strategic response that we have done that and it did not work. Not only HR but the entire organization must begin to look at how we can do thing better, faster and cheaper. We need to look at our long term objectives from the rose colored glasses which tell us that we need to do things better (less errors), faster (now instead of procrastinating) and cheaper (less cost outlay). We need to look at our current situations and seek to bring about change to improve the organization in the future. We need to begin to see the problems and feel how they impact on the organization. Once we have reached this plateau we must lead the change within the organization to correct these problems. The human resource professional is the only one with all the keys to meet these challenges.

Consider a recent action by the EEOC in which a financial institution agreed to pay $95,000 and provide injunctive relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC had charged that the bank failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for a former employee’s disability and discharged her because of her age. Yesterday is past. The bank made the mistakes.The future is a mystery due to the unclear picture whether management understood that change was needed. The present is here because the organization must pay the fine and provide relief to the employee. It is also inherent that the organization learn from the past and take corrective action so the problem does not reoccur.

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What is your 8″ diameter steel plate?

The NBC News reported on Sunday that the Washington State Department of Transportation reported that a construction project to construct a tunnel in Seattle had been halted because the world’s largest boring machine had been stopped by an 8 inch diameter steel pipe. When I stopped for a moment to consider this I asked myself in our HR functions what is our 8” diameter steel pipe?

The majority of HR professionals will tell you that they meet that 8” pipe every day. We are told by a manager that a position needs to be filled ASAP and then they drag their feet on their end of the process. We try and introduce a new policy or procedure which will align HR with the strategic initiatives of the organization and are told several reasons why it won’t work. Do these responses seem familiar?

  • We tried that before and it didn’t work
  • That is just not how we do things here
  • It is too complicated our employees will never go for it

As we begin the New Year it is time that we step back and look for that 8” diameter steel plates. They are the obstacles which cause us to never reach our goals. Some are hidden within our corporate culture. Others are an aspect of the fear of doing something different. They are based in the old attitude that if it is not, broken don’t touch it. However in reality everything we do in our organizations is broken in some fashion. Everything we do can be improved with some minor corrections in path.

So as a New Year’s Resolution ask yourself what is my organizational 8” diameter steel pipe and what do I have to do to get through it? E-Mail me at and let me know what your 8” plate is and how you plan to get through it if your world class borer can’t.

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How one can impact an entire team October 2001, after delivering two days of training in August, GA, I drove across Interstate 20 to Atlanta. The next 24 hours, during my stay at the Marriott Northwest hotel, were some of the most emotionally turbulent hours I had ever spent. It was a front desk clerk by the name of Alex Shane that got me through this most difficult time, enabling me to deliver two more days of training.

Almost immediately, this experience became a powerful story about amazing service and how one person can impact an entire team. A few years later, I was back in Atlanta delivering a keynote speech and invited Alex to join me as I shared that story with 500 people. At the end of the keynote speech, I invited the audience to meet Alex and had her join me onstage where she received a standing ovation.

In July of 2008, the National Speaker’s Association’s annual convention was held at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan. This was just a few short weeks after the passing of my father and I really did not want to go. Encouraged to go by friends and family, I reluctantly went and had the pleasure of meeting the CEO of Marriott hotels, Bill Marriott. I shared my story about Alex and how her kindness got me through that time with him. I also shared that this is the reason I am now an extremely loyal Marriott advocate. He was touched by the story and asked if he could see the video.

The following week, I dropped a copy of the video off for Mr. Marriott at their headquarters office. On the day before the memorial service for my father, I received a call from Mr. Marriott’s office. I learned that he was touched by the story and wanted to share the video on his Marriott on the Move blog, which he did in in February of 2009.

Since then, Mr. Marriott has shared the story and the video at general manager’s and hotel owner conferences across all brands of Marriott Hotels. In many Marriott properties, this video is now part of the on-board training program for Marriott employees, now known as ‘Brilliant Hosts’. In fact, I was checking into the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina this year when Ashley, a newly hired front desk host, recognized me from the video. It is amazing how powerful one story from a decade ago is still impacting people across the United States.

Now comes the part where I would like your help. As of today, the video has received over 94,000 (nowhere near viral) views on YouTube. I would like to reach 100,000 views in the next 30 days. If you are looking for a touching and powerful personal story to share with friends and family over the holidays, please view and share this story about the kindness of one young woman. Her small and simple, yet very powerful, act made a huge impact on my life and continues to have the ability to influence thousands across the country.
I invite you to view the video at Then, if you are as touched as Mr. Marriott was, I encourage you to share this story with your teams, friends and contacts. Let’s share a little act of kindness over the holidays.

Happy Holidays to everyone and always remember that good days are for average people and, since you are not average, be sure to make today and the New Year AMAZING.

Gregg Gregory, CSP
Teams Rock!


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The TLS Continuum: The New Focus for the Quality Movement

Peter Pande in his book, The Six Sigma Way, expresses that there is no single correct way to introduce the methodology into your organization. That is never clearer in the wide variation of understanding on what the difference is between Lean and Six Sigma. Further it is shown in the attitudes of some individuals within the marketplace. Several years ago I talked with the Quality Improvement manager for a local healthcare organization who flatly told me “we do lean, we don’t do six sigma.” The purpose of this article is to introduce a new angle to this discussion, which is applicable to all phases of the organization, especially the service end such as human resources.

The long standing disagreement has been that Lean was dedicated to the removal of waste and Six Sigma was based on the removal of defects from your processes. We contend that the view from this perspective provides a very narrow analysis aspect. Jeff Cox (Velocity) and later Bob Sproull (Ultimate Improvement Cycle and Epiphanized) first talked about the combination of Lean and Six Sigma along with Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints. The basis of their Ultimate Improvement Cycle was that we used the Theory of Constraints to identify the obstacles that are holding up your organizational processes. Having identified the obstacle, we use Lean to remove the obstacle and then Six Sigma to create a standard of work and ensure that there are no variations in the processes. These two works began the redirection of views about the quality efforts within our organizations.

In August of 2013, CRC Press will be releasing our second book entitled Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma in which we introduced the concept of the TLS Continuum. While we totally believe in the principles behind the works of Jeff Cox and Bob Sproull, we believe the model needs to take another step further in its explanation. The TLS continuum finds its strength behind three very distinct and yet interdependent pillars of focus.

The first pillar is that of customer centric focus. TOC, Lean, or Six Sigma will not be successful if we ignore the voice of the customer. Whether we are talking about internal or external customers, their voice is crucial in beginning the process improvement efforts. Take for example the process of writing job descriptions for your organization. Typically the process of writing these is to ask the manager or the current position holder what it is they do. The difficulty here is that does not tell the organization what your customers expect from those they work with. We would suggest that HR needs to identify your organization’s top business developer and spend one day per month out in the field with them. The purpose is to ask the customer what they expect in key performance indicators from your employees when they are working with your organization. These KPI’s become the basis for your job descriptions going forward. Focusing your organization on the views of the customer provides you an early warning sign that an obstacle exists within your product or service.

The second pillar in our model is that of organizational alignment. In order to introduce and maintain the TLS continuum it is critical that every aspect of your organization be on the same operating page. It is critical that the entire organization understands the need for the quality initiatives and how their introduction is what ensures that they have jobs in the future. This alignment also means the organization understands that we do not routinely reduce overhead by reducing headcount. The alignment demonstrates that our obstacles are problems with the process, not the people. Lawrence Miller stresses this alignment within his Whole System Architecture concept that he discusses with clients every day.

The final pillar is that of quality improvement. Like Cox and Sproull, we believe that the TLS Continuum answers many of the objections to the six sigma processes. Your organization has to understand that the continuum applies to both the transactional and the transformational sides of the business. It applies equally to the production side as well as to the service sides of the business. The continuum begins with determining what you consider to be the definition of excellence.  In Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma we suggest that the definition of excellence is “Achieving HR EXCELLENCE is the result of CARING more about your organization than others think wise; RISKING more than others think safe to change the corporate culture; DREAMING more than others think practical about the potential for your organization ; EXPECTING more than others find possible from your human capital assets. “  This definition manifests itself in every member of the organization being part of the continuous process improvement DNA. Every part of your organization needs to be involved in the improvement effort. Your human capital assets need to feel comfortable in the application of the improvement efforts to the point they can stop a process if it is not meeting the voice of the customer.

Another aspect is that the management philosophy of the organization can’t be one of control and command. Management must be involved as a coach, not the master. Remember your days in High School science where the instructor implanted in your mind that the key to scientific inquiry success was the scientific method? The TLS continuum is the scientific method of business. It allows us the opportunity to define a problem and solve the problem by not only identification of the obstacles but how to solve the problem and ensure that once solved that problem will not return to interrupt the organization. The TLS continuum provides a clear picture to the improvement of our organizational processes without the uncertain picture presented by utilizing only one of the the three segments of the TLS nomenclature – Theory of Constraints, Lean, and Six Sigma. They are good in their own right, but far more powerful as a total package.

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I Know I am Right. Because it is my job!!!!

Several years ago I walked into my favorite bookstore and was fascinated by a book on the shelf.What caught my eye was the bright orange cover and the band of duct tape across the cover. The book was Chip and Dan Heath’s first book titled “Made to Stick.” Since then I have been looking forward to reading their other works. It is no different for their newest work titled “Decisive.”

In Chapter 7 titled“Ooch”, they talk about a company which scheduled interviews for an open position. After the interview each candidate was asked to present an example of their work for review. In order to remove any sense of bias on the part of the interview team, the work examples were numbered as to disguise the source. When all the work examples were submitted the management reviewed the collections and made a judgment as to who would best fit their open position based on the works alone. The candidate that was ultimately chosen was the individual that those conducting the interviews, felt were least likely to do the job to company standards. They were dead wrong in their assumption based on the interview. The Heath’s make the claim that our interviews are less predictive of job performance than work sample or even peer ratings of past performance. They even state that if we provided our candidates with a simple intelligence test it would predict performance levels better than the interview.

So here is the question. As HR professionals we tell our managers, our sourcing vendors and the organization that we can adequately evaluate prospective talent based on our prowess as interviewers, because we know we are right. We know we are right because that is our job. But what if we are not right? What if we have under-served our organization because we turned away the very talent the organization needed because we did not think based on the interview that the candidate fit?

I have been through interviews during my career which in looking back made no sense as to whether I could do the job. I have to confess in my management roles when I was doing recruiting I fell into the trap of thinking my interview skills were proficient enough that I could make the right decision. Part of our tendency is to consider who we like or who we feel we can trust when we interview candidates.However if we don’t like someone does not mean that we will always find, locate and attract the diverse skills we need for the new marketplace. Some of my consultant colleagues suggest that the behavioral interview might improve the success rate but those too can be based on our views of the responses.

When we are benchmarking data for our process improvement efforts, we can have the same problem with the validity of the interview to establish the appropriate data points.

Email me at and let me know how accurate are your predictive skills in interviews and are you short changing your organization by eliminating skills you might need for the future.

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Achieving HR Excellence Seminar scheduled for April 10-11, 2014

Your organization has processes and widgets. Every process will, from time to time, introduce activities that the customer did not ask for. These non-value added activities are right under your nose; you have just never looked for them. This two-day seminar on how to  transform your HR operations into a Center of Excellence will show you how to speak the language of business, earn a seat at the  decision table, and align the organization with your customers and business initiatives. Be the organizational hero by saving time and money!!!


“ The seminar presents an introduction to the Six Sigma process along with some elements of lean and other process improvement approaches.”

– Dr. Joshua Schwarz, Professor of Management, Miami University of Ohio

“Thanks again for a great Six Sigma class last week. You have inspired me to think about additional training and professional practice of these concepts — I see great value to applying them to HR and other administrative processes and projects. And, I’ve already put the DMAIC to use on one of  our internal  HR processes. I call that an excellent return on my raining dollars.”

– VP Human Resources , Major trade Association

You Will Learn how to:

  • Enhance HR through additional upper management support
  • Influence the strategic thinking of the management team
  • Rapidly become a key member of the executive team
  • Become a critical voice in executive level discussions of strategic business initiatives
  • Participate in cross-functional teams
  • increase your career advancement capabilities

 Register at

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