Organizational Excellence

People and Process Improvement

Archive for March 2009

(Resource) Gallup: Much More Than Pollsters

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Get familiar with Gallup Management here: Lots of the material on the Gallup Management Journal’s home page is accessible only for subscribers, but you can hunt & peck and find some good freebies.


Gallup’s 1998 research (Q12 Google search)  identified leading indicators to a company’s productivity, profitability and retention levels. Gallup also pionered the concept of Human Sigma (Google search) which measures variance in levels of engagement in a company’s customers and employees. Very cool stuff, as engagement plays a key role in determining brand loyalty — loyalty to your product and to your company.



Written by Craig

March 31, 2009 at 8:34 am

“Meaningful” School-to-Career?

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Schools provide young people with a solid academic foundation to build the rest of their lives on. But schools are also supposed to prepare students for the real world. This goes beyond a semester-long effort to form a “Hoagies ‘r’ Us” company and market the product for the semester’s final project (a.k.a sell sandwiches to friends, family and relative strangers….)


GOAL: really, truly prepare kids to enter the Real World, so they can become value-adding contributors to society and business and industry, but also so they can have a good future and be successful, and happy.


What would the ideal curriculum for a truly value-adding Real World Prep School look like? What do young people really need to know to successfully make the transition?


See the categories this blog is built around. They are targeted at real workplace issues and challenges. Which of these can be positioned as relevant in academia? HOW can they be presented to high school kids so they are worth paying attention to? What else?


A related post under the “Education” category addresses engagement in education. A key point from that post is that kids do not see the value of what they are studying—it doesn’t apply to the rest of their lives, and it certainly doesn’t apply to surviving adolescence. Or does it? How can the real adult world they will soon enter be brought into focus and elevated in importance for kids? Or, should we just let them be kids while they can, and let the real world smack them between the eyes when the time comes?


Any educators coming by to visit….what IS working that you‘ve seen, what else needs to be done?

Written by Craig

March 31, 2009 at 8:15 am

Engagement Goes to School?

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If this is your first time visiting In Pursuit of Excellence, I hope you will take a couple of minutes to read the “ABOUT” page (see link at the top right). “About” describes the way Excellence is organized, and my mission and intent. It will help you find the topics that are of the most interest to you.

No need to go into huge personal detail, but one of my key strategies is to make an impact in young peoples’ lives, by working in the education system-school to career type stuff. I started teaching at the high school, and worked with the local school administrators on some very good school-to-career initiatives that didn’t have a chance to go beyond the concept phase.


It took a couple of years, but I finally came to admit that the education system has more built-in administrivia and roadblocks to innovation than even a poorly run company. That, and the fact that teachers make lousy pay compared to work in business and industry, finally chased me away from the education side of my grand strategy. But the avocation to make a difference in education still burns with me.


The symptoms: the US education system is in trouble. Students in the US are scoring lower than much of the developed work in standard test scores.  Attainment levels (graduating) are falling, and more kids are dropping out of high school. The issues continue into higher education: with rising costs of education and the need for many young people to get right to the real world of earning a paycheck, both college enrollment and degree attainment are falling. No Child Left Behind focuses on bringing substandard performance up to an acceptable level. There is little emphasis on providing a higher order of learning and achievement for those who may want it.

The key stakeholders — those who have a vested interest in the outputs of the education system — are society and business and industry. B&I has complained for years that our education system does not produce qualified, prepared workers. Education counters that B&I won’t actively engage in the education system as partners, so education can better meet their needs. I’ve worked both sides of the fence, and both parties are correct.

The hypothesis: high school kids are disengaged in both their education and in thinking about their future. This hypothesis is well-founded: try Googling “National Survey of Student Engagement.” For many students, education is perceived to be irrelevant to their future. The underlying issue: students are not engaged in any kind of “future thinking” to even know what is, and isn’t relevant to them.

An even deeper issue…teachers, and parents too, are also disengaged. Just wanted to throw that in to cause trouble. And it IS a generalization, there are exceptions. So please don’t beat me up too much.


The solution that most of us believers take as truth: the express lane to engagement is for individuals to connect with their values, then for the individual’s values and those of “the organization” to be aligned. In his case, “the organization” is school, and later, society and business and industry.


This is the Holy Grail…does the possibility even exist for kids to connect with their values and truly engage in their education and their future? If it does exist, those who find the Holy Grail will be ‘rich’ beyond their wildest dreams. And society would be all the better in years to come.


Discussion starters just to get things going:


  • What are your thoughts on the level of engagement in secondary (high school) academics?
  • Your thoughts on the legendary adolescent fixation on short term gratification….is it truly insurmountable? Can teens consider their future beyond the next weekend? What will drive them to expand their mental timeline?
  • Generally, how can engagement fit into the academic environment?






Written by Craig

March 31, 2009 at 7:00 am

Working the Five Levels of Employee Engagement

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Here are a few questions I’d like to discuss in reference to the State of Employee Engagement 2008 (North America) report.  If you haven’t done so already, go get this report and engage!  You have to register to access this and a mountain of other related reports and articles, but this is really good stuff. If you can get to the BlessingWhite information, great. I’d sure like to hear others’ perspectives, with or without this referenced.


First, a word on behalf of the fine folks at BlessingWhite….the “X” that is referenced here is a great model. I love to talk about it. But please be sensitive to the fact that it is proprietary, copyrighted information. I am a certified facilitator for BlessingWhite’s Managing Personal Growth and I am also a true believer in BlessingWhite’s philosophies. I want to spread the word. But I also need to be careful about how much I share here.


JUST GO GET THE REPORT and get it straight from the source! Then come back and talk about it here!


ONE: what are the situational engagement tactics for each level?

pp 21-29 of the report examines across-the-board engagement enhancers. But do those at different points on the “X” (report p4) require different approaches?


See p33, 2008 report: the last three tips (8-10) highlight situational engagement tactics for the various levels, especially tip #10. The underlying theme of these three tips is to get to know each person individually: what are their motivations and values? Where are they on the “X”?


What I’d love to see this post result in is an expansion of these three tips.  It’s tough enough to get most leaders to invest the time in understanding the importance of engagement, if there isn’t some sort of prescriptive “how-to” that helps them actually DO something with their newfound awareness.


TWO:  where on the “X” is it most critical to focus efforts, relative to the others?  Safe answer not allowed-ALL levels are important. Can’t argue that.


The BW report recommends focusing on the “almost engaged” as they are highly employable and you don’t want to lose them. What about the fence-sitters, the “H-L / L-H” combinations, the highly satisfied low contributors, and those high contributors who are dissatisfied? Data indicates this is a 25% of the population, too significant to ignore? (North American Engagement Levels, 2008 report p7)


Can the fence-sitter 25% go either way, moving toward higher engagement, or toward disengagement? If so, you can’t ignore these levels.


Much like inspecting quality into a product by sorting out the defects, it’s the American Way to focus on the “below average” to bring them up to an acceptable level of mediocrity. But does it make sense to focus much effort on the disengaged, or should you minimize your losses and move on?


Last, if you leave well enough alone and ignore the Engaged, do you run the risk of those people back-sliding while you’re focusing on the other levels?

Written by Craig

March 31, 2009 at 6:42 am

Posted in Culture Change, Engagement

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(Resource) BlessingWhite: Gurus of Engagement

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You will have to register before you can access a whole lot of really good stuff, primarily engagement, leadership in these tough times, coaching etc. From “About”…

BlessingWhite: employee engagement & leadership development delivered through consulting and content, informed by ongoing research.

We are a global consulting firm dedicated to creating sustainable high-performance organizations. We provide consulting, processes, tools and training to:

  • Create high-performance cultures that drive bottom-line results and reinforce your organization’s mission and values.
  • Develop leaders at all levels who can manage the business and inspire your employees.
  • Align employee self-interest, energy and talents with your organization’s strategy.

BlessingWhite material is based on solid research, much of which is available here.

 Take special note of The State of Engagement: 2008 (North America, or your choice) and Uncertainty’s Antidote: Three Leadership Imperatives. And there is bunches more!

Written by Craig

March 31, 2009 at 3:02 am