Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Quality Insider Features
Donald J. Wheeler
What are the symptoms?
Graham Ward
Asserting yourself and setting clear boundaries
Henning Piezunka
Businesses and leaders influence the kinds of ideas they receive without even realizing it
Having more pixels could advance everything from biomedical imaging to astronomical observations
Chris Caldwell
Significant breakthroughs are required, but fully automated facilities are in the future

More Features

Quality Insider News
Providing practical interpretation of the EU AI Act
The move of traditional testing toward Agile quality management is accelerating
Easy to use, automated measurement collection
A tool to help detect sinister email
Funding will scale Aigen’s robotic fleet, launching on farms in spring 2024
3D printing technology enables mass production of complex aluminum parts
High-end microscope camera for life science and industrial applications
Three new models for nondestructive inspection

More News

Bill Kalmar

Quality Insider

This Is No Time To Hibernate Or Vegetate

How about starting quality time activities?

Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 05:00

Most of us, I suspect are familiar with the phrase, “Dog Days of Summer,” meaning the hottest, most sultry days of summer, typically early July through early September.  Sometimes the time frame is defined as a dull lack of progress.

To the best of my knowledge, there is not a similar event in winter but maybe there should be. In that regard, let’s call it the “Woeful Weeks of Winter.” In my mind it is the time after the holidays when we struggle to recover from all the party and dinner activities as we await the arrival of our bills. At the workplace we attempt to acclimate ourselves to the daily grind after days or perhaps weeks of downtime. The weather is blustery and many of us opt for just staying indoors watching TV or occupying ourselves on the Internet. A certain amount of “indoor grazing” also takes place with the resultant weight gain. It has become a time to hibernate or vegetate. But unless your name is Yogi Bear, hibernation should not be a part of your lifestyle—there are many activities you can do either at work or at home. Here are just a couple:

• How about sorting out a sock drawer? I looked in mine the other day and discovered a lot of missorts, single socks, and some that were just attempting to escape from the drawer. Sometime this week I plan to make a concerted effort to rearrange and pair all my socks.

• How about preparing for the annual IRS exercise wherein we determine how much of our income was captured by Uncle Sam? As I await the last of my income forms, thanks to Turbo Tax, I have begun to categorize my expenses. This is not a plug for Turbo Tax, but I can’t imagine an easier quicker way to file taxes. And e-filing is wonderful—my refunds are credited to our account within a week of filing. And yes, refunds are one of the perks enjoyed by us retired senior citizens.

• How about reviewing the workplace goals for 2010? Many will discover that the goals of the organization and their own personal goals do not mesh. Case in point would be the restrictions on raises and promotions. Your staff might be doing a yeoman job but the company is restricting pay increases to no more than 3 percent. Your goal to maintain a high level of productivity in the face of cutbacks and paltry salary increases makes your role as a manager even more difficult. Maintaining an energized staff will be your toughest activity as some of your employees may just want to slow down their pace and hibernate in their cubicle.

• How about a day trip to the local zoo? I understand that the animals are a bit friskier this time of the year. And frankly it’s no wonder—they, just like us, are cold and are scampering around just to stay warm.  The polar bears must love it.

• How about taking a serious look at our health and perhaps shedding some extra pounds? Here is my plan:  After a holiday season filled with snacks, treats, lots of cookies with a feedbag strapped to my face, I have gained a few pounds. Actually my weight is now 185—the most I have ever weighed in my life. And that's after running five miles everyday. March 30 marks my 67th birthday.  If I take the “7” in my upcoming age and March—the third month of the year—and combine them, it adds up to 10. That is my goal—to lose ten pounds by my birthday. I already have inscribed that goal on my calendar. It will mean giving up some of my favorites such as pop, chips, and popcorn with lots of butter, but I think I can do it.  Now that I have made it public, I will have you, the readers of Quality Digest  Daily to encourage me or castigate me if I fail.  Maybe watching “The Biggest Loser” each week will inspire me. Let the games begin.

• How about benchmarking your organization against some Baldrige award winners? The Baldrige web site lists all the winners since the program’s inception along with the names and phone numbers and e-mails of the contact people.  Make a connection with a winning company and arrange for a site visit or perhaps just an extended phone call.  Ask how the Baldrige Criteria has provided an impetus for improvement and what is being done now to maintain that edge.

• How about sending out some party invitations for the upcoming Super Bowl, which takes place February 7 in Southern Florida? Feel free to invite me, but as mentioned earlier I will be on a low cal diet.  I will on this one day, though, abandon my diet and agree to consume some jumbo shrimp.

• How about applying for a slot on the Baldrige Fellows Program? The purpose of this new program is to offer an executive development program centered on forming relationships with and learning from Baldrige Award recipients and their senior executives. Deadline for applying is Jan. 31, and candidates will be notified by Feb. 15. Contact the Baldrige Foundation for more information at www.baldrige.nist.gov.  

• How about throwing a couple of logs on the fire and renting a movie or two? My choice would be “Scent Of A Woman,”  “A Few Good Men,” “Caddyshack,”  “Animal House,” or “Casablanca.” And if you disagree, I’m putting you on double secret probation.

• How about practicing MBWA (management by walking around)? If you are in management, abandon your office on a regular basis and wander among the staff asking questions about job satisfaction and what you as a manager can do to improve efficiency and productivity. And don’t be afraid to take some constructive criticism from your employees.

• How about taking down those last few Christmas decorations? Christmas and Little Christmas (Epiphany) have passed and it’s time to move on. I’m still seeing Christmas lights illuminated at night and the occasional decorated tree in the window. Notice: Santa comes only once and won’t be fooled to come again.  Rudolph’s nose has been dimmed for now.

• How about reviewing the most current employee satisfaction survey to make sure that all critical items have been addressed? Then conduct a feedback meeting with the staff to share your action plan. Open the meeting for suggestions and feedback from the staff.

• How about inviting some of your customers for a focus group?  Maybe you are in the process of launching a new product or service and feedback from your customer base will be invaluable.  Or maybe you just need some first hand feedback on how your company is meeting and exceeding the expectations of your customers. In any event, your goal for 2010 should be to keep in lockstep with your customers. 

• How about meeting some friends for lunch?  Or maybe contact an acquaintance from several years ago and rekindle an old friendship. Maybe you just want to meet with some colleagues from comparable companies and determine how they are motivating their staff during this time of after-holiday hibernation.

• How about posting a video of your boss on YouTube with feet on the desk sound asleep as the staff pulls an all-nighter to meet an unexpected customer request? (Just kidding. I wanted to see if you were reading this far, but on second thought... it actually might be a good idea.)

• How about turning up the heat in your home, donning a swim suit and pretending that you are just moments away from diving into the warm waters of Megan Bay Beach in St. Thomas. Perhaps mixing up a Margarita will convince you that you have abandoned the cold weather of the Midwest.


So there you have it, several reasons not to hibernate at work or at home. Now if you will excuse me, I’m about to put on some mix-matched socks, my swimsuit, turn up the heat, pour a diet Pepsi, and do my income taxes. Some chips with guacamole dip would complete the scene but then again, I have that March goal and don’t want to resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy. No one said avoiding the vestiges of hibernation would be fun.


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.


Enjoy your wit

I enjoy your column and look forward to reading it each month! Good luck on the 10 lbs - a good challenge for all of us to do. Hope the sock drawer is organized and go ahead an enjoy the guacamole! Avocado is a good fat for us and you can dip lowfat/baked chips - but only 10 - ha ha!!

Where's the Pictures?

Bill, I expected to see at least one picture of you modeling your mismatched socks and Speedo....it's still not too late!

Sandra Gauvin