Westcoast Family Resource Society
Quality Consciousness and the 3Spheres of Reciprocity™
In early 2005, a small and growing Lower Mainland-based business process improvement consultancy, JDQ Systems Inc., embarked on a new and groundbreaking initiative. 3Spheres of Reciprocity – a model for hands-on social responsibility and mutually beneficial relationships – grew from the fundamental understanding that only through the close association of the spheres of Helping, Profiting and Learning can continual improvement be sustained. This philosophy reflects JDQ’s obligation to optimize its impact on society and expresses the noble values of mutualism, respect and equality. 3Spheres™ is built on these interrelated principles:
- All of us should be actively concerned with helping to
insure the welfare of each other and society at large.
- The food of growth is learning. Research and
mentoring are the vehicles for this.
- The purpose of business is sustainable profit.
To implement this model – test it’s wings – JDQ approached the ASQ Vancouver Section to gain support for a good idea: Offer the growing skills of the ASQ’s Six Sigma Special Interest Group, which JDQ has sponsored from it’s inception, to a lower Mainland-based nonprofit. The SIG would learn more by applying their quality skills in a “real world” environment, the nonprofit would benefit from the intervention of a team of highly trained process improvement experts and both JDQ and the ASQ would spread the good word on Quality Consciousness to an ever-expanding network of contacts and supporters.
The ASQ Vancouver directors felt that 3Spheres was right in line with an ASQ Head Quarters initiative called “Community Good Works”. This innovative program assists local governments and non-profits in implementing continuous improvement programs to enhance the quality of life.
By late spring, the ASQ had enthusiastically joined the 3Spheres bandwagon in the first implementation of their Community Good Works program outside of the United States. As summer turned to fall, the joint 3Spheres/ASQ Community Good Works partnership published a call for Lower Mainland non-profit applicants. Of the great number of worthy applicants, the steering committee selected one outstanding example of compassionate caring and dedicated focus as the beneficiary.
Westcoast Family Resources Society has been serving families in crisis throughout the British Columbian Lower Mainland since 1984. Its more than 50 full and part time workers deliver both outreach and group parenting programs that strengthen the family and help alleviate the suffering caused by abuse and trauma; substance abuse; poverty; mental and physical health challenges and other serious family problems. They needed help with their human resources processes at the core of their organization.
By early winter, the work was well underway and WFRS had applied for the ASQ Community Good Works grant of $5,000 in US funds. Before long, the team received a call from ASQ head office in Milwaukee. They won!
Here’s more of the story to date, told in the words of four key participants:
Ann Kutcher – Executive Director, Westcoast Family Resources Society:
“Both my parents were in the helping profession. One was a teacher and one a social worker and so I’ve always been interested in helping. There’s always been sort of an attitude, certainly in Vancouver, that if you don’t see something it’s not happening. I started seeing the people on the streets and the kids being beaten and so I became more and more interested in facilitating a change – particularly in families with young children. I wanted to work for an organization that shared the same values I had, such as strengthening families and promoting understanding. I’ve been in this field now for 32 years and at Westcoast for 22, as the Executive Director for 5.
For the last several years, WFRS has been getting a lot of pressure from the government. Previously, it was a mish-mash of things – no one really held us accountable for the dollars that we were spending. That started changing about 5 or 6 years ago. This led us to realize that we needed a better business sense in order to survive, collect contracts and be accountable for public funds. Historically, this profession has never had a business sense so it’s a real move. When Carol Anderson, here at Westcoast, discovered JDQ’s 3Spheres through a widely broadcast email, we thought “Oh wow! What an opportunity!” Our human resources system was an absolute mess and that was resulting in Union issues with missed deadlines and so forth. So, it was very timely for us to learn about this opportunity and very fortunate to end up being the beneficiary.”
SIDEBAR: The results of a study entitled “The Best Quality Management Practices In Small And Medium Enterprises: An International Study” published in the International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management in 2001, found that most areas of quality practices had significantly improved in recent years but “… common weaknesses among the top quality companies exist in relation to the human resources aspects of quality management.”
“Working together on this project has been a breath of fresh air for us. I look forward to our meetings. It takes me out of one world and moves us into another. It’s the first time we have moved out of the nonprofit world. For example, we’ve never recognized that HR is fundamentally the same practice in the for-profit sector. We are able to watch this process as issues are identified and focused solutions generated and it brings many things to light. From week to week, we can see how much time and function we will save. We are privileged to get a birds-eye view of how to approach other operational aspects differently as well. We are all learning from each other. It’s a fabulous and exciting opportunity! – a real model of effective teamwork and painless delegation. Everyone is in there taking part in the 3Spheres.
Some of us in the nonprofit sector have this idea that business people are different and approach things in a different way. Not at all! We’re just in there as one big team. I think that building relationships, networking, sharing knowledge, helping each other are all ways to bridge that gap. WFRS has been working with our families using a strength-based model for a long time. It has been really great to see the 3Spheres team working in the same manner. This has helped connect us in our abilities to work together.”
Manjit Parmar – ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and SIG member:
“I was part of the Six Sigma Special Interest Group that Jon Morris created to help us learn about the principles of that technology. From the beginning, we were looking for ways of applying what we were learning in a real world setting but there weren’t many opportunities. When the chance to help WFRS came up I was very happy because not only would I get a chance to use Six Sigma methods, but I would also be helping a nonprofit and that feels really good. I’ve donated money to charities before but in this case I’m able to provide my time and knowledge to a good cause, which is something different for both me and others in the Six Sigma SIG team.
I’m involved in manufacturing and the Six Sigma tools that we apply are geared to manufacturing. This project has given me a unique opportunity to apply other parts of this methodology in another sector – the service industry. I think this is where our economic sector is heading anyway so it’s a good opportunity for me and the whole team to look at things from a different perspective. So I am learning things I wouldn’t normally learn just through my work.
I’ve been working in the quality field for close to 20 years. I feel proud to be part of this project and so do the others in the group. I think the 3Spheres idea is unique and innovative and that more and more organizations should adopt it. Of course, you’ve got to have profit for companies to get involved with things like this. JDQ has come up with a model that profits the company, helps the community, and at the same time gives people opportunities to advance their knowledge. Here, we’re combining this with the ASQ’s job to promote quality so as a community, we all grow and prosper and that’s the whole idea behind it.
From Westcoast’s perspective, I think they are learning that they have to monitor their activities. Because they haven’t been doing this, they didn’t know how much time they were spending on different activities. They had some sense of waste but didn’t know how and where they were wasting. Six Sigma allows them to see how much time they are spending and where they are spending it as well, so in that sense it is really an eye opener for them.”
Kay Kobayashi – Chair, ASQ Vancouver Section and 3Spheres/Community Good Works steering committee member:
“I joined the ASQ Vancouver section in 1998 when I came to Canada. Right away, I decided to volunteer for the section. I was already in the quality field for over 15 years in the US and Middle East and I wanted a chance to network with local quality practitioners. Since then I’ve been serving on the ASQ Vancouver board in various roles. I have been serving as the Section Chair since July 2005.
I’ve been an advocate of Quality in the nonprofit sector for a few years and when I heard about JDQ’s 3Spheres initiative, I thought it would perfectly fit with the ASQ’s Community Good Works and that’s how this wonderful opportunity came about. I believe in what Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Just watching these volunteer consultants help a nonprofit with Six Sigma tools makes me feel very energized and delighted to see the client learn how to improve their HR process. I believe that quality concepts and tools can help nonprofit organizations tremendously. Through this initiative, the ASQ can gain recognition as an advocate and leader for the Quality movement in the non-profit sector as well. We can help them embrace quality philosophies and tools to achieve organizational excellence.
I think 3Spheres is a great model. I believe that a strength-based approach like this is life affirming. It creates energy while problem-based approaches tend to be energy draining. As you might have noticed, the ASQ’s Slogan is “Make Good Great™” I say, let’s accentuate the positive!”
Jon Morris – President, JDQ Systems Inc., ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and 3Spheres/Community Good Works Team Leader:
“All companies struggle to balance ‘getting the work done’ with ‘growing the business’. A company can only stay in business if they are continually improving. JDQ needed to have a more integrated and synergistic approach to achieving our business goals in a way that didn’t conflict with our personal objectives and ongoing client projects. We wanted to find an unforced, effective and enjoyable way of building business relationships. We set out to find methods to work on business development that would become a more natural and sustainable part of what everyone at JDQ was doing each day.
3Spheres fulfills these objectives as well as a personal desire to find a life balance where I’m making a living, learning new things and helping my community. 3Spheres extends this to the business macro level where the company can be simultaneously focused on profit, learning new things as an organization – becoming more innovative – and also helping by sharing all of this with the community. This creates an integrated, balanced, and sustainable business model. That balance and integration is what 3Spheres addresses.
This model really motivates participation – it’s enjoyable and fun to be a part of – but when it’s integrated in a company’s development and marketing plans it helps grow the bottom line in powerful ways. Often, people contact us to say they’ve heard about the 3Spheres model or a 3Spheres initiative somewhere and they want to express their approval and interest. Then they go on to offer us some new business! That’s the kind of response stakeholders in a for-profit organization are looking for.
But aside from the expanded networking and marketing opportunities, we are learning so much more from the 3Spheres of Reciprocity model. In general, companies don’t put enough emphasis on learning from other industries. Innovation requires engaging with fresh models. Managers need to recognize the patterns that exist in other areas of business. By utilizing the benchmarking that allows you to discover how other organizations do things, you can see patterns that can be exploited. The nonprofit sector has a lot of best practices to offer the world of business. This has been a great source of innovation for us.”
Franklin Kiermyer is an international business development consultant who specializes in improving marketing business processes. As a JDQ partner, Franklin collaborates with businesses and nonprofits to discover innovative ways to increase awareness and revenue. Franklin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about JDQ and 3Spheres of Reciprocity, please visit www.jdq.com, for more information on Westcoast Family Resources Society, visit them at www.westcoastfamily.org.
“3Spheres” and “3Spheres of Reciprocity” are trademarks of JDQ Systems Inc., Vancouver, Canada.
West Coast Family Resource Society:
Ann Kutcher – Executive Director
Six Sigma Special Interest Group:
3Spheres/ASQ Community Good Works Steering Committee:
Kay Kobayashi – Chair, ASQ Vancouver Section
Richard Vurdela – ASQ Vancouver Section board member
Jon Morris – President, JDQ Systems Inc.
Franklin Kiermyer – Business Development Consultant for JDQ