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Weekend Conference Presentation
Afternoon Parallel Track - June 11th

In Search of Excellence – Compliance and Contextual
(An InThinking Primer)
Presented by Bill Bellows and Friends

Primary Focus: Understanding Systems
Secondary Focus:
Understanding Variation


Abstract: One of the major issues and challenges of teamwork is the ability to recognize the importance of context. This presentation explores the topic of what we see going on depends on the context of the situation. Through a thought-provoking question and answer session, attendees will be asked to question the context of their own observations. Compliance Excellence is revealed by posing questions about the completion of tasks. For example, were the trash cans placed at the curb last night? Did you clean your room? Did you complete your homework? In each case, the inquiry about completion of a given task has only two answers, yes or no. The task is either complete or incomplete, pass or fail. There are no shades of gray when it comes to Compliance Excellence.

Compliance Excellence is also revealed through questions that involve counting, such as when asking about the distance to the nearest beach, airport, church, or shopping center. Compliance Excellence infers that each unit of measure is identical to the other units; all miles are the same, all seconds are identical and, therefore, absolutely interchangeable. Contextual Excellence provides awareness of the variation in how a task is completed, as well as awareness of the differences between items being counted. Contextual Excellence reveals the infinite number of ways a task can be completed or the infinite number of ways a requirement can be met. In doing so, Contextual Excellence divulges shades of gray. Upon integration, these carefully accumulated differences appear in use, revealed by components that integrate better and, therefore, perform better.

While Compliance Excellence offers advantages when the independence of counting is essential, Contextual Excellence provides utility in the ultimate use of interdependent parts, components, and tasks. From building rocket engines to operating a city government, what opportunities for “snap fit” integration could be revealed by shifting one’s excellence focus from Compliance Excellence to Contextual Excellence?


Bill Bellows

Biography: Bill Bellows is an Associate Fellow in the InThinking Network at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, California, where he is known for his efforts to provide insights to the advantages of thinking together, learning together, and working together. Audiences for his classes have also reached after-school program in elementary schools, graduate students at Northwestern University, as well as corporate, university, and public classes across the United Kingdom. Bill earned his BS, MS, and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Away from work, Bill serves as president of the In2:InThinking Network, and as a board member of the W. Edwards Deming Institute, and the Volunteers of America – Los Angeles chapter. He also serves on the editorial board of the Lean Management Journal. He lives in Valencia with wife, Monica, and their two college-aged children, Allison and Wilson.

Contact: Bill can be reached by e-mail at william.bellows@rocket.com for additional information about this Weekend Conference session.

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/pub/bill-bellows/0/435/218/

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