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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Vision 2020 Meeting

Notes from the eleventh Vision 2020 Process Design Team meeting

(These notes do not reflect MCB Policy, they reflect ONLY the current learning of the 2020 Process Design Team)

February 26-27, 2001

DeWitt Conference Center, DeWitt, MI


Purpose of Vision 2020 Process Design Team

MCB as an agency has invested considerable staff time and resources in learning new systems design technology.  MCB is anticipating uncertain futures.  The agency is currently working to loosely weave together many ideas (strands) creating a new MCB fabric to match and accommodate the many diverse new systems MCB staff experience daily in the world around us.

The Vision 2020 Process Design Team meets to study and learn systems design processes that will help MCB weave together and integrate both current and future internal systems and services.  Concurrently, we are struggling with how to integrate the Capital Quality Initiatives Training into the design process so we can imagine our futures together in partnership with internal teams, external vendors, and our customers.

In January, 2001, the MCB Executive Management Team asked the Vision 2020 Team to help envision and create a process for design of a new Quality Reinforcement System (QRS) and for a Strategic Thinking and Planning Process.   When we considered that the QRS is in addition to the Control Reinforcement System (CRS) currently in place in MCB, it seems like a huge job.  This task is extremely complex.  The MCB situation is challenging to all of us.  These notes summarize the February Dialogue.

If we assume it is possible to integrate and align the many MCB internal systems and services, we then must try to figure out how to interrelate MCB internal systems and services with a whole range of external programs and service systems (i.e. vendors, partners, schools, clinics, Workforce Boards, etc.).  We are now learning how to design new MCB systems that are continuously improving while MCB is simultaneously learning how to design systems on-the-fly with our customers, vendors, and partners.  These are challenges large enough to confuse and confound all of us.

The Vision 2020 Process Design Team met February 26-27, 2001 to synthesize information and interrelate three major MCB initiatives coming together in the  next few months.  The three strategic initiatives as we understand them are followed by several learning tools that are available to each MCB Unit Library that asks.  The three proposed initiatives and tools are:

  1. Draft of MCB Tilting Strategies and Values

  2. Proposal to transform our QRS/CRS thinking

  3. Proposal to begin a Strategic Thinking and Planning Process to help MCB strategize for 2005 and beyond

New Learning Tools for each MCB Unit Library:

  • a "QRS/CRS Wheel" as a model to help clarify some of the terms that are emerging in QRS/CRS

  • a reference book: Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations

  • a reference book:  Public Sector Starter Guide: An Introduction to Performance Excellence and Self-Assessment

  • Multiple copies of other resources are available.

Draft MCB Tilting Strategies and Values

In the past year, the 2020 team helped identify an overall goal of "tilting" the agency from vertical to horizontal, from expert to colleague, from client to customer, from vender to associate.  Tilting is viewed as a flexible attitude and an image that can facilitate understanding and communication among all of the customers, employees, and partners affiliated within the MCB service system.

To quote the definitions shared in the first issue of "The Tilt" newsletter, we said:

In the 2020 meetings, we use the word "tilt" frequently.   We discuss "tilting" the decision making process so that it is less top-down; we talk about the "tilting" of service delivery so that our clients are even more and more involved in achieving greater independence and/or employment goals; we talk about lessening the fragmentation of programs and services within the agency and moving toward a more holistic, circular system.  Tilting is hard work.  It is a philosophy and an action.  We invite you to start "tilting" your view of your role in this agency.

The 2020 group has previously identified several lists of "tilting" reminders that people can use to recall the essential learning points in the New Science thinking that is catching on in MCB.  This list of Tilting Strategies and Values is a synthesis of previous lists for review and agreement by stakeholders.

The 2020 Vision Process Design Team is proposing that MCB employees, commission board, and partners review and commit to using these Tilting Strategies and Values.  It is part of a new MCB quality service commitment and "Credo" that we promise to our customers and to ourselves.

We want to see if this list of Tilting Strategies and Values makes sense as part of our future MCB Credo.  These are proposed as Tilting Strategies and Values to be lived by all of us as we interact with consumers, partners, vendors, competitors, and community members (i.e. reference the Ritz Carlton model Credo and Mission Statement on the <MCB2020-L. list serv).

The NEXT iteration of MCB Tilting Strategies and Values are:

  1. Dialogue Circles help to encourage open conversations learning New Science Principles to design future focused MCB systems.   Circles symbolize Tilting to Open Systems.
  2. Trust and Relationships are the MCB foundation and symbolize integrity in MCB service systems.  Everything we do should be measured by this standard; "Does our proposed action positively reinforce trust?"
  3. Imagining and Re-framing MCB in whole systems terms allows us to avoid fragmentation and turf battles.  We are dreaming anew, shifting our energy to holistic designs.
  4. Involving and Informing everyone is a way to create new chemistry, developing a pool of ideas and strategies shared among equals.  MCB employees care about living in a world that fully includes blind people, understands the nature of blindness, and is prepared to accommodate them.  Like everyone else, blind people are prepared to exchange energy, skills, competencies, an productivity for positive recognition of successful contributions to society.
  5. Team Learning and Visioning encourage our focus on future group ideals.  They serve to keep us at the cutting edge of growth and change and remind us daily to keep learning and increasing the knowledge in the MCB system.
  6. Balancing Quality and Quantity allows us to equalize the interlacing forces that are engaged in systems design and engineering.  We are focused on adding capacity to satisfy the future interests of both customers and employees.  We seek to balance the quality aspects of our MCB systems performance and the quality dimensions, at the same time as we try to "tilt" our systems perspectives.  MCB systems should be designed to serve and satisfy customers first.   Then we work to enhance our own pride as professionals and to serve our federal and state grant sponsors and our partners, too.  All are "tilting" at once.
  7. QRS Thinking allows us time to add value in all we do.  These quality dimensions help us focus on excellence of services and on satisfaction of our customers' hopes, dreams, and wishes, as well as their needs.   For example, thinking trends in a quality-based system (QRS) tend to be like those reflected in the Strategy #7 QRS Thinking column listed below.
  8. CRS Thinking helps us assure that MCB produces a large enough quantity of employment and independence closures to establish a successful return on investment for the funds invested in MCB.  For example, thinking trends in a quantity-based system tend to be like those reflected in the Strategy #8 CRS Thinking column listed below.

Excellence in MCB will require performance and productivity measures that include both QRS and CRS thinking.  There are two columns that follow.  The #7 QRS Thinking column is on the left margin and the #8 CRS Thinking column is on the right side.   Both QRS and CRS columns reflect some underlying assumptions/paradigms describing how people can think about the world around us.  Both QRS and CRS can be appropriate ways to think, depending on the context in which they are used.

QRS Thinking CRS Thinking
Teams responsible Individuals responsible
Circular power dynamics Vertical power structure
Quality driven Quantity driven
Customer focused Control focused
Collaborative Competitive
Common job goals Separate job titles
Cross functional work Isolated job functions
Cross training Specialist training
Self control External control
Learning centered Critical appraisal centered
Cooperation/harmony Conflicted/adversarial
Consensual decisions Authorities make decisions
Peers, ethics/intrinsic Bosses, Fed. Regs/extrinsic
Organic/living metaphor Mechanical metaphor
"Self" embedded in system "Self" excluded from system
Context intrinsic to system Context external to system
Chaos and confusion Stability and predictability
Order is inside the Chaos Order is via external control
Flexible Boundaries Rigid Boundaries
Networked authority Position based authority
Leaderful/energized Heroic Leaders/parental

Proposal to transform our QRS/CRS thinking and

how we design and engineer MCB systems

We begin by distinguishing  between the nature of QRS and CRS thinking.  In a QRS, the burden of control shifts from an authority outside the customer and/or employee to self-control and intrinsic  motivation to perform as team members or partners.

The nature of QRS puts customers in the driver's seat, involving them along with other team members in helping design their own individual service interactions (IEP/IWRP) and helping customers self-organize and self-control their services as delivered through MCB.  Additionally QRS also involves customers as partners and architects involved in the macro level design activities that function to continuously improve those systems.

The nature of CRS is to control customers and employees via external constraints, with laws, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures.  CRS conditions a compliance attitude by putting the counselor, teacher, doctor, or manager in a position of having to exert pressure on those for whom they feel they are responsible.  Used alone, CRS resembles a parental structure that controls through preaching, confronting, reminding, chiding, rewarding, and cajoling people to conform.

CRS is often called the "carrot and stick approach."   CRS sometimes uses external rewards and punishment threats as the primary means to get conformance within a series of activities that condition child-like responses in adults.  When this occurs too frequently, or is the only context used between students and teachers, clients and counselors, and/or staff and managers, it is viewed as inappropriate.  Yet these basic control skills are still being taught in some graduate counselor programs, business schools and teacher training programs around the world.  Control theory is still a basic foundation of our professions.  CRS' are viewed as basic knowledge and skills of the caseworker, classroom teacher, and traditional managers everywhere.

For the sake of dialogue, we propose the notion that the current system (CRS) is designed to focus on and reinforce RSA control systems aimed at using authority to increase MCB quantity and productivity results.  If we can become more aware of how that works and feels, it becomes easier to understand how the two systems can operate when we try to add quality reinforcement (QRS) into the service mix.

QRS needs to be viewed as an add-on to the CRS model.  If people can all work toward creating a new combined QRS/CRS paradigm, we can transform and evolve our CRS/QRS thinking within a larger framework.  This bigger worldview can incorporate self-control within the new QRS/CRS model.  For now, we can conceptualize them going forward as parallel systems that can be used to design new MCB capacities.

Remember that new QRS/CRS systems have not been designed yet.   An understanding of some aspects of the new QRS and traditional CRS can facilitate our learning how to shift within the CRS paradigm to retain current controls and add the dimensions of quality.

One hoped for outcome of the March 21 EMG Meeting is a realization that the entire agency is in partnership with vendors, community agencies, and customers.   Therefore, everyone needs to be involved in helping shape the design of future service capacities in MCB's new QRS/CRS systems.  We propose that MCB actively adopt and adapt the QRS/CRS systems design model to weave a new MCB fabric.

MCB Systems Design in context of QRS/CRS

What is QRS/CRS?  It is a way of thinking and a work in process.  QRS is potentially a new driving force in the MCB that reminds us to tilt toward both internal and external customers.  It is focused on collecting both quality and quantity data and making sure the numbers  we report are accurate and a true reflection of the excellence we all want to see in MCB.  The emphasis is on continuously exploring possibilities, asking customers, improving service systems, and simultaneously learning all we can about the state of the art in rehabilitation.

In QRS, quality is demonstrated by our continuing to learn strategies that reinforce feelings of respect, esteem, and growth for all customers and employees.  We plant the seeds for growth and nurture relationships and trust in every interaction.  We need to be explicit about our purpose and focus on creating an environment filled with meaningful "attractions" in all we do.

QRS is continually reinforcing the things we do well.  It is a cyclical pattern that is constantly moving forward in a positive way.  We are recognizing and reinforcing positive outcomes.  We design into our systems all the supports, recognition, and rewards that we need from each other and from MCB.  Our customers in the marketplace ultimately define quality.  Vendors and employees are in partnership with customers to clarify and continually upgrade the collection of customer satisfiers that go together to create a market satisfaction index.  It is an ongoing process.  Quality is an integral part of the system.  It isn't defined by staff, nor by the system, or by programs or projects alone.  Quality is ultimately defined in partnership with MCB customers, (both  internal and external).

MCB focus is to get honest input from our customers, partners, and staff, weaving that data into a fabric that is pleasing to those we serve.  They should have direct input into the design of the systems and services that directly impact their lives at both micro and macro levels.  Nothing should be designed for customers without the direct involvement of customers.

The 2020 group proposes that MCB systematically survey all of the people with whom MCB has contact, including 08, 26, and 28 closures, as well as homemaker and others who drop out of the system.  We need to develop a data set on which we can base future systems design decisions to add value in all we do.

QRS/CRS Systems Design Questions

  • Can we design a QRS/CRS system that offers all participants a New Science model based on a new set of assumptions?
  • Can we begin using MCB Tilting Strategies and Values to learn a new way of thinking about the future of the agency, its vision, and relationships with customers, partners, and staff?
  • Can we design new QRS/CRS systems that involve a lot of people in learning why things are done, yet does not directly tell people what to do, and how to do it?
  • If we design new PDSA processes, who will train pilot staff?
  • Are we currently getting systematic quality feedback from our customers and partners?  If so, how do we gather data?
  • For what reasons are data gathered?  Is it used to improve?
  • What are we learning?  How can we improve our systems?
  • Will we get any resistance to evolving MCB systems?
  • Will there always be a need for Systems/Process Design?
  • Who are the architects of new organization designs?
  • Who will do the training on future agency designs?
  • Can we envision an agency where everyone uses transformed QRS/CRS thinking?
  • Can we continually ask each other and our customers, "What are we learning?" and "How can we improve this service system or process?"
  • Do we picture MCB/FIA as a series of interconnected circles?
  • When we tweak one part of the MCB/FIA system, do we try to anticipate the impacts on another part of the system?
  • To achieve ownership, does MCB foster the involvement of every stakeholder in the design of a new QRS including FIA?
  • Does QRS/CRS fit within the FIA Strategic Plan 2001?
  • How do the MCB Strategic Thinking and Planning Processes match with the FIA Performance Management and Development Program?  Can they be merged as one?
  • Can MCB eliminate experts, fragmentation, and turf?
  • What does the everyday application of a new QRS look and feel like?   For example:
    • In 1999, did we ask the CRS question . . .
      What's in it for me?
    • In 2001, we ask the QRS question . . .
      What's possible for us?
    • In 2003, we'll ask the QRS question . . .
      What's in it for we?

Proposal to begin a Strategic Thinking and Planning Process to help MCB design and engineer new MCB service systems for 2005 and beyond

We propose that MCB adopt a Strategic Thinking and Planning Process on March 21, 2001.   It will begin to focus MCB strategic thinking on involving customers, partners, and other selected stakeholders in dialogue about strategic future scenarios in MCB.   This Strategic Thinking and Planning Process is adapted from the book Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations.  Published by the Wilder Foundation, the book includes five steps to developing a Strategic Plan.  The Vision 2020 Process Design Team proposes to add two additional steps to make it match the PDSA process that we are beginning to use in transforming to a QRS/CRS quality system.

The Vision 2020 Team proposal, as adapted, has these seven steps: 

  1. Get organized
  2. Take stock
  3. Set direction
  4. Develop and Adopt a plan
  5. Implement the pilot system
  6. Assess the results of the pilot
  7. Refine, Adapt, and Adopt the new system, or Recycle through another PDSA as needed.

On March 21, we propose to begin with the first two steps, Get organized and Take stock.  Get organized means we decide if and how we want MCB to do the next round of Strategic Thinking and Planning.  Taking stock is the same as the Situation Analysis process that organizations have used in the past and with which most strategic planning starts.  Our twist is that we propose to begin with a future search - 2005 to clarify our future direction possibilities and to propose for analysis several possible scenarios.   Then we can map backwards to design the needed goals, activities, and assignments for 2001.

After reviewing many possibilities, the 2020 team realized it is essential that customers and partners have direct impact on the design  of MCB systems if we are to achieve quality together.

We propose to add customer representatives to systems design dialogues as we go forward with the Strategic Thinking and Planning Process.  The transformation process to QRS/CRS is complex to understand and difficult to design systems without the complete context that can be provided by customers and partners along with employees.

Strategic Thinking in an Evolving QRS Context

Strategic thinking should include awareness of a QRS context.

  • QRS is not a project/program; it is how we will live together.
  • QRS is not just about reinforcing new ideas; we're growing new systems and adapting old processes to meet new needs.
  • QRS is not a revolution; it's an evolution of MCB systems.
  • QRS is an approach to shaping and refining MCB's evolving edge of growth, continuously adapting and improving MCB systems and processes based on "feed forward" designs.
  • QRS is about viewing all of MCB as one whole entity.
  • QRS is thinking strategically how we do things and how we can better serve our customers, both internal and external.
  • QRS should be designed by a cross-functional team t hat understands CRS, (MCB law and regulations), and works together to weave a new QRS/CRS fabric.  Holistic systems require holistic designs and whole teams learning together.
  • It will take an extended period of time (2-4-? years) to integrate internal and external systems and form a new QRS.
  • It will probably take all of 2001 to complete one cycle of the eight steps of our Strategic Thinking and Planning Process.

Strategic Thinking Process Overview

First, we create an ideal picture of the future and then attempt to design and develop the systems that make it successful.  The 2020 group recognized that first we should invite customers and/or their representatives to sit in on the design dialogue so we all can learn and design together.  Then, we need to involve all employees and sampling of our customers or consumer representatives in imagining the future of MCB in 2005.

Next, we need to have a Dialogue Circle that covers some of the essential strategic initiatives facing the agency (TWIIA, WIIA, New Rehab, legislation, budget cuts, new revenue streams, etc).  We then evolve systems, sharing examples of positive actions taken in context of QRS/CRS.  We constantly design activities that help connect all customers, partners, and employees in a reinforcing systems design that is positive and future focused.

MCB needs to focus on how to open up our 25-year-old systems to help attain more flexibility.  Staff can learn to use quality tools to their advantage.  Creating awareness in FIA, DMB, and with all other community partners is essential.

Another strategy is to accept the paradox of CRS and QRS co-existing side by side in a holistic system.  It may be helpful for each office and unit to have their own QRS systems design group to assure that all members get involved and all customers are represented in all local design decisions.  It will take time and training for all of us to learn to be architects of QRS.

QRS/CRS is an iterative system.  We use the PDSA model to continuously assure that all new systems and procedures are being piloted and people are satisfied.  We are exploring innovative possibilities and testing new ideas, adapting and adopting them based on the recommendations of the pilot data.  We design continuously and forever to renew our systems.  We design holistically, have fun, and encourage that everyone takes the initiative to get involved and be informed about this journey.

If we can all accept this QRS/CRS challenge, we all will need to reach consensus and commit to grow forward in alignment with each other and in sync with our MCB evolving systems.  It will not be an easy task.

New QRS/CRS tools

  • QRS/CRS Wheel Design   The QRS/CRS Wheel Design includes in the outer rim of the wheel the four phases of QRS development: Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA).  In the inner rim of the wheel are the seven stages of the Strategic Thinking and Planning Processes that we are beginning for 2005.  The seven stages are:
  1. Get organized
  2. Take stock
  3. Set direction
  4. Develop and Adopt a plan
  5. Pilot the system
  6. Assess results of the pilot
  7. Refine, Adapt, Adopt, and Install the system or recycle as needed

        The QRS/CRS Wheel specifically links Strategic Thinking and Planning - 2005 with the quality phases of PDSA.  The hub of the wheel reflects the QRS Systems Design, and the spokes of the wheel reflect the eight MCB Tilt Strategies and Values.  All three systems will function to help us sort and cluster ideas in the complicated situations and environments that surrounds MCB.   They will help us create capacity, design  new systems, clarify terms, and pilot new MCB processes via PDSA.

  • A reference book: Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations is available from Central Office on disk and book formats.
  • A reference book: Public Sector Starter Guide: An Introduction to Performance Excellence and Self-Assessment is available from Central office on disk.
  • Unit Library Resources: Multiple copies of several other quality initiatives and strategic planning topics are also available in a variety of formats.

Proposed Learning Objectives: March 21, 2001

After completing this meeting, participants will be able to:

  1. Use Dialogue Circle Guidelines to facilitate meetings.
  2. Involve others in a team learning and visioning process that begins to identify ideal customer-driven QRS/CRS systems.
  3. Recognize that CRS/QRS are parallel systems that co-exist and come together around shared purpose and meaning. 
  4. Commit to learning in action.  We are creating a fully functioning Learning Organization in every sector of MCB.
  5. Validate CQI/2020 investments in PY 2000 by beginning to use CQI knowledge in designing/piloting PDSA systems.
  6. Recognize that our learning has created a readiness and willingness to grow and to create new QRS/CRS systems.
  7. Commit to a PDSA system for design, development, pilot testing, and study of the results.
  8. Commit to adapt, adopt, and implement or recycle and re-pilot our new systems and processes using a PDSA model.
  9. Establish QRS/CRS processes and conduct a self-assessment based on the Quality Council's Starter Guide.
  10. Use copies of the QRS Wheel and other learning materials to train and involve MSB partners and staff.
  11. Get ownership from the EMG and all MCB employees to assure all stakeholders are represented in the new QRS.
  12. Self-assess annually to assure that MCB measures up to the Quality Benchmarks we set for ourselves.  For example, we could start a self-assessment like this:
  • Begin the self-assessment with a "Customer Focus and Satisfaction profile" (Category 2 in the Starter Guide)
  • Customers then become a major driving force of QRS systems design, and we symbolize our shift in thinking.

    Tentative Agenda for March 21, 2001

DeWitt Conference Center, DeWitt, Michigan

8:45 AM    Arrival, refreshments, and social interaction

9:15 AM    Welcome, introductions, and charge to the EMG by the Executive Management Team

9:30 AM    Video: Leadership and the New Science

10:00 AM    Review the Dialogue Circle Process Guidelines

10:30 AM    Begin the Strategic Thinking and Planning Process - 2005 with Step 1.) Get Organized and 2.) Take Stock.  (We propose breaking into five groups to consider the questions and to start the MCB Strategic Thinking and Planning Process.)

Future Strategic Thinking and Planning:

Step 1.  Get Organized

  • Review why we need to think and plan strategically
  • Are there any general questions, issues, or concerns?
  • What scenarios should we consider for research/analysis?
  • Does it make sense to try to weave together Tilt Strategies and Values with Strategic Thinking and Planning and a QRS/CRS model for MCB performance planning?
  • Is there a need for another steering group?
  • Is any external help or partner involvement needed?
  • Is the Strategic Thinking and Planning outline okay?
  • Does it fit MCB?
  • Does the EMG give its commitment to proceed?
  • Who will take the lead responsibility for Strategic Thinking and Planning for the next year?
  • What are the expectations of the organization and of the  EMG and the Vision 2020 Design Team?
  • When and how does the EMT want to continue the process?

Strategic Thinking and Planning, Looking  Back from 2005 -

What is the ideal MCB?

Step 2.  Take Stock/Situation Analysis 2001-2005

  • What are some every day applications of the new QRS/CRS process and service delivery system in 2005?
  • What do the new QRS/CRS systems look like in 2005?
  • How are they different from the CRS model used in 2001?
  • What does the new control system CRS/QRS look like?
  • Who controls and how are controls reinforced in 2005?
  • Back in 2001, what did the EMG do to phase in the development of these new CRS/QRS Processes?  Who took the lead roles?  What processes did they follow?
  • What resources were added to the resource pool?
  • How did MCB acquire new resources?
  • What did MCB do to fundamentally change the resource mix?
  • What new department  now partners with MCB?
  • How are we changing our CRS/QRS thinking to respond to changes in Rehab law and in our competitive environment?
  • How did we begin to identify all the issues confronting MCB?
  • What scenarios were considered by MCB during 2001 for research and analysis?

After Action Review

What have we learned from this QRS/CRS design process?

What can we do next time to improve the QRS/CRS process?

What are the next steps?

What are our assignments?

Who will report on what at the next iteration of MCB design?  When does EMG meet again?

3:30 PM Adjourn