IQC Enhanced Assessment Criteria (Feb 2012)

26, February 2012

Another upgrading of the WITs Assessment Criteria by Singapore Productivity Association was released in early Feb or late Jan 2012.

By studying the criteria carefully, team members, facilitators and  managers will do well to know how points are allocated. 

In my years of consulting, WITs and IQC teams wants to know whether they measure up to other teams.  They want to be assessed on how effective their teams’ problem solving methodology compares with the outstanding teams.  Agood place to start – the Assessment Criteria.

There are several valuable ideas ‘hidden’ in the criteria.  Over the years, teams who regularly participated in the Team Excellence Symposium (or convention, as it used to be known as) actually discover for themselves a whole deeper understanding of the problem solving process.  

For instance, one team, I coached begin to appreciate the importance of target setting, and that the target is the anchor for the problem definition.  They begin to see that without a ‘firm target’. the problem cannot be defined clearly.

Analysis is really the final stage of the data (evidence) collecting process.  Those in the healthcare industry will know that doctors who are good, pay a lot of attention to gathering the historical progression of a disease.  For instance, to understand Diabetes better, and to be able to advise the patient on the best treatments available, the doctor will do well to examine a complete history of the patient’s background, type of physical activities he is involved in, his normal diet composition, sugar intake, carbohydrate intake. is important.  Similarly, decisions must be based on sufficient (not complete) and relevant data.  

Finally when it comes to implementation, managers of large companies are interested in getting buy-in of the internal stakeholders during the implementation of a nw procedure.  If people are not supportive of the solution, whatever change that is being implemented will not be sustainable.  How and how much was the buy-in is crucial.

Together with the write-up on the Assessment Criteria (2012),  I have also extracted the key focus of each of the ‘items’.  While the criteria write-up is a view from the Assessors’ perspective, my objective here is to provide a perspective to help the team members and facilitators view the criteria from their angle.  


We are what our strengths are.

3, February 2010

Donald T is looking for contributors more than learners in his show the apprentice.

Marcus Buckingham wrote a self-improvement book, Go Put Your Strength To Work.  In it, he mentioned three myths, which I find it useful to support my personal theme of Team-based Problem Solving.

Myth 1.  As you grow, your personality changes.
Truth.   As you grow, you become more of who you really are

Myth 2.  You grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness.
Truth.  You will grow the most in your areas of greatest strength.

Myth 3.  A good team member does what it takes to help the team.
Truth.  A good team member deliberately volunteers his strengths
to the team most of the time.

Funny, when I read these, they sound very familiar to me.  Surely there are lots of truth in everyone of those Truth statements.  These statements come across as one of those ‘Why Didn’t Think Of It’ ideas.  We knew these all along; but it still take someone with a strong perception to put these things in perspective.  

He provided plenty of examples and experiences in his book.  I must say, they confirmed many of my personal observations as well.  My own experiences can support those truths too. 

Although similar, we are all like jigsaw pieces, have extras in some areas, and weaknesses in others.

I have seen how good team players had not benefitted the team because they simply give themselves to the team in whatever they think the team needs.   Selfless and sacrifising? Yes, but not really effective though!

If those contributions are their natural strengths, then great; but if those contributions are not areas of their strengths, then the whole team really suffers from such their over-generous gesture. 

I can recall many cases where people accuse the givers as ‘trying to be smart’ .   Many dispised the givers eventually, and some givers are reduced to outcasts although his intentions were sincere and were aimed to be helpful.  

I have also come across managers who are totally oblivious to this myth.  I remember clearly a case of one manager who insist that ‘good training and coaching’ can develop their anybody into ‘whatever’.    He argued that “since people are moldable,  as he himseslf had came up from the rank and files; through sheer hard work, discipline and persistence, ‘anyone can climb the corporate ladder’, and he is the living example.  Being in a team gives us more opportunities to learn and of course, strengthen our respective weakness”. 

This view seriously contradicts the actual nature of team dynamics!

While it is true that there are plenty of opportunities to learn for people taking up a role in a team, but the reality is that this approach is doomed right from the start.  

Say you allow everyone an opportunity to strengthen their respective weaknesses, then what you are essentially saying is that, everyone should be assigned tasks which they are semi-competent.  This has to be the case because the aim is to allow the less competent a chance to learn. 

Therefore the team as a whole is the sum of the ‘less or average’ competence.  And we all know that in any given population, the average is always lower than the peak.  This view does not harness on the strongest or most competent individuals. 

Now, on the contrary, if each member pitches in their best skills (i.e whatever they do better than others); then every other person will learn from the best available.  The result is the lifting of those people with lesser capability, except the team’s best who is the leader of that skill. 

The person who is best in, say, product knowledge should be leading in product knowledge; the one who is best in distribution should be leading in allocation of despatching; and the one who had the best experience in stock take, leads the year-end stocking. 

This is beautiful pair of tango dancers. To do their trick well, each must depends on the other for the strength the other has. The man, gives his physical strength literally, and the woman, gives her grace. Both need not be physically strong and swift, or we have a 'hard and mechanical' dance. We do not need both to be graceful and flowing, then the poor lady will suffer surely suffer many falls before the end of the dance!

Sin 7. Lust

1, February 2010

From my years of experience, the issue of lust did not affect the management of WITs directly.  At least, the team leaders were not of that tendency; not to my knowledge.

By the time the team leader and members return to their workstations after the sessions with me, they are so filled with things to do, that deviating from the objective of pursuing of their quality goal has already becomes a remote possibility.  The task and activties listed out during the session will become a preoccupation for the next two or three weeks, which is usually on top of their existing workload.

So many things to work on, WITs Project also!

Well let us not let our guards down.  The seventh sin is as determined as ever.  Lerking in the dark. Lust, could creep in and effect on some members or leaders theoretically.  Sin afterall is sin.  When you least expect it, it pounces on you.  Be on your guard. 

...I can help you with the work .. in more ways then ..

And leaders are also target of Satan’s snare.

Even the most powerful man on earth could become victim of this temptation. A powerful sin indeed!

Again refering to the Good Book does help me.  The Bible speaks of lust in several passages.

Exodus 20:14, 17 , “Do not commit adultery. . . Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns,” or

Matthew 5:28, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Job 31:11-12 brings up the problems associated with lust quite directly: “For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.”

Top professional golfer, can he escape from the jaws of lust?

The latest most colorful story unfolding is the Tiger Woods rumour, which I read over the internet.  When you follow the rumour mills, you will inevitable come across the writeup on him going for ‘sex theraphy’,  just so that he can manage his Lust. 

I always think that golf is a game which demands the full concentration of the player; so what went wry with the best golf player of the century?  Some may even suggest that his sin made him better at golf or what? 

The multiple 'Causes' are the 'small bad things' that leads to the 'big bad thing', the Effect

In WITs, we have a fundamental assumption that ‘bad things leads to big bad things.’  We use this problem solving assumption as in the Cause Relations Diagram, or Cause-and-Effect  Diagram, sin cannot have helped him in winnng the games.  So in WITs, our line of thinking is to defend yourself against this sin.  If you apply it to the Tiger case, you will come to a conclusion that, when he manage this sin (assumming, he had) he will come off a better person and be even better!

Guard against the temptation of Lust and you can improve yourself.

Sin 6. Gluttony

2, July 2009


That is really related to the previous sin – greed. 

Proverbs 23:2 “And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.”

This particular one really focus on the body.  The sin of gluttony is related to the way we treat ourselves, and in the case of WITS Managers, the team is your body. 

How the team ‘greedily gobbles up rewards’, develops a strong and uncontrolled yearning for more and more rewards to be given to them for whatever slight effort that they have put in; the team had gotten themselves into gluttony.

It is not wrong to eat, and not even wrong to be a little fat.  Afterall, there are studies which attempt to show that fat people are fat because of some ‘fat genes’ and scientist have indeed found some.

However, even if there are exceptions to being fat, let us not become gluttony. 

Take some lessons from St Thomas Aquinas’ on what he says on the characteristics of the sin of gluttony.  The signs are :

  • Praepropere – eating too soon.
  • Laute – eating too expensively (washedly).
  • Nimis – eating too much.
  • Ardenter – eating too eagerly (burningly).
  • Studiose – eating too daintily (keenly).
  • Forente – eating wildly (boringly).

Eating uncontrollably is sinful, not that eating is.  The thing is that St Thomas believes that we all can actually control the intake of food, but there are some who do not wish to control that urge to gorge,  ending up doing ‘too soon, too much, too eagerly, too …..’  thus hurting our bodies.  In fact in the next sin – lust it is also the result of sinful nature.


Manager is liken to the mouth – the controller of the intake of food and unless the WIT Manager controls what goes into the team and make it a form of  ‘reward’ the body will abuse the nourishment that it gets. 

Over feeding of the cat, who does not know the meaning of getting obese

Over feeding of the cat, who does not know the meaning of getting obese


The team (body) grows on what the manager rewards (feeds the mouth), therefore unless managers take the trouble to know what the team are getting as rewards, not just depending on the taste of the food, we will all be in for a sad turn of events – obesity is not the worst of gluttony, it is the consequences of glutton that kills the body.

Sin 5 – Greed

4, June 2009


“Greed is not a crime” according to Prof Jitendra Singh, the ex-dean and Shaw Foundation Chair, Professor of strategy, management and organisation at Nayang Technology University.  


His statement was made in the midst  of today’s  financial turmoil, which many attributed it to greed.  He further elaborated, “There is a complex interplay of micro and macro things leading to such human behaviour.” 

In the legality construct, if you had taken something and can explain why your taking it had not hurt others, well it is all clear, there is no crime.  I am sure, you also know that even if such acts did not hurt others (directly), but somehow we know that greed in our financial world today is surely not right. 

To trace the ‘hurting of the masses’ to the individuals who ‘practise’ greed in their business and careers is not very easy.  The factors, context and indeed timing etc are extremely complex. 

Deep down inside, surely you would agree with me that ‘something is definitely not right’  in the finances.   Yet, until someone trace the linkage it is not legally wrong.  That is the difference between legality and morality.  Legality need proofs, traceabilty and links.  But as human beings that is not all, in fact that aspect of life is just a small spectre, not the main works of life as we know it. 

US Mammoth Bailout of the Century

US Mammoth Bailout of the Century

Legality and morality are not necessarily consistent at the surface, but both have impact on our lives and those around us.

In fact if we extrapolate from any straight-line projection of any two points which are close to one another, we could project into the future and draw a conclusion.  When we traced back from where we are, it make us awe at the ‘wrong conclusion’ or wrong path we have taken.  But it was never ‘seem wrong’ in the first place.

The difference between Communism and Capitalism is that Capitalism believes that it not illegal to horde, but Communism is dead against it, and had made it illegal to horde (except by the central Government).  But we all know that both have their respective usefulness in a short term.  Once we extrapolate it, somehow the reality becomes complex.

The only way to guard ourselves against such errors is to fall back on some fundamental truths.  Check our source, check our path, to validate and evaluate, then take a step forward. 

I remembered the golden rule of crossing roads: STOP, LOOK(CHECK), GO

Our consciousness and sense of morality tells us right from wrong; what  we should be doing; and what we should not be doing. 

Somehow, the almighty God has ingrained into each of us; within our sub-consciousness; what we should be doing and what we should not.    

Ephesians 4:19 warns that,  “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more”.

In the raw form, greed is a bodily sin.   God is not saying that greed is legally right or wrong, but just morally wrong.  It is nothing wrong to eat, but ‘excessive eating’ (which is actually eating without checking) leads to sin, and such a sin causes bodily harm.

When God drop down manna from the heavens, it was only good for the day (except for the weekend portion).  He was teaching his people not to horde and become greedy.  However, we did forget fast, didn’t we?

This sin is taking its toll in many countries.  The result is obesity – a primary cause of many ailments, starting with diabetes, stroke, and minor dysfunction of the immune system. 


That is a recent survey in America – welcome to the land of the fat.

Two centuries ago, people in this part of the world were concerned with having enough food for their families.  In this part of the world, where my Grandparents migrated from China to this part of South East Asia, their primary objective is to escape poverty. Our great grandparents were term economic migrants by these countries. They had to leave home with one luggage because they were just escaping hunger and poverty.  It is hardly possible to have square meals every day in their homeland. They came here so that they can have enough food for themselves and their family.   Such a thought is deemed ridiculous today.  We have forgotten the real need but had translated such into ‘want’.


Marketing 101 teaches people to create wants first.  Then when people accept them it turns into a need.  Many years ago, we ‘want’ colour tvs, wireless handphones, air conditioning; but today these are basic requirements.  That is what my children ‘need’, my wife need a new pair of shoes, evening dress, new laptops etc.

The same is happening to management of WITS.  Unconsciously they have allowed the ‘need for WITS’ to improve productivity at the workplace’ to turn into “wants of glamour and status.” 

Do you really need this car, or wouldn't it be nice to have this car? A fine line between greed and need.

Do you really need this car, or wouldn't it be nice to have this car? A fine line between greed and need.

Originally the glamour and status of good WITS projects were accompanying achievements, but today, these had become the ends in itself.

As WITS managers, do you really need the Golds (?) when what you really need is the implementation of a good solution to reduce problems affecting your work team.

For Christians, they would be doing things according to Jesus’ examples and not doing them, is sinful.    The corollary is also true.   Things that God told us not to do but we are doing, is therefore sinful.  The reference to Jesus’ examples is a way for them to

“STOP(Wait for Jesus), CHECK (with Jesus), GO (with Jesus)

Sin 4 – Sloth

16, May 2009

The next four sins are the sins that hurt the body.  These sins SLOWLY but surely poison your body.  That’s right you are literally committing self annihilation if you allow these to take over. 

During the 6th Century, this Pope had already known that laziness kills the body.  

Today the same fight against sloth is still on.  Look at the advice from almost every health advocate – exercise.  Unless you exercise; in otherwords, be less lazy, you may even die…

Picked this from the news - see inactivity kills

Picked this from the news - see inactivity kills

Sloth is a sin.   Hardly surprising.  Sloth is found everywhere.  Let’s start from the very begining.  The bible has it that Adam and Eve sinned when they ate the apple offered by Satan.   Had they been less lazy, planted their own apple tree, outside Garden of Eden, they might have laid a better future for all of us. 

If only they had planted their apples outside Eden!

If only they had planted their apples outside Eden!

Sloth in WIT Management.

The WIT Manager should be one that is concerned with the progress of the team’s project.  If the manager lays back and thinks that by waiting for the team to experiment and claims that he/she is ’empowering’ the team, my experience shows that that won’t work. 

WITS Managers must always pop by!

WITS Managers must always pop by!

My experience shows that that total empowerment – as argued by many idealist who advocate pure empowerment – is pure fantasy.  Empowering without control is giving away the shop, and it is just for marketing, in reality this approach won’t work.    

The best way to get good results from your WITs is to make an effort to pop by at their meetings once in a while (not every meeting though). 

Be tactfully involved.  

My experience is that the WITs once a month, or once every four meetings you should attend their meetings, listen in on their views, share a thought or two. 

Your presence creates a magic that inspires.  It makes a difference in the way the team sees an issue. 

However, do not attend all meetings as that tempts you to develop dominance.  Constantly making the decisions, and ‘breathing down their necks’ is a recipe for disaster. 

Hit a balance.   Be there when they need it, be away when they need space.  Do not be ‘greedy’ nor ‘overpowering’ but be involved.

Sin 3. Wrath

1, May 2009

What is wrath?   The third sin is WRATH.  Stripped to the basics, it is essentially anger.   But it is anger that destroys.  

This Chinese Diety has a weapon ready to strike at anyone literally.  That is Wrath.  It shows that the oldest civilisation in the East believe that there is such a thing as supremo anger - wrath!

This Chinese Diety has a weapon ready to strike at anyone literally. That is Wrath. It shows that the oldest civilisation in the East believe that there is such a thing as supremo anger - wrath!

Wrath always run ahead of our good sense.

It does not need to surface at all if we are in control, but many of us allow wrath to poke its ugly head into our lives; creating havoc.   We have to learn to control it.  If we have the will, the right perspective and positive we can manage it.

When I was much younger, at my first few job appointment, I used to listen to experienced managers telling me that in order to manage others, one must be able to manage ourselves. 

Later into my career, I realised that although in management textbooks, essential skills are organising, controlling and planning, the most difficult component of management is really controlling. 

And controlling begins with self-control; essentially, controlling our own anger.  This translates into controlling our wrath!  Good managers are those who can control their own temperament without boling over. 


Boiling over spoils the taste of soups, destroys the nutritional value and may even spoil the pot.

Boiling over spoils the taste of soups, destroys the nutritional value and may even spoil the pot.

I came across a useful phrase :

“Danger is only one alphabet away from anger. 
Therefore if you can keep ‘anger’ at bay, your life will have less dangers.”

“How can we control Wrath such as these?”  You may ask, “How about those whose love ones were killed by totally strangers, in road accidents, insane or mentally unstable people on the prowl; what about the mass murders of the last two wars, and today’s indiscriminate sucide bombers;  innocent families, innocent men and women lining up to enter a mosque or church for prayers are bombed.   Innocent children returning home from school taking a short-cut through some lonely path, was waylaid by someone looking for some fun, but the practical joke went too far. 

They did not do anything wrong, yet were victims. How can one who witness these not feel angry?

They did not do anything wrong, yet were victims. How can one who witness these not feel angry?

Wrath controlled – An example.     The mother of a ten year old daughter lost her daughter to a 42 year old murderer in 2006.   The family decided to forgive the man. 

“Engla always knew that she was going to be something special, and now we know that she became a light-bearer that united our hearts all over the world… We understand that we are one…. Our life will never be the same but we will strive to return to everyday life… where we will find a way to carry the light of Engla onward to something great and positive for us all.”    

This family made a choice – to forgive the murderer.

It is our Choice – but as mortals we are influenced.   

Exactly why certain people choose wrath, get angry and seek destruction when faced with problems, while others find the same challenging and choose to change and improve is exactly why people choose lust over love.  It is up to the person, thus sin is tied to choice making. 

WRATH and the WITS Manager.

Sin is not related to problem solving, but because the manager can affect the way the team feels or choose to view a problem or even the way he/she infleunces the team when they choose the solutions, the source of sin may arise from the actions of WITS managers. 

i)   Setting Impossible Target .  Setting them impossible targets are potential for wrath to take root.  The managers are the final authority on the approving of a team’s target.  By telling or agreeing that the team achieve some impossible level of outcome is just pushing the team into Wrath.  The objective of the target is to give them a challenge not to break them into excesses and greed.

Zero Defects is a easy, convenient, and perfect target?? Before setting zero defects as their target, make sure that there are few if not no uncontrollable factors.

Zero Defects is a easy, convenient, and perfect target?? Before setting zero defects as their target, make sure that there are few if not no uncontrollable factors.

What can managers do?   

Examine the circumstances surrounding the problem before approving their target.  Look for circumstances, examine the availability of resources, consider all upcoming events and all possible related events which may strain the resources and affect outcomes. 

ii)   Setting Impossible Deadline = Wrath.  Many  kiasu managers (see sin 2 for ‘kiasu’) who will only set their priority on their teams winning awards that they have forgotten about problem solving process.  Some problems which are complicated and may not predictable.  Irregularities may arise mid-term during tht project.  The more complicated the project, the less likely the team can predict the deadline.

What can managers do?  As responsible managers, it is wise to set the team a deadline to foster commitment; yet managers must be willing to listen to the eventualities that arise.  The more complex the project, remember to consider as many associated events before setting their deadline; and allow more leeway for changes.

Timeline can only be properly set if the team is able to tell for certain that each component activity or sub-activity can be predicted with great accuracy.

Timeline can only be properly set if the team is able to tell for certain that each component activity or sub-activity can be predicted with great accuracy.

iii)  Unresolved Cross-boundary Conflicts = Wrath. 

Many teams may projects that affect other departments.  They realised that some form of endorsement from people outside their team or department may be needed before they can proceed.  As their manager, it is important for you to be the contact person for all external liaison unless arrangements have be made between managers from both sides.

To avoid conflict - the Chinese Emperor built this great wall around his kingdom.

To avoid conflict - the Chinese Emperor built this great wall around his kingdom.

Today's conflict are not based on avoidance, it is based on resolution through dialogues

Today's conflict are not based on avoidance, it is based on resolution through dialogues

Effective WITS managers bring teams together; they help settle differences between teams.  Never allow the teams to approach the other department heads before you have made arrangements with your counterpart from the other department.  This way, they can make sure that the situation is under control.

Remember : Uncontrolled Anger Turns Into Danger