Spotted by our Members

  • 07 May 2012 18:53 | Beverley Sinton (Administrator)

    I have just found this so I don't know too much about it.  It is supposed to be  "one of the most complete pictures of the plight of women worldwide. Valerie M. Hudson, a Texas A&M University professor, analyzed information from the WomenStats Project and mapped the data in cooperation with Foreign Policy. Exploring nine factors, including: 
    physical security, 
    maternal mortality, 
    government participation and educational disparity, 
    the data visualization corroborates aforementioned findings from the Independent and the Guardian: that Afghanistan is among the worst countries in the world for women, where 87% are illiterate, more than 70% face forced marriages and expectant mothers have a 1 in 11 chance of dying during childbirth. 
    There are other areas of concern as well: For example, central and southern Africa appear to have more than a 20%  difference in male and female secondary education level. 
    Maternal mortality levels are also shockingly high in the region, with approximately 75% of the continent reporting more than 300 maternal deaths per 100,000 births."

  • 15 Apr 2012 14:42 | Admin PWI (Administrator)
    Spotted by Sonia Neefs.

    For millions of Europeans, the journey to a new life in America started in the warehouses of the renowned Red Star Line shipping company in Antwerp. And this is where the new Red Star Line Museum will open its doors next spring. While the museum is under construction, the public is invited in for a peek for a few days this year. From Saturday, April 28 to Sunday, May 13, everyone is welcome to enjoy the Red Star Line Festival.

    Belgenland Ballroom

    The historic building in Montevideostraat will be transformed into the Belgenland Ballroom, inspired by the ballroom on the S.S. Belgenland II, the Red Star Line’s largest and most luxurious steamship. This is an ideal location to hold a party that will feature all kinds of music, including klezmer, jazz, big band, and swing, mixed with talks, theater, dance initiations, comedy, films, walks, and exhibitions.

    High Tea America

    On Sunday afternoon, May 6, you will be treated to high tea in the lounge of the Red Star Line while listening to talks about Antwerp, America, and the rest of the world.

    Putting America on center stage, Belgian TV personality Marcel Vanthilt will journey with you and a few guests to America, the Promised Land. Philip Heylen, Alderman for Culture and Tourism, will tell us why he pledged his heart to the New World. Wilfried Van den Brande, a bass-baritone from Antwerp, greatly admires the American composer Cole Porter. He will talk about his passion and sing from The Great American Songbook. The author Dirk Musschoot will tell us about Flemings who sought salvation in America. Joris Van Parijs is the biographer of Cyriel Buysse, the Flemish writer who crossed the Atlantic numerous times between 1886 and 1893. The Red Star Line specialist par excellence, Robert Vervoort, will also give a talk. Bert De Vroey, a VRT journalist and an expert on America, wrote De kleuren van Amerika (The Colors of America) about multicultural America, with its beautiful and ugly aspects, its successes and its failures. Finally, we will give the floor to two very special Americans: Howard W. Gutman, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, and Linda Emmet, the daughter of the American composer Irving Berlin, who was a Red Star Line emigrant.

    Event Details
     Sunday, May 6
    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Place: Montevideostraat 3, 2000 Antwerpen
    Price: Admission free

    Best regards,
    American Club of Brussels (also for online registration)

  • 07 Mar 2012 09:39 | Beverley Sinton (Administrator)

    The European Commission want your opinion on how to get companies to appoint more women to their boards of directors.

    In Europe's top firms, just 1 in 7 board members is a woman.

    France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain already have laws setting quotas for company boards. Meanwhile, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Austria and Slovenia have rules on gender balance for the boards of state-owned companies.

    The online consultation is open until 28 May. Comments will help the Commission develop proposals on improving gender balance on company boards, expected later this year.

    I would urge you all to take part in the online consultation period NOW.
  • 19 Jan 2012 09:57 | Beverley Sinton (Administrator)

    Spotted on Facebook.  The Cheeseweb website has an interview with Yvo Noukens about great places to visit in Belgium.

    Yvo's blog is

    Hope you have fun exploring new places.
  • 05 Nov 2011 09:46 | Admin PWI (Administrator)

    A thought-provoking article written by a man, who thinks Men constantly (and without realising it) put women down.  Men need to learn to stop doing this and Women need to stop apologising for themselves.

  • 12 Oct 2011 10:52 | Beverley Sinton (Administrator)

    This is American, so not so useful in Belgium, but what a great idea.  A directory of businesses that are primarily owned and/or run by women.

    Wouldn't it be great if someone started a directory of women's companies in Europe?  Maybe there is one, and I don't know about it....

  • 07 Oct 2011 13:12 | Beverley Sinton (Administrator)
    November is National Novel Writing Month in the UK.  People are challenged to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

    Is this the push you always needed to start?

  • 02 Sep 2011 01:12 | Deleted user
    Have you developed your ”Roadmap To Excellence”?  Part 3 of 3

    Back to PWI Magazine - Summer 2011

    Last time , we covered silver bullets 3 and 4  for achieving and sustaining organizational excellence that have been validated to drive high performance in today’s organizations…they were..


    3)     High performing, world class organizations plan for the future

    4)     High performing, world class organizations measure performance


    This time we will cover silver the last bullets 5 and 6…..   



    5)     High performing, world class organizations focus on their processes

    6)      High performing, world class organizations focus on their workforce


    5)    High performing, world class organizations focus on their processes.  Why is that critical?  Processes are the way in which organizations design and deliver products (services, programs) that meet customer needs.  Well-designed processes promote efficiency, high productivity, and consistent outcomes; poorly designed (or executed processes) promote inefficiency, waste, and errors: Consider these pain points:

    • The cost of poor quality is estimated to be on average 20% of sales (in terms of repair, rework, scrap, write-offs, warranty claims) for any type of organization – businesses, healthcare, schools, nonprofits.  So for a $500 million organization, roughly $100 million is waste.  This is an average: some organizations are worse.  (Quality Digest)
    • Deming estimated that about 94% of organizational issues (errors, waste, breakdowns) belong to the system (processes), which by the way, are the responsibility of management.


    Here are some best practices in process management:

    • Design and innovate work systems that relate to and capitalize on your core competencies.  “Work systems” refers to how work gets accomplished (through workforce, suppliers/partners, contractors, collaborators to produce and deliver products and services).  Great companies will systematically determine what they choose to outsource to external resources and what they choose to retain internally due to core competency, intellectual property, efficient and cost, or other factors.
    • Design work processes that deliver customer value, profitability or financial return, organizational success, and sustainability.  Process requirements should incorporate input from customers, stakeholders, suppliers, and partners as appropriate.  Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and other methods are helpful in ensuring that processes conform to stakeholder requirements.
    • Manage processes so that they:
    o   optimize cycle time, productivity, and cost control;
    o   they minimize rework and errors;
    o   they promote agility and rapid response to changing needs;
    o   and they incorporate new technology and organizational knowledge.
    • Measure, manage, and improve work processes so that they:
      •  achieve better performance,
      • reduce variability,
      •  improve outcomes,
      • and stay current with business needs and directions.
    • ·         You can use simple techniques like Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) or more sophisticated tools like ISO, Lean- Six Sigma and use DMAIC –Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control as a stage gate improvement process with embedding the right “tools” at the right time for the right job.  But you should pick a process-tool(s), train your people on it, create an environment that supports the use of it (including rewards), and stick with it.
    • Use problem solving tools throughout your organization so that your people can quickly diagnose and address process failures.  The Seven Quality Tools (which include simple tools you’ve all used) and the Japanese A3 method are good places to start.  These methods should align (or be embedded) in whatever improvement method you choose.
    • Systematically improve EVERY process in your enterprise to keep them current with the changing environment and organizational needs.
    • Ensure work system and work process continuity, sustainability, and preparedness for disasters and emergencies.


    Core process definition allows a basis for  process mapping, measuring and improving  and is the basis for employee’s engaged alignment to achieve overall organizational objectives…





    6)  High performing, world class organizations focus on their workforce.  Why is that critical?  In short, engaged employees are assets; disengaged employees are liabilities:


    • Highly satisfied groups of employees often exhibit above-average levels of customer loyalty (56%), productivity (50%), employee retention (50%), safety performance (50%), and profitability (33%). (Gallup)
    • Companies with engaged employees have 19% higher operating income, 17% higher operating margin, and 28% higher earnings per share. (Towers Perrin)
    • Over the last 10 years, Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” (perhaps a proxy for engagement) average annual stock return was 18% versus 12% for the S&P 500 – that’s 50% better than the market.  (Fortune)

     So there is a direct link between engaged employees and organizational results.

    Consider these pain points: US workers are not happy:


    • Of surveyed executives, 47% believed that employee trust has declined as a result of the way their company has managed the cost reductions the last two years.  And while 42% believe their companies are not fully effective at measuring the impact of cost reduction efforts on employee morale, fully 37% – more than a third of US businesses – believe that their organization’s handling of the economic downtown will make talented employees more likely to leave. (Hewitt & Associates)
    • Only 45% of US workers are satisfied with their jobs (so 55% are NOT).  Only 51% find their jobs interesting, 43% feel secure in their jobs, and 51% are satisfied with their boss.  The result: between 50-70% of US workers are – or will – seek a new job.  (Conference Board)
    • Only 17% of US workers highly engaged.  (Towers Perrin)


    Here are some best practices in workforce focus:


    • Systematically assess your workforce capability (your ability to accomplish work through the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies of your people) and capacity (your ability to ensure sufficient staffing levels to accomplish work processes and meet customer needs).
    • Recruit, hire, place, and retain workers, ensuring that they represent the diverse ideas, cultures, and thinking of the community and that they represent – and are consistent with – your organization’s values and culture.
    • Manage and organize the workforce in such a way to accomplish the organization’s work, capitalize on core competencies, and address strategic challenges and action plans.  This is all about ensuring your organization structure and job design supports your strategy and complements your organizational strengths.
    • Ensure, measure, and improve workforce health, safety, and security.
    • Support employees with appropriate policies, services, and benefits, tailored to the needs of different workforce groups.
    • Identify the factors that affect workforce engagement, and measure levels of workforce engagement across different employee groups.  There are many tools for this (Gallup Q-12, Hewitt, Passionwerx, others).
    • Develop and train your leaders and your workforce.  Development should support your organization’s core competencies, address strategic challenges, and promote the accomplishment of action plans; it should promote organizational improvement and innovation; it should include ethics. 
    • Manage career progression and succession planning throughout the organization.
    • Reward and recognize employees through a performance management system that supports customer focus and the achievement of organizational action plans and goals.


    Engaged employees lead to engaged customers; engaged employees also promotes innovation and organizational alignment to core business processes and their improvement.


    So there you have it – the six things that organizations need to do in order to achieve and sustain performance excellence:


    • You need to focus on customers – to listen and anticipate their needs, to build relationships and engage customers so that they are committed to your organization, are loyal, and are willing to advocate for and recommend your organization to others.
    • You need to have effective leadership that sets vision; aligns, guides, and manages the organization; focuses on workforce, customers, and partners; communicates effectively; and ensures accountability, transparency, ethical behavior, support of key communities.
    • You need to set and deploy strategy – to set a course for the future, a grand vision for the organization.
    • You need to measure performance, both at the day-to-day operating level as well as the strategic level – ensuring that facts (rather than intuition) become the basis for organizational decision making and improvement.
    • You need to focus on your processes so that you can optimize your resources and deliver products, services, and programs that satisfy – fully satisfy – customer needs and create value for the enterprise.
    •  You need to engage your workforce so that they are satisfied, capable, and fully motivated to reach high performance, to serve customers, and to achieve organization objectives.

    ALL organizations need to manage and improve ALL of these areas – it’s really only a matter of how WELL they manage the system.  True excellence is difficult; sustaining it is even more challenging.  The journey to excellence never ends and  is very rewarding as data shows “excellence” winners have  2 times more  profitable growth than their competitors….why wouldn’t you pursue a performance excellence framework and create your own Roadmap To Excellence?.


    For more information….

    Don Hoffert is President of Roadmap To Excellence LLC., a management consulting firm specializing in  performance excellence” roadmap development and execution” systems that have led organizations toward winning state and  national performance excellence awards.


    He is a certified Baldrige Examiner, a Program Mgmt Professional, and a Lean SixSigma BlackBelt and and is a CEO roundtable moderator.  Don can be contacted at:   or 612 298 7858.

    Back to PWI Magazine - Summer 2011

  • 02 Sep 2011 01:11 | Deleted user

    Back to PWI Magazine - Summer 2011

    Have you developed your ”Roadmap To Excellence”?  Part 2 of 3


    Last time , we covered the first 2 of the 6  silver bullets  for achieving and sustaining organizational excellence that have been validated to drive high performance in today’s organizations…they were..


    1)     High performing, world class organizations focus on their customers (or “stakeholders,” if you prefer).

    2)    High performing, world class organizations have visionary leaders.



    This time we will cover silver bullets 3 and 4…..   



    3)    High performing, world class organizations plan for the future

    4)    High performing, world class organizations measure performance




    3) High performing, world class organizations plan for the future.  They focus on their changing environment; systematically address strategic challenges; ensure adequate resources to accomplish key goals; and deploy, measure, and adjust plans as needed.


    Consider these pain points:

    Effective strategic planning is hard.  About 70-90% of business strategies fail, which has a huge impact on organizational results.


    • Decreased employee commitment, 67%
    • Lost Market Opportunities, 53%
    • Decreased Revenue, 53%
    • Increased Costs, 39%
    • Increased Cycle Times, 28%
    • Decreased Customer Loyalty, 28%
    • Lost Market Share, 28%.


    Here are some best practices in strategic planning:


    • Understand your environment – your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in terms of changing market and customers needs, shifts in technology, competition, regulations, and risks. 
    • Identify your strategic challenges, strategic advantages (marketplace benefits that ensure future success), and core competencies (areas of expertise/strength that are difficult to imitate and create a sustainable competitive advantage).  And then determine strategic objectives that address your challenges or leverage your advantages/competencies.  Strategic objectives should be measurable, outcome-oriented results the organization must ACHIEVE to be successful in the future (they are NOT action plans). They should be challenging, but realistic.
    • Develop action plans that align with strategic objectives.  Action plans should include the details of resource commitments and time horizons for accomplishment.  Deploy them throughout the organization, assigning ownership and accountability for completion.
    • Involve all key stakeholders in the development of your plans.  It increases buy-in, develops stronger plans, and assists in ownership for implementation.
    • Determine resources (human, financial/budget) AFTER you establish direction (most organizations do it the other way around). This way you create a strong, aligned organization based on the strategic-operational priorities. 
    • Track the achievement and effectiveness of action plans, and adjust plans as environmental factors dictate.  Project your organization’s performance as well as your competitors (so as to see a path forward and to have milestones that facilitate adjustments when plans are not on track).


    There are many effective planning processes (Hoshin Planning, large-scale change, catch-ball techniques, balance scorecard, and many others).  But the key is to understand your environment; set strategy to address challenges and leverage advantages; and deploy, measure, and adjust plans.  The role of measurement is key….


    4) High performing, world class organizations measure performance.  You cannot manage what you do not understand, and you cannot understand what you do not measure.  High performing organizations are data-driven.  They rely on facts to make decisions (rather than intuition), and they systematically manage their information, knowledge, and technology.


    Here are some best practices in measurement:

    • Use data and information to track daily operations and also for tracking overall organizational performance.  In other words, seek a balance of leading and lagging indicators that monitor progress toward strategy and also enable the management and improvement of key work systems and processes.
    • Occasionally review the data you NO LONGER need, and consider “sunsetting” or discontinuing its collection and use.
    • Use comparative data to support decision making and innovation.  Why?  Comparative data and benchmarks help you determine relative performance – how your organization compares to the average, to upper quartile  performers, to best-in-class.  It also helps set targets and promotes innovation.
    • Systematically review and analyze performance to promote continuous and breakthrough improvement and to promote innovation.  This review, analysis, and action should take place throughout your organization (and in some cases, to your supply chain and partners).  Frameworks like the Balanced Scorecard (or dashboards) are excellent in helping leaders and employees quickly analyze performance and take action as needed.
    • Ensure data accuracy, integrity, reliability, timeliness, security, and confidentiality throughout the organization.  Make data available to all parties that need it (workforce, suppliers, partners, customers, etc.) to make decisions.
    • Manage organizational knowledge, transferring knowledge within your workforce, between your workforce and suppliers/partners/customers, and from departing employees.  Identify, share, transfer, and implement best practices across your organization.
    • Ensure hardware and software are reliable, secure, user-friendly, and that information is available during emergencies.

    Good organizations need the data to see how they are performing and one key area is measurement of core business processes

    Stay tuned, next time we will cover this in the last bullets 5 and 6, continuing to develop our roadmap to excellence!

    Stay tuned, next time we will cover bullets 5 and 6, continuing to develop our roadmap to excellence![


    Back to PWI Magazine - Summer 2011

  • 02 Sep 2011 01:05 | Deleted user

    Back to PWI Magazine - Summer 2011

    Have you developed your ”Roadmap To Excellence”?

     A 3 part series for how to accelerate your “Performance Excellence Journey” by developing a customized “Roadmap To Excellence”

    Article by: Donald Hoffert President RTE LLc  (Includes adaptations from- Brian Lassiter-President, Minnesota Council for Quality President)

    Donald is a Certified Performance Excellence Examiner-Mn Board of Examiners, CBMC CEO Forums Director-Certified Moderator, Certified Program Mgmt Professional and Certified Lean Administrative-Operational Excellence

    Here’s the silver bullet you’ve all been waiting for.  I’m going to give you the “secret sauce” for achieving and sustaining organizational excellence – the answers to all the questions that leaders might have for improving their results.  These have been validated to drive high performance in today’s organizations – a list that can help you reflect on your own organization’s performance.


    WHY is this important to you?


    A recent study on organizational excellence by Dr. Vinod Singhal of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Dr. Kevin Hendricks of the College of William and Mary provides hard evidence that the effective implementation of excellence principles dramatically impacts results. The 5 year study of more than 600 quality award winners showed that, as a whole, they experienced significant improvement vs. their competitive…a 44% higher stock price return, a 48% higher growth in operating income and 37% higher growth in sales compared to the control group. Award winners also outperformed the controls on return on sales, growth in employees, and growth in assets.


    And, it’s especially important for SMALL COMPANIES….

    There is a common perception among smaller firms that performance excellence principles are more applicable to larger firms. The findings indicate that this perception is simply not true. After adjusting for the performance of the controls, smaller award winners averaged a 63% increase in operating income, 39% increase in sales, 17% increase in return on sales, 21% increase in employment, and 42% increase in assets - all of which are well above the increases experienced by the larger award winners.



    So then…you might ask…


    • What is this "framework for excellence?


    • How do you assess your maturity vs. validated "best practices"?


    • How do you begin your own continuous journey on your  "Roadmap To Excellence"?



    There are six general things that leading organizations – organizations that are at the top in their industries or markets – do.  I think you’ll agree that:



    1)    High performing, world class organizations focus on their customers

    2)    High performing, world class organizations have visionary leaders.

    3)    High performing, world class organizations plan for the future

    4)    High performing, world class organizations measure performance

    5)    High performing, world class organizations focus on their processes

    6)    High performing, world class organizations focus on their workforce



    Let’s cover the first 2 elements, of this three part series in detail…


    1) High performing, world class organizations focus on their customers (or “stakeholders,” if you prefer).  Why is that critical?  Customers are the lifeblood of any organization. Consider these pain points:


    • 90% of dissatisfied customers will not come back or buy again. (Research Institute of America)
    • However, only 4% of dissatisfied customers will bother to complain (so for every one complaint you hear, 24 others go unheard).
    • But dissatisfied customers tell an average of nine others about their dissatisfaction.
    • 68% of dissatisfied customers who quit doing business with an organization do so because of company indifference.  Essentially, the company didn’t take the time to listen and hear the customer’s need or complaint. 
    • Engaged customers are 68% more likely to increase purchases, than neutral or disengaged customers. (Forrester)


    It should come as no surprise that satisfied, engaged customers positively impact the bottom line and promote organizational vitality and sustainability.


    So what are some best practices to ensure a focus on customers?  Consider these (and reflect on whether your organization is doing them):


    • Listen to your customers!  Build mechanisms that systematically capture the voice of your customers – methods like focus groups, surveys, one-on-one interviews, and complaint data.  And then act upon that data to provide products/services that satisfy (or exceed) customer expectations.
    • Design customer listening methods so that they vary for different segments of customers and/or across the various stages of their relationship with you.  New customers have different needs than those that have been with your organization for awhile.
    • Use methods like Quality Function Deployment, forced- or paired-choice analysis, the Kano model, and conjoint analysis to identify, prioritize, analyze, and ensure that customer requirements are incorporated into product/service design and features.
    • Listen to former customers, potential customers, and customers of competitors.  These represent potential “market” for your organization.
    • Manage your complaints – ensure that they are resolved completely and promptly (which requires customer access points, training, and empowerment), but also aggregate and analyze them to identify systemic issues in your operations.
    • Measure customer satisfaction and engagement.  Unfortunately, satisfied customers may still defect, so measure their satisfaction AND engagement levels – how committed they are to your organization and its offerings.  Characteristics of engaged customers include loyalty, willingness to make an effort to use your services, and their willingness to actively advocate for and recommend your organization.  There are many methods to do this (Gallup CE11, Net Promoter Score, and others); pick one, and use the data to make decisions.
    • Anticipate key customers requirements and changing expectations – it’s not only about satisfying today’s requirements, but staying one step ahead of competitors in identifying and responding to emerging customer and market needs.
    • Build an organizational culture that ensures a consistently positive customer experience.  Think Ritz Carlton, Disney.  Everything about their system (recruiting, training, employee rewards, etc.) centers on the customers’ experience.


    Customer focus is critical to organizational excellence, but the leadership of the organization must set the target….


    2) High performing, world class organizations have visionary leaders.  Leaders’ actions should guide and sustain the organization – they should create an environment for performance improvement, accomplishment of mission and strategic objectives, innovation, high performance, organizational and workforce learning, and agility.


    Why is leadership important?  Simply: effective leadership is the single biggest predictor of organizational excellence.  Period.  Research shows a strong connection between leadership fostering employee engagement based on employee passions to strong customer devotion and organizational vitality leading to strong profit-revenue growth.


    Here are some best practices in leadership:


    • Be personally involved in setting vision and values and in deploying and reinforcing them throughout the organization.  Be personally involved in creating a focus on action, on balancing value for customers and the organization, on rewarding/recognizing performance that supports high performance.
    • Be personally involved – and create systematic processes – to ensure ethical behavior on all stakeholder transactions.  Include ethics in training, communications, measurement, performance appraisals.
    • Ensure effective, frank two-way communication with the workforce.  Use various media/vehicles for different messages and for different workforce groups.  Measure effectiveness of communication to see if messages are received (correctly).
    • Ensure effective governance – accountability, transparency, and protection of stakeholder interests.  Evaluate leadership (senior leaders and governance board) effectiveness.
    • Systematically address impact on society of your services and operations, and anticipate public concerns with current and future services and operations.
    • Support and strengthen key communities, focusing on areas related to your core competencies and strategic objectives.  Consider societal well-being – environmental, social, and economic systems – as part of your strategy and daily operations.

    Stay tuned, next time we will cover part 2 bullets 3 and 4, continuing to develop our roadmap to excellence!

    Back to PWI Magazine - Summer 2011

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