Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Refocus this Fall

Feel-good ways to get your head back in the game.

By Sonja Rocha

After a summer of trips, kids and time spent with family and friends you may find yourself struggling to get your head back in the game - and we're not talking about your fantasy football league. There are still three months left in 2015, Don't blow 25 percent of your year. Stop online researching next summer’s vacation, close Facebook, turn off the TV and put these refocus strategies to work.

Set VERY attainable goals.
The best way to get back on track is to start with a success. What do you need to do to finish 2015 strong? Set goals. Make them easy.

For example, walk a little more this week and start thinking about healthy habits again by parking on the far side of the parking lot. It’s an easy goal to achieve and you can accomplish it tomorrow. Park far away. Walk in to work. Done! Put a check in the “I’ve accomplished something good for my health” box! Keep it up all week. Any type of exercise will help refocus your mind.

To get your work and career back on the right track, take 15 minutes to review everything you have accomplished so far this year and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it! The feeling of accomplishment feels good, and feeling good is where you need to be when you start thinking about what you still want to accomplish this year. Make a plan to achieve your remaining 2015 goals. Keep each step toward the goal small and simple. Keep building on your successes. Always remember the work you do is important. Reviewing your accomplishments and revisiting your goals will provide the adrenaline boost you need to finish 2015 strong.

Regain focus and avoid distractions.
Focus is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. If you have been in a brain fog for a while, you’re not going to wake up tomorrow and put in eight solid, productive hours. You’ll need to rebuild your focus stamina one day at a time. One effective method is to plan every minute of every day. Fill in your day scheduler in 15-minute blocks and stick to it! Start each morning with tasks that can be completed quickly. Build on your momentum. Move on to harder projects and the items you’ve been avoiding. Be sure to include scheduled time for e-mail, co-workers and planning.

When distractions come up and you get off track, don’t beat yourself up. Try to note why it happened. Was it a talkative co-worker? Was it checking e-mails? Keep a list of the alluring distractions so you can revisit them the next day at a scheduled time. You're likely to forget what that all-important distraction was about. You just took back 15-30 minutes of your life. When it’s a co-worker stealing away your time, try this line: ”I’m on a deadline now, but I’m available tomorrow at 11 a.m. Will that work for you?”

Next week, divide your focused time into 20-minute blocks and so on. Grow each work block to 45 minutes. The more you practice this technique the longer your focus stamina will become. Greater focus will improve your work quality while you get more done in less time.

Still can’t break Internet surfing? Then use the time productively. Update your LinkedIn profile. Then take time to write three recommendations for three co-workers or clients on their LinkedIn accounts. Doing something kind for others is a great way to break negative patterns and start new positive ones.

UNF Continuing Education offers numerous opportunities for both personal and professional development. View our online catalog here. Request more information here. Call our friendly Customer Care Team (904) 620-4200. They're always ready and willing to help you find the program(s) to fit your need.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why Yellow Belt Training is Essential to Lean Six Sigma Success

By Keith Gardner

The critical role of Yellow Belts is not widely understood in many organizations that have a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) initiative. Ignoring the importance of Yellow Belts and underinvesting in Yellow Belt training can have a negative impact on LSS implementation and, more significantly, sustainment. In order to successfully implement and sustain a LSS initiative, leadership needs to address three things: culture, strategy and process.
Of the three, culture is by far the most challenging. To sustain LSS, the concepts of continuous improvement and LSS need to be integrated into the organizational culture.

Culture change requires-among other things a "critical mass" of employees, all pulling in the same direction. Too often organizations launch LSS initiatives by training only a small subset of employees as Green Belts and/or Black Belts. Green and Black Belts become the trained personnel that lead LSS projects. The problem with the strategy of training only Green and Black Belts is that the overwhelming majority of the organization receives no significant LSS training and has no buy-in or understanding of LSS. It's true, a team of highly trained individuals are capable of using LSS to drive process improvement, but this has done nothing to address the culture of the organization. 

Yellow Belt training, which normally takes one to two days, is critical to beginning the process of culture change. If an organization is to be successful in making LSS and continuous improvement part of the way they operate on a day-to-day basis, a significant proportion of the employees need to understand and embrace LSS. They do not need to lead improvement teams, but they do need to understand why the organization is embracing LSS, participate on LSS teams and be supportive of LSS activities. Yellow Belt training addresses the need to educate a critical mass of employees.

The challenge many organizations face is the cost and time it takes to train large numbers of employees as Yellow Belts. In larger organizations, there may be a need to train hundreds of employees as Yellow Belts. This is why the University of North Florida Center for Quality and Continuous Improvement has created an online Yellow Belt course, which organizations can leverage to begin the process of culture change and increase the probability of a sustainable LSS initiative. Because it is online, employees can take the course at their own pace at the times of their choosing. It can be done all at once, or broken into smaller pieces enabling the organization to rapidly and effectively drive culture change.

Another advantage of the online course is it provides individuals who want to learn more about LSS an avenue to do so with minimal cost and inconvenience. For example, if a person wanted to see if LSS is something that their organization or as an individual should consider, they can take the Yellow Belt class to quickly and easily determine their level of interest and if they wish to explore next step

Click here to register or view the Lean Six Sigma Online Yellow Belt class.

UNF Center for Quality and Process Improvement offers a combination of training, consulting and facilitation designed to meet each client’s unique needs. UNF offers online and instructor-led courses, as well as contract classes, consulting and facilitation in in more than 40 topics all related to continuous improvement and enhanced organizational performance. 

For more information on how the UNF Center for Quality & Process Improvement can help your organization, contact Lori Frederick, program director, at (904) 620-5801 or lori.frederick@unf.edu.

Keith Gardner has been consulting and training in the area of quality and productivity improvement for the past fifteen years. As the lead instructor, his primary focus at UNF is Lean Six Sigma. He regularly consults with managers and senior executives in the implementation and enhancement of organizational Lean Six Sigma programs.

Gardner has worked with hundreds of clients in 24 countries in telecommunications, logistics, health care, call centers, staffing services, governmental agencies, the military, engineering services, food, automotive, metals, electronics, chemicals and furniture. He has a degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Michigan and is an ASQ-certified Black Belt.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Explore the World of Wine with Us!

Ready for Wine Tasting!

Wine has been part of history for thousands of years and all cultures have enjoyed its benefits. Some research suggests that wine even has unique health properties. Good quality wine; reasonably priced, and readily available, is actually a fairly recent development here in the United States, gaining the most notoriety at the Paris wine tasting in 1976. In addition to California-produced wines, Americans can now enjoy delicious varietals from wine regions across the globe.

Meet new friends who
share your interests!

Unfortunately, though, wine tasting had gotten a bad reputation in the past as something only reserved for the snobby wine experts. It can be intimidating to try to select a wine in the grocery store aisle and forget trying to pair a wine with food! Lucky for us, though; vineyards, wine shops, and yes, even grocery stores, are now attempting to make wine tasting a fun and less intimidating experience. Consumers are now encouraged to "drink what you like" and not be afraid to try new wines. Practically speaking, though, exploring the world of wine can be a bit expensive with bottles ranging anywhere from $10 to $50 or more. So what to do if you want to not only try new wines but actually learn more about them at the same time? The best answer is to find wine tasting opportunities!

Instructor Richard Park
Many stores offer wine tasting opportunities but the selection is limited, they are often crowded and the opportunity to really learn much about the wine or be able to compare to other wines is often non-existent.  While this is helpful, it is much more valuable to take a fun wine tasting class and UNF Continuing Education has a full schedule of classes for your enjoyment! No prior wine knowledge is needed and you can start at any of the classes--they are not sequential.

Our wine guide is Richard Park. Richard has been in the wine business for his entire career spanning 32 years. He has worked closely with chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and retailers, with wine education as a key responsibility in many of the positions he has held. He has traveled extensively throughout the major wine producing regions of the world. So what are you waiting for? Registration is open now for our fall lineup of wine tasting classes and these popular classes can fill up quickly.

Reserve your seat at the table! Cheers!

Upcoming classes are scheduled in Sept., Nov. and Dec. For a list of all upcoming wine tasting classes, visit: