As part of the ongoing pursuit of service quality, Mr. André Nahas,
the recently appointed director of service quality and organizational
improvement at AUB, presented his strategy and plans for the year 2001-2002
to a large audience of university administrators, staff, and faculty in
Issam Fares Hall on October 23.
Mr. Nahas sees the mission of service quality and organizational improvement
as designing, facilitating, and coordinating all activities intended to
improve, on a continuous and at a sustainable cost basis, services rendered
to internal and external "customers," of the university, that
is, to current and future students and patients. Service quality is not
only of utmost importance to customers, but also to the stakeholders,
all those people who benefit from [AUB's] activities, programs, or services."
The stakeholders include students and their parents, patients, faculty,
clinicians, staff, trustees, funding agencies, private donors, potential
employers, government bodies, and alumni.
In order to achieve optimum service quality the improvement must be continuous
and achieved according to carefully planned assessments and well-developed
indicators of performance for measurement of that improvement. Measurement
is of utmost importance: "The price of improvement," says Nahas,
"is more measurement. ... Unless [something] can be measured, it
cannot be improved." Therefore targets must be set.
Mr. Nahas said that it is necessary for the entire university community
to adopt standards for improvement. Every unit has to have "someone
focusing on training the people. Normally you train the trainers and then
they pass the message down [through] the organization." Each department,
each unit, each division "will have to spell out what it means by
excellence, in a way that is in harmony with the overall goals of the
Mr. Nahas reviewed the accomplishments thus far achieved in the university's
assault on service quality. He cited the workshops and training programs
offered throughout 2000-2001 to administrators, managers, faculty, and
staff; surveys of employee and student satisfaction with registration;
the systematic performance measurement in the nursing, medical laboratory,
and food service departments of AUH; the implementation of simpler purchasing
procedures for department heads; the president's service excellence awards;
and the proposal for teaching excellence awards. Despite these auspicious
beginnings, the university, Mr. Nahas insisted, must "maintain the
momentum on all our accomplishments while we work on additional initiatives."
Accreditation initiatives have been undertaken on a university-wide level
through the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association
of Colleges and Schools, and also by the School of Business (American
Association of Collegiate Schools of Business), the Faculty of Engineering
and Architecture (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and
the National Architectural Accreditation Board), the Faculty of Agricultural
and Food Sciences (American Dietetic Association), the AUB Medical Center
(Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health-Care Organizations), and
the Physical Plant (Association of Physical Plant Administrators).
A standard must be adopted for all the accreditation initiatives. Management
tools for use "by all AUB managers to develop their strategic plans
and to monitor the performance of their teams on a regular basis"
must also be set up. Mr. Nahas recommends a methodology involving the
assessment criteria used for granting the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality
Awards "as the standard assessment criteria for AUB." Mr. Nahas
looks forward to applying the Malcolm Baldrige standards to both sides
of AUB: to education and to health care. Although he foresees difficulties,
he is convincingly positive. Resistance to change is something natural.
"I don't see that as an obstacle. People need to be convinced that
the change is for the better."
The management tools include long term, medium term, and short term strategies.
The strategic framework involves identification of a mission statement,
a vision statement, values, criteria for excellence, goals, and most important
for measurement--key performance indicators. The medium term annual balanced
scorecard will measure, in each category being assessed, performance indicators,
the frequency of each indicator, and the current target for each indicator.
The short term monthly scorecard reviews will compare actual results with
targets, understand reasons for deviations from the targets, identify
corrective action, and assign tasks.
The strategy involves "support[ing] all the accreditation initiatives,
work[ing] with all managers to implement the management tools in their
units, while at the same time maintain[ing] the momentum on all the initiatives
that have already started."
Mr. Nahas concluded his presentation by reviewing the action plan for
the current academic year, 2001-2002, involving new surveys of employee
and student satisfaction, continuing improvement of student registration
and hospital admission and discharge processes, conducting of the third
and fourth President's Service Excellence Awards, and the setting in motion
of certain pilot projects involving university finance, purchasing, the
physical plant, nursing, and student affairs.
Each pilot project will rely heavily on the input of an advisory committee
representing the department or unit's main stakeholders. The project team
will then proceed in its quest for organizational improvement following
the standard adopted and using the management tools.
The 2001-2002 action plan also involves the development of two database
projects, one enabling "all departments to enter and maintain their
assessment results and another "for entering and maintaining the
major improvement opportunities of departments." Additional workshops
for managers and supervisors will focus on management effectiveness, communication
skills, and the development of management tools.
In striving to achieve service quality, Mr. Nahas concluded, "throughout
AUB, employees [need to be] adequately trained, stakeholder feedback [needs
to be] regularly obtained, and operating processes [need to be] continuously
fine-tuned to satisfy . . . all stakeholders in a balanced way. . . .
[The] departmental plans and targets [need to be] totally aligned and
in synch with those of the institution as a whole."
In an interview held with Mr. Nahas shortly after his appointment, he
said he finds much that is good in AUB. "I guess AUB in my mind has
been a great institution. I've been there as a student and it was the
best. I hope that it will be so in the minds of students going through
the university now and in the future as well." Mr. Nahas believes
that by creating the new position, Director of Service Quality and Organizational
Improvement, AUB has clearly made a statement: "We are serious about
Meet Mr. André Nahas
The Service Quality Initiative at AUB took a positive step forward with
the appointment on September 1 of André Nahas as Director of Service
Quality and Organizational Improvement.
Mr. Nahas is spearheading AUB's Service Quality Initiative, planning and
directing both strategy and implementation. Working in close coordination
with President Waterbury and both the Oversight Team and the Task Team
(See AUB Today, Vol. 2, No. 2), Nahas will recommend improvements in existing
quality initiatives in the areas of training, processes, measurement,
communication, and rewards.
Mr. Nahas is well qualified for this challenging position. He received
his BS in mathematics and physics in 1970 from AUB and completed course
work toward a master's degree in applied mathematics and computer science
between 1970 and 1973. He later studied at Pennsylvania State University
and France's INSEAD. After working briefly at AUB in computer services,
Mr. Nahas began in 1974 a 27-year career with the Eastman Kodak Company.
During that time he rose steadily from Near East data processing supervisor
involved in installation of the international common computer systems
for Kodak's subsidiaries in Lebanon and Greece, to general manager of
Kodak's emerging markets distributor organization. In this last position
Mr. Nahas held business responsibility for consumer and professional products
throughout 81 countries in Central Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and
Central Asia. After leaving Kodak in 2000, AUB's new director worked as
a management consultant, guiding organizations toward the achievement
of quality and excellence.
Speaking on his first day in his College Hall office, Mr. Nahas said he
feels enthusiastic about the new job. "It's challenging."
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