The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) has embarked on a journey of Continuous Quality Improvement (C.Q.I.). Continuous Quality Improvement is a philosophy and strategy for continuously improving performance at every level in all areas of responsibility. C.Q.I. is a total systems approach that promotes innovation, leadership, creativity and individual responsibility. It involves new strategic and cultural techniques in addition to new quality technologies to achieve customer satisfaction and improved productivity and represents a fundamental change in the way we think, educate, manage and operate by continuously expanding the capability of this department to create its future.
In the early 90's DCS embarked on a series of initiatives aimed at transforming the Department in preparation for the next millennium. The direction of the change that the Department envisioned includes:
- Strategic Planning
- Learning Organization
The "quality" initiative within DCS had its origins in a series of meetings and staff training that occurred in 1991 and 1992. Team building and related 'Total Quality Management' (TQM) practices were already being addressed by the summer of 1991. Central Office staff attended a National Institute of Corrections training course titled "Continuous Quality Improvement in Corrections" in April of 1992 and shortly thereafter, the quality initiative started in earnest. Large-scale training of staff was underway by late 1993, and Institutions and Programs were establishing Quality Councils by late 1994. On October 28, 1994 a memorandum was sent out to key DCS leaders announcing the initial meeting of the Executive Steering Council which was held on December 19, 1994. It was established that the Executive Steering Council was responsible for:
- The preparation and design of a Department strategy for CQI implementation;
- The construction of a master plan to implement the CQI strategy;
- The task of leading and assisting Quality Councils throughout the Department;
- The education, re-education, and active leadership of top management;
- The implementation of a strategy for starting and implementing a quality improvement philosophy;
- The formation of a network for the coordination, guidance, and technical support of CQI;
- The implementation and institutionalization of an agency culture supportive of CQI and Quality leadership;
- The design and implementation of training and education for all; and,
- The implementation of carefully selected improvement projects.
In the DCS Master Plan for Quality, which was adopted in early 1995, the Executive Steering Council was defined as being responsible for the "oversight and development of CQI and for Department Actions, Products, and Projects. In December of 1995, the Department designated a Quality Coordinator position to oversee Quality training, support the Quality Councils, and to continue expanding and planning the Department's Quality effort.
DCS continues to work towards an agency-wide transformation in which we shift how we fundamentally think and work together. To date, several integrated initiatives have been designed and implemented to aid in this transformation.
- Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) - There are a total of 17 active Quality Councils in the Department and training efforts are continuous. Courses offered include
Quality Awareness, Teams, Tools, and Techniques, Meeting Facilitation, Excelling as a First Time Supervisor, Correctional Leadership, and Advanced Correctional Leadership
(see training opportunities). Additionally,
there are a number of active Process Action Teams in the Department tasked with looking at a variety of issues.
- Diversity - This initiative was first identified in 1991 and established in 1992 and has involved extensive work including diversity training, a work environment
survey, policy revisions, and awareness efforts. In addition, the Department recognized that its strength and its major resource in achieving goals and objectives is the
agency's staff. Human relationships provide the cornerstone of all Departmental efforts. Work continues in recruiting, retaining, and training culturally and ethnically
- Strategic Planning - The Department's strategic plan was first published in 1993 and identified critical goals and objectives, core values and established a solid
capital planning framework for this decade. The plan is currently undergoing revision.
- Transformational Leadership - Beginning in 1994, the Department started putting senior leadership through required readings, discussions, and training. This effort was
later extended to upper management and some middle management. Transformational Leadership theory and principles are built into the course curriculum taught at DCS.
- Visioning - Called "Shaping Tomorrow Starting Today: Decide the Future for DCS" the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services held its second vision
search conference in July 2005. This conference comes 10 years after the Department's first vision conference that was held in 1994. The Department again invited a
cross-section of stakeholders from its internal system and from the community at large to help identify its direction for the next decade. The purpose of the conference was
to have purposeful dialogue to explore the many facets of today's correctional system and to propose scenarios for the future. The group worked together to identify core
values that represent the basic beliefs that the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services embraces to meet its responsibility to inmates and staff. Nine core
beliefs/vision statements emerged:
- Best Practices
- Commitment to Staff
- Community Awareness and Involvement
- Family Involvement
- Fiscal Accountability
- Seamless Criminal Justice System
- Offender Accountability
- Offender Programs
Currently, a steering committee is working to develop these core beliefs into tangible actions so that they may be realized for the State of Nebraska in this next decade.
- Systems Thinking - First introduced to senior staff in 1998, this initiative recognizes the need of becoming inter-connected with both the internal and external
environment. Systems Thinking requires us to hold the "whole" in mind while investigating the interactions of the components of the whole. It involves
collaborating with all entities, good communication and cooperation.
- Learning Organization - The Department believes that learning is fundamental to adding value to an organization and that human resources are improved only when training
is reviewed and managed as an integral process within a system - not as a discrete program within an isolated department. To foster a learning organization, training must
become everyone's business and as a vision point of the Department, staff development and personal mastery is critical to this transformation. Staff members are encouraged to
be active in training and to participate in making a positive difference in the Department.
- Personal Effectiveness - In July 1999 a number of DCS staff attended training that featured Stephen R. Covey discussing his concepts for attaining and maintaining
greater personal effectiveness and principle-centered leadership. This training recognizes seven basic interpersonal habits employed by many highly successful persons
and organizations. Since then, DCS employees have been meeting in various study groups to teach these habits and to consider additional applications within our agency.
For additional information, contact Assistant Director Larry Wayne at 479-5721.
The CQI journey requires tremendous effort from everyone in the organization. The journey requires transforming the organization through the acquisition of a new set of disciplines which gradually affect the way people think and interact, ultimately leaving the organization fundamentally different from the way it was when we began the effort. We are striving to Make a Difference!
- The Executive Steering Council (ESC) includes the Director, Assistant Directors, Facility Administrator's, and Program Heads. The ESC provides guidance for the
quality initiative at the Strategic level and oversees broad departmental issues and processes.
- Quality Councils (QC) at each of the institutions and main program areas provide guidance for the initiative at the Operational level and oversee processes specific to
their respective area.
- Process Action Teams (PAT) collect/analyze data, provide recommendations, and suggest ways to put process improvement plans into action. PATs operate at the Tactical
levels and can be chartered by either the ESC or QCs.
Quality Awareness: (1hour)
This course serves as a brief introduction to the Department's Quality Initiative. Identification of customers, paradigms, organizational culture, history of quality, what is quality, why quality, the benefits of Continuous Quality Improvement and shift from management-centered to systems-centered concepts are covered in this block of instruction. All DCS staff attend this course as a part of pre-service training.
Teams, Tools, and Techniques: (2 days, 16 hours)
This course expands on concepts discussed in the Quality Awareness course and provides staff with additional knowledge of Quality concepts and basic skills for assisting in implementing positive change. The curriculum covers the stages of team development, roles of the team members and team leader, the function of the team facilitator, data collection/analysis, brainstorming, nominal group technique, flowcharts, Ishakawa charts, run charts, pareto analysis, and problem solving.
Meeting Facilitation: (3 days, 24 hours)
The Department holds many meetings for a variety of purposes. Most of these meetings are facilitated in order to assure maximum efficiency and outcomes. This course is designed to teach staff meeting facilitation skills for utilization throughout the Department. The curriculum contains an in-depth look at small group dynamics and team growth and development, quality improvement and problem solving processes, tear chart maintenance, educational facilitation, actual meeting facilitation, analysis of process versus content, conflict management, and communication.
Correctional Leadership: (2 days, 16 hours)
This course provides an overview of models of leadership and explores the principles and characteristics of an effective leader. Leadership and sources of power, change strategies, and diversity issues are among some of the topics explored in this course.
Advanced Correctional Leadership: (2 days, 16 hours)
This course builds on the concepts presented in correctional leadership but with a greater emphasis placed on evaluation of one's own strengths and areas for improvement as a leader. Ethics, performance feedback, and transformational leadership are all concepts explored in this course.
Excelling as a 1st time Supervisor: (1 day; 8 hours)
This class reviews DCS policies and procedures important for staff in a supervisory role. Attention is given to EEO, discrimination, and work place harassment law and policy. Additionally, time is spent on effective communication, feedback, and ethical guidelines.