Yes, you read that right. Quality Process Consultants, Inc. (dba Extraordinary Team) has been in business for 20 years as of the end of September – so we are going to be celebrating ALL YEAR! What a milestone (and frankly, who would have thought I would survive, no less thrive in this business?)
It all started when I was in the US Coast Guard as the Training Manager for the Mid-Atlantic region in 1990. The Coast Guard started doing “TQM” – Total Quality Management – and needed to train up the first set of facilitators. They looked at the facilitator job description and said, “that seems a lot like how Kristin operates” and so they sent me to two weeks of training. Unfortunately, it was to teach us how to teach others in TQM principles and tools.
When I got assigned to my very first team, I made just about every mistake one could! I kid you not: 26 one-hour long meetings. I don’t even remember what the problem was, nor the solution (we did, in fact, reach a decent, benign solution). I just remember being soooo frustrated. None of us knew what we were doing. We were just trying to get some of these quality management principles off the ground.
Frustrated, I avidly researched this nascent skill called “facilitation” and found myself training a cadre of internal facilitators within the Coast Guard. By the end of 1992, companies were asking me to teach their people how to facilitate and lead teams! In fact, I still use the core of that initial facilitation skills training program in my company today!
At that point, I decided to pursue the path that I love (facilitation) and move from the active duty Coast Guard to the Reserves in 1993. I served another 10 years in a reserve capacity (one weekend a month and two weeks a year) and thankfully never got called up for deployment. (Anyone need a facilitator to secure a Middle Eastern port?).
Good news is that I love what I do. I work with great people who are dedicated to achieving extraordinary results. The work is never the same; it is always different. I learn more about the world as I travel about and work with different business models and areas of interest. What’s not to like about this business?
Looking back, it has been an interesting ride starting out of the upstairs guest room, taking over the dining room and then the living room. In 1997, I bought a small bank building that was literally moved down the street into the heart of downtown Hampton. I renovated the bank into a multimedia learning center with executive office suites. I’ve grown the business to have four full-time people onboard with several other facilitators on call. I’ve also “rightsized” the business after I moved up to Washington DC shortly after 9/11. At this point, I started to hire talent for a performance period vs. hire employees. Seems to work better for my business model these days. In 2008, I moved out to Scottsdale, AZ where the weather and lifestyle is much more aligned with my personal preferences.
I consider this to be “hump year” actually – a mid-way point to take stock of what I have done and what I intend to do. That’s what I am doing ALL YEAR – Celebrating success and strategizing for the future. I’m thinking I’ll be doing another 20 years!