Letters from Peter Scholtes.

Letters: Nov 2005 | April 2003 | Jun 2001 | August 2000 | April 2000

June 2001

Hello to my dear friends (and to others who are tagging along!).

First a report on "Fettle." I received many responses from as far away as England (Graham Pope) to the question in my last letter, "what on earth is a 'fettle'?" The lengthiest was from Lloyd Dobbins, to whom I am grateful:

"Fettle is a verb which had to do with using sand (or something similar) to line the hearth of a puddling furnace before forging pig iron to wrought iron. Lining the furnace, or fettling makes the furnace ready to go or in good condition. By extension if you are in fine fettle, you are in good condition."

Lloyd got this definition from the new fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary. He claims it was the only present that he requested from Santa last year.

Speaking of my letters, this will be the last "snail mail" version of my letter!! To keep in touch byloggin on to and read letters as they are posted, or you can go to and click on my picture.

Good news: Our lives have finally settled down since our move last September to downtown Madison. There is a real sense of community in the neighborhood - where we can do almost everything without ever getting in the car. When it snowed like crazy this winter we sat back and enjoyed it without worrying about how we were going to get out of our driveway! Peg can walk to her store, Capitol Kids Ltd, which is doing well. She loves the direct contact with customers, especially the little ones.

Lilah, our granddaughter, just had her first birthday. Lilah celebrated the event by tearing her birthday cake apart and smearing frosting all over her face. She and her sister, three year old Sophie continue to be the joy of our lives.

All of our kids are doing well - Jenna and husband Paul are busy parenting and Jenna has been instrumental in the success of Capitol Kids; Peter is still in Minneapolis working at City Pages. Matt and his fiancée Gretchen are in Milwaukee and starting to plan their wedding for next year, and Ben just finished visiting us from Big Sky Montana - taking a break from adventure photography while the snow melts and he gets ready for next winter.

In May I went to Charlotte to attend the annual Quality Conference conducted by the American Society for Quality. There were several highlights. I was awarded the Ishikawa Medal. I was nominated by a group of people who had formed a conspiracy on my behalf. The "friends of Peter" were led by March Jacques. The Deming Medal was awarded to a friend of mine, Tom Nolan, presented to him by my friend Joyce Orsini. The biggest thrill for me was seeing them and many other friends including Kelly Allan, Linda Finn, a former colleague at Joiner Associates, March and Randy Jacques, Linda Deming Cahill, and Don Wheeler and the SPC Inc. crew. Another highlight: Tom Mosgaller, our dear friend from Madison assumed the position of President of ASQ. His inaugural speech was eloquent and moving.

Our campaign against Performance Appraisals continues! My associates have been busy and productive. In March, Britt Hall and Kelly worked with United Defense LP in Minneapolis. I am pleased that they helped UDLP design a pilot process to help them decide to move away from Performance Appraisals. Barb Hummel and Lara Lebeiko joined Britt and Kelly in the continuing work with State of Missouri. They are helping managers learn and apply the Six New Leadership Competencies - including what to do instead of performance appraisals.

I still enjoy contact with others who are dedicated to creating pride and joy at work, who ask interesting questions, who share their challenges and dedication to making the world a better place. Much of this contact has been made possible because of John Hunter who has updated my website,, so it is easier to find things you're looking for. I continue to be grateful to John for his work. He has many interesting projects in the works, and his site is well worth a visit.

That's all for now from my part of the country. Be assured that I am in fine fettle, I am still a harmless eccentric (working on being amusing) and racking my brain for a new word, or description to generate comments from you my esteemed colleagues. (Suggestions welcome!)

I wish you joy in your lives, especially in your work. I wish you peace in your hearts.


Peter R. Scholtes