Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Survival Guide to ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI)

By the calendar it is spring and ASQ’s annual big bash is just around the corner.  I thought I might provide a survival guide for getting the most out of WCQI.  I hope to have some tidbits for everyone, whether you are new to quality, a member leader, or someone who has been to a few and is looking for that nugget.  To show my age, I was at the last ASQ world conference (they called it the Annual Quality Conference-AQC) they held in Indianapolis, back in 2000. Come see me at the Six Sigma Forum booth in the exhibition hall and I will show you a relic from that conference (13 years, how time flies!).

The conference really is not just about the two and a half days of presentations.  There is a lot going behind the scenes.  As a busy member leader, the real work was the weekend.  On Saturday, ASQ puts on the Learning Institute for its member leaders to learn about how to manage ASQ sections or divisions.  In the afternoon, there is the grand brainstorming session-ITAG (Ideas to Action Group).  New to me this year is the member leader dinner Saturday night.  I found these sessions energizing as it provides me an opportunity to talk specific issues about ASQ governance, put a face to a voice that you keep hearing on conference calls, and network with like minded individuals.  Sunday is the big SAC/DAC meeting (Sections Affairs Council / Division Affairs Council), meetings within your own divisions, ASQ projects (I spent a lot of time with Rob Watters on some Learning Institute issues a few years ago) and other invitation only types of meetings.  That wraps up with the annual business meeting in the late afternoon and awards presentations in the evening.  If you are an involved member leader you are tired by the time Sunday finishes.
For others, Sunday is getting ready for Monday and the first keynote.  Have a plan on what to see.  You cannot see everything so pick and choose what areas to see.  My favorite recommendation: Go see at least one Quality Impact Session.  It will give some great ideas for your own organization.
Some recommendations during the open session
·         Eat lunch in the exhibit hall with someone you don’t know and play the “5 degrees of separation” game.  You never know what you will learn.
·         Visit an “After 5” session.  You will be surprised at the fun applications of quality.  Yoga anyone?
·         Visit the Exhibition Hall often. It is a great place to get all your needs filled at the ASQ Bookstore and meet vendors.  Explore more options about ASQ and see, in one place all the ASQ divisions and what they have to offer.  See me live blogging from the Six Sigma Forum booth, across from the brand new cars on display by the Automotive division.
·         Go to the Tuesday dinner.  It is another great networking opportunity, meet new people at your table, share stories—truthful and tall.
·         Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you are confused.  There are always volunteers very willing to help you.  They will be dressed distinctively to single themselves out. 
One last thing in preparation:  carry an extra travel bag for all the stuff you are bringing home.  I always seem to come home with a least one more book than I wanted, a stack of business cards, and a couple pages of notes and ideas.  For me, this year will be no different.  I am on a learning journey to understand calibration.   Hope to see you there!
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