Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What IS the vision of ASQ?

On its webpage masthead, ASQ announces, “ASQ is a global community of people passionate about quality, who use the tools, their ideas and expertise to make our world better.  ASQ: The Global Voice of Quality.”
As a fairly active member of the community I would agree that just about every ASQ member I have come in contact with is passionate about the job they do, seeking ideas and answers to make their own corner of the world that much better.   So is the masthead statement a mission statement, vision statement, or values statement?  I would argue it is more a descriptor of today; is it a descriptor of perfection—more akin to a vision statement? 
I had to really dig into the site, but I finally found the current ASQ Vision Statement, which is buried on page 6 of the FY14 Business Plan and it is self-proclaimed as aspirational:  “By making quality a global priority, an organizational imperative, and a personal ethic, ASQ will become the community of choice for everyone who seeks quality concepts, technology, and tools to improve themselves and their world.” ASQ CEO Bill Troy is preaching vision clarity while HQ goes through its strategic planning process in preparation for FY15.  Let’s be a help and, using the FY14 Business Plan, talk about vision clarity by breaking down the vision statement.
”By making quality a global priority…”  This is a tough one to grapple with because there is an expectation that quality is pervasive and expected.  Again, from page 6 of the Business Plan, “The quality profession envisions the day when quality rightly becomes everyone’s job. That phrase, “Quality is everyone’s job,” was a popular quality cliché of the 1980s. ASQ expanded its mission to support the realization of that vision. As you see in ASQ’s vision, we strive to be the community for EVERYONE who seeks quality.“ OK, it is lofty but I am struggling how ASQ is executing to this piece of the vision.  I will agree that they have done great things in the global side of things, what should ASQ do to combine global into priority?  Is participating in ISO development enough?  In your organization, gentle reader, is quality a global priority?  What else needs to be done?
“…an organizational imperative,…”  Again, going back to page 6, “we also have a role to play in serving the needs of organizations, and even groups of organizations. ASQ’s Enterprise Quality Roundtable Memberships and other organizational approaches help support quality as a strategic advantage and tool for innovation and change, and supports the vision in helping make quality an organizational imperative.”  This is where things fall apart.  ASQ is very good at participating in business wide studies as well as being involved in these types of “organizational” packages.  But I would argue we are a LONG way off in making quality an organizational imperative.  We have made great strides but in one place I believe ASQ has failed, miserably.  We have not won the hearts and minds of educators.   Current leaders are not putting quality ahead of financial performance, ethical behavior, or personal accountability.  Quality has not been mainstreamed as a required leadership trait.  Mr. Troy, if I were king this would be my most important aspect to work on.
“…and a personal ethic…”   From the business plan, “There is a third dimension of ASQ’s vision that sets us apart from a traditional professional association, and that is the knowledge of the profession—that quality concepts, technologies, and tools can be taken out of an organizational context and used to make the world a better place.”  I believe we are just starting on this journey.   In the past 5 years, the ASQ Learning Institute has done wondrous things to provide the professional knowledge described in the vision statement.  The folks that work in this group would also say they have a long way to go.  
Unfortunately, to drive revenue, ASQ own actions in promoting industry applications of learning offerings goes against the above business plan statement.   In the 2013 ASQ Global State of Quality Research, I found in the Insights and Continuing Conversations section, an identified challenge (top of page 7). “As the educational and training needs are diverse, to fit one or the other ‘already packaged’ programs to everyone is tough.  We need to work on altering the perception that ‘we are unique and we are special,’ and collectively understand that there is still so much benefit to derive from standardized… systems.”
Quality concepts are timeless, generic, and pervasive IF quality practitioners are willing to be patient to bring along the quality neophytes. The application of quality in manufacturing can also be done in the financial world, health care industry, or government ONCE YOU HAVE PROCESS KNOWLEDGE.  Without process knowledge we get all of these specialized flavors.  Seeking profound knowledge gives us the necessary skills to adapt the concepts to new problems. 
Mr. Troy, you have a challenge.  I believe the Society lacks clarity of vision.  Some of it because the Society fights for revenue survival, other times the Society acts selfishly rather than for the greater good.  I believe your challenge is to be the minder of the vision and clarify those areas where things are murky.
Oh, one little nit:  Can you make the mission/vision/values of the Society a little easier to find on the ASQ website?

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