Wednesday, November 25, 2015

You are not selling Quality to the C-suite. You are selling short-term relief.


Dr. Gettala’s ASQ Influential Voices post this month provides a well-worn message around the business of selling your message to leadership. Although the message is important I think we need to remember that Quality is not a methodology that offers “gentle relief for the common business cold.”

Quality is a set of principles.  If you ask any senior manager they would say that quality exists in their organization.   They believe (ok, there are outliers like Enron and VW Group) that their organization conforms to specified requirements and that their organization must improve and change to survive.  The message we are really telling senior managers related to quality is that, “In our opinion, their actions and behaviors are not supporting the cultural climate and needs of the organization.  Their message is being garbled and we need it clarified.”

More to Dr. Gettala’s point is the fact that when a quality practitioner sees a short term opportunity for improvement that will benefit the organization use the tips espoused by him. 

There is no prescriptive way to change corporate behavior from below.  The only way to effect significant corporate behavioral change is from internally at the C-suite level or external pressures placed on the organization by customers or regulatory requirements.  As quality practitioners, we do have ways to influence this behavior. 

One way is to get involved in corporate leadership training.  I have mentioned in the past that ASQ is way behind in this cause.  Leadership training as it relates to quality is not a path ASQ chooses to pursue.  I have commented in previous blog posts that they should.  This past Monday I had an opportunity to effect change in my organization by participating in a curriculum summit addressing leadership development in the shipyard.  Yes, I will probably retire before I see the next generation of shipyard leaders mature but I know that I have done the most to impact change at the senior level today. 

What is needed from our senior quality practitioners is rather than solely focusing on selling their expertise to the C-suite for short-term gain, why are they not focusing on changing the behaviors of the future quality leaders?  Why are they not asking to impact corporate culture by offering support for changing the behaviors of future organizational leaders such that they appreciate that leaders provide the resources and the environment by which quality exists today.
For all those in North America I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving season.  Be safe, appreciate your family with love, and continue to practice the quality principles our profession espouses.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dissecting ASQ’s Mission

In July 2014 I wrote a blog post asking the new ASQ CEO Bill Tony to clarify ASQ’s vision because it was pretty murky as to where ASQ is heading.  This month, incoming ASQ Chair Pat La Londe talks about the ways ASQ is moving forward in executing its mission.  I also found enlightening Dan Zrymiak’s critique of Pat’s blog post. 
Maybe it’s me, but I have a different take of Mission, Vision, and Values.  I was taught that an organization’s vision is what they strive to be and the mission is the how the organization executes the vision.  The values are the things that an organization will not compromise in its path on executing the mission.   Vision is aspirational, Mission is clarity, and Values are the bedrock from which to move. 
ASQ’s Mission:  To increase the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world.
Sounds more like a vision statement to me. It’s funny, but on the same web page that contains the ASQ Mission and Vision statement I found a more executable and clarifying Mission Statement: "… provide local access to the quality community, career development, credentials, knowledge, and information services related to quality" (italicized words are my addition).   Although this statement was attributed to the ASQ Global offices, I would think that the ASQ Leadership would be extremely happy if this were done by all member units of the society. 
Let’s go a little deeper in what Pat is presenting. 
·         ASQ is aligned and united to grow and advance the Global Quality Community.  Unfortunately, that is not true. As much as ASQ HQ want this to be true, the devil is in the details and ASQ HQ has to go a LONG way before the field is in sync with HQ.  I commented about this relationship in my March 2015 post.  Sometime bureaucracy gets in the way of collaboration and ASQ HQ and ASQ Global needs to find a happy medium to get in sync.
·         ASQ is committed to and investing in member value, this year and beyond.  This is long overdue. The great challenge is that ASQ does not have a rising revenue stream that creates the ability to provide member value through technology.   HQ does not have web page designers or website experts that allow the development of a member-friendly web presence so the society gets what it gets.  HQ personnel are interested in expanding the use of technology; the dollars just aren’t there to do everything the society needs.
·          ASQ in 2015 has its challenges, yet is responding, evolving and adapting, to ensure our members’ and customers’ success in a rapidly changing, competitive, global environment. Again, my opinion, but I think this is code for “US membership is declining dramatically; international membership needs to increase significantly if the society is going to survive in the future.”
 
Unfortunately, what is not addressed is how we are going to win the hearts and minds of leaders to accept quality as a VALUE rather than a governance characteristic.  There is no strategy to address the Quality Body of Knowledge as standard curriculum in MBA or other academic leadership programs.  To their credit, ASQ is initiating a “Young Leaders” program to develop future corporate leader. I see that more as a flight of fancy rather than something that will be truly lasting.   
 
There is a lot of work to be done.  Unfortunately, the society still does not have a clear, actionable mission statement that can be easily translated and accepted by member units her in the US and globally.  So, if you were new to ASQ, what would you think of the Society’s mission statement?  Would you partner with us?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Applying Quality Concepts at Home – Remember the human consequences

Given the nature of the June 2015 ASQ Influential Voices blog, I congratulate Sunil Kaushik on his journey through the quality profession.  Sunil has done a masterful job at including his wife in his journey. I have found that applying the things you do at work can be difficult to implement in your personal life.  The personal applications of quality have been most successful when they have been tailored to the participants –sounds just like at work! 

While I was teaching Lean Six Sigma for the Navy I had a good number of students come to me and say what great ideas they had for improvement opportunities at home to use these skills.  When I checked back with them I heard more failures than successes (wife banned me from the kitchen forever, kids can’t keep the garage straight, other people just won’t cooperate, etc.).  What we fail to realize is that how we organize and live our personal lives are often in stark contrast to what we feel SHOULD be happening.  We cannot impose our will on someone else unless the other person is involved in the change.

In my experience kitchen kaizen events using 5S are probably the most reported failures.  For example, recently I visited a friend of mine at her house.  As a courtesy she offered me a cup of coffee.  The one-cup coffee machine was sitting on her counter near her sink.  The cups that she used were in a cabinet on the wall opposite from where the coffee maker sat.  Knowing that my friend was a fastidious person and a proponent of improvement I asked why were the cups not in the cabinet directly above the coffee maker?  She answered that across the kitchen was the best place for them and I don’t have space for them in the cabinet above the coffee maker.   Pressing my luck, I inquired about reorganizing that cabinet.  She pointedly responded that the best place for the current dishes were in this cabinet and nowhere else.  I immediately broke off the engagement having learned a long time ago that hell hath no fury like a cook in their kitchen—and I was thirsty. 

I have read of multiple successes of applying quality concepts to personal health.  The first case study that I came in contact with was one presented in Improving Performance through Statistical Thinking. In chapter 6, Tom Pohlen discussed how he used statistical concepts to manage his wife’s diabetes.  Another example is presented in the book A Sample Size of One, the story of how a quality practitioner, bringing the full spectrum of quality concepts to bear, manages her autistic son’s medical care and quality of life.   

I recently downsized my living space from a four-person, 2500+ square foot property to a one-person, 1700 square foot property.  The end result of this change was extra furniture, boxes, and stuff collected over a thirty year period that needed to be stored temporarily while it was sorted, distributed, and disposed of.  Of course, I was paying the storage rental so there was a point in time where this was starting to get costly.  We just disposed of the rental unit after an organized distribution plan, meeting deadlines for individuals to sort and classify and find a party to dispose of what wasn’t needed. Yes, this was a kaizen that turned out to be a WIN-WIN proposition with fond memories and NO hurt feelings.   The unwanted things were given to someone to sell.  My kids identified things that they wanted to store and we found places for them.  I was able to re-purpose the storage fees to something more immediate, like my son’s orthodonture.   No specific quality principles were communicated; just expectations and dates. 
Moral of the story:  We apply quality concepts all the time in our daily lives; we just don’t call them such.  Any time we impose things in the name of quality things are going to backfire.  If we translate the concepts to the current language of life we are much more likely to see a successful application of the quality principles.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Future of Quality: What I want the future to contain


Last week I wrote a blog post describing my observations about the ASQ 2015 Future of Quality report.  I was a little disappointed with the Quality Leaders portion of the report so I thought I would submit my desires what ASQ and the QBoK need to consider for the future.
 
My graduate degree is in Operations Research.  It is a degree that is a precursor to all these “Big Data” degrees that schools think are trendy right now.  One of the major downsides to having this type of degree is that it is heavily technology dependent, meaning it requires advanced computational capabilities to be successful.  Fortunately, the past forty years has closed the technology gap dramatically (how I miss IBM punch cards, NOT!) where we can now design, test and execute some pretty robust mathematical models in the space of a couple of hours with a simple spreadsheet.  
 
One of my favorite texts was written as a one day course on industrial operations that expanded into a Masters degree program at Northwestern.  IMO, Factory Physics, has become THE source for the mathematical models behind basics processes. It is the best text to explain Little’s Law, a basic tenet of industrial engineering, the lean concept of flow, and Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints.   Don Wheeler’s The Process Evaluation Handbook is not far behind though his is more of the “pure quality” approach.  This is surprising that as much as ASQ is hyping STEM and engineers as quality practitioners, they don’t advertise these books as part of the ASQ bookstore nor do they test a lot of the text’s concepts. 
 
I consider this a MAJOR shortfall in the QBoK.  In the study of processes the QBoK is limited to the qualitative analysis of processes.  They are more concerned about drawing process pictures and less about understanding why a process performs the way it does MATHEMATICALLY.  Once we study in this manner, it is easier to identify impacts on process, model them, and then experiment by changing them.  ASQ certifications test our knowledge of simple math models and designs of experiments but they do not teach how to study the process of successfully setting up the models in the first place!
 
Understanding how processes behave is one thing but an area that the quality community have barely scratched the surface is to understand human behavior and its impact on processes and systems.  Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline opened my eyes about human behavior in the work environment.  I understood how Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model fit into the work environment and a good number of things that I was taught about leadership while an Army officer totally failed when applied outside that environment.
 
 Which leads me to my last QBoK “hole” – Leadership.  Bill Troy started the conversation in his December 2014 blog post and the theme that the Quality Practitioner was also a leader.   Reading the blog responses lead me to believe that there is no true definition of leadership.  I see this daily in people who have had little or no knowledge of what is needed at the next level of an organization are thrust into leadership positions who are little prepared and struggle mightily.  Most eventually settle in to a comfort zone that keeps them employed but are they really executing in the way the organization needs them to execute?   What are we as a professional society doing to prepare people that understanding process and understanding people are the building blocks for leadership success?
 
 The ASQ leadership academy, announced at the 2015 WCQI Business meeting, is a band aid that helps too few people.  I find these programs, especially executed in academia, create elitist types of behaviors rather than those necessary to be successful in a working environment. We need to offer knowledge broadly so that it impacts a large number of individuals. 
My future quality world contains a broader acceptance by quality practitioners of the mathematical underpinnings of processes, better cognizance and appreciation of human behavior, and a more concrete definition of what leadership really is.  Probably be a good surrogate to a liberal arts education, but that is topic for another time…

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Future of Quality is not coming from inside the community


This month’s ASQ Influential Voice topic addresses the Future of Quality. I know that the title is sounds pretty damning, especially from one who describes himself as a quality professional.   Below are my observations that led me to that title.

First the quality community is shrinking from a strictly numbers perspective.  ASQ membership has seen a significant decline from a high of over 100,000 members at the beginning of the century to just over 75,000 members today (as reported in the last ASQ General Business meeting in Nashville).  The decline is significantly greater in the United States whereas outside the US and Canada has seen significant membership growth.  This is both good (outside the US sees value in ASQ) and bad (declining resource base to help spread the word of quality).  

Membership in organizations decline when the intrinsic value of being a member no longer serves the cost of the membership.  For example, Costco recently announced the ending of a significant financial relationship with American Express.  Costco is a retail warehouse organization who uses a membership model to bring in business.  You can only pay for your merchandise with cash, debit card, or American Express (AMEX).  My membership is tied to the American Express card.  I am buying less from Costco these days so with the planned changeover from AMEX next year, a Costco membership is not as valued as it once was to me.  Although Costco has not changed their membership prices in two years, as a consumer I see the value of a Costco membership declining for me which will drive me to a change.

My own membership in ASQ comes due in June.  Every year I compare the value of the price of being a Senior member (dues went up a little bit) to the value I receive from the membership.  Fortunately, I see significant value, more in the contacts and networking, and less in the certifications, ASQ Press discounts, etc.  The value proposition is a personal issue with each member based on their circumstance.  The value proposition also changes as a person progresses in their career.  If a person sees membership as simply a cost equation, ASQ will lose every time.

Recently, ASQ recently released the 2015 Future of Quality report.  I found it more informative than previous versions as it did not solely address itself to Quality. As a matter of fact, I found the vignettes provided by the non-quality related authors more interesting and robust that the three that spoke to quality directly.  From my perspective, I attribute this to these authors maybe being too close to the quality field and not changing their perspective enough to address where quality can go. 

I see the future of quality from two perspectives.  Quality will improve with the continued application of the Quality Body of Knowledge (QBoK) to new applications that we can only dream about. I, like most others, did not get into quality as their prime interest when they started their career.  Their career journey led them here. Ergo, the next great quality innovation will come from folks outside the quality field.

Which means that to continue the quality movement we must show that ASQ membership continues to provide value, ASQ provide resources that are novel such that are seen as valuable to member leaders and the membership, and ASQ has to prove relevant to the new future world.  To me, failing to address these issues is THE shortcoming that ASQ continues to face and to focus on increasing global membership will only stave off the inevitable decline of the society.   But then again, who would have predicted that the PDA would morph into the iPad?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Confessions of a Conference Booth Volunteer

It’s Tuesday morning, the start of another full day at #WCQI2015.  Sitting in the booth typing out another blog entry to give you a sense of what it is like to be a conference volunteer. 
Conference volunteers are the glue to make a successful conference.  Onsite volunteers come in all shapes of sizes who work at directing people to venues, introducing speakers at breakout sessions and manning booths in the exhibition hall.  Volunteers are compensated with reduced conference and travel fees. Besides these folks, there are a number of members who volunteer their time to review speaker submissions, take care of the numerous preparation details in the running of a large conference that attracts about 3000+ participants.



Volunteering for both duties as a lot of networking advantages. Besides seeing old friends as they walk past, you can get into some interesting conversations. For example, I met Loran Cox, the Director of Quality for Ping Golf. He picked my brain about his desire to speak at #WCQI2016 on his company’s use of SharePoint as a platform for selecting and managing improvement activities. I met the Country Councilor from Colombia, Cesar Arturo Camargo Viloria, a volunteer who acts as the ASQ focal point there. We talked about his desire to expand Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement in his country and my recent experience in Costa Rica. Central America, in my opinion, is the next growth area for Six Sigma.
 
And then there is Chuck Underwood.

I met Chuck two years ago at #WCQI2013 in Indianapolis.  He is the prime mover for the Team and Workplace Excellence Forum.  Our booths are usually side by side so it is always good to reconnect in person rather than vicariously through LinkedIn.  I also got to walk the floor a little bit and took some pictures before the crowds come in for the day.


But there are times were things can get a bit exciting. This morning the Six Sigma forum sponsored Bev Daniel’s presentation.  As part of the presentation, Bev promised to deliver a flash drive with statistical tools and her presentation when she got to our booth.  Needless to say, the crowd got to the booth before Bev so crowd control is sometimes an important element of booth duty.  Needless to say, things got into control once Bev arrived.


Overall, the conference was a win for everyone.  Lots of new contacts made, old friends found, and new energy for quality.  Time to catch that plane home! and think of #WCQI2016 in Milwaukee.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring is Conference Season!

The calendar has turned to spring and warm weather is hitting the Tidewater of Virginia.  Trees are starting to sprout leaves and I am looking soon to put my orchids outside for the next five months.   
This is also prime ASQ conference time.  Three of my favorite conferences happen this time of year:  March’s ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference, ASQ Raleigh’s Quality in the Triangle and, of course, ASQ’s big World Conference on Quality and Innovation—the last two in May.   Due to time and budget, I will hit two out of three this year.
I have been to the World Conference off and on since 1997 (Orlando twice, Indy twice, Philly, Charlotte, St. Paul, Milwaukee, Houston, and Pittsburgh).  For my first ASQ conference in Orlando, I was a neophyte to quality so I was on a mission to immerse myself in the experience and try to understand what ASQ was and how it could help me with my job.   I highly recommend anyone who is involved and serious about quality to go at least once in their quality career.  The experience is unmatched for those new to quality.
As I progressed and realized that quality was going to be a career for me, I started to come to these conferences with different mindsets.  What training opportunities were available for me and my people?  What resources do I need on the job?  What other things can I get involved with ASQ that can help with my career?  As this point in my career I made a distinct effort to engage with ASQ HQ people and other Member Leader volunteers to see what they were involved in and how their situation matched what I was facing.   
One of the most rewarding experiences I have with ASQ is being involved with Society-wide projects, either as part of Section or Division Leadership or creating new initiatives.  I was a vocal participant at the first “Ideas to Actions” meeting with Volunteer Member Leaders and that opened up my network and allowed me to participate in some very rewarding projects; in my case working closely with the Learning Institute on initial governance programs. 
This year, I will be manning the booth for the Six Sigma Forum, similarly to what I did two years ago in Indy (you can view those blog posts here and here).  My goal this year is to catch up on old friends (too many to name), new acquaintances, fellow Influential Voice bloggers, and to look for new opportunities. My desire to learn hasn’t diminished; it gets channeled differently.  Note to self:  make more business cards.
For those planning to attend World Conference for the first time, explore vigorously, meet new friends and share your experiences freely.  For those that have been to a few World Conferences, take an opportunity to guide someone new.  You know their look.    Don’t forget to check in with other ASQ Influential Voice bloggers for their insights and experiences. Best of all celebrate the richness of the Quality Community; there isn’t anything like it!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lean by itself is Good, Lean with Six Sigma is Bad. Really?

Another day and another consultant blog post that states that their version or their understanding of Lean Six Sigma does not do Lean correctly.  One consultant has even developed a term for this called LAME – Lean as Misguidedly Executed. In all fairness, there are Six Sigma zealots out there as well.  I am not here to begrudge individuals from their livelihood.  I do find it tiresome that they have to attack established improvement methodologies to drum up business.

What I see is that the “attack bloggers” are usually ignorant of the other side’s principles and origins.  For example: 

Ignorant statement #1: “Lean Six Sigma is all about managing projects, Lean is not.”  Having done a number of “Kaizen” events, they do not just appear out of the ether. They have to be scheduled if done by the people doing the work.  There is the same amount of paperwork needed to work a kaizen event as there is to do a Lean Six Sigma project.  I have found Kaizen events that have structured planning tools are often more successful and show more sustainable results.   

Ignorant statement #2:  “Lean Six Sigma is all about the Belts.”  In its original form, as developed by Motorola, there was only one level of Six Sigma practitioner – a Black Belt.  The different belts evolved as other organizations saw the goodness of first one than having both improvement methodologies and worked to tailor them. Organizations saw a need to differentiate skill levels.  Thus, Green Belts, Master Black Belts, Yellow Belts, ’name your favorite color’ Belts were created.   I wonder how this is any different from a certified Lean Sensei or AME/Shingo/ASQ sponsored certifications (Bronze, Silver, Gold)? 
Ignorant statement #3:  “Lean is about (culture, people, learning, etc.), Six Sigma is about (ROI, statistics, numbers, etc.).”  When any improvement methodology is accepted as a standard in an organization it is going to change the culture, the people, and what the organization will learn. Both methodologies use statistics and have some form of level of effort differentiation that controls what gets improved and what does not.

Some facts:

·         All successful improvement methodologies are based on the scientific method.

·         All successful improvement methodologies morph from their created state when they come in contact with organizations from different industries.  Why?  To best fit the organization.

·         There will always be consultants out there trying to tell you that their methodology is the best version of that methodology.  It is a sales pitch.

·         It is still up to organizational  leadership to 1) value improvement as equal part as the everyday work of the organization, and 2) see improvement methodologies as necessary to move the organization forward.
What we should be arguing about is how to get future leaders to appreciate improvement methodologies as necessary for their future success.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

ASQ Global Redux – Where is HQ support to the field?

I am sitting in San Jose, Costa Rica enjoying a beautiful sunny day while back home it is rainy cold.  A few weeks ago I received a request to speak at a conference in Costa Rica.  I was flattered.  Took a look at my schedule and made the trip fit and budgeted for an extra day of travel to see a little bit of the countryside. 

Dr. Jack West is the opening keynote and I am the closing keynote speaker for the II Foro Nactional Lean & Six Sigma, sponsored by Camara de Industrias de Costa Rica and ASQ.   It is a well done forum with Edwin Garro, ASQ Fellow, as the prime organizer.   Luz Maria Karg, ASQ Regional Manager for Latin America is also here along with almost 200 attendees.  Their first year close to 100 attended.  The Forum has two tracks, one for manufacturing and one for service organizations.  All the tracks are in Spanish and the keynotes have simultaneous translations to Spanish capability. Dr. Garro and his volunteers did a magnificent job of putting on a first rate conference.  His summary of the Foro (in Spanish) is here.

The February 2015 Influential Voices topic talked about making Quality Global.  First, it would assume that quality is strictly an American concept when in reality quality cannot be characterized by any one region.  Secondly, if ASQ wants to offer its brand on regional events there needs to be some quid pro quo.  For example, at the event here there was minimal ASQ presence other than showing the brand on advertising literature.  There were no member applications either in English or in Spanish.  There were no literature on the value of the ASQ certifications other than the belt certification.  In addition, there was no advertisement on the main ASQ website or the web page for ASQ Mexico.  

This is not the first international event that I was asked to speak.  In 2012 I was invited to join senior ASQ leaders to speak at the Dubai Quality Group’s annual Quality and Business Excellence Conference.  Although there was a booth with ASQ literature on site, none of it was in Arabic plus there was little to no advertisement on the main ASQ website. 

It is the responsibility for the conference organizers to place their event on the ASQ main calendar but there is a process to request ASQ branding.  Where ASQ falls short is the expectation of communicating membership value.  At the Costa Rica Foro, over 70% of the attendees were non-members.  Here was a major opportunity lost to advertise the value of ASQ membership.  There was no requirement placed on me, besides presenting my address, to talk to prospective new members.  This is disappointing.
 
ASQ Global has an area for regions to link local websites to the main ASQ Global website.  I looked on the Central American region and there was only one local website link (Chile).  Inquiring with Luz Maria, her first comment was to acknowledge the fact but also to say two things; ASQ is revamping their website software and ASQ is not offering much in the way of help to build the pages for the local member communities. 

I am happy to support the efforts so far but “going global” does not mean exporting speakers from the USA solely.  There needs to be a better strategy.  There has been inconsistent leadership since ASQ Global has been formed (they are now going on their third managing director in 7 years) and their initial focus has been on growing business partners and not members. 


ASQ, if you really want more participation from the international community here is what I recommend.  First, change your strategy from revenue seeking to resource providing.  The local member units want to set their own direction and they see ASQ as a way to tap into resources that they cannot get.  Second, consider offers of local resources seriously, especially if there is a need dire need for translation.  ASQ already has standards for accepting and branding new material.  At least consider the material and provide guidelines so that material can be assimilated.  Finally, if the ASQ brand is supposed to have a high value, impose expectation when imparting the brand on events.  Have a package of material ready that MUST be displayed.  Have specific requirements for advertising on the main ASQ website.  If these items are not followed, do not offer the brand in the future.

Friday, March 13, 2015

STEM, Inspiring Stories, and has ASQ REALLY addressed Root Cause?


The March 2015 ASQ Influential Voice topic perturbed me when I read that it was AGAIN a call for more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) emphasis.  First, I am a non-engineer working in a traditional engineering environment so I was hoping that this blog post was not a marketing piece for STEM above everything else. Fortunately, that was not the case, but as I continued to read I got more upset because I felt that the blog was offering “traditional” answers to inspiring students.  I saw nothing new that would change the status quo.

What I did not see was an analysis of those students who were inspired to solve issues using STEM.  For example, there is the case of Angela Zhang who in 2011 won a $100,000 scholarship for her nanotechnology research application to cancer stem cells.  There is Jack Andraka who won $75,000 for his work on early detection of cancers and viruses using a specialized test strip.  There are other stories out there as there continues to be a number of organizations funding world-wide STEM competitions.   Or, even more incredibly, how Samantha Garvey and her family persevered through home eviction to develop ground breaking ecological research.  Have we bothered to ask the question of what inspired these students and others like them to do what they did?

I re-read John Hunter’s February 2015 blog post on how ASQ needs to open up their information resources to community.  He asks HQ that if they are expecting members to be the “foot soldiers” leading the charge then they need to provide more resources to support their endeavors.  I strongly agree with this position.  The tools that have been provided to members are not innovative enough to inspire members to be more creative.  For example, where is the research on developing the STEM desire?  Where is the look at how ASQ can work with our education system to be more innovative?  Where are articles like this one?

Not all is doom and gloom. Recently, I got the opportunity to talk to Brian LeHoullier, one of the ASQ Managing Directors, and he mentioned that there are a lot of new people at HQ and he liked the different feel that they are bringing.  ASQ needs new ideas and tools that inspire that will first, increase the value of possessing an ASQ membership, which will then increase the prestige of ASQ to draw in younger members to refresh the organization. 

For me, being one of the older member leaders, I don’t want to see the same tools trotted out year after year to bring in business.  I want tools that inspire and that should be what we should be talking about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Can Quality be Characterized as Global?


The February 2015 Influential Voices blog by ASQ CEO Bill Troy talks about the efforts ASQ has undertaken to have a more global presence. He documents the work that ASQ has done to setup presence in China, Mexico, India, Brazil and the Middle East. 

But spreading the word is not enough. Mr. Troy’s point around the Quality Body of Knowledge (QBOK) needing to be a resource available globally is only one aspect to its necessary reach.  Quality, in my mind, is not global but pervasive.  Quality is an integral part of success, something that needs to be part of an organization’s DNA, whether it is a local small business or a global conglomerate.  Successful, long lasting businesses use quality as the foundation for their success.  Where things go wrong is where they lose focus on this. 

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, published an Opinion piece by Larry Light, the former Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s.  In the piece, Mr. Light laid out a strategy for McDonald’s to overcome their recent decrease in earnings and global sales.  The piece sounded like a case study that ASQ would produce.  His call for a “back to basics” approach included increased customer retention and focus, getting back to the core mission, and improving product quality and service. 

Mr. Light’s last point of the article is something that applies to Mr. Troy’s third part on growing the business.  I get the sense that Mr. Troy’s definition of growth has to do with increasing membership.  But I would better follow Mr. Light’s words around trust.  In order for people to accept the ASQ message, there must be a level of trust.  Members need to trust the ASQ message enough to bring it back to their organizations.  When that trust is lost, membership declines.  There have been a few periods in ASQ’s history where organizational trust has taken some significant hits based on organizational decisions. 

So as much as ASQ desires to “Go Global” I would focus more on the message of quality.  How can we make the QBOK pervasive?  How can we increase trust that the message of Quality works in all circumstances such that people are willing practice it and preach it freely?