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.