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.