November Roundup: What Does Leadership Mean to Quality?

Leadership. If you work in any kind of business, you’ve probably heard a lot about it. It’s now accepted wisdom that we need leaders in the workplace. Are quality professionals leaders? How do we make them better leaders? That was ASQ’s topic for discussion in November. ASQ bloggers had interestingly diverse opinions on this topic. Some called for more quality training. Others said that being leader isn’t everyone. For more, see below.

What makes a great leader? Being a considerate person attuned to his or her team is a good start. Tim McMahon writes, “The reality is anyone can lead, but very few lead well. If you want to lead well, you can’t forget the human component.”

Scott Rutherford says leadership must be authentic and come from within—you can’t turn the leader persona on and off. He also writes about the importance of mentorship in leadership.  For John Hunter, “the key is managing with an understanding of respect for people and how that concept fits with the rest of Deming’s management system.”

And Dan Zrymiak writes that a different vision of leadership is now required for the quality field, going from control to transformation. Babette Ten Haken writes that quality leadership takes guts and risk-taking.

How should leaders lead? Manu Vora offers a refresher on leadership basics, and new Influential Voices blogger Luciana Paulise compiles her leadership advice. Jimena Calfa gives a reminder on the difference between leadership and management. Bob Mitchell writes about the role of transformational leadership. And Edwin Garro says we must find the leader within ourselves before we can absorb leadership training.

Leadership in action: Lotto Lai writes about Steve Jobs’ leadership at Apple. New Influential Voices blogger Sunil Kaushik shares examples of out-of-the-box leadership.

Do we really need leaders? Some choose to follow and do it well. Guy Wallace discusses those who don’t want to be leaders–what is their role? Michael Noble is also skeptical about the idea of leadership for all. And Jennifer Stepniowski wonders if quality professionals first need to be better communicators.

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Top 5 Quality Gifts From ASQ

At ASQ, we often talk about giving the gift of quality—that is, the gift of knowledge and tools one needs to practice quality.  ASQ also offers tangible gifts for the quality professional. If you’re searching for a creative or unique gift for a colleague, friend, or boss, we have a few suggestions—from popular books to a membership to a phone case to ASQ golf balls (yes, golf balls).

1.    The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition. This book is always a favorite colleague gift for those starting out in the field, and a timeless refresher for everyone else.

2.    An ASQ membership. This could be a good gift for everyone from students and interns to seasoned professionals. Choose from a student, associate, or a full membership. Along with all the benefits of a membership, ASQ members receive a free monthly gift bundle on a “hot” quality topic, such as the ISO 9001 revision.

3.    ASQ phone case. Or a sweatshirt. Or a bag. Or a pen, a hat, a T-shirt, or golf balls. Did you know that you can get a variety of fun, small gifts with the ASQ logo? See our store for ASQ accessories, office gear, and clothing.

4.    The ASQ Quality Improvement Pocket Guide. This inexpensive pocket guide is a quick, on-the-job reference for anyone interested in making their workplace more effective and efficient. It’s a great gift for quality newbies.

5.   Quality Press Gift Certificate. If you’d like the recipient to choose his or her own book, give a gift certificate to the Quality Press bookstore. The certificate can be redeemed for any of ASQ’s print or e-books, as well as standards and journals.

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Is Quality Ambitious Enough?

This month, I’m trying something a little different for our monthly topic for discussion. I recently read an article by Brooks Carder, a longtime member of ASQ who recently worked with our board. Brooks shared the following piece that he’s written for ASQ’s Human Development and Leadership Division newsletter. I think it is well worth our time to read, discuss, and learn from.

As Brooks points out, we have all gone through some kind of conversion.  We know in our hearts we can help make this world work better.  We don’t need to be over-the-top, but we should have the confidence to tell our story, understand our own value, and inspire others.
You may agree or disagree with Brooks’ piece, but as you read it, keep these two questions in mind:

  • How do we encourage those who work in quality to understand their own value? (Beyond the perception of ourselves as “nerd engineers,” as referenced in Brooks’ piece.)
  • How do we spread the message of quality in a marketplace overflowing with ideas about how to boost profitability and ever-changing management trends?

Here’s Brooks’ piece:

One of my college roommates recently sent me an intriguing article, “Redefining Capitalism,” published in the McKinsey Quarterly, by Eric Beinhocker and Nick Hanauer. It came under the heading:

“Despite its ability to generate prosperity, capitalism is under attack. By shaking up our long-held assumptions about how and why the system works, we can improve it.”

Just the notion of McKinsey giving a voice to the notion that maximizing profits was not a good thing intrigued me. The gist of the piece is expressed in one of the opening paragraphs:

“Significantly, this view shifts our perspective on how and why markets work from their allocative efficiency to their effectiveness in promoting creativity. It suggests that markets are evolutionary systems that each day carry out millions of simultaneous experiments on ways to make our lives better. In other words, the essential role of capitalism is not allocation—it is creation. Life isn’t drastically better for billions of people today than it was in 1800 because we are allocating the resources of the 19th-century economy more efficiently. Rather, it is better because we have life-saving antibiotics, indoor plumbing, motorized transport, access to vast amounts of information, and an enormous number of technical and social innovations that have become available to much (if not yet all) of the world’s population.”

When I read this, it reinforced my belief that quality is critical to the function of the economy that is described here. But many of us do not appear to realize that. Consider ASQ’s mission: To increase the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world.

In my opinion this is not sufficiently ambitious. After all, quality is responsible for many of the things that make life better. Just the change in automobiles would represent major improvement in the quality of life, an improvement that was enabled by quality.

My own version of a mission would be: To improve the function and value of goods and services worldwide, and to facilitate the development of new products and services that improve the quality of life.

You may think that this is too ambitious. After all, are we not just a bunch of nerd engineers, sitting at the end of an assembly line, keeping statistics and occasionally convincing someone to change a process for the better?

Well, we are what we think we are. But we should not just settle for that. We have undergone a conversion, and it’s a conversion that is very much like a religious conversion. We believe in something that most people don’t believe in. The something we believe in can make life better in the here and now. We need to understand that this religion must be preached.

My own conversion was at the feet of the Billy Graham of quality, Dr. W Edwards Deming. I had the great good fortune to attend six of his four-day seminars during the final years of his life, and even had some brief conversations with him. My conversion was literally an epiphany.

As a scientist I had difficulty understanding why business was conducted in the way that it typically was. Deming explained that my instincts were right and showed me the path to apply scientific knowledge and common sense to business.

Each of us has undergone a conversion. Probably many of them have been dramatic. Mine certainly was. So small groups of us get together for dinner once a month and engage in our rituals.  There is no incense, no chanting, no hymns, and no vestments for the leaders, unless you count our leadership team polo shirts.

But our religion is not as healthy as it should be. Our numbers are getting smaller and our members are getting older. Where is our outreach? The Mormons send their best and brightest young people around the world on two-year missions to spread the word.

But before we can mount an effective outreach, we need to appreciate the value of our own conversion, and the huge contribution we can make if we can bring our full capacity forward.

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ISO 9001:2015 – New Terminology, Not a Change in Requirements

This is a guest post by Lorri Hunt, a U.S. technical expert and task group monitor for the next revision to ISO 9001. She is an ASQ Senior member, an Exemplar Global lead auditor, a frequent contributor to quality publications and journals, and a speaker all over the world.  She is the president of Lorri Hunt and Associates Inc.

Author’s Note: ISO 9001:2015 is still in the revision process and subject to change.  Information in this blog should be used with caution when making changes to a quality management system or for legal agreements.

ISO 9001:2015 is currently at the Draft International Stage (DIS) with a scheduled publication date of September 2015. As organizations have gotten their first glance at the proposed changes, many have focused on specific words rather than what the requirements actually say. While a new structure demonstrates the biggest visual change, the standard also uses different words, in some cases, to explain requirements that have existed in ISO 9001 since its infancy.

Some of these changes are based on the fact that the text related to certain concepts is part of the standard structure and common text and definitions that have been established for every management system standard to follow.  This includes documented information instead of documents and records, and the removal of terms such as the “quality manual” and “management representative.” Other terms have been changed by the technical experts who are drafting ISO 9001:2015.  These include “external provider” instead of “supplier” and “applicability” instead of “exclusion.”

In all of these cases, the requirements that relate to them have not changed, just the term.

Management Representative: Requirements for assigning responsibilities and authorities are included in Clause 5.3 Organization Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities. All of the requirements for the role of management representative from ISO 9001:2008 are included with some minor enhancements.  The ISO 9001:2015 DIS just doesn’t define the term.

Quality Manual: The requirements that would have been included in the quality manual from ISO 9001:2008 are included in Clause 4.3 Determining the Scope of the Quality Management System and 4.4 Quality Management System and Its Processes.  The information that was included in the quality manual must be maintained as documented information. It just doesn’t call the documented information a quality manual.

Documented Information: The requirements that were included under control of documents and control of records in ISO 9001:2008 are included in 7.5 Documented Information.  Because there have been substantial changes in how documented information is controlled, the difference between a document and a record has become more difficult.  To help users, the phrase “maintain documented information” is used when referring to the legacy term “document” and the phrase “retain documented information” is used when referring to the legacy term “record.”  Organizations that have a quality management system that is compliant to ISO 9001:2008 requirements should be compliant to ISO 9001:2015 requirements.

Applicability: In ISO 9001:2008, organizations could exclude requirements as long as they did not affect an organization’s ability to provide product that conformed to requirements.  In the DIS, an organization can determine that a requirement does not apply if it does not affect the organization’s ability to ensure that a product or service conforms to requirements.  This application must also be maintained as documented information according to the requirements in 4.3 Determining the Scope of the Quality Management System.

In each of these cases of change of terminology, many users see this as a reduction or change in requirements. However, there has not been a reduction in requirements. The change in terminology is simply providing a less prescriptive standard.  As users begin the transition to ISO 9001:2015 and initiate a gap analysis to the requirements, it is important to not just consider the words that have been written, but the requirements that they represent.

Users of the standard can also continue to use whatever terminology they wish when implementing a quality management system.  This concept is reinforced in Annex A.1 in the DIS for ISO 9001:2015.

Simply put, there is not a need to throw everything you have in your quality management system out, but ensure that your quality management system meets the new requirements in ISO 9001:2015 regardless of the terminology used.

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November Roundup: Engaging Members and Volunteers

Are you part of a professional association? If not, this in itself might be telling. Fewer people are joining professional trade groups these days because information is more available than ever through other sources, including, of course, the internet. The face of professional associations also is changing. In October, our topic of the month was how to recruit members and volunteers to professional communities such as ASQ.

Why join? John Hunter discusses the value of professional associations, finding that career opportunities and open-access information are two of the most valuable aspects to joining. Rajan Thiyagarajan says that networking is still the major benefit offered by associations. And Anshuman Tiwari writes about how ASQ can become more influential and relevant to India’s quality professionals. Edwin Garro blogs about how ASQ can become more relevant globally.

Lessons learned: Bob Mitchell looks on his own experience in volunteer and member recruitment as part of ASQ’s statistics division and the Minnesota section. Lotto Lai writes about how the Hong Kong Society for Quality successfully increased its membership and engaged members. Scott Rutherford looks to how religious organizations make themselves relevant in today’s society and provide value to believers.  Aimee Siegler writes about the importance of training, and finds a good example of this in the Girl Scouts, an American youth organization for girls. And Dan Zrymiak looks to Toastmasters, a public speaking and leadership organization, for inspiration.

Tips for associations: Jennifer Stepniowski offers a variety of ideas for recruiting and retaining members, including organizing an appreciation event or placing an ad in the local business paper. Babette Ten Haken also shares tips for associations, including the basics, such as making members feel welcome. Manu Vora discusses member and volunteer recruitment from the HR perspective. And Jimena Calfa writes that professional groups must now exceed, instead of just meet, the expectations of their members.

There are lots of options these days. Associations, like other businesses, must be the best in the market to succeed.

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Is Every Quality Professional a Leader?

Here at ASQ we’ve introduced a powerful idea that I think can and should help shape our future.

The idea is this: Every quality professional, a leader.

Like a lot of fundamentally important concepts, this sounds simple and straightforward but needs to be thought out a bit.  In short, we want, need, and expect every one of our members—and indeed,  every person in the quality community—to grow and develop as leaders.

We at ASQ understand and endorse this idea and accept the implicit responsibility to help our members do just that.  You may hear much about leadership, but some—or even many—quality professionals don’t get opportunities to participate in leadership training. For a lot of ASQ members, I am convinced that whatever we provide may be the only leadership training they get.

So what is this connection between leadership and quality, and why is it so important?  Simply put, the quality professional, wherever he or she may be and at whatever level of management, must be a leader to be effective.  The quality professional at work somewhere in the quality field is not an artist alone at the canvas. That professional is bringing insight, tools, principles, and personal example to someone—to some crew, team, or section; to a business unit; or to something even bigger, such as a hospital, a federal agency, or a school system.

This task is going to be bigger than the sole person, perhaps much bigger.  It will involve other people, with all of their complexities, strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and fears.  So whatever our quality professional is working on, it is going to take leadership to get the job done.

Some have made the case recently that quality professionals lack the business skills needed to connect with the C-suite. Others note that quality professionals sometimes lack the “soft skills” needed to make the case for quality outside the quality department. Leadership encompasses all of the above. Business savvy, people skills, and decisive action all are required to get results in the world.

Now I want to hear from you. Do you think you are a quality leader? What kind of leadership training did you receive and was it enough?

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How Does Quality Fit Into Social Responsibility?

This is a guest post by Greg Allen, an environmental scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  He has degrees in biology, engineering management, and is nearing completion of a doctoral degree in organizational leadership.  His research involves assessing the indirect effects of corporate social responsibility on the relationship between certain forms of leadership and organizational commitment. He is the chair elect of ASQ’s Energy and Environment Division and is active in various ASQ projects related to social responsibility.

What’s in a corporate social responsibility program? Most such programs include philanthropy, community volunteering, and maybe eco-friendly practices. These are good things, and there is a special ingredient that makes such programs more effective, efficient, and aligned with business principles. The special ingredient, is, of course, quality.

Let’s step back a bit. More and more customers, employees, and investors want to be associated with organizations that care about the long-term sustainability of the planet and that conduct themselves with social responsibility as a core value.  Quality professionals are well-positioned to provide leadership and contribute to the strategic integration of social responsibility.

Why? Simply put, quality is socially responsible.  Quality directly supports business elements that are central to social responsibility.  Examples include:

  • Protecting consumer well-being while designing and producing products that meet customer needs.
  • Engaging employees and other stakeholders in process design and management.
  • And promoting sustainable resource use through the practice of lean and other efforts that achieve low off-spec process wastes.

Quality professionals also know how to provide leadership to continually improve organizational performance.  This is a socially responsible action!

The question now is whether quality, as it’s currently practiced, is enough to make the transformational change we need to create sustainability for society and the planet. I believe we have an imperative to do more. So, how can the quality profession evolve to meet this challenge?

Here’s a thought: What is all too often missing from traditional “corporate social responsibility” is an integrated approach—one that blends social responsibility into business strategy and day-to-day operations. It is possible to apply quality tools and management systems in an innovative way to enhance how organizations define, manage, and improve their social and environmental performance.  Moreover, social and environmental outcomes can be combined with financial performance to create the “triple bottom line” of people, planet, and profit.

Being responsive to the “triple bottom line” has been shown through empirical research to be good for organizations.  Why shouldn’t it also be good for the careers and satisfaction of quality professionals?  Contributing to the success of our organizations, our careers, and the communities in which we live through social responsibility is a potentially life-changing opportunity.

The new and open-access ASQ tool called Integrating Social Responsibility With Business Strategy – A Guide for Quality Professionals provides detailed suggestions to help you think through the process. This guide doesn’t have all the answers. But, hopefully, it will help you ask the right questions and start the process of creating a better, more integrated approach to social responsibility within your organization.

Now, you have to take the lead. Make your organization and the world in which it operates better—more just, more efficient, and more profitable. It’s been said that quality needs to explore new and innovative avenues. Lead the way.

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Recruiting Members and Volunteers Amid a Changing Landscape

In recent months I have been traveling to ASQ sections and divisions to meet with our members. Our members are very passionate about ASQ, and they don’t hesitate to bring up challenges that we must address as an organization. One of those challenges is our membership model. Simply put, members tell me that we must make it easier for quality professionals to be a part of ASQ. For some, the traditional section and/or division membership works great, but for others, it does not.

While we will certainly analyze this issue, I think we’re not the only association in this boat.  Most associations must generate new and creative ways to attract and retain members. This comes as no surprise. If you’re really interested, you could read this report from the Center for Association Leadership on changing demographic trends and how they affect associations.

From the report:

“The dependency on membership and participation for traditional third-sector organizations will likely continue, but the sustaining sources for such organizations — namely the ‘traditional’ members — will certainly evolve and could even disappear, forcing organizations to look for new sources of members, donors, volunteers, and revenue. Organizations may have to change their missions to meet the needs and demands of a whole new membership and service sector. The transformation is a result of dramatic demographic change in the U.S. population, a force that is altering the profile of U.S. membership associations like never before. The pool of ‘traditional’ members (i.e., members derived from historic rather than current demographic data) is diminishing quickly as demographics continue to shift.”

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. It appears that professional associations worldwide are also affected by demographic trends. Even without such trends, we intuitively know that there are many ways for people to get professional information these days—certainly on the internet and on social media, for a start.

At ASQ headquarters we are sometimes asked for advice on best practices on attracting members to their section or division. I am by no means an expert on this topic, but I do want to share some tips developed by ASQ’s Community Development team, which works closely with our members and volunteer leaders.

  • Asking people to attend an association event is an authentic, effective, and simple way to engage potential members.  The Community Development team tells me that people of all ages are three times as likely to help if asked directly. In this age of electronic communication, do we ask people to help, face to face, as frequently as we could?
  • In addition, current association members can refer members and colleagues. They can invite them to association meetings and events, and they can follow up with members who’ve lapsed. A simple call or email can do the trick.
  • To encourage committed members to step up and become association leaders—such as volunteers or chapter officers– explain what’s in it for them. Think leadership experience, practice and application of skills, and personal achievement. You should be ready to provide enough information about specific requirements and expectations. Finally, of course, asking them is the most effective technique of all.

Now let’s hear from you. If you’re part of a professional association, how do you encourage people to join or volunteer? How do local trends impact your association?

*Not to trumpet ASQ, but in November we will resume our annual Adding New Voices campaign, in which ASQ members can give a free, six-month membership to a colleague or friend. Members, watch your email for details.

Posted in ASQ, Global, Uncategorized, transformation | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Celebrate World Quality Month in November!

World Quality Month is coming up in November! This year again, www.worldqualitymonth.org is your one-stop resource for celebration materials and ideas.

New this year is a celebration guide that may be particularly helpful. It’s a step-by-step guide to celebrating World Quality Month in your organization and planning the event.

We also have a toolkit with resources such as posters that you can download and share within your organization:

As always, you can submit your quality-themed events and success stories to the site.

And, this year, we are also hosting a contest on social media where we invite participants to submit their definition of quality. You can post your definition on Twitter, directed to @ASQ with hashtag #qualityis, or on ASQ’s Facebook page, also with hashtag #qualityis. See contest details. Everyone can vote on the contest finalists in November.

In addition, in November we’ll feature a fun quality tool quiz so you can “test” your quality personality. Be sure to visit the World Quality Month frequently for news and updates. Happy celebrating!

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September Roundup: What’s the Best Approach to Strategy?

Do you have a preferred way to approach challenges and opportunities? If so, you have a strategy.  In September, ASQ’s bloggers wrote about their approach to strategy after ASQ CEO Bill Troy shared his.

Approaches and methodologies: Tim McMahon approaches strategy with Hoshin Kanri, the process to select annual objectives that will give the organization the greatest possible advantage.

Nicole Radziwill developed a strategy called EASE, which stands for Expectations, Actionability, Sustainability, and Evaluation. Manu Vora discusses balanced scorecards, SWAT, and Hoshin. Lotto Lai wrote about Motorola’s Six Steps to Six Sigma deployment when developing a strategy for the Hong Kong Society for Quality.  Rajan Thiyagarajan uses a balanced scorecard approach to develop strategy. Bob Mitchell writes about strategies deployed by ASQ’s Statistics Division and the ASQ Minnesota section. Edwin Garro champions continuous improvement as part of strategy.

Implementing strategy: Unfortunately, there is  little focus on building the capability of the organization to execute strategy, writes John Hunter.  Similarly, Scott Rutherford discussed whether your strategic plan can survive when it first contacts reality.

Other Views: Jennifer Stepniowski writes about strategy in her personal and professional life.  And Dan Zrymiak explains how to use mission, mobilization, and governance to deploy strategy.

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