March Round Table

ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table. This post,s topic is:

How can we prevent quality professionals from being perceived as a “thing of the past”? What adaptations need to occur in the quality industry as a whole and on the individual level to revitalize the industry and attract the next generation of quality professionals? 


Daniel John Zrymiak is from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. He has worked in quality for two decades, mostly recently at Accenture as a Mobilization Lead. Daniel is active in ASQ as a Quality Press author and reviewer, member leader, and Technical Committee chair (Finance and Governance – Quality Management Division). He blogs at AQualitEvolution.

Guy Bigwood Is based in Spain, Guy Bigwood is the sustainability director of MCI, an association management company. He is responsible implementing corporate social responsibility throughout MCI’s 48 global offices, and manages a global consulting practice that provides strategic guidance to businesses, associations, governments, and the United Nations. His blog is Less Conversation More Action.

Luigi Sille is the Quality Manager at Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation in Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean. He has been a senior ASQ member since 2014, and blogs at

Sara Haynes is a chemical engineer but hasn’t let that stop her from developing a personality.   Sara is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Quality Engineer, a Lean project manager, holds a Mastery of Re-Engineering and a green belt in QFD.  Prior to consulting, Sara was the Director of Operational Excellence at SMART Technologies, one of the top 20 high-tech firms in Canada.  She has over 15 years experience in developing and implementing continuous improvement programs and executing business process transformations in a wide range of industries she blogs at Six Sigma Solutions. 

Pam Schodt is an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer and a member of the Raleigh, North Carolina, section of ASQ, where she volunteers on the Communication Committee. Her blog, Quality Improvements in Work and Life, includes posts about certification testing, book reviews, and lifestyle issues. She also blogs about technology issues and gardening on two other blogs. Currently, she is active as an iStock photo contributor and social media advisor.

Robert Mitchell has 30 years of quality experience in manufacturing, non-profit and civic organizations, and manages corporate quality and Lean Six Sigma operations at 3M. He is incoming chair of ASQ’s Minnesota section. He blogs at Quality Matters.

How can we prevent quality professionals from being perceived as a “thing of the past”? What adaptations need to occur in the quality industry as a whole and on the individual level to revitalize the industry and attract the next generation of quality professionals? 

Daniel John Zyrmiak

Ikigai of a Quality Professional The Ikigai framework intersects our mission, passion, profession, and vocation.  Using this framework, we can define an ideal Quality Professional, encapsulating four distinct characteristics:

  • Altruist emphasizing improvement, sustainability, and innovation;
  • Practitioner of quality control or assurance activities;
  • Intellect proficient in STEM subjects, communications, and humanities;
  • Steward with professional diligence and accountability.

Also, by containing the following Distractors, we can avoid situations that besmirch the impressions of Quality professionals.

  • Silver Bullets: Quality practices (i.e. automated testing, Kaizen blitz), which can be effective within a structured quality framework, are promoted as instant solutions.  When lofty expectations don’t materialize, all future Quality initiatives are received with disdain and cynicism.
  • Generational Buzzwords: This pertains to schemes which are overused, transcending original context, leading to misinterpretation and mockery.  Past examples include Total Quality Management, Business Process Engineering, Balanced Scorecard, and now current practices like Six Sigma and Lean are equally disparaged.
  • Instant “Expertise”: Unilateral claims of expertise, without having a proven track record or a history of valid, peer reviewed publications or credentials, reminds me of a movie character.

Without professional barriers to entry of education, duration of service, and technical proficiency, many individuals unilaterally declare their own expertise and penetrate the marketplace, diluting the image and stature of Quality practitioners.  This is supplemented by questionable providers who offer ad hoc credentials without prerequisite qualifications or examinations.

As Quality Professionals, we must distinguish ourselves from our Distractors by adopting the traits of diligent Practitioners, accountable Stewards, versatile Intellects, and innovative Altrusits.  Like the Pioneers of Quality (i.e. Deming, Shewhart, Juran), we must demonstrate our example in work and life with conviction and authenticity.

Guy Bigwood

I have never considered myself as part of the quality industry. Yet my career has been focused on driving quality and improving results. I use the same tools and processes as quality professionals but my viewpoint is different from many of the “gurus” I have worked with. Perhaps this is something quality professionals around the world should consider. It’s the results that matter and not the language or tools you use to get there.

Luigi Sille

How can we prevent quality professionals from being perceived as a “thing of the past”?

Quality is a process. It’s a process that can help any organization in their journey for continual improvement. Continuous improvement of their products and/or services, this is one of the most important aspects of a quality management system. Continuous improvement has an influence on customers. Customer satisfaction is another important aspect of a quality management system. Customer satisfaction is the key to staying in business.

We, as quality professionals, must keep doing our job and keep showing senior management where they can eliminate waste, improve the quality of the products and/or service. Better quality results in happy clients, so we can talk about customer retention, and getting new customers. We need to show them that our actions will have a positive impact on the organization. Senior management has to become an active part of the whole quality management system. In the past people thought that quality professionals were like COPS of an organization. We, as quality professionals, we are not cops; we are here to guide the process, to coach and educate others. Quality Professionals are a part of the team, and are not above the team. We are very valuable for any organization trying to move on, trying to deliver better quality of products and/or service. Quality professionals need to put more emphasis on prevention rather than inspection, more emphasis on coaching, educating and inspiring others to deliver quality. We need to work as a team, to keep improving the process.

What adaptations need to occur in the quality industry as a whole and on the individual level to revitalize the industry and attract the next generation of quality professionals? 

If you ask around, a lot of people don’t even know what quality professionals do. While attending school, quality was never brought up, it never even occurred to me that a career in quality was possible. Why is that? When I started attending the ASQ WCQI, I realized that quality professionals were becoming more and more active. But when you leave after the conference, what then? What do you as a quality professional do to motivate, educate and inspire others around you?

We as quality professionals must do more. Start educating people close to us, like family and friends. Talk about quality, the importance of quality, continual improvement, customer satisfaction, and what we as quality professionals do. It’s up to us quality professionals to educate the community, so progressively more young adults get interested/inspired to start their journey as a quality professional.

It’s up to us as quality professionals to spread the word!

Sara Haynes 

The “Sweet Spot” for Quality when I was first put in charge of quality for a manufacturing organization, my boss cautioned me against over-rotating on quality.  “Over-rotate???” I thought, “How could we have too much quality?”  But unless your quality department is staffed by volunteers, there is a cost to inspections and audits, as well as quality techniques like FMEA and Six Sigma.

Juran and Feigenbaum describe this balance in the Total Cost of Quality.

Basically, you want the costs of quality (like inspections, FMEA’s, etc.) to balance out the costs of poor quality (like recalls, high warranty costs, damage to brand reputation, etc.)  It’s a constant balancing act – the magic is in finding that “sweet spot”

where customers are satisfied and costs are minimized.  That sweet spot is going to be different for each company – depending on whether you are manufacturing a Lexus or a Kia.  And the sweet spot can shift can change dramatically and unpredictably with the introduction of new competitors that suddenly raise customer expectations.

As quality professionals, one of our roles is to search out that “sweet spot” of quality for our organizations and clients.  One way is to shift prevention and appraisal costs ever lower through innovation, in the form of new technology, new concepts and new skills. Some of the best technological innovations I’ve seen in quality include on-line surveillance and monitoring of off-shore manufacturers. This reduces the cost of travelling to manufacturing locations or hiring local staff to oversee production quality control, as well detecting and correcting quality problems before you have a warehouse full of defective products. Other innovations in the field of quality include new concepts like poka-yoke or rapid-deployment QFD.

What new innovations are you excited about in the field of Quality?

Pam Schodt

Young people may be less aware of the quality profession because it is not a stand-alone industry. Those who take pride in their work in any organization, however, would support excellence in quality.

From airbags to pharmaceuticals, digital communications publicize quality issues to the general population. The next step then is to promote solutions with management of quality systems by quality professionals.

Quality professionals should employ marketing to promote the field. Participate in company tours to shine a light on quality positions in your organization.

Publicize your quality systems as opportunities arise with marketing documents and local media coverage. Rather than wait for the subject to be brought up in Q&A, seize the opportunity to talk about quality systems. This can lead to questions about educational requirements, certifications, and careers in quality. Actively represent the quality system in your organization.

The Raleigh chapter of ASQ promotes quality as a profession with support of a student chapter at North Carolina State University. Students are encouraged to attend meetings and conferences at discount rates. A scholarship award contest is offered to “encourage students to seek quality concepts, technology, and tools to improve the workplace, products, and themselves.”

Robert Mitchell 

My years of experience in manufacturing as a quality professional, coupled with my experience as a Baldrige Examiner where I have evaluated organizations across the economic spectrum of healthcare, education, government, small business and non-profits leads me to conclude that the Quality profession is not dying, rather transforming and expanding into traditionally non-Quality departments or operations of the organization. For example, a key tenant of Lean is that everyone – at all levels of the organization – becomes a problem solver. Six Sigma belts are sometimes the Quality professional but more often the subject matter expert in a given discipline or function, and is positioned as a career development opportunity perhaps leading to future management or leadership positions. Many non-manufacturing organizations have replaced the traditional “Quality Dept.” with employees staffed in departments responsible for “Customer/Patient Satisfaction” or “Operational Excellence” or the like. Many service industries have developed their own quality certifications specific to its own needs, mission, vision and culture.

Which begs the question, is there a fulfilling career opportunity for someone pursuing a role – or perhaps currently feeling trapped (i.e. career plateaued) in a current role – in the Quality function?
A real concern of mine is that many organizations seem satisfied by equating quality to standards conformance. Their quality professionals are primarily engaged in documenting procedures and requirements, auditing for compliance, and issuing reports. Though a required set of activities in certain compliance-based industries, this in itself is not a particularly engaging nor growth activity for the quality professional. A primary role of Quality is Business Process Management to improve the organizational white spaces – the communication and handoffs – between departments to assure operational excellence. By first focusing on and optimizing these internal customer-supplier relationships within the organization the Quality professional builds organizational capability to better serve the needs of its external customers. A Customer-first culture must be nurtured by leadership to enable organizational performance excellence. A genuine focus on the customer/patient always results in a more engaged workforce leading to process improvements, innovation and performance excellence.

So … “What adaptations need to occur in the quality industry to revitalize the industry and attract the next generation of quality professionals?” Some of my thoughts:

  1. More ASQ focus and training on quality’s role in driving and achieving innovation
  2. More ASQ focus and training to aid the technical Quality professional in making the successful transition to management and leadership.
  3. More ASQ involvement in K-12 education curriculum to increase certain quality concepts teaching in STEM courses (e.g. statistical thinking)
  4. More ASQ involvement with community colleges, universities and business schools to increase the awareness and discussion of quality principles and the Baldrige Criteria.

The successful Quality professional has adopted a philosophy of life-long learning beyond the areas of technical Quality and data analysis to broaden and strengthen his/her individual capabilities, in both “hard” and “soft” skills.

  1. Interpersonal Communication
  2. Social Media (for customer engagement)
  3. Change Management
  4. Leadership Behaviors
  5. Strategic Planning and Execution
  6. Community Involvement
  7. Coaching and Mentoring

The future of Quality is us. We cannot afford to sit idly by, or risk irrelevance; seek new opportunities and experiences. (e.g. What is the role of Quality in automation and robots?) “The best way to predict the future is to create the future” [Peter Drucker].



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Guest Post: Quality Management, Continuous Improvement, and Their Relation to the Golden Circle

Quality Management, Continuous Improvement, and Their Relation to the Golden Circle

Chris Moustakas President, Chief Executive Officer. Chris entered the enterprise software industry right after graduation. He helped design and build mission-critical applications in industries as varied as Insurance, Banking, Healthcare, and Utilities. Today, Chris is passionate about helping organizations of any size become more agile and improve their operations by adopting the Devonway platform approach to their digital needs. Visit Chris’s blog at

There’s an old joke in the software world that there are only two hard things about computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors. Performance-oriented organizations don’t have to worry much about cache invalidation and off-by-one errors (at least I hope not), but what we call things is fundamentally important. If you start throwing out terms like Kaizen Events and Hoshin Planning when you talk to people outside the Six Sigma team, for example, you’re guaranteed to lose them.

Similarly, how we refer to the frameworks we use to improve performance can send subtle but important signals to the rest of the organization. In his famous Ted talk, Simon Sinek argues that if you look at the world through the simple concentric layers of why-how-what (the Golden Circle), and push yourself as close as possible to the center circle, “why,” you position yourself to be more of a visionary than a doer. “What” we do to accomplish a goal is tactical, bland, and uninspiring. “How” we set ourselves up to accomplish that goal is strategic and implies direction. “Why” we do what we do is the million-dollar question, and where true inspiration originates.

Only you can answer the question of why you do what you do, of course. It’s why you get paid the big bucks, and if you don’t know the answer, stop everything you’re doing because priority number one should be figuring that little doozy out.

But when you get down to the nitty gritty of communicating specifics to stakeholders, it can be powerful to choose terminology that embodies “how” more than “what.” Quality Management is a “what” – it’s the name we give the system we use to manage a specific process. “What do we do? We manage quality.” Continuous Improvement is a “how” – it’s the cultural framework we adopt to ensure we’re set up for success. “How do we manage quality? By allowing ourselves to continuously improve.”

There’s overlap for sure. You can’t have an effective Continuous Improvement program, after all, without a set of Quality Management processes and tools. But Quality Management is by definition limited in scope, whereas Continuous Improvement is not. It’s not verbal gymnastics, it’s clarity and focus. Words do matter.

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December Roundtable: What is the best way to ensure quality and customer integration grow together?

Every month, ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table. The December topic is:

What is the best way to ensure quality and customer integration grow together?

Prem Ranganath is a senior director and global head of IT delivery excellence and risk assurance at Quintiles Inc. He is a senior member of ASQ and enjoys working with teams to enable quality as a necessary and valuable behavior. He is very passionate about introducing a quality mindset and practices in K-12 so that quality is ingrained into interactions and decisions early on. Prem teaches at a graduate level course on software quality and product management at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. He blogs at The Art of Quality.

Chris Moustakas President, Chief Executive Officer. Chris entered the enterprise software industry right after graduation. He helped design and build mission-critical applications in industries as varied as Insurance, Banking, Healthcare, and Utilities. Today, Chris is passionate about helping organizations of any size become more agile and improve their operations by adopting the Devonway platform approach to their digital needs. Visit Chris’s blog at

John Hunter has a background in online quality information management. He has developed quality improvement methods and software at the quality management office of the Secretary of Defense and the White House Military Office. He blogs at Curious Cat Management Blog.

Robert Mitchell has 30 years of quality experience in manufacturing, non-profit and civic organizations, and manages corporate quality and Lean Six Sigma operations at 3M. He is incoming chair of ASQ’s Minnesota section. He blogs at Quality Matters.

Luigi Sille is the Quality Manager at Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation in Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean. He has been a senior ASQ member since 2014, and blogs at

What is the best way to ensure quality and customer integration grow together?

Prem Ranganath
At a time when the traditional quality function is rapidly evolving into a shared commitment in IT organizations it is important for IT management to revisit the approach for enabling acceptable quality. The roles and capabilities of quality practitioners needs to move beyond process excellence and compliance.

For a start, the quality practitioners’ role has to be directly tagged to customer goals and expectations so that the practitioners’ plans and outcomes can be expressed as value statements that can be easily understood by customers.

Secondly, although the quality practitioners’ may be reporting into the IT organization there has to be an association with a customer-led function so that the outcomes from quality practitioners’ engagements are supported by stories that demonstrate impact and value delivery. Therefore, there is an immediate need to evolve technology and process focused quality practitioners into customer-driven (business-minded) practitioners.

Thirdly, moving towards a business-minded quality function will require a comprehensive evaluation of the competencies and skills that are currently used to identify new talent and develop existing talent. Quality objectives and metrics will also have to be aligned to customer goals and expected outcomes.

Lastly and most importantly, IT management has to enable an environment that consistently supports a quality function whose success is measured by their ability to solve customer problems. Being the independent informed voice between technology solutions and customers can also be a smart career move for quality practitioners.

Chris Moustakas
The best way to make sure that Quality and Customer Integration grow together is to embed elements of your Quality program into the specific instances of interaction with your customers. Too often, the tools companies use to gather critical data from clients are tacked on as afterthoughts, using follow-up surveys and similar techniques. But by neglecting customers’ voices at the time they’re most engaged — the point of integration — they miss out on a tremendous opportunity to gather insights that are relevant, timely, and honest.

However you go about integrating customers with your Quality program, don’t forget the cardinal rule – keep it simple! Don’t overburden your customers by asking them to submit lots of information; two pieces of data is usually more than enough. For example, if the interaction involves a defect resolution dispute, a simple “Where did we go wrong?” question gives them the opportunity to describe the root cause in their own words, and can often jumpstart your own causal analysis efforts.

As much as you depend on your customers, your customers depend on you. You’re solving a problem for them, so they want you to succeed. More importantly, they know better than you the value you bring to the relationship, so by involving them directly and consistently you accelerate your potential to continuously improve, not just the overall quality of your product or service, but your value proposition.

John Hunter
Effort should be directed at continually delighting customers. This requires an understanding gained at the user gemba (to truly understand what customers are trying to achieve and how your product or service facilitates them doing so successfully and how it could be improved).

Quality practices of experimentation directed at continually improving management practices and internal processes need to be completely integrated with the efforts to continual improve customer delight. Those efforts should be one process and therefore they automatically grow together.

The success of improvements should be evaluated at the system level. As Deming said: “The consumer is the most important point on the production-line“. If the organization pursues optimizing parts without considering the whole that leads to problem, including disconnection between internally focussed process improvement and what customers experience.

Read the full post: Continually Improving Using a Focus on Delighting Customers

Robert Mitchell
Sustainable quality growth begins with a customer-focused culture of performance excellence A sustainable enterprise must be agile, responsive and adaptive to ever-changing customer expectations and competitive pressures while demonstrating superior competency in anticipating future requirements and excelling at re-inventing itself to capture market share leadership.

In today’s world of inter-connected global supply chains and exponential rate of change, the sustainable organization must strategically prioritize its information systems and customer listening processes. All employees must be provided the skills, training and tools necessary to solve customers’ problems. Employees must be trusted, respected, expected and empowered to use this newly acquired information to pursue innovative solutions and take intelligent risk. Failures must be accepted as a necessary learning experience while key learnings are actively and intentionally managed and shared to promote and advance organizational knowledge growth. High performance and desired behaviors must be defined, encouraged and rewarded.

Luigi Sille
Customer integration is part of a customer relationship. It’s having direct contact with the customer, in other words, your customers must be treated as part of your organization. Quality has to do with your products, service, and of course, happy and satisfied customers. It’s all about your customers, focus on them, and it will have an immediate positive influence on your end product and/or service.

A partnership with the customer (external customer) is a must. Having direct contact with customers can benefit a company in many ways.

Benefits like:

  1. Better/Open communication (customers)
  2. Retention of your customers
  3. Customers become loyal
  4. Improve your chances to succeed: better market segmentation
  5. Running your business better
  6. It’s a competitive advantage

Customer integration has direct influence on the quality of service and/or products of your organization. Every institution has to do their utmost to get feedback, ideas, and information from their clients/partners.

To make quality and customer integration grow together the essential tools are:

Communication- Being open and honest will improve the communication between the different groups/partners. This will result in an effective communication flow, which means a flow of ideas from customers to make changes, adapt and/or improve your quality.

Trust- Trust is an important tool for a successful customer relationship. People will automatically talk freely when there’s a sense of trust. When your customers trust you as an organization, it will have huge impacts on the quality of your products and/or service.

Respect- Treat your customers/partners with respect; this is the key for a lasting customer relationship. This will let your customers feel comfortable in expressing their ideas and or opinion.

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Interview With The Creator of Mr. Pareto Head

ASQ sat down with Mike Crossen, the creator of the Mr. Pareto Head comic strip to hear how he finds humor in quality and how Mr. Pareto Head came to be.

Q: What’s your background in quality?

A: I am Electronics Engineer at Rockwell Automation. First introduced to quality as a Component Engineer through failure and root cause analysis. Also starting learning about trending and Pareto analysis during this time (mid 1980s). Little did I know that Pareto would have more meaning in years to come? A deeper interest in quality took root so I became certified by ASQ in Quality Auditing, Quality Engineering, and Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence. I Also pursued Lean Six Sigma training and certification outside ASQ through an employer.

Q: How did you start doing Pareto Head comics? What gave you the idea?

A: Before I worked in engineering function, I spent a few years in the production environment repairing electronic circuit boards. There were typically 15-20 other technicians who worked in our department. We were all about the same age, just out of school. We worked hard but had a lot of laughs. I would sketch comics of the various people in the department and humorous situations that happened all the time. Years later, I noticed that there we also similar funny situations and personalities in a more “professional” engineering environment. So I adapted one of my characters, a stick figure called P-Nut Head to something more closely related to where I was working at the time.  I tried to think of a quality term to combine with P-Nut head; Outlier Head, Defect Head, Audit Head, Pareto Head. Pareto Head sounded like potato head.  There was a charming and endearing toy from my youth called Mr. Potato Head that was pretty well-known. I re-drew the character and started making some comics.

Q: Is it challenging to find humor in quality?

A: It is not challenging to find humor in the quality field. You just have to know where to draw the line.  Defective product sent to the customer is anything but funny.   So I am very careful on how I approach that.  I created a “make-believe” company called Milky Way Industries (Deming used to say “Off to the Milky Way”   when demonstrating funnel experiment).  They are the worlds #1 manufacturer of red beads.  Well, in Deming’s red bead experiment, the red beads resemble defects. So, I can make a joke that this imaginary company is trying to produce Red Beads.

Q: What’s the role of humor in the quality field?

A: People in quality are typically dealing with problems every hour of every day. Whether we are trying to prevent issues through planning or auditing, or we are in reaction mode when problems occur, quality professionals can often be linked to unpopular things and it can wear on you a bit. Humor in this field, like any other field, will keep things loose.

Q: How do you get your ideas for comic strips?

A: Most ideas come from two sources. One is related to all the various quality terms that can be turned into humor.  For example a “Run Chart”. I made a comic where Mr. Pareto Head had a particular chart that showed bad news, so he slipped it under the boss’s door and ran away. Now he knew why they called it a Run Chart. Most ideas probably come from interactions and meetings. When I hear something funny that shows promise, I will jot it down and revisit at a later date. I have quite a list of potential ideas. Some of the funny topics do not translate into a three frame comic strip very well.  So I can’t use everything. Every month I work with Associate Editor Mark Edmund on providing a comic. A fair amount of the first drafts are pretty good as-is. Some take a bit of tweaking. Mark and I, with additional help and approval from Editor Seiche Sanders, will come up with the final product. I will add, that after 16 years of doing this each month, it can be a challenge to try and come up with something new and not repeat myself.   The staff at ASQ (current and years’ past) have been very supportive.

Q: What has been the best part of creating the Mr. Pareto Head cartoon strip ?

A: There have been several side benefits to doing the comic strip that I did not realize when I started. I get occasional request from ASQ members to use a particular comic in their training material or newsletter to make a point. Also, I have had the opportunity to speak (Meet Mr. Pareto Head) at several ASQ sections near where I live. Elyria, Toledo, Cleveland, Akron/Canton, Erie, Ashtabula, Columbus. My favorite was probably the event at Pittsburgh ASQ. It was at a Brewery/Restaurant. I’m not sure what it was, but everyone seemed to be laughing a bit more and enjoying themselves at this particular event. I must say, for someone who has no artistic skills (stick figures only) it is quite satisfying that I can be doing this for so long and still be hearing positive feedback. It makes it all worth doing for another few years.

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October Roundtable

Every month, ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table. The October  topic is: How can employers leverage quality to invite innovation?

Some companies choose to use monetary rewards to motivate their employees. Other companies rely on using open and collaborative environments. Some focus on idea sharing between colleagues. What is the most effective technique?

If you’re interested in taking part in future roundtables, please contact

David Grossman ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, CSP, is one of America’s foremost authorities on communication and leadership, and a sought-after speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 leaders. A three-time author, David is CEO of The Grossman Group an award-winning Chicago-based strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy. He blogs at leadercommunicator.

Jimena Calfa Argentina native Jimena Calfa is a Quality Manager and ASQ Senior member who is truly involved in raising the value of quality and focusing on continuous process improvement. She blogs at

Chris Moustakas President, Chief Executive Officer. Chris entered the enterprise software industry right after graduation. He helped design and build mission-critical applications in industries as varied as Insurance, Banking, Healthcare, and Utilities. Today, Chris is passionate about helping organizations of any size become more agile and improve their operations by adopting the Devonway platform approach to their digital needs. Visit Chris’s blog at

Luigi F. Sille is the Quality Manager of the Curaçao Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation. Luigi is from Curaçao, a small island in the Caribbean.He is now a senior member of the ASQ, and one of the foremost quality professionals on the island. He achieved the ASQ CMQ/OE, CQA, CQPA, and CQIA certifications. He is very passionate about quality, and promoting quality. This is done through his Blog,

Luciana Paulise is a business consultant and founder of Biztorming Training & Consulting. She holds an MBA from CEMA University in Argentina, is a Quality Engineer Certified by ASQ, and a Senior ASQ member. Luciana has also participated as an examiner for the National Quality Award in Argentina. She blogs about quality and continuous improvement for small and medium size businesses, both in English and in Spanish.Visit Luciana’s blog

David Grossman

Leaders need to lead and invite innovation through their actions. Fostering innovation starts with a corporate culture that values and recognizes diversity and inclusion in its broadest definition. These aren’t words on a vision poster but a core organizational value that’s seen and reinforced in the actions of every single leader.

It’s difficult to innovate without a wide range of perspectives that are welcomed and embraced. A myriad of viewpoints need to be sought out regularly and valued. Employees need to feel empowered. It’s important that leaders create an atmosphere that inspires employees to be creative thinkers and contribute their ideas to solving business problems and creating the future together.

This also means giving people the right resources to set them up for success and being there – as the leader – to encourage continued collaboration and productive conflict that comes from a wonderful diversity of thoughts and ideas. Only out of looking at varied choices can smart and strategic innovations be created.

Jimena Calfa

There are out there a lot of techniques and strategies that can address innovation, but the foundation to cultivate innovation is to “create and promote a collaborative and respectful environment where employees have the space and feel the freedom to innovate, in a regular basis”.

What has to be in that innovative environment?

  • Motivated top Managers to innovate and that can encourage employees to get out of their comfort zone and reaching for new ideas.
  • Time and Resources to innovate.
  • Innovation is inherently risky, so employees must have the freedom of failure and taking risk. Managers should promote that FAILURE is not a negative but a must-happen positive learning experiences from where innovative ideas can be born.
  • As much as disparate groups as possible to boost the brainstorming of ideas.
  • Time to celebrate and reward employees for being innovative, no matter the results.
  • The most important part for employees: they have to feel the sensation of ownership to the idea. People do a better job when they believe in what they do is adding value to the company and they are being recognized for that.

People have a lot of great ideas. If you give them the space to think out of the box, you will be surprise of the results. Nobel Prize Winner Dr Albert Szent-Gyorgyi said

”Innovation is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.”

Chris Moustakas

Quality can invite innovation with two simple yet powerful techniques:

  • Empowering employees to participate.
  • Recognizing them when they do.

When Quality tools are accessible to the entire organization – especially the ground floor where waste is seen firsthand – it becomes a part of the culture. And when workers see that their ideas are listened to and recognized, innovation flourishes – especially when the success of their ideas are validated with real, objective measurements, which proves that Quality has value and encourages people to trust the process.

Luigi F. Sille:

Nowadays the competition is very tough, and organizations have to do a lot to stay in the game. So companies/organizations must go the extra mile. They must think and do something more, something extra: something customers have not anticipated.

Employers can benefit a lot by creating an innovation culture in their organization. Creating a culture for innovation in your organization means that the top of the organization must:

  • Listen (and be willing) to identify opportunities, ideas: Sometimes the greatest ideas don’t come from experts
  • Take the creativity step (thinking of new ideas: brainstorming)
  • Generating new ideas
  • Leaders and managers must give their visible support.

Tangible and intangible rewards motivate each employee differently, and not the same way each time. The most effective technique. There is NONE. The most effective way to motivate employees is a combination of Tangible and Intangible rewards.

My personal opinion:

  • Just the feeling of an employee being important to the organization, and have an input in the development and improvement in the quality of the product and or service will make miracles.
  • Employees want to be respected as human beings.

An empowered employee is maybe more motivated to perform better, than just rewarding him or her with money.

Luciana Paulise

The best way to get innovation to be productive for your business is to make it repeatable. The most well-known innovation is the one that a single gifted individual produces, like a Mark Zuckerberg or a Richard Branson. But what if you make it more earthly, helping everyone in the company to be innovative? You can do it by making the innovation process repeatable, available to everyone, still customer focused and profitable. Quality management can help you achieve that.

Yes, you do need quality to foster innovation. Phil Crosby also said that “all work is a process”, and innovation is not an exception.

Lean SOP’s or standard operating procedures can help innovation to be part of the culture by defining a specific process to foster innovation across the Company. Google encourages their employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” Their founders said that “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances (like Gmail or AdSense) have happened in this manner.” Google also included some mindfulness training sessions to help their employees be even more focused and productive.

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August Roundtable: Integrating Technical Quality and Human Management Systems

Every month, ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table.

This month ASQ has asked the Influential Voices on quality management to look at the question of integrating technical quality and human management systems. How do different systems—technical or human—work together? How should they work together? What prevents them from working—or helps them work well?

If you’re interested in taking part in future roundtables, please contact

John Hunter has a background in online quality information management. He has developed quality improvement methods and software at the quality management office of the Secretary of Defense and the White House Military Office. He blogs at Curious Cat Management Blog.

Olga Karpova is a Service Quality Coordinator at Halliburton. She has a keen eye for detail and has considerable experience developing quality processes and improvements. She works tirelessly providing internal support for products, processes and services. Olga is a Quality Expert in API standards and her specialization is in Petroleum Industry.To read more from Olga, visit her Linkedin.

How Do Different Systems Technical or Human—Work Together?

John Hunter:

My view is that the management system must integrate these facets together. A common problem that companies face is that they bring in technical tools (such as control chartsPDSA improvement cycledesign of experimentskanban, etc.) without an appreciation for the organization as a system. Part of understanding the organization as a system is understanding psychology within this context.

To try and implement quality tools without addressing the systemic barriers (due to the management system and specifically the human component of that system) is a path to very limited success.

Olga Karpova:

Russian economics in globalization is characterized complication of correlation between supply and demand, product quality growth and organization competitiveness in a constantly changing environment.

Recently the question of integrated management systems’ implantation is becoming essential for Russian companies which are facing serious competition from Western and some Russian companies what confirmed their achievements in quality, environmental and process safety management by certification.

How Should the Different Systems Work Together?

John Hunter:

It is critical to create an integrated system that focuses on letting people use their brains to continually improve the organization. This process doesn’t lend itself to easy recipes for success. It requires thoughtful application of good management improvement ideas based on the current capabilities of the organization and the short, medium and long term priorities the organization is willing to commit to.

An integrated management system with an appreciation for the importance of people centered management is the only way to get the true benefit of the technical tools available.

Olga Karpova:

Currently quality plays an important role in production of goods as well as providing service. Based on research of Russian and foreign marketing specialists for present situation there is a stable trend towards increase in non-price forms of competitiveness, especially in quality.

Now it is becoming clear that in order to overcome the global economic and financial economic crisis in Russia it is needed to provide domestic product’s growth. Today to survive in competitive market Russian producers shall improve product quality significantly and meet customer expectations. To make it done it is needed to develop a system to ensure high quality of domestic products and its competitiveness.

What Prevents These Systems From Working Together?

John Hunter:

If the organization rewards those in one silo (say purchasing) based on savings they make in cutting the cost of supplies it will be very difficult for the organization to optimize the system as a whole. If the purchasing department gets bonuses and promotions by cutting costs that is where they will focus and the total costs to the organization are not going to be their focus. Attempts to create ever more complex extrinsic incentives to make sure the incentives don’t leave to sub-optimization are rarely effective. They can avoid the most obvious sub-optimization but rarely lead to anything close to actually optimizing the overall system.

Olga Karpova:

In Russian Federation organizations implement integrated management systems achieving different results both positive and negative. A lot of managers still think that management systems are more bureaucratic work than modern marketing tool needed to achieve success in business. There are several causes for this – internal (prevalence of dictatorial style of management, inadequate considerations of the staff role, unavailability of motivation systems, etc.) and external ones.

Thus, the question of a wide dissemination of modern management principles, implementation of management systems by Russian companies acquires another facet.  It becomes a matter of business success, as management practice repeatedly proved the validity of famous statement by Bill Fromm: “Successful business cannot be aimed at obtaining profits; profits should be the result of successful business management”.

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Author Interview: The ISO 9001:2015 Implementation Handbook

Milt Dentch, author of The ISO 9001:2015 Implementation Handbook, clarifies some changes from the 2008 revision, explains his take on risk-based thinking, and shares what he envisions future revisions of the standard to include.

What is your experience with ISO 9001?

I have been an RAB (Exemplar Global) lead auditor for quality and environmental management systems for over 20 years. For several years, I audited full-time for international registrars Bureau Veritas and TÜV SÜD America, completing audits for a diverse client base all over the US, Canada, South America and Eastern Europe. I have logged over 500 third party audits. The last few years I have reduced my auditing time and now provide consulting and internal auditor training for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

Do organizations have to do anything significantly differently in implementing ISO 9001:2015 versus ISO 9001:2008?

ISO 9001:2015 requires the organization to integrate the quality management system (QMS) requirements into the organization’s business processes and understand the context (external and internal issues) of the organization and expectations of interested parties. Additionally, the new standard requires the organization to provide a program plan to achieve its quality objectives: who is responsible, what is the schedule, and what techniques or methods will be utilized to manage the program.

A significant change for organizations upgrading to ISO 9001:2015 is the requirement to develop a process to address risks and opportunities. While many ISO consultants and practitioners refer to this requirement as risk-based thinking, I prefer to describe the requirement as risk analysis, which is more practical in my opinion than requiring the company to establish a new way of thinking. Inherent in several clauses of ISO 9001:2015 are various levels of risk and threats to the organization in satisfying their customers’ needs and preventing the organization from meeting their improvement objectives. Changes in processes or equipment, raw materials, and employee work instructions are examples where the organization should analyze and provide planning to mitigate the risks before implementing the change. Likewise, when scheduling internal audits, the organization should consider the risk level of errors presented by each process when establishing the frequency of audits.

Clause 7.1.6, Organizational Knowledge, is new to ISO 9001:2015. Organizations, depending on their operations, are now required to have some formalized program for succession planning, technology updating, and supplier contingencies.

As an Exemplar Global lead auditor (for both QMS and EMS), what will you be doing differently in auditing compliance to ISO 9001:2015 versus ISO 9001:2008?

I will look for objective evidence to support how the organization has integrated the QMS into its business, and how the organization considered internal/external issues and interested parties when establishing the QMS. I’ll expect to see some form of risk analysis, commensurate with the organization’s business model. What process does the organization use to retain organizational knowledge? (I will be sensitive to possible confidentiality related to the company’s business strategy). When reviewing quality objectives, I’ll expect to see a formal program related to how the organization will achieve its objectives. The program approach to achieving objectives has been integral to ISO 14001 for several years. It has been successful in improving environmental management systems (in my opinion)and should help the quality systems as well.

The spirit of ISO 9001:2015 is to relax the amount of documented information to allow the organizations to manage and control the processes within the QMS. While ISO 9001:2015 indicates a quality manual is not a requirement, my recommendation to organizations currently maintaining a quality manual is they should continue using the manual as a high level consolidation of the key elements–or roadmap–of their quality documentation. I also suggest that organizations with a quality manual that currently includes paraphrasing of each ISO 9001 clause requirement–going back through several ISO 9001 revisions–seriously consider streamlining the quality manual while upgrading to ISO 9001:2015. When documenting commitments to requirements of ISO 9001; organizations should define what they will do, not what they may do.

While ISO 9001:2015 may appear to present an opportunity to avoid or reduce documentation, I suggest organizations continue to “document what you do and do what you document”. The documentation of the quality management system should be suitable to the organization’s business, and provide value in managing the organization’s processes. The overarching principle in documentation should be to formalize and control what is needed to ensure users of the documentation have a source for information and instructions that is accurate and timely, providing consistency in managing the business.

I suggest individuals charged with implementing ISO 9001:2015 review Annex A, Clarification of New Structure, Terminology and Concepts, of the new standard and decide how the interpretations of the requirements described in the Annex fit their organization’s QMS and business model. Third party auditors should likewise review the Annex to become aware of the flexibility written into ISO 9001:2015 related to documentation.

Seven or so years from now when ISO 9001 is updated again, how will we know whether its 2015 version had been an improvement over the 2008 version?

I would expect the most significant change resulting from the implementation of ISO 9001:2015 would be the inclusion of a more formalized risk analysis process for organizations currently lacking such an initiative. As a collateral effect, I would hope that companies, who have maintained an ISO 9001 certification for many years, would take this opportunity to create documentation conforming to ISO 9001:2015, consistent with their business model, while eliminating nonessential verbiage and paraphrasing of ISO 9001 clauses.

In my opinion, the disciplined approach of ISO 9001 implementation and third party auditing have been very important in improving the quality of products and services provided to customers since its inception in 1987. Certainly, many other quality initiatives such as statistical process control, lean manufacturing and Six Sigma initiatives have contributed, but ISO has been a major component in establishing consistency in operations.

The current revision ISO 9001:2015 strives to make ISO 9001 a major driver in the business model of the organization. In the next several years, I would be surprised if ISO 9001 emerged as the central program used by top management to run their business. ISO 9001 will continue as an important tool for manufacturers and service companies in providing the discipline and consistency in the operation and control of their processes.

The ISO 9001:2015 Implementation Handbook is available through Quality Press.

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Referral Olympics For ASQ Members

The Referral Olympics offers ASQ members worldwide the chance to earn rewards for something they are probably already doing—informing friends and colleagues about the benefits of an ASQ membership. By participating you’ll earn a chance to win a $10 Starbucks e-card for every person you refer. If your referrals join ASQ by September 9, you’ll earn even more chances to win bigger prizes including ASQ Bucks, additional $10 Starbucks e-cards, and $200 Visa gift cards. Those who join also receive a free content bundle welcome gift valued at $70.

Refer a peer today!

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Author Interview: Making Change in Complex Organizations

George Strodtbeck, author of the book Making Change in Complex Organizations, is currently a Vice President with the consulting firm SBTI, where he is responsible for strategic account management and providing expert change management advice.  Below he shares his thoughts on what it takes for organizations to handle change successfully.

It has been said for decades now that “the only constant is change.” Even if this is still true, how is the change within organizations different now than it was in the past?

Two of the most important differences from the past are speed of communication and access to knowledge. In both cases, the effect of the internet has been dramatic. What used to take weeks to communicate now takes seconds. Access to knowledge required a trip to the library to do research. Today that research is available instantly already sorted. This instant access has created the perception of speed in all things. However, when it comes to change, we are still talking about what people do; how they behave. This does NOT happen instantly. Properly used, providing access to information and education can have a positive impact on the speed and accuracy of a change effort. Old fashioned leadership and management is still required and this takes time, energy and resources. I think this second aspect of change is frustrating to a lot of management teams because of the perception created that they can have it now. It just doesn’t work that way.

Do quality management concepts and tools play a role in enacting change in organizations?

Of course. Take, for example, the FMEA. The idea behind the FMEA is anticipation of things that can go wrong. This applies not just to parts and manufacturing processes, but can be used to think about things that can go wrong with a change. It requires a little modification but not much. A ImR control chart can be used to monitor key measures that a change is intended to affect. I think people get stuck applying a tool in only one way and limiting its potential utility. Remember, a screw driver can be used on a screw, it can also be used to open a paint can. When we think of the quality concepts and tools as just tools, a whole universe of applications begins to open up. We can use them for deep understanding of process behavior and what to do when things aren’t the way they should be.

What are a few of the things common to organizations that have handled change well?

Leadership engagement. Leadership is the key ingredient for change success. This is not just the CEO. Some changes happen at the plant level or in the function. Leadership is a scalable concept. Wherever the change is intended, leadership has to engage and lead it. Otherwise, the change is doomed to minimal success at best and failure at worst.

And what about the things common to those that didn’t handle change well?

Leadership delegation of responsibility and accountability for action. When somebody other than the person who wants the change to happen is seen as the leader, everybody for whom the change is intended knows it is not really THAT important and the game playing begins.

How do different ages/generations of employees affect an organization’s ability and willingness to grow and change?

I believe it is less about age and more about time in a job or an organization. Generally, people don’t like change because it’s perceived to be more work. Every day we read about a new study discussing the stress of the modern work place. So, to combat this stress, people learn their jobs and try to establish some predictability. Organizational changes disrupt the established patterns and add to the stress. Therefore, I see people of all ages and generations rebelling against changes of all kinds, even ones that make life better for them.

Making Change in Complex Organizations is available through Quality Press.

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Pursuing and Preparing for an ASQ Certification

We posed the questions below to the quality community, and seasoned professionals replied with some insights into why they pursued an ASQ certification and provided helpful advice on exam preparation.

For more information on ASQ Certification, visit

How did you decide which ASQ certification(s) to pursue in light of your career goals?

I am preparing for the CQE exam this December. I was thinking between CQE and CQA, but in my current job I think CQE is more beneficial for my career growth. However, I have a goal to pass the CQE exam, then next year on June I am going to get CQA as I am an auditor as well as a quality engineer. Wish me luck! – Chananchita C.

I did CMQ/OE in 2010. This was useful for my career in projects quality. – Ashwani K.

I first went for the CQE certification as my employer would reimburse and it was tied into a promotional opportunity. I prepared by taking the prep course through the local ASQ chapter and a lot of intense studying. Later I went for the CQA as it also was sponsored by my employer and thought it to be complementary to my profession. I found both to be worthwhile, but the CQE preparation was certainly a much more intense experience as it was imperative to pass first try. Proper preparation prevents poor performance! Good luck. – Brian L.

I have two certificates with ASQ. One can decide to embark on any ASQ certificate based on the role he/she plays in the organization or where you see yourself in future. I decided to go for ASQ CMQ/OE since I report directly to QAM, and also assume his role when not around. Because I wanted to handle the position very well and make myself available for related roles, I embarked on CMQ/OE. ASQ QA will give me a wider opportunity than only being certified by my organization. – Nkwachukwu O.

Based on my experience as Statistics Division Certification Chair, the top two ASQ certifications for our members are CQE and SSBB. This is why we offer these two, among others, at the Special Certification Exam Administration we sponsor at Fall Technical Conference (this year in Minneapolis). I decided to become CQE because it had more of a statistics focus. – Brian S.

I started as an NDE technician, and while ASTM and ASNT provided a good guide for NDE, as I was assigned more QC and QA responsibilities, I wanted to find a good source of knowledge regarding best practices for creation, implementation, management and improvement of quality related functions. I found that ASQ (and PMI) are excellent sources of best practices, applicable and proven in a myriad of industries and countries.
The only downside to real knowledge is that you become much more aware of how often projects fail due to bizarre practices implemented by managers whose skill set is limited to “shout, curse, and threaten”!
– David S.

I decided the type of certification based on my experience and foundational knowledge gained through undergraduate studies. I solved lots of question banks. It’s important to understand the content thoroughly for a successful pass on an exam. Exam questions are tricky but are doable if one has full knowledge. ASQ certifications are worth having for a quality professional. – Yogesh S.

I found the ASQ’s sequence of classes to be very useful because it focuses on different career paths. – Isaac T.

I aspired to career roles in Quality Management and looked to build a diverse professional portfolio. – Daniel Z.

How did you prepare?

For preparation, it is recommended to go through the QCI primer or ASQ Handbook again and again. For comprehensive understanding, watch available materials relevant to certification on YouTube. Read and practice as much as you can, especially for statistics. Time management is key factor for ASQ exams, so during study it should be considered. – Muhammad I.

I used ASQ web training and ASQ handbook for CMQ/OE. – Ashwani K.

For several of my certifications I took the refresher course offered by our local ASQ chapter and others, and I forced myself to use the same training methods at home. Now to retain some of my certifications (CQE, CQA, CCT) there are requirements, whereas some of my certifications (CQT, CQI which was CMI then) are lifetime certifications. – David R.

I read at least two books based on searching the reviews on Amazon, and then bought training material to simulate questions–not for exam per say, but to mimic real life situations. As my field is not quality management, the questions let me face situations that quality guys face in real life. Exams are good because they force you to study and be serious about your learning goal. All self-funded… worth it though. 🙂 – Azmat S.

I took many excellent classes offered by the Akron-Canton chapter if ASQ. As a woman, it was very difficult to be hired in engineering despite my degree, but it opened doors as a quality engineer. – Renee S.

Preparations for ASQ certifications were extensive and combined self-study, research of the ASQ back issues of journals, attendance at Section refresher courses (primarily for statistics), and subscription to the pertinent ASQ divisions. I recommend the same for others, particularly joining and participating in ASQ Divisions. – Daniel Z.

What advice do you have for those thinking about pursuing an ASQ certification? Share your experience in the comments!

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What Do We Expect from Senior Leaders?

This is a guest post by Scott Rutherford, who works in quality assurance at a nuclear shipyard, and specializes in performance improvement. He blogs at Square Peg Musings.

“It is most important that top management be quality-minded. In the absence of sincere manifestation of interest from the top, little will happen from below.” – Joseph Juran

This quote began Quality Progress’ September 1986 review of Dr. Juran as an honorary member of the American Society for Quality Control (as ASQ was then called). It has stuck with me like a musical earworm; seemingly to pop up again and again when I read blog posts on changing organizational culture, items pontificating on employee engagement, or people lamenting the fact that senior leadership failed again in their role of championing change.

The earworm struck last night as our local ASQ section hosted a presentation from a local manufacturer’s director of quality. He was hired to effect culture change. He called in a quality “guru” to help and got some good advice on how to proceed with limited leadership buy-in. For the first 18 months, they were highly successful in effecting change; energizing the workforce, breaking silos, and seeing some real success. The quality director was ready to implement round two of changes…until he was told by top management that, “Thanks, you have made some good change for now, but we need to get back to being a manufacturer. “

I did ask one question that still has gone unanswered, not only by this director of quality but also other quality “gurus” out there: “Did you specify the necessary outcomes, behaviors, and expectations to top management?”

I did not ask the follow-on question of, “How would you hold top management accountable to the outcomes, behaviors, and expectations that you need to be successful?” I have not seen a lot of literature on how quality practitioners need to achieve meaningful actions as answers to these questions.

As a senior leader in our organization I am also faced with not only creating the environment for change but also with clearly communicating when change needs to occur. For example, my quality manager came to me with a request to redirect a critical resource to his project in support of clarifying organizational self-assessment metrics. I told him no. The priorities of that resource are correct.

If that was the extent of my answer there could be a misperception that I was not “quality-minded.” But my quality manager came back to me requesting clarification, and after our discussion left with a better understanding why I responded the way I did. He may not have liked it but he better understood my reasoning.

There are so many improvement initiatives that are born with great fanfare and energy, especially when there is a senior leader championing the change. When the focus is shifted away from the care and feeding of that initiative, there has to be discussion with senior leadership on the change and dialog on what expectations are needed to support the change in leadership perspective. That’s not all. There must be focus on the current improvement initiatives to keep good momentum going. This is often not understood by both parties, which leads to frustration from the quality community.

Organizational priorities change. The quality practitioner needs to be proactive in specifying the expectations required to show senior leadership support and finding the magic wand that keeps senior leadership committed to change once the first successes have been achieved.

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Roundtable: Employee Engagement

Every month, ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table. The June topic is Employee Engagement.

To what extent do organizations—whether your current employer or previous ones–engage employees about the importance of quality? How should companies approach this issue, and how can they avoid “sloganeering” and make a real difference?

If you’re interested in taking part in future roundtables, please contact

Jennifer Stepniowski is the Regional Director, North America, at Pro QC International and an adjunct instructor at Hillsborough Community College. She blogs at Quality Time.

I play a little game with myself and make a note whenever I see “quality” referenced. I find myself chuckling regarding the saturation of the word in our marketplace vocabulary. We want stakeholders to associate us with quality and figure saying it a lot or putting it in the company name is going to do the trick. We think adding signs around our workplace or inserting the word into our mission statements will do the trick. Not terrible ideas… But, it doesn’t seem to be that simple.

To read more from Jennifer, visit her blog.

ASQ Fellow Manu Vora is chairman and president of Business Excellence, Inc. He is an expert in organizational excellence and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. He blogs at Thoughts on Quality.

Here are some pointers for effective employee engagement for quality culture:

  • Recruit employees with talent and train them for skills (Reference: Buckingham, M. and Coffman, C. (1999). First Break All the Rules, Gallup Press, Omaha, NE).
  • Involve employees by exposing them to effective teamwork, orientation, mentoring, and effective meeting management practices.
  • Motivate employees by establishing recognition and suggestion systems. Follow the Theory of Strengths (Reference: Clifton, D. O. and Nelson, P. (1992). Soar with Your Strengths, Dell Publishing, New York, NY).
  • Develop employees with appropriate education and training, timely performance feedback, and coaching.
  • Retain key employees with regular dialogue between supervisor and employee at least quarterly (Kaye, B. and Jordan-Evans, S. (2013). Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay , 5th Edition, Barrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA)

To read more from Manu, visit his blog.

Argentina native Jimena Calfa is a Quality Manager and ASQ Senior member who is truly involved in raising the value of quality focusing on continuous process improvement. She blogs at OnQuality.

“Two way commitment and communication between members of a team, accompanied by setting goals that encourage massive and persistent action is the key to get team members engaged, motivated and performing at extraordinary level of quality.”

This is the answer I got from Sebastian Pereyro, CEO of Empirical and entrepreneur with more than 14 years of experience working in software development in big corporations like Motorola, Google and Disney when I asked him: what is your strategy to have members of your team being fully engaged in the quality of your business?

He highlighted that “because every person has its own needs, we have to TALK with and LISTEN to them; in other words GIVE and RECEIVE on a regular basis. I often share what the company, customer or the project is expecting from them, making sure that the goal and the expected results are clear. I share constructive feedback about performance in a positive manner. I ask the team for feedback about how we are doing; how they are feeling working the way we do and what we can do to help each other to grow professionally and advance in our roles.

One key to encourage fully engaged team members is to give them full responsibility over their roles -empowerment, promoting trust and confidence; and help them take on activities that exceed their current level of skills and capabilities; so they can grow on every project or activity they take on. That is the most motivational tool to increase productivity and well-being of the entire organization.

I like Simon Sinek phrase that says: Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.

This is the future of the world economy; this entrepreneur mindset, that comes with fresh and innovative ideas, is what will make any workforce to be fully engaged with the quality of any organization.”

To read more from Jimena, visit her blog.

Luciana Paulise is a business consultant and founder of Biztorming Training & Consulting. She holds an MBA from CEMA University in Argentina, is a Quality Engineer Certified by ASQ, and a Senior ASQ member. Luciana has also participated as an examiner for the National Quality Award in Argentina. She blogs about quality and continuous improvement for small and medium size businesses, both in English and in Spanish.

In my experience, I truly believe leadership is key to boost performance. 10% of the employees will always be demotivated, another 10% will always be motivated no matter the context, but the 80% of the personnel will perform depending on the leadership ability to engage them to do it, but there are three tools that can boost this ability no matter the leader.

To read more from Luciana, visit her blog.

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Top 10 Books for Those New to Quality

Which books are most useful to those just starting out in quality?

Being new to the quality field can be overwhelming, but you can get up-to-speed by reading the essentials.

Add your essentials to the comments!

1. The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition by Nancy R. Tague
The Quality Toolbox is a comprehensive reference to a variety of methods and techniques: those most commonly used for quality improvement, many less commonly used, and some created by the author and not available elsewhere.
The book is written and organized to be as simple as possible to use so that anyone can find and learn new tools without a teacher. Above all, this is an instruction book. The reader can learn new tools or, for familiar tools, discover new variations or applications. It also is a reference book, organized so that a half-remembered tool can be found and reviewed easily, and the right tool to solve a particular problem or achieve a specific goal can be quickly identified.

2. The ASQ Quality Improvement Pocket Guide: Basic History, Concepts, Tools, and Relationships edited by Grace L. Duffy
This pocket guide is designed to be a quick, on-the-job reference for anyone interested in making their workplace more effective and efficient. It will provide a solid initial overview of what “quality” is and how it could impact you and your organization. Use it to compare how you and your organization are doing things, and to see whether what’s described in the guide might be useful.

3. The ASQ Pocket Guide to Root Cause Analysis by Bjørn Andersen and Tom Natland Fagerhaug
The purpose of this pocket guide is to provide you with easily accessible knowledge about the art of problem solving, with a specific focus on identifying and eliminating root causes of problems.

4. Process Improvement Simplified: A How-to Book for Success in any Organization by James B. King, Francis G. King , and Michael W. R. Davis
This book reveals the secrets of Process Improvement (PI). For any organization, this book defines a process as the interaction of people, methods, materials, equipment, measurement and the environment to perform a task or produce an output.

5.The Certified Quality Improvement Associate Handbook, Third Edition: Basic Quality Principles and Practices edited by Russell T. Westcott and Grace L. Duffy
ASQ’s Certified Quality Improvement Associate (CQIA) certification is designed to introduce the basics of quality to organizations and individuals not currently working within the field of quality. This book and the Body of Knowledge (BOK) it supports are intended to form a foundation for further study and application of proven quality principles and practices worldwide.

6. Performance Metrics: The Levers for Process Management by Duke Okes
This book provides a clarifying perspective for those who know that metrics need to be developed but are unsure as to the steps to follow in developing and deploying them. It focuses on making sure that the metrics selected will guide people and processes in the direction the organization wants to go, and allow continual evaluation of success.

7. The Memory Jogger 2, Second Edition: A Pocket Guide of Tools for Continuous Improvement and Effective Planning by Michael Brassard and Diane Ritter
Critical tools are explained using real-life examples from all types of organizations with problems similar to yours, making them easy for everyone to understand and apply. The Memory Jogger 2, Second Edition contains all the tools found in the first edition of the Memory Jogger 2, plus 50 pages of new charts and detailed diagram samples, a new tool, and a case study.

8. The Essential Deming: Leadership Principles from the Father of Quality by Joyce Nilsson Orsini PhD.
The book is filled with articles, papers, lectures, and notes touching on a wide range of topics, but which focus on Deming’s overriding message: quality and operations are all about systems, not individual performance; the system has to be designed so that the worker can perform well.

9. Principles of Quality Costs, Fourth Edition: Financial Measures for Strategic Implementation of Quality Management edited by Douglas C. Wood
The purpose of this book remains the same as the third edition: to provide a basic understanding of the principles of quality cost. Using this book, organizations can develop and implement a quality cost system to fit their needs. Used as an adjunct to overall financial management, these principles will help maintain vital quality improvement programs over extended timeframes.

10. Outcomes, Performance, Structure: Three Keys to Organizational Excellence by Michael E. Gallery and Stephen C. Carey
The purpose of this book is to help you put already-existing performance criteria in a context of your organizational system and assist you in using the criteria to assess problems in your organization. More importantly, this book will help you in designing systemic solutions to the systemic problems you have identified with easy-to-use samples and questions that draw out key areas where the organization needs to improve.

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ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement 2016: Day 3

The closing ceremony of the 2016 World Conference on Quality and Improvement began with an exciting parade of the International Team Excellence Award finalists carrying flags and cheering. A total of 36 teams competed this year, with a total of four teams receiving awards:

Bronze-level winners:
Loading Like Tetris,Molinos Rio de la Plata
Complaint Busters, Telefonica-Argentina

Silver-level winners:
Nypro Shanghai, Jabil Circuit
Jabil Singapore, Jabil Circuit

The 2016 conference concluded with entrepreneur and venture capitalist Josh Linker, who gave an inspirational keynote speech about innovation, its connection to quality, and why encouraging creativity is important. In today’s world, creativity is beating complacency, and the word innovation ought to be redefined as an everyday action. Linkner encouraged the audience to give fresh ideas time to breathe, and to exhibit humanity as an innovative approach can drive meaningful impact.

Linkner’s closing remarks sum up this year’s conference theme of Quality Expanded: “Now is the time for innovation! Seize the opportunities waiting for us!”

What innovative ideas did you discover at the World Conference?

The day ended just down the road from the conference center at ASQ Headquarters, where visitors were given a tour of the historic building and a glimpse inside ASQ operations.

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ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement 2016: Day 2

Is this your first World Conference? If so, you may have a valuable perspective on the event. At the Tuesday morning keynote, author and leadership expert Liz Wiseman spoke about valuable perspective of rookies in the workplace—those who are new to a position or field. Despite popular belief, rookies don’t bring new ideas to the table. (In fact, they don’t bring any ideas.) Rather, they bring a new way of looking at problems and solutions.

The afternoon speaker, psychology scholar and author Brian Little, focused on the difference between the traits and characteristics of introverts and extroverts.  The big takeaway is to know own’s first nature in order to perform at optimal level.  For example, introverts solve problems better when they are away from stimulation, and extroverts seek stimulation to carry out tasks effectively. He encouraged the audience to be audacious and try things outside of their personalities and comfort zones, but to find a “restorative niche” that resets them to a natural stimulation level.

Tuesday was a full day of sessions and live quality cast studies presented as part of the International Team Excellence Awards program. In the afternoon there was an exhibit hall extravaganza with games, music, and prizes, and caricature sketches. The day concluded with a networking reception at Milwaukee’s iconic Harley-Davidson Museum.

Wednesday highlights:

  • International Team Excellence Award Ceremony
  • Keynote Speaker Josh Linkner, entrepreneur and venture capitalist
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ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement 2016: Day 1

When you think of quality, do you think of longevity? This year, longevity stood out as an unofficial theme at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement as ASQ celebrated its 70th anniversary.

At the Monday morning keynote, it was announced that 38 ASQ members had been members for more than 60 years—shaping the quality field in the 20th century and into the 21st. The 70th theme is running throughout the event, from trivia games in the exhibit hall to souvenirs and gifts available for purchase at the ASQ Center. Sunday evening is the “official” conference kickoff, but Sunday morning and afternoon are abuzz with behind the scenes activities and meetings.

For example, a group of ASQ member leaders met up to do a gardening service project at Walnut Way, a Milwaukee-area organization that helps to revitalize local neighborhood. Despite a chilly start and high winds, the volunteers did some much-needed weeding and networking.

Monday morning kicked off with a standing-room only crowd at a keynote by Stephen J. Dubner, the author and journalist best known as the co-author of the book Freakonomics.

Dubner spoke about the importance of data—and particularly good data. His talk was peppered with humorous anecdotes about America’s preference for poultry and artificial insemination of turkeys, and the most effective way to increase hand-washing compliance rates in hospitals.

Dubner made a clear point of finding data that reflects reality. He noted that it is not always the nosiest person who has the best ideas, and that ideas that seem “crazy” should be voiced. The speech wrapped up with a story about a young economics professor at Yale who took on a currency experiment—using monkeys.

The afternoon speaker, James Kane, is the author of two upcoming books, The Loyalty Switch and Virtually Loyal. Kane talked about the difference between satisfaction and loyalty–satisfaction, such as customer satisfaction is simply a mood. Loyalty equals trust equals making someone’s life easier in some way.

Other Monday highlights included:

Live case studies were presented some of the most successful quality implementations from a wide variety of industries in the 2015 International Team Excellence Award Process

After 5 sessions on lighter topics such as Becoming a Chess Master with DMAIC and Applying Quality Tools to Personal Health and Wellness

The Milwaukee Night Out, with vans taking attendees to three downtown Milwaukee hotspots—The Historic Third Ward, Old World Third Street, and Water Street.

Tuesday highlights:

Keynote Speakers Liz Wiseman and Dr. Brian Little

Exhibit Hall Extravaganza with networking, raffles and giveaways.

Tuesday night wraps up with the Networking Reception at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

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Changes to has gone through some recent updates in order to better serve our members!

Did you know? Under My Account, you can:

•Update your profile image
•Update user name and password
•View entire purchases as well as print and email invoices/receipts online
•Pay open orders online instead of contacting ASQ to pay for open invoices
•Save multiple credit cards and use for online order checkout. Customers can modify saved credit cards or delete cards no longer being used.
•Tailor and opt in/opt out of ASQ communications
•Print membership cards and certificates online
•Access and purchase digital content (Ebooks and Estandards) in one convenient place

Having trouble logging on?

If you have not logged in to since March 14, 2016, you will need to update your account.

•If you know your member number, enter this in the User Name field (previously this probably would have been your email address). Enter the same password as before; passwords have not changed.
•If you do not know your member number, click on the Forgot User Name? link. This will prompt you to enter the e-mail address for your account and you will receive username reset instructions via e-mail.

Once you have successfully logged into your account, you will have the option to make changes to your User Name and password.

Still have questions or issues with logging on? ASQ Customer Care is glad to further assist.

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Networking at WCQI 2016

Looking to expand your professional network? ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement, held May 16-18 in Milwaukee, offers many chances to network with other quality professionals. Be sure to take advantage of the below sessions and events to expand your network and connect with other conference attendees. Don’t miss this great opportunity–registration for this event is still open!

Conference Kick-off
Following the opening session and keynote on Monday morning, this is an opportunity for attendees to meet in the exhibit hall with other conference participants, connect with old acquaintances, and visit with our exhibitors and sponsors.

After 5 Sessions
Held early Monday evening, these sessions are less formal than our other technical sessions and include a social component which adds to the level of interaction between the facilitator and the participants, as well as the participants and their peers. A sampling of this year’s sessions: Becoming a Chess Master with DMAIC, In Search of Quixote: Inner Dawns and Looming Knights, and ASQ Young Quality Professionals: Your Career is a Start-Up.

Milwaukee Night Out
On Monday evening, attendees will have the opportunity to experience Milwaukee’s night life. Busses will run continuously in a loop that goes from the Convention Center to the Third Ward, Old World 3rd Street, and Water street, and will have complimentary fare for conference attendees.

Engagement with Local Establishments
A number of local restaurants and establishments will be offering discounts to conference attendees. You will only need show a conference badge to receive the discount at more than 40 local establishments. Stop by the Visit Milwaukee area in the Convention Center with any questions.

Satellite Sessions
Six additional sessions will be held in offsite locations, in addition to 100+ breakout sessions at the convention center throughout the run of the conference. These locations include The Water Council and UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences. Each remote venue will hold one session a day for the three days of the event. Simply sign up for the session and the transportation and logistics will be taken care of.

Tuesday’s Networking Reception This year’s spotlight networking event will take place at the Harley-Davidson Museum, where conference attendees can connect with each other in the midst of one of Milwaukee’s most iconic brands.

And don’t forget to network through social media! Use #WCQI16 to connect with other conference attendees and post about your experience.

What events and opportunities have you discovered for successful networking at WCQI and other conferences?

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Roundtable: Voice of the Customer

Every month, ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table. The April topic is Voice of the Customer.

What exactly should voice of the customer mean to the quality professional? How important is it? What are the best ways to gather it?

If you’re interested in taking part in future roundtables, please contact

Luciana Paulise is a business consultant and founder of Biztorming Training & Consulting. She blogs about quality and continuous improvement for small and medium size businesses, both in English and in Spanish, at

The customer is always right, but how do we know what do they mean by right?

Common tools to capture the voice of the customer are surveys, focus groups and mystery shoppers, though there are new tools and methodologies to get the VOC faster and cheaper.

• Pilot tests: many Entrepreneurs are already into it to develop new products. A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to offer the customer in order to begin the process of learning.
• Social networks: using Facebook, twitter, Instagram, blogs and other networking tools to promote your business, you can not only engage your audience and let them know what you are up to, but you can also get the their insights, depending on the number visits, likes, favorites and comments.
• Trained personnel: employees are one of the best source of information in regards to customer desires. They should be trained not only to assist the customer but also to
listen to them and communicate their needs to upper management.

Read more from Luciana’s blog here.

Pam Schodt is an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer and a member of the Raleigh, North Carolina, section of ASQ, where she volunteers on the Communication Committee. Her blog, Quality Improvements in Work and Life, includes posts about certification testing, book reviews, and lifestyle issues.

The customer is the driving force of organizations.

The best way to gather Voice of the Customer standards is through face-to-face meetings followed up by written and verified specifications. In my experience, the earlier the quality professional is involved in communication with the customer, the better. A relationship is built so an exchange of quality data can flow back and forth. This foundation of trust and professionalism creates a basis for quality improvement and superior products and services.

To read more feedback from Pam, click here.

Dr. Suresh Gettala works as a Director for ASQ South Asia. He is a seasoned quality expert with a unique blend of academic/research as well as industry experience, and also holds the coveted ASQ MBB (CMBB) certification.

Comprehending the requirements of customers continues to be a challenge irrespective of the type of industry that we are in. In many cases, even identifying all the customers is a delicate task.

How do we go about effectively managing customer requirements? The key is to hear from the “horse’s mouth” and not make any surmise about what the customer wants. How do we react to the captured customer voice would eventually determine how well we understand our customers.

When you are attempting to understand the requirements of customers, especially in B2B business, you need to understand that there are two types of requirements – one at the product/transaction level and one at the relationship level. Product/transaction level requirements are often addressed by having a robust requirements gathering and management process. In contrast, there is no such direct method to understand the requirements at the relationship level. At this level managing the customer wants is more of an art rather than science.

Read more feedback from Suresh by visiting his blog.

Luigi Sillé is the Quality Manager at Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation in Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean. He has been a senior ASQ member since 2014, and blogs at

The voice of the Customer (VOC), is a process used to get information about customer expectations, preferences and dislikes.

The Voice of the Customer helps you prioritize on those aspects that are valuable to your customers, and eliminate those that are not (you can absolutely lower your WASTE). The Voice of the Customer also helps in identifying GAPS in your service and or products. It provides early stage warnings, so management can pro-actively react on them. To stay competitive in this modern world, the Voice of the customer is the KEY.

Gathering data is important, but collecting it and not using the results is called: Waste. It’s waste of money, time, and effort.

So as soon as the data is received, quality professionals must analyze it, differentiate it and use it to improve, and /or adapt. Management in his turn must prioritize, and act to improve, thus delivering what the customer wants.

To read more feedback from Luigi, visit his blog.

Robert Mitchell retired from 3M last June, where he was known as “Quality Bob.” He has been an ASQ member for over three decades, and recently moved to Phoenix, where he runs a strategic quality leadership consulting business, QualityBob®Consulting. He blogs at

When attempting to define the “customer” it is important that everyone involved in the commercialization process agree on the target customer. One might assume that the customer is the end-user, consumer. But it is often not enough to just consider the end-user needs; the end-user might not be the purchasing decision-maker. For example, who decides what products get placed on store shelves, placed in catalogs, placed in the office supply room, stocked in the parts crib, or made available for on-line purchase… who is the “Gatekeeper”? In a B2B model, what are the Buyer’s needs? What influences the Gatekeeper and Buyer purchasing decision? How can your product, brand, or organization help that trade/channel customer achieve its strategic goals better than your competition can? In today’s global market where product can be purchased from virtually anywhere on the planet via the World Wide Web, what regulatory, statutory and/or Governmental needs must be satisfied? Of course, let us not forget the Internal customer. How effectively are internal customer & downstream process requirements understood and met by the previous process (internal supplier)? Where can waste and inventory be eliminated in the Value Stream?

Read more feedback from Bob, visit his blog.

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Cultural Barriers Companies Face When Trying to Strengthen a Culture of Quality

This is a guest post by James Lawther, who describes himself as a middle-aged middle-manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for multiple organizations, from supermarkets to tax collectors in a host of operational roles, including running the night shift for a frozen pea packing factory and doing operational research for a credit card company.

Based in the U.K., James is also an ASQ Influential Voice blogger and writes about quality issues at

I was once told that beliefs drive behavior. That seems to be a sensible assertion. There may be other factors–habit for example–but I can’t think of a stronger one. If you take that thought and add that culture is the sum of all the ways people behave in an organization, then it is easy to make the mental leap that beliefs also drive culture.
To change a culture you need to understand and change its beliefs.

What is a belief?
A belief is something that we think is true, even though we have no evidence or absolute proof of that fact.

There are lots of management beliefs that we think will drive a business forward. But if you dig a little deeper you will see they do the exact opposite.

Let me give you a handful of examples, a belief, an alternative view and a piece of evidence.

Have a read and ask yourself if these beliefs good for our organizations. Or is there enough evidence to support an alternative view?

Belief – We need short-term targets
If we have short-term targets we will strive to hit them. They keep us on the boil and give us management credibility. If we hit all our targets we will be an excellent business over the long term.
Alternative view – Short-term targets drive short termism. It is easy hit this quarter’s numbers by mortgaging next quarter. Repeatedly hitting short-term targets does little for long term improvement.

Does Jeff Bezos take a short-term view of Amazon’s performance?
Belief – We must have centers of excellence
If all our functions are excellent we will have an excellent business.
Alternative view – Striving for functional excellence quickly pits functions against each other. This just causes friction and rivalry. What is really important is how the functions work together, not individually. Functional excellence does little for teamwork.

Did inter-functional rivalry between defense agencies help the September 11 attacks?
Belief – Failure is bad
We must not fail. Failure is just another word for poor performance. No great business can allow poor performance. Failure is a sign of weakness.
Alternative view – The only way we really learn anything new is if we fail. The only way to learn how to ride a bike is to fall off one. It is easy to avoid failure – stick with want you know – but if you don’t try anything new, how will you ever learn or improve?

What did failure do for James Dyson?
Belief – We must manage the performance of our staff
If we have the best individuals then we will have the best organisation. We should actively “performance manage” our staff to make sure we get the best out of them.
Alternative view – performance management only ever results in fear or jealousy. People are either scared for their jobs or jealous of the bonuses awarded to “high performers.” Both of these emotions are hugely destructive. They do nothing at all for organizational improvement.

What did 10 years of performance management do for Microsoft?
Belief – Our people must be productive
The best way to maximize efficiency is to sweat the “human capital.” We must get the most possible out of our people.

Alternative view – If your staff are absolutely focused on their day job, you don’t give them any capacity to do anything else. Your staff are the people who are best placed to improve their work, they understand it best of all. Shouldn’t you give them the time to do that?

Where would Google be without 20% time?
Belief – We should use current best practice
We should incorporate the latest cutting-edge thinking into our business. If we don’t include it, then our competitors will.
Alternative view – if you constantly switch approaches and strategies you will never implement any of them well. Current best practice never lasts long. There is always a shiny new approach that is guaranteed results, until a better idea comes along. Success comes from sticking with an approach, not continually rolling out the latest approach.
Why are there so many different approaches to quality management?

Beliefs are insidious
They are everywhere, we take them for granted and they reinforce each other. How about adding the following to the list?
• Managers should direct – how about they support?
• We must incentivize our staff – do you need incentives?
• We need more leaders – how about fewer good ones?
• We must benchmark performance – wouldn’t your effort be better spent on improvement?
How many other beliefs could you add to the list?

The problem with beliefs
If you really want a quality culture, you have to challenge and change the incumbent belief system that is getting in the way.

Of course it isn’t that easy. The really tough – but hardly surprising – thing about beliefs is that we all have them and we are all blindsided by them. What about the beliefs I put forward? Are mine any more robust than the incumbent ones? What does the evidence suggest? Or perhaps a better question would be…

What do you believe?

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2016 Manufacturing Outlook Survey: Qualified Applicants Wanted

An increasing number of U.S. manufacturers now struggle to find qualified applicants for open positions, according to the ASQ 2016 Manufacturing Outlook Survey.

What did respondents give for the biggest challenges when hiring for a vacant position? The lack of qualified applicants, followed by the time it takes to hire a new employee. Lack of budget to fill open positions also was a hurdle for manufacturers.

In order to help find skilled applicants, 55 percent of manufacturers say they’ve hired an agency and 41 percent are working with local colleges on programs that teach the required skills.

While manufacturers are split on the impact retirements will have on their organizations or quality, the overwhelming majority rely on on-the-job training to transfer knowledge from retiring workers to new employees. Company-provided classroom training and training through a third-party are less common.

Although the respondents are less confident in the economy compared to past years, the majority expect their organization to increase salaries. And, according to the data, while 19 percent of manufacturers expect their organization to reduce staff, 81 percent expect to maintain current staffing levels or hire additional staff.

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ISO 9001:2015 Infographics

Check out these infographics on ISO 9001:2015! These are designed to help spread the word about the new revision and the ways ASQ can help you and your organization adjust. The straightforward answers about the differences between this revision and the previous make it a handy reference on the basics of ISO 9001:2015. Download your copy!

Note: the content of both versions is the same.
Infographic on ISO 9001 – Version 1
Infographic on ISO 9001 – Version 2

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Are Professional Associations Built to Exist in 2066?

My name is Shontra Powell and I’m privileged to serve as ASQ’s new Chief Operating Officer.

I am blessed to have enjoyed increasing responsibilities of leadership over my 25 year career in for-profit business. It is my desire to leverage this perspective to further develop my offerings as a leader with impact. This desire has led to my career advancement at ASQ—a non-profit with mission-focused work.

In the new economy, there is an opportunity for leaders to connect the historical gap between commercial interests and social impact. I believe that I am in the right place, at the right time, to sharpen my understanding of this new leadership opportunity, and to grow my offerings to the society with rich and practical experience.

In recent months, I have given a lot of thought to the biggest challenges facing today’s associations, including ASQ. In this essay, I share my perspective—and vision—for the future of the association, including, of course, ASQ. Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are my own, and don’t necessarily reflect those of ASQ.

Professional, or trade, associations have been in existence since the early 19th century. These groups usually formed usually as a nonprofit organization that existed to further a profession, or the interests of the individuals engaged in that profession, as well as the public interest. Today, there are more than 92,000 associations in the U.S., many of which are based in the U.S. association capital of Washington D.C.

A few dynamics can shape the story for associations in the future:

1) The speed at which data and information is developed outpaces a professional’s ability to integrate diverse points of consideration within a mental model for the timely formulation of opinion, decision and use.
2) The increasing acknowledgment of social connectivity as a psychological factor for well-being; and new models for connection replacing old models (i.e., from dinner meetings to WhatsApp).
3) The evolution of what it means to be mission-driven, and what it means to become a member; and the currency/cost of joining.
4) The global body of knowledge serves as the new norm for problem solving.

When asking the members of a particular association on why they are members, clear themes take shape. Members seek their own growth personally and professionally, and see the association as a key resource. Also, members express an interest in being a part of a community, and based on age demographics, this can range from a “physical group” that I participate with to “the knowledge that I am connected” to a mission.

With consideration for the now economy, members would prefer a real-time channel of information that connects them to a body of knowledge, based on what they are seeking at a given point in time.

Members will have a new paradigm for serving their role of member.

Members will no longer see value in paying to participate in dinners and conferences as the norm for receiving impactful developments in their field of interest, and, instead, members will require intellectual insights that can help them to perform better in their profession, instantaneously.

The association of the future will shift from “body of knowledge” – accessible via a portal on a website and pruned regularly to “channels of discussion” –latest and best, 24×7.

Leveraging the amalgamation of a … Google-like content database + Sirius-like frequency of discussion + LinkedIn-like connections + Facebook-like personas + Open-source cross-geography access for problem-solving, the association of the future will further the advancement of professionals by extending their knowledge base via a respected community of participants.

The membership model shifts would include…

Annual fees and conferences are deemphasized and “value of contribution” becomes the new currency (called breakthrough equity). A member would earn breakthrough equity as a rating from global peers within the connected community (similar to a “like” on Facebook). This equity would be the cost of participation (or invitation) to mission-driven, global conferences and other thought leadership forums.

Association members are asking for “just-in-time” information and “how-to” guides today. The challenge for many associations is that this new requirement must be supported by a robust technology capability and systematized information; all of which have not been a traditional strength, or investment. In short, many desire to be the “Google” for the knowledge that they value; however, they fall within a chasm between their current state and this vision.

Macroeconomic trends will inevitably impact the evolution of professional associations. If they take a strategy focused on building a robust future model, however, we will see associations in the future. The future association will be designed to serve and strengthen the knowledge worker who is seeking advancement of mission and increased impact on his or her field of study, science, government, and society.

What’s your future vision for the associations you take part in—whether they are ASQ or another group?

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ASQ Survey: STEM Careers and Teaching

“While STEM careers like engineering and software development are getting more well-deserved attention in recent years, it’s STEM teachers who will equip our youth with the knowledge and skills to gather and evaluate evidence, make sense of information across a wide range of fields, and solve tough problems” – William Troy, ASQ CEO

Many experts agree that science education is essential—unfortunately, there’s less consensus about the value of education as a career.  Although 90% of parents would encourage their children to pursue a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career, 87% say they would be concerned if their child decided to pursue a career as a K-12 STEM teacher, according to an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of ASQ in January. The survey was fielded to 644 parents of children under 18 living in the household.
Only 9% of parents would encourage their children to pursue STEM teaching as a career, according to the survey. The top three careers they would desire their children to pursue include:
• Engineering – 50%
• Doctor – 41%
• Computer/IT analyst – 27%

In a separate survey conducted by ASQ, K-12 educators indicated which STEM carrier they would encourage their own children to pursue:
• Engineering – 74 %
• Scientist – 44%
• Computer/IT analyst – 33%
• STEM Teacher – 29%

Why are parents and educators so hesitant to encourage their children to pursue a STEM teaching career? Pay. According to the Harris survey of parents:
• 70% of parents and 77% of educators polled by ASQ worry their child may not make enough money as a teacher.
• 69% of parents and 82% of educators are concerned that STEM teachers may not be compensated enough for their heavy workloads.
• 65% of parents say that a STEM teaching career may not be worth the cost of a college degree.
• 67% of educators say that STEM teaching positions may not offer a path for career advancement.

Key takeaways? Financial incentives, such as higher salaries, career growth opportunities, and college scholarships for STEM careers, would make STEM teaching more attractive to parents and educators.

What do you think should be done to encourage children to pursue a STEM teaching career?  Would better compensation for STEM educators truly change the current perception of this career?
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Roundtable: Influential Voices on Careers in Quality

Every month, ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table. For February’s Influential Voices round table, careers in quality, we asked our bloggers three questions:

  • Where do you plan to take your career in 2016?
  • What’s your view of careers in quality today—what challenges is this field facing?
  • How can someone starting out in quality succeed?
  • Here is what a few of them had to say:

    Suresh Lulla has been a Quality Management consultant and trainer for nearly three decades. He is the founder of Qimpro, whose mission is building brand made in India. He blogs at

    I will focus on the digital customer; offering Quality Management services that are better, faster, cheaper and different! I will write stories that are catalyzed by my experiences in Quality Management consulting I will avoid travel, to reduce my carbon footprint.
    Quality professionals must proactively court digital customers. This will require proficient Knowledge Management. In turn, this knowledge must feed into the Product Development processes in order to deliver better, faster, cheaper and different results! Quality professionals should be adept at global soft skills. Geographical boundaries have dissolved. Will Quality professionals be a threat to Marketing?

    My prescription for someone starting out in Quality is simple: Make understanding customer needs your obsession, learn to communicate customer needs to the Product Development team, learn to map processes and rid the subject processes of waste and wasteful work, and treat the workers with dignity.

    To read more feedback from Suresh, visit his blog.

    Luigi Sillé is the Quality Manager at Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation in Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean.  He has been a senior ASQ member since 2014, and blogs at

    Being competitive is the only way organizations can survive in the future.
    This can be done through creativity and innovation.  Through customer surveys and brainstorming sessions, quality professionals can guarantee continuous improvement. This allows us to anticipate the needs and wants of our clients.

    To read more feedback from Luigi, visit his blog.

    Ted Hessing owns, a website with hundreds of articles dedicated to Six Sigma training techniques and methods. He blogs at

    In an effort to reduce the sheer volume, I focused on the 80-20 principle; what are the primary drivers that would enable success. This is what I came up with in no specific order;
    1. Read.
    2. Find mentors.
    3. When in doubt, solve a problem for someone else.
    That’s it. That’s the advice I will give my own children as they grow up.

    To read more feedback from Ted, visit his blog.

    Robert Mitchell retired from 3M last June, where he was known as “Quality Bob.”  He has been an ASQ member for over three decades, and recently moved to Phoenix, where he runs a strategic quality leadership consulting business, QualityBob®Consulting.  He blogs at

    Thirty+ years of ASQ membership, participation on various ASQ National committees, member-leadership roles in ASQ Divisions and Sections, numerous papers presented at the World Conference of Quality and Improvement (WCQI), membership in the Performance Excellence Network (PEN) and service as a Baldrige Evaluator to the state of Minnesota, all played important roles in broadening my professional network leading to professional growth.

    My most cherished role is that of mentor and coach. I am so proud to have helped influence the careers and professional growth of my direct reports and mentees, and to have helped shape and sustain the business success of my internal clients and external organizations.

    To today’s students and apprentices of quality, I encourage you to seek out a trusted mentor, participate in professional member societies of quality and organizational excellence, contribute your knowledge, skills, talents and passion to local communities and non-profits, and engage in special projects to broaden your experiences.

    To read more feedback from Bob, visit his blog.

    Nicole Radziwill received her Ph.D in Quality from Indiana State and now teaches in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) at James Madison University (JMU). She blogs at

    Just starting out in quality? My advice is to get a technical degree (science, math, or engineering) which will provide you with a solid foundation for understanding the new modes of production that are on the horizon. Industrial engineering, operations research, industrial design, and mechanical engineering are great fits for someone who wants a career in quality, as are statistics, data science, manufacturing engineering, and telecommunications.

    Cybersecurity and intelligence will become increasingly more central to quality management, so these are also good directions to take. Or, consider applying for an interdisciplinary program like JMU’s Integrated Science and Technology where I teach. We’re developing a new 21-credit sector right now where you can study EVERYTHING in the list above! Also, certifications are a plus, but in addition to completing training programs be sure to get formally certified by a professional organization to make sure that your credentials are widely recognized (e.g. through ASQ and ATMAE).

    To read more feedback from Nicole, visit her blog.

    Sunil Kaushik has more than a decade of experience in project and quality management with Fortune 100 companies. His next project is a round-the-world bicycle tour with a mission to train as many schools and universities on quality along the way. He blogs at

    Sunil shared some of his professional goals for the year 2016 with this impressive list:
    • “Solve 100 high-impact Lean Six Sigma problems through TRIZ. The more problems I solve using TRIZ I wonder why is not as popular as Lean or Six Sigma, and the solutions are straight forward and it can work 10 times faster than Six Sigma projects.
    • Train TRIZ in at least 20 schools/Universities around the world. The beauty of TRIZ is, it is fun, simple and can help kids from the age of 10 start innovating and solving day-to-day problems. I just completed two in Thailand and 18 more to go.
    • Interview 20 top quality management professionals from different domains. This would be basically to understand their problem solving approach, how each industry operates, what kind of role does geography and culture play on quality management.
    • Publish a Book – It would be a fusion of my travel adventures, quality and the problem/opportunities I have observed on the route that might be a good start-up opportunity.
    • Publish white papers and articles – Last year I had an opportunity to publish eight papers with quality journals.  Now being unemployed, I have more time and should be able to publish more and contribute more to quality.
    • Conduct free Six Sigma Black Belt workshops for companies and universities.
    • 10 day Vipassana – I will be attending the 10-day Vipassana course in Vietnam, which is one of the items that has been pending for the past three years. Being a minimalist, this course will help me in cleansing my mind, staying focused, and enhancing my creativity.”

    To read more feedback from Sunil, visit his blog.

    If you’d like to take part in future View From the Q roundtables, please contact for more information.

    Posted in career, Quality, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

    Evolving Quality to Enable and Support a Global Digital Organization

    This is a guest post by Prem Ranganath, a senior director and global head of IT delivery excellence and risk assurance at Quintiles Inc. He is passionate about introducing a quality mindset and practices in school from kindergarten so that quality is ingrained into interactions and decisions early on. Prem teaches a graduate level course on software quality and product management at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. He blogs at The Art of Quality.

    As a champion for quality and continuous improvement, it is always interesting to use the future lens to predict where quality is headed. While the perspectives I share here are from an IT organization’s perspective, I believe that many of the trends I refer to are applicable to all functions and industries.

    In my experience, the following are the top three trends that are shaping the future of quality in IT, based on current and emerging customer expectations.

    1. Quality has a strategic role in enabling successful digitization and digital product management

    While the aspiration for digitization has been in corporate corridors for several years, along with some pockets of accomplishment to tout, there is a more concerted understanding now as to what it really takes to become digital.

    We know that becoming a truly digital enterprise requires a committed transformation. Building, sustaining, and scaling this transformation across functions and/or geographies is not merely a technology problem.  It is evident that a successful digital transformation requires meticulous orchestration of peoples’ capabilities, processes, data, and cultural factors. Digital transformation also requires the coordination and balancing of a dual enterprise model (innovative digital organization and business-as-usual components). These factors must be managed and ensure that customers’ quality of experience is not compromised.

    The quality organization can be an enabling force in driving change with a keen eye on institutionalizing a culture of quality. A critical factor for this cultural shift is to enable a shared commitment to quality and doing away with any reminiscence of a siloed approach to quality.

    2. Focusing on a Minimum Acceptable Product (MAP) is important for Minimum Viable Products (MVP) to succeed

    The Lean Startup movement  is seeing rapid adoption in large enterprises. There are several case studies and metrics to show that it is possible to scale the lean startup framework within large organizations. The enterprise class lean startup has led some people to assume that this is an opportunity to eliminate disciplined processes and deliverables, although this is not true.

    The viability (MVP) of an idea is an important consideration to evolve and validate through experimentation. However, as validated ideas enter the mainstream of development and scale, the need to ensure the acceptability (MAP) of the product by customers requires an adequate blend of agility and experimentation in defining, implementing, and improving processes and practices.

    A dual enterprise model cannot be successful by decoupling the lean mindset and MVP from the primary delivery framework and methods. The lean startup principles and Lean Startup Canvas are simple and proven to be successful when they are integrated into an organization’s delivery framework. It is important not to create a divide (or even the perception of a divide) in an organization by requiring one part of the organization to adopt lean startup, while insisting that another stick to legacy or a homegrown hybrid framework.

    Integrating lean startup principles and enabling the mindset of outcome-driven teams within a large organization can be very interesting and rewarding. The integrated model can be a great opportunity to blend agility with discipline, and the quality organization can be an important influencer, enabler, and advocate for this change.

    3. Expectations for quality are increasingly focused on collective experiences

    In an increasingly connected and cloud-enabled world, the scope of what we have known to represent “quality”’ has changed. Quality is no longer a space that is centered only on Total Quality Management (TQM) principles and software engineering practices.

    In recent years, quality has begun to represent the convergence of TQM, software engineering, user experience, security (cyber and other), and risk management. A growing recognition and acceptance that a culture of quality is the critical factor that enables quality to be organically integrated into practices, deliverables, and decisions. If this factor is not prioritized, the odds of seeing lasting success with product and service quality will be severely diminished.  Not even the “coolest” of methodologies and tools can improve product quality if the softer aspects, including the enablement of a culture of quality, are not addressed.

    As mentioned in #1 above, as customers’ expectations for quality have shifted from the product or service to the quality of collective experiences (product or service quality, interactions, decisions deliverables, value realization), it is timely for quality organizations to revisit their objectives and engagement model. To provide assurance on the collective experience, it is important for quality consultants and practitioners to transcend the traditional software engineering view of quality and revisit the other facets of what represents quality.

    Posted in lean, Quality, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

    Changing Company Culture: December Round Up

    Luciana Paulise, ASQ Influential Voices blogger, reflects on what determines organizational culture and how factors define a company’s culture in a recent blog post. She concludes that company culture is modeled on top management behavior, as they control which habits and behaviors are rewarded or punished.   Listing four human types of intelligence, Luciana emphasizes that leaders must first change their behavior, and “walk the talk” if they want to change the entire company culture.

    Throughout the month of December, ASQ Influential Voices bloggers contributed their thoughts on how culture is changed within an entire organizations in response Luciana’s ideas.

    John Hunter posts in his blog that for significant changes to culture, transformation of the individual is required. Citing W. Edwards Deming, John states that changes to the culture come from significant changes in how people think.

    Daniel Zrymiak recommends that leaders apply the AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Decisions, and Actions) method in order to change the culture of quality within an organization. Expanding on these four points, Dan notes that there are no immediate solutions, and incremental improvements must be reinforced with each resolved issue.

    Pam Schrodt suggests that companies center on understanding and respecting people to create a workplace that promotes cooperation to reach goals.  She also provides links to a helpful video and a previous blog on the topic.

    Manu Vora brings his decades of professional experience in his perspective on strengthening a culture of quality: leadership commitment, engagement, involvement, and support are crucial in creating Zero Defects Organization Culture.

    Luciana Paulise, ASQ Influential Voices blogger, reflects on what determines organizational culture and how factors define a company’s culture in a recent blog post. She concludes that company culture is modeled on top management behavior, as they control which habits and behaviors are rewarded or punished.   Listing four human types of intelligence, Luciana emphasizes that leaders must first change their behavior, and “walk the talk” if they want to change the entire company culture.

    Throughout the month of December, ASQ Influential Voices bloggers contributed their thoughts on how culture is changed within an entire organizations in response Luciana’s ideas.

    John Hunter posts in his blog that for significant changes to culture, transformation of the individual is required. Citing W. Edwards Deming, John states that changes to the culture come from significant changes in how people think.

    Daniel Zrymiak recommends that leaders apply the AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Decisions, and Actions) method in order to change the culture of quality within an organization. Expanding on these four points, Dan notes that there are no immediate solutions, and incremental improvements must be reinforced with each resolved issue.

    Pam Schrodt suggests that companies center on understanding and respecting people to create a workplace that promotes cooperation to reach goals.  She also provides links to a helpful video and a previous blog on the topic.

    Manu Vora brings his decades of professional experience in his perspective on strengthening a culture of quality: leadership commitment, engagement, involvement, and support are crucial in creating Zero Defects Organization Culture.

    Posted in culture, Influential Voices, leadership, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

    Top 11 Insights From ASQ’s Future of Quality Study

    Every three years, ASQ publishes a study on the future of quality. The 2015 edition, which you can read here, is unusual in that it’s a compilation of essays mostly from experts outside the field of quality.

    Unlike previous editions of the research, most of the topics are not about quality exactly, but rather about fields that will impact quality directly and indirectly in the next decade. The topics range from city planning to global aerospace and defense, to the Internet.

    In this post we’ve compiled the “key” insights from each of the 11 essays in the Future of Quality research. Interested in reading more? Remember, you can access the entire complication at the Future of Quality site.

    Adaptable leaders must be rewarded on attributes like self-awareness and constant
    learning, not only on meeting a sales quota or exceeding a revenue target.

    Stanley McChrystal and Rodney Evans, from “The Future of Leadership: From Efficiency To Adaptability.”

    Unlike the proprietary counterparts that it soon eclipsed, the Internet has no main menu, no CEO, and no business plan. Anything could be built on top of it without permission of a central authority… To see the multidimensionality of quality in the information space is to understand the breathtaking array of choices and trade offs.

    Jonathan Zittrain, from “The Future of the Internet: Balancing Security With Openness in the Internet of Things.”

    We must also use quality and continuous improvement to eliminate design features or flaws that can be exploited….Interconnectedness…increases the need for quality at the component and the system level, so that errors and failures are eliminated before their effects propagate through the system.”

    Stephen Rosen, from “The Future of Global Aerospace and Defense: Implications of International Trends for Quality.”

    (Smart manufacturing) and the roles for new IT capabilities in a manufacturing enterprise must grow from the interoperation of physical, cyber, and workforce elements… Can enterprise performance with new IT be predicted so that entry points for smart manufacturing systems can be identified?

    Jim Davis, from “The Future of Manufacturing: Briding Seams and Transactions to Integrate Next-Generation Information Technology.”

    Quality concepts and the spirit of continuous improvement will be crucial to consolidating a new culture of public administration.

    Izabel Christina Cotta Matte, from “The Future of Cities: Quality, Planning, and Excellence in Public Sector Management.”

    “The advent of digital technology, big data, and customization will impact education at all levels and of all types…In the future we will have more data about student learning than ever before, and we will have better systems to help us analyze it.”

    JoAnn Sternke, from “The Future of Education: Quality Teachers for the 21st Century.”

    The nature of energy will be shifting from being focused on acquiring and distributing commodity resources to being centered on knowledge-driven and technology-based renewable energy…In the future, buildings will be hubs of energy production and storage as well as consumption.

    Zheng Mingguang, from “The Future of Energy: Long-Term Trends and Global Implications.”

    As the customers’ experience with the product or service develops over time, so they will tend to develop trust and confidence with the brand, provided their experience is positive…Customers don’t know what they need, and different customers perceive their needs based upon their unique psychological experiments.

    Gregory and Andrew Watson, from “The Future of Customer Experience (CEx): CEx Becomes the Dominant Design Force Influencing Markets.”

    The good news is that large, complex, unstructured problems are exactly the type of
    problems that the statistical engineering approach was designed to handle.

    Ronald Snee and Roger Hoerl, “The Future of Quality: Getting Better All the Time.”

    In the highly competitive future environment emerging in the global market, there is a need to develop a concept of quality for sales that has to be practiced in addition to quality for cost.

    Noriaki Kano, from “The Future of Quality: Toward Quality for Sales in Addition to Quality for Cost Through Enhancement of Customer Satisfaction.”

    Less than 15 to 20 percent of the world’s population can afford any of the surgeries of the heart, brain, joint replacement, or those standard in cancer treatment…Scaling health access more broadly moving forward will require rethinking business models and similarly expanding and efficiently utilizing pools of resources.

    Devi Shetty, from “The Future of Healthcare: Toward a Global Medical Universe.”

    Posted in Futures Study, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

    Facing Cultural Barriers by Leaders to Strengthen a Culture of Quality

    This is a guest post by Luciana Paulise, the founder of Biztorming Training & Consulting. She is a speaker, author, and examiner for the National Quality Award and Team Excellence Award in Argentina.  She is also a columnist for Infobae, Destino Negocio, and a blogger for ASQ Influential Voices.  You can visit Luciana’s blog at:

    Something was not going well at an organization we’ll call Company ABC, a small business within the automotive industry in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Some improvements were being made, many procedures were being followed, and employees were adopting new control processes.

    Still, turnover was high, as well as frustration with certain processes that had not shown any improvements at all—while profitability was decreasing. Managers said that line employees were the problem; they were generating issues and not solving them. On the other side, employees were convinced the problem was in the communication channel to top management.

    Even though it was a small business, communication from the bottom up was as difficult as in a larger corporation. The owners were asking for feedback on issues, but they were not providing ways to actually receiving the feedback. E-mails to leaders were not being replied to, approvals took longer than expected, and meetings were almost impossible to schedule.

    What went wrong in this organization? How could managers and employees bring issues forward as required by a quality culture? How could they strengthen the culture of quality in this environment? What were the main barriers?

    Experts says that the employees’ behavior is based on company culture, but what is organizational culture, exactly? As per Wikipedia, “Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits.” But who determines these factors in organizations so as to define the culture?

    Usually top management defines which habits or behaviors are right by rewarding or punishing them. Therefore, company culture is modeled upon top management behavior.

    That was my “a-ha” moment. The main cultural barrier to making this company a better place was actually the top management. They thought the problem in the organization was their people, but they had not considered themselves as part of the problem. They were not “walking the talk.” And people were noticing it.

    Then I recalled Gandhi’s quote: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Leaders needed to take the first step, and needed to be trained to do so. So now the question was, how best to train them?

    Edwards Deming developed a leadership model that could be really useful here to train the top. The “System of profound knowledge” that he introduced in his last book, The New Economics, has four interrelated areas: appreciation for a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge, and psychology. Managers were probably not going to get this theory easily, but an analogy could help.

    I compared the four areas with four human types of intelligence, so that leaders could understand that they needed to manage their behavior in an integral way so as to solve all the problems at the same time:

    1. Spiritual: understanding the company in a holistic way, as a system, is appreciating the business as a network of interdependent components that work together to accomplish the same aim. These components includes planning, context, competition, processes, shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees, the community, and the environment. Like an orchestra, it’s not enough to have great players. They need to play well together. Leadership needs to focus on all the parts that affect the organization and how they work. The leaders wanted their middle managers to work together, but they didn’t have common objectives, so each of them just focused on their part of the game.
    2. Intellectual: In any business there are always variations, like defects, errors, and delays. Leaders have to focus on understanding these variations. Are they caused by the system or by the employees? Usually employees are blamed for the errors, but 95% of them are really caused by the company system. Distinguishing the difference between variations by using data and statistical methods, as well as understanding its causes, is key to management’s ability to properly remove barriers to profitability. At company ABC in this case study, leaders were focused on the people, while many delays were due to late approvals, lack of the right tools, and lack of training, which the people (i.e. employees) couldn’t handle.
    3. Physical: Leaders assert opinions as facts based on hunches, theories, or beliefs, but they don’t always test those opinions against the data before making a decision. Leadership needs to focus on contrasting their ideas with real data from the operations. The automotive shop started to use daily physical scorecards on the walls to capture and communicate real performance numbers, so that leaders and operators could act on them together.
    4. Emotional: Finally, in order to get real data from the operations, leaders need to work with their people. The problem is that people perform based on how they feel. They are primarily motivated by intrinsic needs, including respect and working with others to achieve common goals, in contrast to simply being motivated by monetary reward. So leadership has to focus on understanding and respecting people so that they can all work together to solve issues. One of the managers used to push a lot on his employees because his monthly payment was based on performance. When his salary was moved to a flat rate, he started to work much better with his team, they all were motivated and happy at work.  Turnover decreased sharply.

    So my “a-ha” moment in regards to strengthening a culture of quality was that leaders need to change their behavior first if they want to change the entire company culture—and they have to do it through a systemic model considering four types of intelligence.

    What about your company? How is leadership helping to develop a quality culture?

    Posted in case for quality, culture, Deming, manufacturing, quality tools, Strategy, Training, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

    Guest Post: How to Choose Continuous Improvement Software

    A Brief Buyer’s Guide to Choosing Continuous Improvement Software

    By Chris Moustakas, President & CEO of DevonWay

    Enterprise software companies never met an acronym they didn’t like. GAAP, ISO, ITIL, you name it: if it’s a string of letters representing a standard, that can only mean one thing: “Super, I don’t have to change it for a decade!” After all, it’s hard to modify software. And expensive. And risky. And who wants that kind of headache?

    The problem is that process-heavy businesses don’t have the luxury of staying static. They’re constantly dealing with a barrage of regulatory hurdles, performance gaps, and inefficiencies, and have to move quickly to stay competitive. The best-performing organizations choose Continuous Improvement (CI) as the framework for achieving that agility. CI is proven, additive, and flexible, and has been used from making automotive manufacturers leaner to making nuclear reactors safer, and everything in between.

    But when it comes time to buy or extend software to support a CI initiative, the decision becomes a lot less clear (if you think Excel is acceptable, be careful – you’re playing with fire). Three major categories seem like they might fit the bill, but each has its challenges (disclaimer – my company specializes in CI software, but we’re not the only ones, and these guidelines hold true for all of us):

    • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are operations-focused, as they should be, but they’re too rigid to cost-effectively include CI principles, whose foundation is rapid, incremental change. ERP is great for processes that need little to no improvement, like GAAP compliance or payroll functions. You don’t need to make sure the number of correct paychecks improves over time; you need to make sure they’re 100% correct 100% of the time, and ERP systems help you achieve that.
    • Quality Management Systems (QMS) are great for ISO compliance, but they were designed by and for Quality teams, with only a passing thought to operations. You can use CI software for QMS functions, but you can’t go the other way.
    • Business Process Management (BPM) tools help you optimize your processes, but in the end you still need to find and buy a separate system to execute your improvements. BPM is the professor who spends his time theorizing; CI is the engineer who spends her time doing.

    Good CI software incorporates elements from all three systems, because Continuous Improvement happens when you apply Quality principles to Operational needs. Once you accept that principle, you realize that CI software is like an ERP with flexibility, a QMS with scale, and a BPM with focus. It lets you define, execute, measure, and refine both a process and the data it produces.

    Ultimately, CI is about collecting and understanding operational data. With that in mind, when you’re looking for software to support your continuous improvement initiatives, ask the following simple questions. Score each answer 0 for no support, 1 for okay support, and 2 for excellent support.

    1. Can I collect the data that matters to my operations, or am I limited to what’s predefined in the software?
    2. Can I easily report on and analyze that data, even my custom fields?
    3. Can I route the data through my own workflow, using my own rules and assignments?
    4. Is the software a closed loop system that lets me know if my operational goals are trending in the right direction, and where I have gaps?
    5. Can I easily adjust the software as my needs change?

    Add up the total. The closer you get to 10, the more likely it is the software will meet your needs.

    Finally, look at the pricing model. You want a solution that scales to every user in your organization without a large license or subscription cost, because CI should be embedded in your operations, not an afterthought. So avoid per-seat pricing: it quickly spirals out of control. Whatever the cost basis, it should parallel the value you get out of the system.

    It’s a great time to be incorporating continuous improvement in your organization. The right tool is out there to help you succeed. Find it and get to work!

    Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

    Scott Moeller: My Experience with ASQ’s Emerging Quality Leaders Program


    Maybe you are like I was two years ago—looking to get executive-level training to continue my career advancement. I am a life-long learner with a master’s degree and several professional certifications from ASQ and other organizations. Throughout my career, I have gained a lot of valuable, functional knowledge and experience. But, when I was thinking about my professional development plan two years ago, I determined that I didn’t really need more functional training. Instead, my career would best benefit by me getting broader perspectives on topics like quality culture, performance excellence, risk taking, innovation, and other contemporary leadership ideas.

    That’s when I found ASQ’s Emerging Quality Leader Program (EQLP). Have you heard of it? It’s a fairly new, 12-month leadership development experience targeted to high-performing, mid-career individuals who are passionate about leadership, continuous improvement, and are eager to learn. It was an ideal fit for me and it might also be a great fit for you, or someone you know.

    The EQLP is structured to accelerate the transfer of executive knowledge and leadership experience to the participants. Each month, for 12 consecutive months, we were exposed to a variety of the best executives from multiple industries. They shared their insights, knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned on topics selected to help us advance in our careers. These monthly training opportunities were held at high-performing companies such as BMW, Microsoft, Siemens, and FedEx, or by teleconference. The on-site training experiences were usually two full days of interactive, facilitated workshops, while the teleconferences were focused, deep dives by thought leaders. I learned an amazing amount of valuable knowledge and honed skills that I was able to immediately apply in my quality leadership role at my company.

    When I first started the EQLP, I didn’t immediately recognize that I was acquiring another very valuable asset. It was not until I needed a sounding board for one of my ideas that I realized I had a new, broad network of friends I could tap into. I found that my new friends I had been making through the EQLP program, also had a deep knowledge in some areas that I did not. I now had access to some of the best subject matter experts on any imaginable topic. Although I didn’t expect to develop such a network of passionate quality leaders going into the program, it was clearly valuable to me then, and continues to be today.

    There is one EQLP memory that is especially vivid for me. During the EQLP session that was held at ASQ headquarters, we walked down a hallway that housed the pictures of ASQ’s past presidents. I beamed with pride as I pointed out the picture of my grandfather, Arthur Bender, to my fellow program participants. That was a moment that I will never forget for several reasons. First, I realized as I was standing next to his picture, that I could significantly benefit by changing the way I utilized ASQ. During my 25 years of membership, I had participated in section meetings and activities, division meetings and conferences, spoken at conferences and provided leadership in several areas. I was involved in ASQ but had not really thought about becoming more deeply involved.

    In subsequent EQLP sessions, I had thought-provoking conversations with several former
    and current ASQ board members about what the Society was working on and how it was
    striving to grow member value. It was then that I realized that I might be able to further hone
    my high-impact leadership skills by serving on the board. I am extremely proud to share that
    ASQ’s Nominating Committee has added me to their board of directors slate. It will be a
    tremendous honor for me to serve the Society as a board member. It will also be a neat way
    to continue my grandfather’s legacy.

    When I reflect back on my EQLP experience, there are several valuable takeaways that
    stand out for me. But the two that stand the tallest are the strategic insights and best
    practices I learned from the executives in top-performing organizations, and gaining the
    expanded network of business-minded, quality leaders across multiple industries.

    Learn more about the Emerging Quality Leaders Program


    Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

    Quality Poetry

    World Quality month is a time to celebrate quality professionals and the quality industry. This year, we have made an effort to showcase content and individuals that celebrate quality in an unexpected way. With that in mind, ASQ would like to introduce Belur Nanjundiah Jagadeesh Prasad. Jadesh Prasad has applied his knowledge of quality creatively by composing several quality themed poems. Below are few of his pieces. Please enjoy his works and continue celebrating quality!

    Frederick Winslow Taylor– Father of Scientific Management

    Saluting the Stalwart on Engineer’s Day

    Remembering the Man who created Ford to Put America on Wheels

    Pioneers of Motion Study and Fatigue Reduction

    Fredrick Winslow Taylor – Father of Scientific Management

    Management Science – as an evolution seen,

    Contribution of pioneers, at different times seen.

    For Work practices laying a strong foundation,

    As the father of Scientific Mgt, Taylor is known.

    20/03/ 1856  –21/03/1915

    In different shifts observing, variation in production,

    As a foreman he investigated to effect its reduction.

    Finding each one was doing the job in one’s own way

    Variations operated their uncontrolled sway.

    Breaking  jobs into smaller tasks and deciding the best way.

    1st Shift 2nd


    He dictated  workers  – strict adherence to pay.

    Efficiency as an upward trend shown,

    Before              After

    Popularity  of his method steadily grown.

    Publishing a thesis on  ”Scientific Management

    He pleaded “  For  Standardisation and Work Measurement.

    Supervisors and engineers , thinking cap must wear

    And Work instructions and guidelines should prepare”

    “Blue Collars workers – this must follow”

    “ Expected outputs – this will allow”

    Taylorism – across the globe as it spread,

    Author : B.N.Jagadesh Prasad, Pursuing Training  & Poetry with Passion

    Him to “ Productivity Guru” status  – it lead.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment