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In order to keep standards current and relevant for the marketplace, all ISO standards are reviewed approximately every five years whether to withdraw, revise, or confirm them.
Some of the key updates in ISO 9001:2015 include the introduction of new terminology, restructuring some of the information, an emphasis on risk-based thinking, improved applicability for services, and increased leadership requirements.
To help prepare and adjust your organization to the new requirements, ASQ has made available supporting products such as training programs, case studies, and articles. Access the ASQTM TV Standards Channel Video Library featuring ISO experts, the ASQ Standards e-newsletter, and ASQ Standards Central on asq.org.
ISO 9001:2015 is available in three formats: published hard copy, PDF e-standard for immediate download, and site license for posting an electronic version to your Local Area Network or Intranet. This document provides the fundamental concepts, principles, and vocabulary for quality management systems. Members receive a discount—20 percent off the retail/list price—by buying the American National Standard (ANS) version through ASQ. The ANS is identical to the ISO version.
In March of 2012, countries from all over the world voted and began the process to revise ISO 9001. Organizations must re-certify to ISO 9001:2015 within three years. This means that organizations have until September 2018 to migrate their quality management system to the 2015 revision.
Here’s what others are saying about ASQ materials on ISO 9001:2015:
–Daryl Schwald, 09-10-2015
Agree on the inclusion and focus on risk-awareness and management of risk are hidden treasures on the road to performance excellence even when other quality practices are mature in an organization.
–John Watson, 09-23-2015
–j. Scott-Brown, 09-12-2015
Want more details on the changes? Visit asq.org for a variety of resources!
Based in Dallas, TX, Ponmurugarajan Thiyagarajan (Rajan) is a business development manager for Digital Enterprise at Tata Consultancy Services and a senior member of ASQ. He is passionate about quality, digital reimagination solutions and is a “Mac head.”
He blogs at Quality Matters, http://pmr-blog.blogspot.com/
Were you pleasantly surprised when the receptionist at a hotel proactively identified you with a greeting as you were about to check-in? Did a relevant coupon pop-up in your smartphone when you were shopping at a retail store recently? Did you receive a reply to your tweet in social media from your telephone company with an apology note for the service inconvenience caused? If you could answer “Yes” to any of these questions, then big data is mostly that magical element that helped those companies to manage and deliver this customer experience for you. Big data has evolved as an effective tool that can be used by companies to continuously improve aspects such as customer experience, product quality, business processes etc.
Big data is in play when data size is huge (Volume), moves in high speeds (Velocity), comes in variety of forms (Variety) and in varied quality (Veracity) which conventional database systems cannot efficiently process.
Analytics built over big data enable organizations to process structured and unstructured data to derive useful intelligence and provide actionable insights for end-users. The advent of high-speed network connectivity, commodity computer hardware, and open source software such as Hadoop and Non-Hadoop (for example: NoSQL) technologies have made big data a popular technology choice.
There are interesting use cases of big data that can help organizations that are committed to differentiate, innovate, and embrace disruption of conventional processes. For example, wearables (watches, bands, etc.) and connected devices (Internet-of-Things glucometers, connected cars, connected homes, etc.) utilize big data technologies to collect and process huge amounts of real-time data from machines (logs), people (social), and other sensors (internet of things). From these data, organizations get to understand customers’ 360 degree view and derive the ability to contextualize and deliver a personalized experience.
That being said, big data is still a buzzword for many and often perceived as a misused terminology. While some organizations have tested it to work, to a good extent, other companies are still researching it, and some are even hesitant to adopt it at all. One of the key challenges that I can think of is the accuracy and uncertainty around the quality of data that is gathered and processed.
Lack of good data governance is a major cause for this challenge. Also, outliers and incorrect data misdirect users during the decision-making process. Business users demand high quality of data to derive actionable insights. Being an emerging technology area, I believe that big data has to be further researched from a quality point of view. I have these questions for the quality professionals:
All of this has interesting implications for quality professionals who may become involved with big data efforts. Assurance of quality is key in such projects: data clean-up must happen in an automated fashion and reconciliation reports to be produced in real-time to track quality parameters. Thus, relevant tools needs to be built for quality assurance. It will be interesting to see how quality tools such as Plan-Do-Check-Act, the 7 quality tools (Fishbone diagram, Check sheets, Control charts, Histogram, Pareto Charts, Scatter Diagrams, Flow Charts) etc., can be customized for a big data project.
I believe there’s a lot of possibility in this area for quality professionals, as I’ve yet to see any concrete maturity models around big data. This is a potential topic for future research.
To conclude, let me state an example of a large corporation that probably is making the best use of big data. It is Google that really attempts to help users, like me, to plan vacation or business travel in a modern digital way. Right before a recent trip, Google provided relevant notifications and guidance to my smartphone on when to start to the airport, the best route to take to avoid delays, the status of the flight with gate information, hotel booking information, etc.
Google seems to collect a lot of information from users’ mobile devices, emails, internet browsing history etc., to derive and offer useful analytics. It is interesting to note that users, like me, are ready to slightly compromise on privacy (by opt-in) for the benefits we can enjoy. I think this is another good example to demonstrate big data in action.
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: http://www.biztorming.com.ar/en/news.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
This is a guest post by Dr. Suresh Gettala, a director at ASQ India. He holds a doctorate in quality management from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, and is also a recipient of the renowned post-doctoral fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany. He is a quality expert with a unique blend of academic/research as well as industry experience spanning several years in various aspects of quality management across multiple industries. He has published many research articles in reputed, peer-reviewed international journals. Suresh blogs on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: Suresh is part of the ASQ Influential Voices program and is also employed by ASQ India. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of ASQ or ASQ India.
If you look at any survey, study or a research work on the critical success factors for the success of quality initiatives, it will invariably list “top management commitment and leadership” as the top most criterion. Needless to mention, on the flip side, the reasons for the failure of most quality initiatives will also list “lack of top management commitment” as the key.
It is quite palpable that top management commitment is central to the success or failure of any quality program. Therefore, as quality professionals, how should we harness the support of C-suite leaders? Unfortunately, quality professionals are experts only in the quality field and they lack the nuances to build a business case to sell quality to the top management.
In order to effectively talk about quality and convince the C-suite about the importance of the same, we need to first understand the intricacies of the C-suite mind set. Focus on what the executive needs to know rather than what you want them to know. Essentially you should apply the lean principle of “pull” in contrast to “push.”
Portray quality as a means of building the capability of individuals as well as the organization so that the C-suite perceives some tangible value in investing in the quality initiatives.
Given this backdrop, I would like to discuss the following five rudiments that are indispensable, in my view, when you are talking about quality to the top management.
1. The long term – short term continuum
C-suite personnel have the uncanny knack of marrying the long-term vision and strategy with the short-term operational elements. Therefore, when you are talking about quality to the C-Suite, it is mandatory to ensure that your talk on quality addresses both of the above aspects so that it keeps them engrossed in what you are saying.
Jack Welch, former GE CEO, felt that the job of the C-suite is to deliver profit in the short term and strength and sustenance in the long term. It can be argued that there is no long term without the short term. In other words, what they perceive is a multitude of short- term links that make up the long-term chain.
For instance a methodology like lean or Six Sigma could provide profits or bottom-line savings in the short-term. They may also help the organization focus on getting some early wins. However, if those methodologies have to be institutionalized across the length and breadth of an organization, a culture of quality has to be fostered. A business-level framework such as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award could help in adapting to a new culture, thereby addressing the long-term requirements of the leadership.
2. The Language of Metrics
Before talking to an executive, do enough research on the background of the issues or the improvement opportunities faced by the company. Present your case with enough evidence in terms of metrics, instead of your personal views and surmises. Metrics are very swaying, as the executive’s decision to a great extent will depend on what he/she sees as hard evidence.
Talk about metrics that are important from strategic and tactical levels rather than operational levels. Metrics can also be presented in terms of enterprise level (focusing on shareholders), business level (focusing on external customers) and operational level (focusing on processes). Again, more focus should be laid on shareholder and customer- related metrics.
Try and quantify the risks of taking no action so that it is hard to say no to your idea. With the advent of big data analytics, most executives will rely on a fact-based approach for decision making. Therefore, the metrics that you present should provide them with enough evidence in terms of improvement opportunities.
3. Economic Case for Quality
The lexicon of the top management is quite different from the language of the quality professionals. In order to validate quality’s effect on business, you need to talk the lingo of business – which is money and nothing else.
The primary customer for the C-suite personnel is the shareholder and hence the focus of executives is to ensure a streamlined management process that yields the maximum benefits to their shareholders. One of the salient characteristics of the executive leadership is their ability to tie actions with quantified financial benefits. Show the top management where money is lost due to poor quality and eventually they will focus on how money can be saved or accumulated due to good quality.
Make them realize that money spent on quality initiatives should be viewed as investment and not cost. Develop an economic case for a wider application of quality through models such as Cost of Quality and illustrate to them how bottom-line savings can be achieved through the astute use of the concept. Philip Crosby’s seminal work, “Quality Is Free” accentuated the importance of right first time instead of doing rework that would be piled up in the hidden factory.
If you can provide a strong case for value creation, you have effectively put across your quality idea to the leadership.
4. Success Anecdotes
Metrics are important, but it is equally important to weave a story around them. Top executives work in a high-pressure environment that encompasses daily problem-solving to long-range planning. Flooding them with only facts and figures will not pass muster.
Tell a story that has lots of similarities to the challenges faced by the executives.
Storytelling is an art. Developing a story requires a sagacious mix of information evidenced in the form of critical metrics and having an emotional appeal to the success story. Create enough anecdotal evidence to make a compelling story that quality indeed pays. Lace your story with examples about how others achieved success through the vehicle of quality.
Senior leaders are always interested in comparative information and competitive positioning. Talk about how Fortune 500 companies benefitted from a quality initiative. Present the success stories of the Baldrige winners. Try to stick to case studies in their own industries so that the executives can coherently relate to how a similar approach can be applied in their organizations. Always close the story with a “before” and “after” state so that the benefit of the quality approach is intelligibly discernible.
5. The Big Q Approach
“Big Q” is a term coined by Juran in the 1980s in order to broaden the scope of the quality initiatives so that quality would mean improving every aspect of everything the company does. On the other hand “small q” basically refers to the quality of a product or a service on a limited basis. While small q connects to the short-term span, BIG Q epitomizes the long-range perspective.
Research on the traits of C-suite personnel indicates that comprehension of business fundamentals coupled with strong leadership is far more important to them than technical and functional expertise.
The Big Q approach to quality is highly imperative to get a positive response from the C-suite. It will provide them with a holistic view on the usefulness of the quality philosophy from a business point of view. Top management will not be too concerned about improving some aspects of the business via a “silo” mind set. For them the entire business is extremely important.
The need is to emphasize how the quality approach could be leveraged to address all aspects of the business.
I have discussed some of the possible approaches while talking about quality to the C-suite. Fundamentally, one needs to understand that when you are talking to the top leadership, you should operate at the strategic level and talk the language of money using metrics that could help create value and improve the organization as a whole.
“Quality makes money” is a phrase that should resonate in the minds of the C-suite.
If, as a quality professional, we can help with this task, our job is complete. In addition we should clearly communicate the message that “quality approaches” have the potential to yield high-quality products/services, streamlined processes, highly satisfied customers, supremely energized employees, increased market share, and sustained excellence in everything that we do.
Human beings, by nature, tend to resist change. We need to openly accept this and look at ways of presenting facts and stories on the efficacy of quality initiatives so that the resistance is minimized. Accentuating on ASQ’s mission – “To increase the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world” – will go a long way in getting the acquiescence of the C-suite towards quality initiatives.
Welcome to the sixth annual World Quality Month! This event has truly grown into a global celebration of quality, a better understanding of its impact on the world, and focuses on quality practitioners whose knowledge, experience, and passion make improved quality available for virtually anyone who asks.
Those who work in quality sometimes struggle to explain its value to “outsiders”—or even “insiders”–at their own organization. There’s no better time to remedy this than the month of November. We encourage you to take a proactive role in World Quality Month this year!
If your organization hasn’t made any plans yet, it’s still not too late. You can download ready-made World Quality Month posters and display them in your office. Host a quality “open house” for your department and invite colleagues from other areas (be sure to offer snacks).
Download the fact sheets on the ROI of quality and fun quality trivia to share with your colleagues and business associates. Take the sample World Quality Month Proclamation to your local government officials and ask them to sign it. Invite them to your site for a World Quality Month tour. The proclamation or a photograph of you receiving it can then be sent to your local media and used to recognize your company’s or organization’s contribution to quality and your celebration of World Quality Month in November. See more details in the World Quality Month celebration guide.
Also for a simple, last minute idea to celebrate World Quality Month, put an etag in your email signature to let your co-workers and business associates know how much value you believe quality offers to the world, not just during November but throughout the year.
For those events you have planned, now is the time to confirm times, staffing, and logistics for each event. Send a reminder about the event, either through internal newsletters or email to all staff. Hold planned events such as lunch and learns, open houses, games/trivia as scheduled. However, several days before the event, make the reception and security departments aware of the event in case they get any questions about it.
Test any technology you will be using (laptop, projector, etc.) at the event the day before in case there are any problems. On the day of the event, set up your space (e.g., projector, snack table, etc.) and take photos to document the fun activities and send to your local media and/or for your social media accounts.
Also, it’s not too late to submit your quality success stories, case studies, and events. The World Quality Month site welcomes visitor content and we will continue adding new content throughout the month of November. Visit the World Quality Month site frequently for updates and new materials.
The Quality Community is one that — to a person, or across a global enterprise — delves into data, feasts on facts, trounces on trends, and puts lazer beam focus on benchmarks. All that and more occurred with the release of the ASQ Global State of Quality Research in 2013. The series of quantitative and qualitative reports, the panel discussions around the world, the media reports, download after download of the data, information graphics — it all seemed to add up to success and impact for the work, its sponsors and stakeholders.
Previous View from the Q’s by now-retired ASQ CEO Paul Borawski highlighted the importance and scope of the inaugural research; ASQ Influential Voices picked up some of its data points and themes as well. After all, where else can you compare quality organization structures, governance, training, industry standards, pay scales and incentives, measurement system models from 22 countries? Those topics were just a few highlighted in numbers, graphs and case studies.
Well, that was then. This is now. And ASQ and our Global State research partner, APQC, need your very active engagement to get the word out and get response rates up from companies and institutions around the world in the ASQ Global State of Quality 2 survey. The link is www.apqc.org/ASQ_GSQ_Survey_2. Additional information on the research can be found at globalstateofquality.org, where the qualitative and quantitative data will be available following data collection. The call-to-action is clear. It’s up to you to shape the Global State — and check back here for some early returns on the data in the weeks and months to come.
This is a guest post by Allen Gluck, president of ERM31000 Training and Consulting in Spring Valley, NY, and an adjunct professor at Manhattanville School of Business in Purchase, NY. He has a master’s degree in leadership from Bellevue University in Nebraska. Gluck is an ASQ member and a member of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO Technical Committee 176 (TAG 176), which develops ISO 9001, and TAG 262, which develops ISO 31000. He may be contacted via his website: www.erm31000.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ISO 9001:2015 revision is bringing big changes. This post is designed to assist your organization with the implementation of one of the new requirements: Clause 4.1, “Understanding the Organization and its Context.”
The new requirement reads: “The organization shall determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and its strategic direction and that affect its ability to achieve the intended result(s) of its quality management system.”
In order to explain how to go about making this determination and clarify the purpose it serves, an introduction is in place.
Although it is not obvious to the casual reader, the new standard alludes to decision-making in three places. The first is a quality principle quoted from ISO 9000:2015, namely “evidence-based decision making.” It is not hard to understand that better decisions are made when they are based on evidence rather than by conjecture.
The second almost surreptitious reference to decision-making is found in Clause 0.1, “Addressing risks and opportunities associated with its context and objectives.” Addressing risks means proactively managing uncertainties. The simple meaning of “managing uncertainties” is that decisions should be made with consideration of the possible positive and negative consequences that the uncertain future may bring.
Finally, in Clause 5.1, entitled Leadership and Commitment, we find a requirement for top management: “Ensuring that the quality policy and quality objectives are established for the quality management system and are compatible with the context and strategic direction of the organization.” Top management’s most basic role is strategic decision-making for the organization.
In essence, all three references require that informed decisions are to be made based on some kind of evidence. Where is this evidence to be found? All the evidence you’ll ever need is available in the context of your organization, whether it be external or internal.
What is the context of an organization? Let’s begin with examples of your internal context. Your company’s vision, mission, strategic objectives and direction, your org chart, SOPs, resources, culture, contractual relationships – these and more, are factors you should consider when making all decisions and when addressing uncertainties about the future.
On the other hand, the legal, social, political, regulatory, financial, economic, key drivers, trends, natural and competitive environment, and perceptions of external stakeholders (or interested parties) are all part of your external context. Each of these factors should be considered in the course of business leadership, when managing risk or uncertainty, and when making decisions that may affect the quality or service you provide.
One of the concerns raised about this new requirement is related to auditing. How can an auditor accurately audit context? What set of requirements does he or she audit against? Furthermore, will an omission from this potentially endless list yield many new non-conformances?
Quality management systems are built on PDCA, also known as the Deming cycle. “Understanding the organization and its context” are part and parcel of this process of continual improvement. As such, it is never complete on the first go-around. Indeed, the new standard states, “The organization shall monitor and review information about these external and internal issues,” which clearly indicates the standard experts’ broad understanding that context is a moving target.
As such, evidence of an ongoing process to establish and understand an organization’s context is absolutely satisfactory to satisfy an audit to these requirements. Only an egregious omission could legitimately be viewed as a non-conformance by an auditor who has trained for proficiency to this standard.
- Quality decisions are no different than any other decisions; uncertainties may help or hinder your objectives.
- Your best decisions are based on the best available evidence.
- Most of this evidence which you require is readily available within:
– your organization’s external and internal context
– the context and content of your “interested parties”
- This process is auditable
Thank you to the hard-working men and women of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to TC 176 for their years of volunteer effort resulting in the new ISO 9001 standard.
This guest post by Pat La Londe, ASQ Fellow and incoming ASQ board chair, asked the question how often is a company’s mission considered when choosing a retailer or business partner. Following a global brand and reputation study, ASQ found that many respondents rated organizational mission as highly important in their consideration.
Throughout the month of September and into October, ASQ bloggers reflected on mission and the value placed on it.
Blogger Tim McMahon responded that vision, leadership and values are key, that companies must determine what its vision and direction will be, and management must decide what core elements are to be deployed.
Daniel Zrymiak did not consider that mission mattered since missions are aspirational. He wrote that he is more inclined to look at the track record and reputation as a predictor of future expectations.
Scott Rutherford also took issue with some aspects of Pat’s blog, adding that he had a different take of Mission, Vision and Values. “Maybe it’s me but I was taught that an organization’s vision is what they strive to be and the mission is the how the organization executes the vision…Vision is aspirational, mission is clarity, and values are the bedrock from which to move.”
John Hunter writes that it doesn’t matter if it is just words on paper that has no impact on how business is done. And sadly that is more common than having a mission that actually matters because it actually guides how decisions are made and how the business delivers products and services.
Bob Mitchell writes that his experience in leading the ASQ Statistics Division, the Minnesota Section of ASQ and his 34 years professional work experience reinforces the importance of an understood, well-deployed, consistent mission to developing the organization’s strategic plan and then working the resulting business plans to achieve excellence.
Dr. Lotto Lai agreed that looking at vision, values and leadershipis a good place to begin and writes about the history of Hong Kong Science Park and how it has evolved over the last 14 years.
Luciana Paulise suggests that mission does matter and it should start working together with the purpose the new sharing economy. She added that more and more companies are starting to focus not only on defining a mission, but also a purpose, which emphasize how the organization should view and conduct itself.
Author Aimee Siegler concluded that mission does matter and there is no way you’re going to be able to get where you’re trying to go if you don’t know why you’re going there.
Dr. Manu Vora concurred with Pat’s views and offered that the mission should be realistic and not a pie-in-the-sky statement.
Other Influential Voices Blog Responses:
Rajan Thiyagarajan responded to Arun Hanrahan’s post on Knowledge Management commenting on recent trends that are helping organizations transform knowledge management.
One Response to How Does Knowledge Management Complement Quality?
1. Jim Judge says:
September 16, 2015 at 10:22 am
Interesting that this is capturing an audience once again. In 2000 my Masters Thesis was on implementing a KM system in a QA environment. Actually bought the software and tried to make it work. Discovered that folks didn’t want to share their knowledge as that was considered the key to them keeping their jobs.
Hope that this generation will accept the concept now. There are so many advantages.
Edwin Garro is an ASQ Fellow and founding member of ASQ Section 6000, Costa Rica. He pioneered ASQ certifications in Central America. Currently he serves in ASQ’s awards board. He is an ASQ CQE, CQM/OE, CQI, CQA, CSSGB and CSSBB. He is the CEO of PXS, a leading consulting firm with offices in Costa Rica and Colombia. He has a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, and a M.S. in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
In August of this year, I visited a junior high school class at the San Rafael de Poás Technical High School, in the mountains of Alajuela, Costa Rica. This is not a typical junior class; these 15- and 16- year olds will graduate in 2017 with a technical degree in Quality and Productivity.
It was not my first visit to the class. Ever since I discovered this new Quality and Productivity program, I have been fascinated by it. These remarkable teens will certainly play a role in the future of our profession.
The Quality and Productivity Technical Program
As a whole, the cluster of medical devices companies is the largest exporter in Costa Rica. All the big names are here, Baxter, Boston Scientific, Abbott, Hospira, Hologic, Moog, just to name a few. Over the years, many Costa Rican professionals have specialized in “all things FDA,” and being ASQ certified is a formal requirement in many of these firms.
One area in which there is still a shortage of manpower is quality technicians. The Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE) took the concerns of the customer (general managers of the medical devices cluster) and worked with the National Education Ministry (MEP, Ministerio de Educación Pública in Spanish) to create this very innovative program.
Instead of reinforcing the existing associate degrees, they decided to create a high school technical degree in Quality and Productivity. Over a three-year period, students will receive 2,880 hours of education in management fundamentals, process improvement, quality control, quality enterprises and English. Five technical high schools started the pilot deployment last year; Colegio Técnico de Poás started this academic year. Seven more schools will start in the next two years.
Take a look at the objectives of the program, and keep in mind that the students will still be teenagers when they graduate:
1. Prepare technicians in accordance with the demands of current and future markets.
2. Promote the values and attitudes of quality.
3. Encourage the development of creative and critical thinking structures, which will allow students to deal with the continuous changes in social and economic systems.
4. Stimulate a quality and productivity mindset.
5. Promote quality through Statistical Process Control, local and international standards, the study of waste and the effective use of raw materials, seeking sustainable development with the environment.
I myself am the product of a technical high school, having studied graphics arts and printing at Don Bosco Technical High School in the early 1980s. I know the impact of this kind of education. My printing background led me my first general manager position, and for the last 16 years, I have owned a successful lithography business.
My meeting with the quality and productivity teens
Every time I arrive at the school, I tell the students and their teacher, Yesenia Alvarado, an industrial engineer by profession and high school teacher by vocation, how much I admire them. They are part of the first truly global generation. When they enter the job market, their quality knowledge will be a great advantage, even if, as many of them have told me, they go on to college and study something completely different.
During my August visit, I honored a promise I had made last time I came to the school. I told them I would bring all kinds of souvenirs from WQCI in Tennessee. They took my “loot” coming from the booths at exhibit hall, everything from pens to USB memories.
Second I gave them a quick lecture on the future of quality, which is kind of a paradox because they are the future of quality.
Third, and here comes the important part, I made an exercise with them. I asked them about their worries, about how they see the future. We made an affinity diagram exercise (see picture left) and after that a multi-voting session. These teenagers, many of them the sons and daughters of coffee production families, are already thinking about their future jobs and their opportunities in life.
Their three main concerns were:
Lack of good English language skills for the global market
At age 15, they are more worried about the global job market than about prom night or first dates.
To encourage them, I told them that it is precisely their quality education and near future technical degree that will guarantee their full employment and market rate salaries, plus I urged them to pursue full college degrees. It was uplifting to see the students demanding better English classes because they know the current four hours per week is not enough to master a second language.
I don’t know what the future will be for these teens, but I do know that their odds are better with such a good education this early in life. The Costa Rican quality and productivity teenagers give hope to our profession. I view their generation with a lot of optimism and I would be interested to know if there are similar project in other countries.