Recruiting Members and Volunteers Amid a Changing Landscape

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

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

From the report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Celebrate World Quality Month in November!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Learning About Quality From Counter-culture

This is a guest post by Nicole Radziwill, an assistant professor in the Department of  Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She writes about research in the quality field, quality consciousness, and innovation on her blog, Quality and Innovation. Nicole is also an ASQ Influential Voices blogger.

What can you learn about quality in the middle of a counter-cultural gathering in the desert? A lot. And that’s just the start.

Quality and innovation can be managed, but transformation must be catalyzed by new insights and experiences. It’s the process of inner transformation that allows us to see possibilities for creating future value.

On August 24, my partner and I embarked on our annual trek to the Burning Man festival to be transformed. Burning Man is a yearly gathering of hundreds of thousands of people in the harsh wilderness of the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada, U.S.

Temple of Grace at Burning Man 2014. Image Credit: John David Tupper (photographerinfocus.com)

We joined 70,000 others in the creation of Black Rock City, a temporary community dedicated to art, technology, and radical self-expression that is dismantled (leaving no trace) a week later. The entire city is decommodified. No money is exchanged at all; however, gifts are given frequently. If you need something, it’s expected that you ask around. Someone will provide it! The community is guided by 10 Principles that include participation, communal effort, and civic responsibility.

A Quality-Minded Approach: A quality-minded approach is essential. You’ll be in the desert for several days, so you need to bring sufficient food and water. Your shelter must withstand mud, extreme heat, hypothermia-inducing cold, and dust storms with hurricane-force winds. You need to make sure you don’t forget anything; you can’t just run to the store and quickly pick something up.

Basic Quality Tools: Some of our camp mates learned this the hard way. When we arrived, they were building a 30-footdiameter geodesic dome. It would serve as the base of operations for a neurogaming event, which challenges two players wearing EEG headsets to see who can get into a meditative state the fastest. As they unpacked their gear, the discussion became heated.

“Where’s the projector? It’s the most important part of our installation!”

Without a projector, the competitors’ scores could not be displayed to the crowd. No one could find the projector.

The project manager asked, “Who was in charge of the checklist?”

Team members glanced quizzically at each other.

“What checklist? What do you mean?”

Unfortunately, basic quality tools weren’t part of their pre-trip planning.

“Didn’t you make a checklist so you’d be sure not to forget mission critical things like… the projector?!”

Fortunately, they found another camp willing to provide a projector on loan for a couple days.

Waste and Value: Burning Man also trains me to think about waste in a totally different way. There are no trash cans, so what you bring in you must pack out. You can’t dump gray water on the ground due to Bureau of Land Management requirements — it has to be packed out, too. Loose hairs are also considered MOOP (Matter Out Of Place).  I found myself choosing canned drinks instead of bottles (which are easier to safely crush and recycle), sparingly transferring dishwater of varying hues between dishes of varying dirtyness, preparing only enough food for each meal (and eating it all!), and being extra careful combing out my hair. In a socially and environmentally conscious community, I didn’t want to leave any MOOP.

The “out of place” component of the MOOP term is also very instructive because it encourages you to consider whether you’re dealing with true waste, or something that just needs to be somewhere else to add value. (Could MOOP become an established term in the quality profession?)

Embracing Variation and Innovation: What I love most about Burning Man, though, is that you are continually surrounded by technological innovation and beauty — all contributed by the participants. Interactive art installations are scattered throughout the city. For example, one night we sat in a “binaural beats therapy” pod, the size of a cargo van, that provided a light and sound show that stimulated a sensory deprivation environment. The environment encourages you to temporarily embrace variation, experience freedom from marketing and economic transactions, and practice giving, receiving, and expressing gratitude.

To quote another attendee: “To celebrate the collective expression and actualization of an entire city is nothing short of transformational. That’s what happens every second of every day on the playa. No one is just pushing paper or wasting time doing something they don’t want to be doing.”

Key Takeaway For Quality: This exploratory culture has been spreading around the globe for the past few years. Regional events can provide anyone with the opportunity to participate in this experiential, transformational culture that catalyzes innovation.

But you don’t need to attend an event as radical as Burning Man. You can find hints of quality and even transformation in any offbeat event near you. Quality isn’t something restricted to an office or manufacturing floor.

How can we implement liberating environments like this — that drive purpose, value, and meaning–while retaining a focus on quality?

Posted in Case Study, Current Events, Uncategorized, culture, innovation, transformation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charting A Strategy For Quality–And Beyond

Before joining ASQ, I spent my entire career in the U.S. Army. As you may guess, strategy was an essential part of my education.  I was fortunate to attend the British Army Staff College and the Naval War College, the Army having given up educating me at an early age. I had the chance to help develop and implement strategy at several stages in my career.

In recent months I have had the opportunity to work with the ASQ Strategic Planning Committee and see how the board and the staff work together to develop ASQ’s strategy.  I have been impressed by the passion, openness, and collaboration that characterized our process.

I am someone who loves the study of strategy and I firmly believe that the underlying principles of strategy apply to almost any field of endeavor, whether you’re working in a corporation, a nonprofit, a small business, an NGO, an educational institution, healthcare–you name it.

The purpose of strategy, after all, is to answer this question: How do you get from where you are to where you want to be?  What is your path?  How are you going to get there, what steps do you need to take, and in what order?

This month, I’d like to offer five key questions about strategy that you may find useful as you work on your own strategic planning. These principles served me well when I was in uniform, and I think they will serve ASQ well now.

One caveat: Determine how much time you have to spend on strategy and act accordingly. We all must get things done, so we must not fall to “paralysis by analysis.” We can only admire the problem for so long. A good rule of thumb many of us learned in the military is the one-third, two-thirds rule.  Each level of command (or management) takes one-third of the allotted planning time and leaves two-thirds to their subordinates.  If each level of command disciplines itself to that standard, there will be a fair allocation of planning time for everyone.

1.  What are your key facts and assumptions? All strategies are based on certain essential facts and assumptions. My suggestion: Write down your facts and assumptions.  Having them in your head isn’t enough. Expose them to the scrutiny of your boss and your colleagues.  If one of your key assumptions is the availability of a certain material, is it safe to assume it will be available to you at the price and in the quantity you need?  Finally, be especially aware of hidden assumptions—these are dangerous.   It’s an assumption you may take as a given, but, in fact, it may not be.

2.  What is your theory of victory? That is a way of saying,  okay, let’s say you can accomplish all the components of your strategy- will it get you to where you want to go?  There are many examples of both nations and corporations successfully accomplishing the vital aspects of their strategy only to find their theory about where it would get them was fundamentally flawed.

3. Can you actually accomplish each aspect of your strategy? I call this the feasibility test. Something in your strategy may sound good, “be first to market,” or “cut our price by 50%,” but can you actually do it?  If the honest answer is no, it cannot be part of your strategy.

4. Is your organization doing things that sit outside your strategy? These things may be good to do, but if they seem to be outside your strategy you should question them.  They are consuming resources – time, people, and money–, but you are not balancing their cost and benefit compared to the rest of your strategy.  I am very suspicious of activities that seem to be outside my strategic framework.

5. Have you left enough planning time to test your strategy? You must test your strategy before you deploy it.  The testing might be as sophisticated as thousands of computer-run simulations or it may be as simple as a bunch of your best staff people sitting around a table trying to poke holes in your strategy.  Ask others, especially other leaders, for feedback on your strategy before it’s finalized and presented.  I have learned that an 80% solution that has been tested can often be quickly improved and you will be far better off than a more polished product that is deployed with little or no testing.

That’s my approach to strategy. What’s your approach–in your organization, your business, your professional association, or even in your personal life?

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August Roundup: What’s The Future of Quality?

Last month, ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers wrestled with a big question: What road will quality take in the future? In his August blog post, ASQ CEO, Bill Troy laid out two scenarios—one evolutionary and one revolutionary.  Some bloggers took one view or the other, while others explored how the counterpoints merge or complement each other. Take a look.

Evolutionary: Anshuman Tiwari writes that quality is evolutionary by nature, not revolutionary, and that’s fine. Edwin Garro notes that “we quality professionals surely are the basic units of an autopoietic system“–that is, one that can reproduce and maintain itself as necessary. Jennifer Stepniowski writes that a cautious revolutionary approach that doesn’t forget its roots generally thrives. And John Priebe adds that an evolutionary approach is superior to a revolutionary one.

Revolutionary: Aimee Sigler proposes that sustainability is the truly revolutionary idea in quality. Rajan Thiyagarajan makes the case that the future of quality will be revolutionary–as does Nicole Radziwill.  ”We’re going to need new models for business, new models for education, and new models for living if we are to satisfy the stated and implied needs of an increasingly interconnected Internet of people and things,” she writes. And Don Brecken sees the future of quality as a battle.

Both/And: Manu Vora predicts that the future of quality will be 80% evolutionary and 20% revolutionary. Jimena Calfa argues that the future of quality will be both revolutionary and evolutionary. Bob Mitchell also says the future of quality will be both–resulting in “resulting in uneven incremental, breakthrough and disruptive levels of performance improvement.”

Neither? Scott Rutherford asks if conditions exist for a quality revolution, finding that they do not, as quality is rarely part of educational curriculum.

John Hunter writes that the key to predicting the future of quality lies in the decisions made in the executive suite. Lotto Lai looks at the future of quality through the lens of the film “The Matrix.”

Guy Wallace writes about the role of marketing principles in the future of ASQ.

Dan Zrymiak believes that quality is moving from control and performance excellence to emphasizing innovation.

Michael Noble notes that the consumer has a key role in defining the future of quality: “But let me argue that ultimately change will not be driven just from within the professional community because the real driver of change comes from public demand on one issue or another.”

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Data From Forbes Insights and ASQ Points to Culture of Quality

This is a guest post by Laurel Nelson-Rowe, managing director at ASQ.

We didn’t bring up the topic—he did.

The “he” was Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter, Brazilian business leader, chairman of Gerdau S.A., and ASQ Juran Medalist, among his many roles and honors.

The “we” was the ASQ contingent: ASQ board chair Stephen Hacker, ASQ board member Joal Teitelbaum, and myself.

And the topic? Culture of quality. It was clear that culture of quality was far more than an abstract idea for seasoned executive Gerdau, as he noted at the PGQP annual conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a few weeks ago.

Why has culture of quality been a top searched topic on asq.org, the subject of a recent Harvard Business Review article, and a theme of ASQ’s 2013 Global State of Quality report?

Well, for Gerdau, it is top-of-mind because a culture of quality, with a strong, shared values base; with a strong executive leadership vision, voice and behavior; and with purposeful ties to business and to life objectives, is essential.

And, he went even further. A corporate quality culture connects to innovation and to sustainability outcomes and opportunities in the 21st century. It helps businesses to work with academic and government institutions and achieve through collaboration.

I found myself wondering if Gerdau has already read the Forbes Insights-ASQ Culture of Quality: Accelerating Growth and Performance in the Enterprise white paper? He couldn’t have—the report was just released.

So, now, it’s your turn. Read the white paper, produced in collaboration with Forbes Insights and ASQ.  You may have participated in the Forbes Insights research, which had led to this first report.

Take a look—gauge your responses on behalf of your organization against 2,300 other voices. Point to important data points, question questions, critique your culture, and accelerate your enterprise through quality.

And let us know your top-of-mind.

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The Future of Quality: Evolutionary or Revolutionary?

In 1835, Alexis De Tocqueville, a French political writer, wrote his classic work, Democracy in America.  His observations about America were a fascinating window into the times and issues of the day.  Part of the power of his observations was his detached perspective.  He could stay above the intense political currents, prejudices, and passions of the times and report on what he saw and heard.  His writings still resonate today and tell us about the American character and culture.

I am a little bit like Mr. De Tocqueville, abroad in a foreign land, albeit not as articulate, learned, or astute.  In this case, the land is the quality community. As a newcomer to the quality field, I don’t have an insider’s grasp of the culture, language, or heritage, but I have a great admiration for your passion for quality.

While being a visitor can be frustrating and confusing, I hope you will see it also gives me the advantage of a certain amount of objectivity.  The quality community has many different constituencies, each with its own perspective.  There is broad agreement on some things and sharp disagreements about others.

One of the things I bring to this post is my respect for what you know and what you do.  I came from a military background where you quickly learn that standards and certifications are serious business.  Being in a field such as yours, where we also value learning, standards and certifications, feels noble and right to me, and I bring the advantage of a certain detachment from one particular quality perspective, which I hope will serve the community and ASQ well.

One of my early observations is that I believe there are two very distinct views about the future of quality we need to at least acknowledge, if not actually reconcile.

Evolutionary change: I would describe one view as the ascribing to evolutionary change.  The quality movement has been immensely important and successful in many fields and will continue to grow and evolve, but will do so in recognizable and well-defined ways.  We will move down traditional paths but reach new destinations and make new inroads into fields that are underserved today. We will keep doing what we do well and find ways to do it even better.

Revolutionary change: I would call the second view as seeing revolutionary change in the future of quality.  Some of the ways we brought value to our businesses, industries, and communities will have to fundamentally change.  We will have to bring value to the C-suite as much as to the production line. We must have tools that will facilitate a meaningful contribution at ever more senior levels to make the impact our customers and colleagues want.  Knowledge, which we value so highly and have worked so hard to gather, organize, and refine, must be shared much more freely in the age of new media.  Even what we describe as quality may be subsumed by different umbrella terms such as “organizational excellence or “risk management.”

I predict a lively debate in the days ahead and I look forward to reporting what I see and hear among you who hold the keys to our future in your hands.

In the meantime, what do you think? How will the future of quality unfold?

Posted in ASQ, Current Events, case for quality, culture | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

July Roundup: What’s the Purpose of Vision?

Everyone agrees that a clear organizational focus is important, but how is it best achieved? In July, ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers responded to a prompt about the clarity of focus at Volvo and Ikea, and offered their thoughts on how to achieve and articulate an organizational purpose.

What is vision and why is it important? Tim McMahon writes about the role of PDCA in finding organizational True North. Manu Vora says vision is an organization’s dream of the future. Jimena Calfa defines the differences between vision and mission. Babette Ten Haken writes about developing foresight as a leader. And John Priebe writes about the importance figuring out your direction before putting together the road map.

Is a vision really important? John Hunter writes that vision can be meaningful, but is often just pretty words. Guy Wallace is also wary of a formal vision statement—define one, but stay quiet about it, he says.

Which organizations have a clear vision? Dr. Lotto Lai writes about the vision and mission of two organizations in Hong Kong. Nicole Radziwill unexpectedly discovered a quality ethic during a trip to Japan. Bob Mitchell writes about 3M’s vision. Rajan Thiyagarajan writes about vision and clarity at Apple.

Jennifer Stepniowski writes about the success of Subaru’s vision. Dan Zrymiak ponders whether there is such a thing as a Scandinavian model of quality. Anshuman Tiwari gives three examples of companies in which he has worked that have a clear vision and what it accomplished.

On that note, both Scott Rutherford and Edwin Garro examine ASQ’s own mission and vision.

And finally, James Lawther suggests that vision is simply something you’re good at and that also helps people.

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Learning About Social Media With ASQ Bloggers

Maybe you’ve heard that blogging or using social media can help further your career and business. This month, ASQ Influential Voices bloggers are sharing their thoughts on the benefits of blogging and social media use–and where to start if you’re interested in doing the same.

Google+ Hangout July 23: On Wednesday, July 23, ASQ is hosting a Google+ Hangout about the value of social media to quality professionals. The Hangout will be held at noon Central Time (U.S.) and also recorded for post-event viewing. We’ll be speaking with some of the ASQ Influential Voices bloggers, including Dan Zrymiak, Jennifer Stepniowski, Edwin Garro, and Babette Ten HakenWatch the Hangout or get more details.

Updated July 28: Watch a recording of the Hangout!

Blog Boom: And you want a deeper dive into the hows and whys of blogging, readthe article “Blog Boom” in July Quality Progress. It’s an in-depth conversation with ASQ Influential Voices bloggers Dan Zrymiak, Jennifer Stepniowski, Mark Graban, Jimena Calfa, and John Hunter.

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