Roundup: The Past, the Future, Quality, and ASQ

It’s often said that those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it. In the world of quality, those who don’t know quality’s past may be challenged by its ever-changing future. Last month, I blogged about learning from quality gurus and thinking about the future of the field from the perspective of young quality professionals.

Judging by the many comments that post received, this is a hot topic for the quality community! Here’s what’s on the minds of ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers:

  • Differing opinions on who is responsible for young quality professionals’ lack of knowledge of the history of the field; some blame the current generation of professionals for not effectively teaching quality’s foundations. Guy Wallace, for one, suggests creating an interactive, open-access resource on all things quality. Speaking of the dangers of repeating the past, Matthew Heusser writes about Dr. Deming’s seven deadly diseases of management, which, unfortunately, are still found in today’s organizations.
  • Mixed reactions to the need for “quality gurus”; some respondents lament the loss of gurus such as Deming or Juran, while others, like Dennis Arter, maintain that awareness of these leaders is less important with the advent of new technology.
  • The Influential Voices who work with young professionals most often heard that technology and sustainability are the future of quality. For feedback from the under-35 group, see Jennifer Stepniowski’s post. Aimee Siegler also suggests that integration of sustainability and management systems is the future of quality for young professionals. And Anshuman Tiwari defines what young professionals seek from “quality”: products that work, more features, and lower prices.
  • Suggestions for improving the future of quality. Chris Hermenitt, for example, suggests focusing on technology to capture the attention of the younger generation. From the healthcare perspective, Dr. Robert Burney hopes that in the future, the healthcare industry will employ process improvement tools from ASQ—but only when the industry is ready.
  • Many Influential Voices wrote about ASQ’s role in the past, present and future of quality. Bruce Waltuck referenced ASQ’s beginnings as ASQC and how the organization changed as the industry progressed. Others, including Robert Mitchell and Cesar Diaz Guevara, suggested that ASQ’s continued ability to combine history with practical knowledge and tools will greatly impact the future generations of quality professionals.
  • Finally, I was particularly moved by David Levy’s reflection. David writes in light of his upcoming 50th birthday and reflects on ways that different aspects of quality have shaped his life and career. He sees no possible way of improving the future of quality without remembering and applying the wisdom of the gurus. David finishes his post with a plea to current and future quality professionals: “Embrace the past to build a better future.”

Hear, hear.

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