How Do You Explain Your Job in Quality?

So you’re at a cocktail party… Okay, your children’s school concert. You’re chatting with an acquaintance and they ask: “What do you?” You explain that you’re a quality assurance manager or a quality engineer or a quality auditor. Your acquaintance looks at you blankly and says, “So….what do you do?”

What do you do? In the March issue of QP, contributor Marcia M. Weeden reflected on the difficulty of explaining our jobs. She came up with three ingenious illustrations that use pictures to explain the quality profession, the manufacturing environment, and the service environment.  This is a fun and simple way to illustrate what we do.

As for what you do—how do you explain it in casual conversations?  I’m reminded of a college writing assignment to define manufacturing to an eighth-grade student.  My paper started with raw material and ended with consumer goods.  It was good enough for an honorable mention by the professor. The best paper started with: “manufacturing is making applesauce from apples.”  Clearly better.  How do we make the quality practitioner so easily understood?

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4 Responses to How Do You Explain Your Job in Quality?

  1. John Hunter says:

    I very much like the explanation by Ron Pereira to his 7 year old daughter:

    “Daddy tries to teach people how to work faster and make less mistakes. And, most importantly, we also try to teach people to be nice and respect each other… that way everyone can do their very best.”

    Lots of good comments there too. Here is my comment from there:

    My thought on your response was to include something about helping people focus on improving the process (making their jobs easier, making the system more reliable, reducing the chance of errors…). We want to always be thinking how we can make things better and then trying out those new ideas.

    I think mistake proofing is a really cool concept for kids. It is cool for everyone but I think it is also very obvious in a way that kids directly get it and can apply the concept themselves.

    I still remember being confused about my Dad going to give a seminar to adults. He was talking about teaching them about design of experiments. I couldn’t understand how highly educated adults (engineers…) had to learn stuff he taught me in middle school.

    Yet still today, I often see people saying in order to experiment you need to hold all the other variables constant to test what you want to learn about. 🙁 We need to do much better at disseminating good ideas.

  2. luigi sille says:

    My Job is to satisfy the customer.
    Starting from start materials, donors, etc, all the way to the end product which is delivering save Blood and Blood products.

  3. Angela Moore says:

    I tell people I’m a Quality Auditor in Aviation. Those who seem not to understand fully but get the gist of it get this explanation: I ensure the airport, airplanes, and computer systems that run the airspace meet standards, laws, and regulations. At an even simpler level for those people external to the industry, I offer this explanation: While it’s being created or updated, I review the work that goes into airplane and airport computers to ensure that they meets rules, regulations, and standards. Most puzzled looks dissipate.

  4. Pingback: June Roundup: Tackling the Big Quality Questions | A View from the Q

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