ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement 2015: Day 1

Every ASQ World Conference gives guests a taste of the local flavor, and, so far, ASQ’s 2015 World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Nashville, Tennessee, has been no different. At the opening reception on Sunday, May 3, a Dolly Parton impersonator and a country band welcomed visitors to the conference and to “music city.”  Naturally, the conference isn’t all fun and games, although a bit of fun is always welcome.

The theme of the 2015 conference is a lofty one: Transforming the world through innovation, inspiration, and leadership. These themes, especially inspiration and innovation, ran through the opening keynote by Shawn Achor, a best-selling author and researcher on positive psychology.

Achor said research shows that happiness is a choice for the human brain, and it’s where we decide to devote our resources that determines our level of happiness.  Happiness is the joy you feel growing toward your potential (not mere pleasure).

In relation to quality and improvement, happiness means striving toward being better and improving our companies and products. It is the opposite of complacency. Happiness isn’t pure optimism, but it’s deciding how to tackle problems and issues. Finally, positivity spreads positivity, even if it’s through very simple, no-cost gestures, such as smiling or making eye contact. A positive culture can be a better culture of quality and improvement.

These themes were also apparent in keynote speaker Dr. Joann’s Sternke’s address. Sternke, the superintendent of the award-winning Pewaukee School District, brought many program improvement and innovations to the school system. From a Baldrige perspective, she touched on themes like innovation and leadership by building a mission-driven culture.

Other notable conference events included:

  • Creative “After 5” sessions on the lighter side of quality, such as juggling and statistics and using music  for quality-based innovation.
  • The exhibit hall, home to the popular ASQ Center which has many icebreaker and networking games and opportunities: a giant Jenga game, a photo booth with goofy accessories, a photo opportunity with life-size quality guru portraits, and a live twitter feed (hashtag #WCQI15).
  • Quality impact sessions/live team case studies by finalists in ASQ’s International Team Excellence Awards process. Of course, that’s not even touching on the dozens of information-packed concurrent sessions.

Events on the lineup for Tuesday, May 5:

  • A keynote by entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan, 8 a.m.-9 .m.
  • A keynote by Charles Best, founder and CEO of donorschoose.com, 1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m.
  • The exhibit hall extravaganza, 2:15-3:45, with many giveaways, prizes, and entertainment.
  • And, of course, the networking reception (ticket required), 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., in the Delta Island.
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