World Quality Month Begins In November

The 6th Annual World Quality Month is set to begin in just a few weeks. As in prior years, the mission of World Quality Month is to bring together the global quality community and help raise awareness of the vital importance of quality.

The 2015 World Quality Month website and will continue to be updated with new content, events, story submissions, and much more now through November.  This is your one-stop resource for trusted event planning information as well as new ideas for 2015 such as the World Quality Month Proclamation, ready to be filled in and signed by a local dignitary.  Versions in other languages are currently being developed.

Remember, in October you can submit ideas about the future of quality to ASQ on Facebook (contest hashtag is #quality2030). See the complete contest rules on the World Quality Month site. Prizes for the top three entries include a variety of World Quality Month coffee mugs, magnets, notebooks, luggage tags, and a World Quality Month jigsaw puzzle. Entries must be received by October 30. Everyone can vote for the contest finalists from November 9 to noon on November 20.

Also on the World Quality Month site, you can also request a free World Quality Month magnet through October 19 (extended to October 23 or as long as supplies last).  These are a great way to raise awareness of the event or events in your organization and start conversations.

Other things you can do in October, especially if you work in an organization: Hang World Quality Month posters in visible locations. Work with your marketing, communications, or public relations department to send the news release created in September about World Quality Month to the media.

Begin to promote your organization’s main event or events internally.  Create event-related posters to hang around the building. Be sure to include information in your internal newsletter and on the intranet. Send invitations for events (via email or internal newsletter or through internal mail, etc.).  See the World Quality Month Celebration Guide for details and more ideas.

There’s a lighter side to World Quality Month! Start sharing one of the fun facts from the quality trivia fact sheet each day with your colleagues or add a new fact each morning to your email signature.

As always, you can submit quality-themed events taking place now through November to the World Quality Month calendar.  We also invite you to see the World Quality Month guidelines and submit your quality success stories.

March Roundup: What To Do About STEM Education?

How are your math skills? If you’re reading this, you probably work in quality, engineering, or a related field, and chances are your math is pretty good. This is not the case for a lot of students—especially, it seems, in the United States. This was the topic for discussion for ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers in March, inspired by ASQ CEO Bill Troy’s post about ways to encourage business owners to support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Tim McMahon writes that STEM is in crisis—an offers several few ideas that can help, including becoming a mentor.  Rajan Thiyagarajan also shares his tips to improve STEM, which range from brushing up on STEM basics to exploring gamification. Sunil Kaushik also suggests brushing up on both fundamentals and fun

Speaking of fun, Don Brecken wonders if we should add a lot more of it to STEM education. Nicole Radziwill suggests and defines STEAM as the solution (STEM plus the arts). Jennifer Stepniowski suggests some unique ways to promote STEM to kids, including volunteering at schools.

Scott Rutherford asks if we’re truly promoting STEM in innovating ways. John Hunter argues that we need to improve STEM education to increase interest in the field. Cesar Diaz Guevara writes that engineering should be synonymous with inventiveness.

Pam Schodt offers some practical tips for teenagers in choosing a STEM career. Luciana Paulisa writes that the key is making STEM fit students’ intrinsic needs.

Jimena Calfa writes about the state of STEM in Argentina, while Lotto Lai reports about STEM education in Hong Kong. Manu Vora blogs about STEM education and competitiveness in India.

Edwin Garro reflects on the success of STEM in Costa Rica, including the success stories in his own family. Dan Zrymiak writes about promoting STEM in Canada, and Michael Noble looks at the causes of a possible STEM shortage in North America. Finally,  Anshuman Tiwari describes two young STEM students who would make great role models for students in India.

November Roundup: Engaging Members and Volunteers

Are you part of a professional association? If not, this in itself might be telling. Fewer people are joining professional trade groups these days because information is more available than ever through other sources, including, of course, the internet. The face of professional associations also is changing. In October, our topic of the month was how to recruit members and volunteers to professional communities such as ASQ.

Why join? John Hunter discusses the value of professional associations, finding that career opportunities and open-access information are two of the most valuable aspects to joining. Rajan Thiyagarajan says that networking is still the major benefit offered by associations. And Anshuman Tiwari writes about how ASQ can become more influential and relevant to India’s quality professionals. Edwin Garro blogs about how ASQ can become more relevant globally.

Lessons learned: Bob Mitchell looks on his own experience in volunteer and member recruitment as part of ASQ’s statistics division and the Minnesota section. Lotto Lai writes about how the Hong Kong Society for Quality successfully increased its membership and engaged members. Scott Rutherford looks to how religious organizations make themselves relevant in today’s society and provide value to believers.  Aimee Siegler writes about the importance of training, and finds a good example of this in the Girl Scouts, an American youth organization for girls. And Dan Zrymiak looks to Toastmasters, a public speaking and leadership organization, for inspiration.

Tips for associations: Jennifer Stepniowski offers a variety of ideas for recruiting and retaining members, including organizing an appreciation event or placing an ad in the local business paper. Babette Ten Haken also shares tips for associations, including the basics, such as making members feel welcome. Manu Vora discusses member and volunteer recruitment from the HR perspective. And Jimena Calfa writes that professional groups must now exceed, instead of just meet, the expectations of their members.

There are lots of options these days. Associations, like other businesses, must be the best in the market to succeed.

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?