Roundup: How Should the Quality Field Prepare For the Future?

In May, ASQ released its 2015 Future of Quality research report.

2015 Future of Quality Report

We’ve compiled a report on the future of the field every several years since 2006, but this year’s publication was a departure from the norm. This time, we looked to experts and authors beyond the quality community to compile the major forces that will impact global priorities—and how the quality world will need to respond.

ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers looked to the future—and the past—in their responses about how quality professionals will need to prepare.

Adaptability has to become a core skill set for the modern manager and quality professional, writes John Priebe. Agile leadership is future of small business, adds Luciana Paulise, while Lotto Lai believes the future of quality should be mirroring tech megatrends.

Sunil Kaushik developed another list of key forces that will alter quality, including agriculture, electronics, a shared economy, and a changing meaning of work-life balance. Cesar Diaz Guevara also selects several alternative future forces, including the Deming productivity chain. Aimee Siegler wonders what the customer experience will look like in the future.

From a medical perspective, Michael Noble addresses a healthcare essay by Devi Shetty, writing that improvements and accessibility in healthcare through wider training are laudable, but may not be sustainable unless broader challenging issues be addressed. Manu Vora addresses the same essay, writing, “I would say the health care sector is a giant supply chain which is broken and need major overhaul.”

Rajan Thiyagarajan spotlights that digital quality will be a key issue in the coming decades.
Pam Schodt, too, writes that managing the quality of Internet-linked products will be an important challenge.

Finally, some authors looked back or offered advice for quality professionals today.
The future of quality is to actually do what people such as Deming advised decades ago, writes John Hunter. The future of quality leadership is always getting back to the basics, to the fundamental timeless skills, says Jimena Calfa. Anshuman Tiwari shares three future of quality scenarios: an optimistic, pessimistic, and realistic one.

Now that the last of the original quality gurus is gone, we are all somehow required to become a huge network of gurus ourselves, says Edwin Garro. Jennifer Stepniowski reflects on how quality professionals should change and develop in response to the coming revolution in quality. And Bob Mitchell reflects on what makes the modern indispensable quality professional.

Scott Rutherford believes that the future of quality isn’t coming from quality field.
Finally, the next challenge for quality will be to demonstrate quality in a convincing way, says Dan Zrymiak.

Why Should Quality "Go Global"?

We were privileged last week to have with us at ASQ Headquarters in Milwaukee representatives from our global offices in India, Mexico, and China, and our partner organization in Brazil, Quali.  It is a rare treat to get nearly the entire global team together– we also have an office in the United Arab Emirates serving the Middle East and North Africa region–and it is cause for a few minutes of reflection on our global posture.

The first question that may occur to some is, why?  Until our rebranding in 2010, we were the American Society for Quality.  Why do we need to be spread out around the world?  Today I want to discuss ASQ’s reasoning for “going global,” but also to note the importance of making information about quality global in scope and available to all.

First, before we did the first thing to be global, we already were.  Some may consider quality as proprietary—that is, knowledge used by a nation to increase its competitiveness in the world. However, at ASQ, we have had many members all over the world years before we opened offices outside the U.S.  In fact, I suspect from almost the very start ASQ had members who lived outside of North America.

The ideas, the passion for quality, the networking, and the tools were attractive to those who found themselves seeking like-minded quality professionals from many different industries and businesses.  So even if we had NO plans to expand our membership globally, we would still be global.  Given that, we have an obligation to serve our global members. We want them to feel welcome, supported, and listened to.  In some cases that meant we needed a presence on the ground to better understand and serve their needs.

Second, the quality knowledge our members want and need cannot be bounded by borders.  If the Quality Body of Knowledge® is to have any value to our members, it must transcend national borders.  Where is quality making the biggest impact in the healthcare world today?  The U.S.?  India? Canada?  Wherever it is, members of the quality community are hard at work, using quality in ways tried and true and ways new and innovative, and our members want to learn from them, wherever they are.

The QBoK® is not a fixed, stagnant resource.  It is constantly growing and changing, and that evolution is happening from the auto industry in the Czech Republic to the energy industry in China and dozens of different fields in a hundred different countries.  To grow that knowledge, to give our members access to ways quality is making the world a better place, we have to be out in the world.

Third, ASQ is like any other business in one important respect: grow or perish. It’s that simple.  There is no such thing as a benign status quo.  We have to grow means, influence, and members.  Our members themselves demand it, our board demands it, and the quality community throughout the world demands it.  Our global partners don’t fear our growth–most of them welcome it because they grow along with us.

If we are to thrive for the next fifty years, we must achieve an acceptable degree of growth and the evidence is very clear that a significant portion of that growth must come from global markets. (Note that globalization is the one force that has appeared in every edition of ASQ’s Future of Quality study since 1996.)  We know we must attract more young professionals to quality, and to an ever-increasing degree, demographics tell us those young professionals will come from outside the U.S.

This month my question to you is: ASQ’s mission statement talks about increasing the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world.  Are we doing enough, throughout the world, to accomplish that mission?

Quality Trends in Uncommon Places

[This is a guest post by Julia McIntosh of ASQ’s Communications department.]

Most of the keynote speakers at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement weren’t traditional “quality” professionals. Yet all wove the theme of quality into their presentations, which ranged from what motivates us in the workplace to how to be more interesting (useful when courting potential clients and employers).

For May’s monthly theme on View From the Q, we’re breaking with tradition a bit and offering multiple topics for discussion. All are themes that came up at the conference. Yet these subjects are relevant to the quality community far beyond one event. Take a look.

Workplace Motivation and Goals: What motivates you at work? Keynote speaker and author Daniel Pink argued that rewards motivate us to accomplish very simple and rote tasks, but they’re useless in encouraging complex and creative work. Interestingly, ASQ blogger John Hunter (who wasn’t at the conference) just wrote a post for the W. Edwards Deming Institute blog featuring a podcast by Pink and this insight: “Quotes by Dan Pink are backed by decades of research , and support W. Edwards Deming’s views on managing people.”  Here’s a sampling of Daniel Pink’s case against rewards for performance:

  • Short-term motivators have outlived their use for 21st century work. Dr. Deming figured this out years ago.
  • Fact: Money is a motivator—it’s the standard of normal fairness. Pay enough to take issue of money off the table.
  • Besides money, the three key motivators are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
  • The technology for engagement isn’t management, but self-direction over time, tasks, team, and technique.

Do you think Pink and Deming are correct about about motivation in the workpalce?

Charm and Fascination (or “Soft Skills): Both Sally Hogshead and James Melton spoke at the conference about making oneself likeable, fascinating, and charming. You may think of these as “soft skills.”  Do soft skills matter if you’re extraordinary at the technical aspects of your job? Sally and James said yes! Key takeaway from James Melton: “Treat strangers with the same courtesy as you do loved ones. You will go far.” You never know when that stranger turns out to be a client or an employer. Sally Hogshead said that you don’t have to be the best at your job to be successfu.  But you do need to be distinct. How do you make yourself distinct as a quality professional?

The Quality/C-Suite Connection: Author Karen Martin spoke about the disconnect between the quality department and the C-suite. It’s a common problem, and one covered on this blog. See: Can We “Sell” Quality? and Baldrige In the C-Suite.  How can you, the quality professional, help build a bridge to the C-suite? Karen suggests becoming a coach, teacher, and mentor in your organization. Do you agree?

What’s The Future of Quality? Futurist Jamais Cascio laid out his vision of epic global changes in the next decade. How will the quality profession change in tandem? It’s a question of great interest to ASQ. Every three years we conduct a Future of Quality study, anticipating the future of the field and preparing for the changes it will bring. The latest study was done in 2011, and you can read it here (PDF). Speaking of the future, ASQ’s just-released Global State of Quality research  gives a comprehensive look at the quality function in organizations around the world. The research is certainly helping us plan for the future by uncovering current trends. Look for a more in-depth post on The Global State of Quality later in May. Paul Borawski will be back with additional insights on the research.