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.

A Day With the Future of Quality

Edwin Garro is an ASQ Fellow and founding member of ASQ Section 6000, Costa Rica. He pioneered ASQ certifications in Central America. Currently he serves in ASQ’s awards board. He is an ASQ CQE, CQM/OE, CQI, CQA, CSSGB and CSSBB. He is the CEO of PXS, a leading consulting firm with offices in Costa Rica and Colombia. He has a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, and a M.S. in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

In August of this year, I visited a junior high school class at the San Rafael de Poás Technical High School, in the mountains of Alajuela, Costa Rica. This is not a typical junior class; these 15-   and 16- year olds will graduate in 2017 with a technical degree in Quality and Productivity.

It was not my first visit to the class.  Ever since I discovered this new Quality and Productivity program, I have been fascinated by it.  These remarkable teens will certainly play a role in the future of our profession.

The Quality and Productivity Technical Program

As a whole, the cluster of medical devices companies is the largest exporter in Costa Rica. All the big names are here, Baxter, Boston Scientific, Abbott, Hospira, Hologic, Moog, just to name a few. Over the years, many Costa Rican professionals have specialized in “all things FDA,” and being ASQ certified is a formal requirement in many of these firms.

One area in which there is still a shortage of manpower is quality technicians. The Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE) took the  concerns of the customer (general managers of the medical devices cluster) and worked with the National Education Ministry (MEP, Ministerio de Educación Pública in Spanish) to create  this very innovative program.

Instead of reinforcing the existing associate degrees, they decided to create a high school technical degree in Quality and Productivity. Over a three-year period, students will receive 2,880 hours of education in management fundamentals, process improvement, quality control, quality enterprises and English. Five technical high schools started the pilot deployment last year; Colegio Técnico de Poás started this academic year. Seven more schools will start in the next two years.

Take a look at the objectives of the program, and keep in mind that the students will still be teenagers when they graduate:

1. Prepare technicians in accordance with the demands of current and future markets.

2. Promote the values and attitudes of quality.

3. Encourage the development of creative and critical thinking structures, which will allow students to deal with the continuous changes in social and economic systems.

4. Stimulate a quality and productivity mindset.

5. Promote quality through Statistical Process Control, local and international standards, the study of waste and the effective use of raw materials, seeking sustainable development with the environment.

Even though there are no graduates yet, companies are already lined up to receive these  students for their technical practice (the last three months of their senior year).

I myself am the product of a technical high school, having studied graphics arts and printing at Don Bosco Technical High School in the early 1980s. I know the impact of this kind of education. My printing background led me my first general manager position, and for the last 16 years, I have owned a successful lithography business.

My meeting with the quality and productivity teens

Every time I arrive at the school, I tell the students and their teacher, Yesenia Alvarado, an industrial engineer by profession and high school teacher by vocation, how much I admire them. They are part of the first truly global generation.  When they enter the job market, their quality knowledge will be a great advantage, even if, as many of them have told me, they go on to college and study something completely different.

During my August visit, I honored a promise I had made last time I came to the school. I told them I would bring all kinds of souvenirs from WQCI in Tennessee. They took my “loot” coming from the booths at exhibit hall, everything from pens to USB memories.

Second I gave them a quick lecture on the future of quality, which is kind of a paradox because they are the future of quality.

Third, and here comes the important part, I made an exercise with them. I asked them about their worries, about how they see the future. We made an affinity diagram exercise (see picture left) and after that a multi-voting session. These teenagers, many of them the sons and daughters of coffee production families, are already thinking about their future jobs and their opportunities in life.

Their three main concerns were:

 Lack of good English language skills for the global market

 Unemployment

 Low salaries

At age 15, they are more worried about the global job market than about prom night or first dates.

To encourage them, I told them that it is precisely their quality education and near future technical degree that will guarantee their full employment and market rate salaries, plus I urged them to pursue full college degrees. It was uplifting to see the students demanding better English classes because they know the current four hours per week is not enough to master a second language.

I don’t know what the future will be for these teens, but I do know that their odds are better with such a good education this early in life. The Costa Rican quality and productivity teenagers give hope to our profession.   I view their generation with a lot of optimism and I would be interested to know if there are similar project in other countries.

Does Mission Matter?

This is a guest post by Pat La Londe, ASQ Fellow and incoming ASQ board chair. La Londe is a retired executive in supply chain management with expertise leading teams in all areas of procurement including supplier quality.  She recently retired as an executive from CareFusion, a large medical device company.

How often do you consider a company’s mission when choosing a retailer or a business partner? As it turns out, probably more often than you think. At ASQ, we recently conducted a global brand and reputation study.

One of the most surprising findings of the study is that respondents rated organizational mission as highly important in their consideration of an organization that provides training, certification, membership or books/publications related to quality, continuous improvement or performance excellence.

These results are encouraging us to reflect on the value of ASQ’s mission, and how we’re bringing it to our audience—whether members, customers, or the quality community at large.

First, the ASQ mission is: To increase the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world.

As stewards of the global quality movement, ASQ is advancing ideas, tools, techniques, and systems that will help the world meet tomorrow’s critical challenges.  Yet there remain significant opportunities to dramatically and positively impact public thinking around the role of quality.

What are we doing about these opportunities? We have identified the following themes that underscore our mission and developed plans to address them.

•   ASQ is aligned and united to grow and advance the Global Quality Community.

We’re continuing to expand our global footprint with offices in the United States, Mexico, India, China, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil. Our aim worldwide is to enhance and sustain the role of quality, help those who need quality concepts and tools for professional and organizational success, and to demonstrate the value of quality. This is, of course, in addition to our established geographic, topical, and industry-specific communities that foster career development and facilitate professional networking.

ASQ is committed to and investing in member value, this year and beyond.

In the next several years, we’re making significant technological improvements to our technology infrastructure to improve the customer experience with ASQ. For example, we will be addressing our website experience, expanding offerings available in multiple formats (i.e. hard copy, mobile, Kindle), and optimizing the volume of emails sent from the entire Society.

•   ASQ in 2015 has its challenges, yet is responding, evolving and adapting, to ensure our members’ and customers’ success in a rapidly changing, competitive, global environment.

It’s critical to the future of quality that ASQ continues to evolve and grow with its members and customers to provide them with the up-to-date knowledge and tools. By systematically studying emerging topics and monitoring the future of quality, we’re working to ensure that we respond to the global needs of today and tomorrow.

For example, ASQ will be testing new membership and engagement models and programs, locally and globally, for individuals and organizations over the next year as well as increasing the Society’s attention to leadership and professional development programs. ASQ is also cultivating the next generation of leaders through programs designed for young professionals.

What is your organization’s mission? Do you update and refer to it on a regular basis? All too often, leaders tend to “shelve” the mission after developing it or we take it for granted. Through our research on Culture of Quality, strong leadership is essential to developing and sustaining a culture of quality.

If an organization is seeking to improve its culture of quality, a closer look at the three areas —vision, values and leadership—is likely a good place to begin. I encourage you to take a fresh look.

How Lean Helped Me Travel To Egypt With Just $500

This is a guest post by Sunil Kaushik, an ASQ Influential Voices blogger who is planning a round-the-world bicycle tour with a mission to train schools and universities on quality, all while exploring high-quality street food across the globe.

Sunil is a certified ASQ-SSBB, PMP, and SPSM with more than a decade of experience in project and quality management with Fortune 100 companies. He provides training on quality management at schools, universities, and corporations using innovative methods such as origami and food tasting. Read about his travels on his blog, Train and Trot.

All photos provided by Sunil Kaushik.

My wife and I have backpacked close to 40 countries and we are still in the nascent stages of traveling cheap. It is a process that will just keep going—this November, we plan to embark on a round-the-world cycling trip. In this blog I will be sharing one of our travel episodes-backpacking to Egypt with just $500 in my pocket and how Lean principles helped me do so.

As you read this, think about how you’ve incorporated quality tools into your daily life. Remember, you might be doing so without even thinking of your actions as “quality”!

Being a quality professional, one of the things I’m good at is keeping track of data of all my past trips. On this trip, 40 percent of my spending went on transport, 30 percent on accommodation, and remaining part was left over for food, drink, and sightseeing. Even before I planned a trip to Egypt I designed a value stream map shown below. Every backpacker will more or less follow these processes irrespective of the style, luxury or budget.

The next and the last thing I had to do was to just identify and eliminate the seven types of waste at every opportunity.

5S: As a backpacker, too many things are stuffed into my bag, yet few are very critical, like my passport, visa documents, credit cards, etc. Every item has a planned, allotted space in my backpack. Every time I take one out I have to put it back in the same place so that I do not waste time searching or at times panicking when I do not find it.

5S is the key. Before my trip I make sure I set all the things I need in order with the help of a checklist and then sort them. For example, all important documents and passport are deep inside, my camera and iPod are in a separate carry bag. Standardization is another important element, as I carry items that can be used for multiple purposes.  For example, a scarf can be used as a head scarf, towel, or a bag to carry items.  A Swiss army knife also has many uses.  Creativity is the limit and helps in utilizing the space inside the backpack efficiently. I have been able to get the weight of my backpack down by at least a pound from my previous trip by applying the 5S principle and it weighed just 4 kilos on this trip.

Plan Destination – Wait For the Pull Signal: I stopped waiting for an airline to throw an offer to a particular destination I intended to visit. Instead I made a list of destinations and just kept looking for any offer to come up. One day, I saw a two-way ticket from Mumbai to Egypt for $280. I had no reason to think twice. In short, I started looking for a pull signal.

Develop Schedule – Wait Time Is the Key: I planned for a 14-day trip to cover the entire length of Egypt, see all the wonders of the world (six in total), and at the same time I made sure I did not push myself too hard and got to spend enough time at each place. The key is to reduce the wait time, be it in the train station, bus station, ticket counter, etc. I  booked overnight trains , took care of my accommodation, etc., in advance.

Getting In: Though the visa fee for Indian citizens is $25, the embassy was in a different province and I outsourced this part to a travel agent for additional $10. This way I saved lot of time, transportation cost, and stresses (Muri).

Getting Around: I planned in such a way that I stayed in localities which had easy access to public transportation, the market, and reduced unnecessary motion to go around. I downloaded a nice map to my smart phone and borrowed a bicycle from my host for shorter distances (less than 8 kilometers) and used subway, buses, and trains for longer distances.

Surprisingly, many are unaware that all it takes to get from downtown Cairo to the pyramids of Giza is a 20-minute ride on the subway followed by a short ride in a shared minivan, and it costs hardly $5 to get there. It just costs a dollar from the airport to downtown by bus and I get to see the real country this way and that is what backpacking and the lean principle Gemba (the real place) talk about.

Eat/Drink: This is where visual management comes into play. I avoided restaurants with multilingual menus in tourist areas. I preferred those that have a sign board and menu in the local language, are filled with locals, and which serve better local food for less money. If I have a problem in communicating I go with today’s menu or chef’s recommendations. Family-run restaurants have hardly let me down as they care more about their reputation and customer.

Sleep: My first preference is Couchsurfing, which is a large online community of travelers who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free. I feel the cultural authenticity when I stay with the locals more than in a hotel. It is fun and it is safe, too. But it is a bit tricky; not every request on Couchsurfing will get a very welcoming response and one important factor is the way we write a request to our host. I made sure all my requests were SMART ( i.e. I tell about myself, where am I coming from, when I will arrive, how long I intend to stay, and why I chose to stay with that particular host–could be that we share common interests).  Out of 14 days I couch-surfed for nine, which was a direct saving of at least $450 (extra processing) and I have new friends in Egypt now.

The second option was Airbnb–very similar to couch surfing though we need to pay our host, but it’s still cheaper than hotels.

See And Do: As an International Youth Travel Card holder, I got a flat 50 percent discount to enter Giza Pyramids, Egyptian Museum at Cairo, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel, and Luxor Temple. The negotiation skills came into play at the Nile River cruise in a felucca. I started at 30 percent of the initially quoted price and we were able to settle at 50 percent of the price. Hence I avoided a huge, unnecessary fee (over-processing).

This is just my experience and there is no limit to come up with creative ideas to travel economically without compromising on quality.

Note: Many countries have warned against traveling in Egypt due to terrorist threats. I advise you to research the political situation and conflict zones before planning the trip. Of course, the techniques described in this post can apply to planning a trip in any country. You can read more about my travel on my blog, Train and Trot.