ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement: Day 2

The second day of ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement started with a keynote by Margaret Haffernan, an author and entrepreneur, who spoke about confirmation bias. We are drawn to the ideas and people that are familiar to us and that reflect our views–“We would rather be wrong than alone.”

In the workplace, that’s why we may be hesitant to question mistakes or authority.

“Investing time with people not like you makes conflict easier,” said Heffernan. “We have to reframe conflict as thinking and decision-making as hypothesis.”  Great questions are the heart and soul of great collective thinking—what is the dis-confirming data, what are the alternatives? The key takeaway is that willful blindness is part of being human, but we can work to overcome some of that bias.

This is a good lesson to impart at an international conference with thousands in attendance—and probably just as many learning opportunities.

A  not-unrelated takeway ran through the keynote of the afternoon speaker, Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org. The organization Best founded helps raise money for schools and teachers in innovative ways–such as funding field trips or school activities for teachers whose students do well on certain assessments (a system preferable for many to tying salary to student performance).

In the afternoon, there was another opportunity for expanding one’s horizons and networking with people from all walks of life. The exhibit hall extravaganza kicked off at 2:15 p.m. and featured live music, many giveaways and prizes, and afternoon treats.

The day concluded with yet another great networking opportunity—the networking reception, which most guests attended—or so it seemed.

Wednesday highlights:

-The closing session by keynote speaker, Analjit Singh, Founder Chairman of Max India Limited, and the International Team Excellence Awards Ceremony, 10:30-noon, in Delta Ballroom A.

The Pros and Cons of Conferences

WCQI ASQ booth

[This is a guest post by Julia McIntosh of ASQ communications.]

At ASQ, this is the time of the year when we focus on our biggest annual event, the ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement.  This year, the conference takes place May 4-6 in Nashville, Tennessee (and, yes, you can still register).

As is our tradition on this blog, in April we often reflect on the value of conferences, networking, and professional meetings of all types.

We all know that in recent years, some organizations have cut back on conferences and events—both in planning them and in sponsoring staff to attend. These days there are many alternatives to such events, including:

-Local events: These include conferences close to home or requiring minimal travel. legosSome professionals choose to forgo regional events altogether, attending gatherings only in their hometown.  For example, this might include being an active member of an ASQ section in one’s city.

-Electronic meetings: Whether done via Skype, Webex, Google Hangout, or even a wiki, these meetings allow people to participate at little cost without leaving their desk.  ASQ blogger Michael Noble made the case for digital meetings in this article.  One topical argument in favor of electronic meetings–especially in the context of standards development–is that attendees who can’t afford international travel or are from developing countries can participate in such events.

In the meantime, in-person events have the following advantages:

-Meeting a wide variety of people: You can, of course, make connections WCQI banquet electronically, but in-person events have a way of bringing together those who might not normally find reason to speak. If you’re conducting business internationally, in-person meetings may be required so that nothing is “lost in translation,” such as body language, spoken nuances, etc.

-Social functions: There’s a lot of work that goes on during formal events and sessions, but arguably just as much can happen at unofficial or social functions, such as receptions, after-hours gatherings, lunches, and dinners.

– Networking: There’s an undoubtable advantage to networking in-person.  Networking is a major part of ASQ’s conference, and most such events, whether intended by the conference organizers or not.

Our question to the quality community is about the value of conferences, meetings, and in-person events. How do you decide which ones to attend? Do you stay close to home or is international travel desired or necessary? If you travel, do you go to learn, network, or both?

5 Tips On Making the Most of ASQ's World Conference

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

Just as last year, we’ve received some great tips and advice from ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers on “surviving”–and making the most of–conferences and events. This may come in handy if you’re attending ASQ’s upcoming World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Dallas May 5-7, or any other professional events.  If you are going to the World Conference, be sure to follow the events on Twitter with hashtag #WCQI14. And if you are not attending, you can stream the keynotes live this year, which is a great e-learning opportunity.

Now, on to the advice!

1. Prepare and follow up. Do research on relevant sessions and speakers before the conference and follow up with new contacts afterward, says ASQ blogger Tim McMahon.

2. Take photos! ASQ blogger Lotto Lai suggests taking lots of photos so you have a souvenir and a reminder of what you’ve learned and who you’ve met.

3. Talk PDCA and root cause. ASQ blogger Jennifer Stepniowski notes that you can “talk shop” with conference-goers. Where else can you chat about quality with the person in the Starbucks line? Take advantage of this opportunity!

4. Follow the conference on social media. That’s the advice of Influential Voices blogger Bob Mitchell. This year again, there will be a live Twitter feed at the World Conference in the exhibit hall. And, we’ll be live tweeting keynote speeches and live blogging about daily events (as mentioned above, you can live stream the keynotes and follow the conversation on Twitter. Hashtag is #WCQI14).

5.  Keep your schedule full. You should always have something going on at the conference, says ASQ blogger Dan Zrymiak. Attend the “must see” events but make time for sessions and speakers outside your industry. You’ll learn a lot.

Do you want to share your conference advice? Leave a comment on this blog or email social@asq.org. We’ll compile feedback in a future blog post.

Last Day of ASQ's World Conference: End With Energy

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

It may be the last day of ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement, but there was no shortage of energy this morning.

The closing session of the conference began with a parade of International Team Excellence Award finalists. Think cheers, country flags, whistles, and pride in teamwork!

Parade of teams

Before the award winners were announced, conference-goers took in a final keynote by Sally Hogshead, who spoke about how to make oneself fascinating.

Key takeaway: We’re used to analyzing how we see the world. But in today’s rapid and evolving environment, what matters is how people see us. When we fascinate others, we start opening doors.

Other takeaways:

  • To fascinate, you don’t have to change. You have to become more of who you already are.
  • The human attention span is now nine seconds. That’s your gateway to fascinate.
  • There are seven primary personality triggers and 49 personality archetypes.
  • Conference-goers had a chance to take the personality assessment, and results were shown at the keynote. The number-one personality archetype in the ASQ crowd was the Maestro (ambitious, admired, and focused). Next most common personality was the Victor (respected, competitive, results-oriented), and then the Vault (analytical, discreet, understated).
  • In order to be successful, you don’t have to be successful in the traditional way. You have to be distinct.

And now….the 2013 International Team Excellence Award winners!

  • Quality impact storyboard awards winners: Third place: Reliance Industries Limited, Hazira team. Second place: Baxter Healthcare Corporation team. First place: Yanfeng Visteon Automotive Electronics Co., Ltd. team.
  • Bronze Level Winners: Continental Guadalajara team. Oshkosh Defense team. Pruksa Real Estate Public Company Limited Valuable Engineer Team.
  • Silver Level Winners: Telefonica de Argentina team. Pruksa Real Estate Public Company Limited QCI Team.

Congratulations to all!

And we hope you had a fantastic time at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement 2013! What did you like? What’s your feedback? Tell us in the comments. And we hope to see you next year in Dallas, Texas, May 5-7, 2014.

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