Educating a Quality Workforce

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

Just as last year, ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement provided some great topics for discussion on View From the Q. One especially “hot” topic emerged during the last keynote of the conference, and this was the link between quality and education.

As summarized here, education reformer Michelle Rhee spoke about the poor quality of education in many U.S. public schools. Low-quality education results in a low-quality workforce, she said. Another challenge, according to Rhee, is that students in the U.S. are praised for poor performance or for “just showing up.” As a result, they expect to be celebrated for mediocrity, rather than for quality.

This message resonated with the audience more than any other idea expressed at a keynote–or maybe even the entire conference.

What do you think? Do you see a correlation between the quality of education in your country and the young people entering the workforce? Does your culture celebrate success or is any attempt considered “good enough”? And finally, what is the role of quality in improving public education in any nation?

Day 3 of ASQ World Conference: Celebrate Quality

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

Michelle Rhee at ASQ's World Conference 2014. Photo by Elias Monreal

Perhaps one of the strongest pro-quality messages at the entire 2014 ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement  came during the final keynote of the event. Education reformer Michelle Rhee spoke of turning around a failing school district. Although Rhee doesn’t work in “quality” per se, her speech energized the audience to stand up and clap in agreement. Her conclusion was saluted with a standing ovation.

Rhee’s key points? Education is a priority because it determines the quality of the workplace we will get. And, in the U.S., we overpraise our children and give out too many unearned trophies and awards during the course of their education. We celebrate mediocrity, rather than quality.

Rhee’s closing keynote was preceded by the International Team Excellence Awards

Parade of teams at the International Team Excellence Awards ceremony. Photo by Elias Monreal.

process ceremony–an  antidote to mediocrity if there ever was one. Team Excellence recognizes the best quality improvement teams worldwide, and is the only international team recognition process of its kind in the world. This year’s winners are:

Bronze level:

  • Volkswagen Argentina Cordoba Plant, Contact Zone team
  • JCYM Continuous Improvement Team, Johnson Controls, Shanghai
  • Genpact, Transforming Order to Cash Process team
  • Max Life Insurance Co., Proactive Retention team

Silver level:

  • Team Blitz, Khazanah Nasional Berhad

Gold level:

  • Dubai Aluminum, DUBAL Stub Repair Reduction Team
  • Matter of Time team, Tgestiona
Matter of Time team, Tgestiona. Photo by Elias Monreal.

And this concludes our coverage of the 2014 ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement. Conversations are ongoing on Twitter with the hashtag #WCQI14. Thank you for a fantastic, energetic event! We hope you can join us next year in Nashville, May 4-6.

What did you think of the conference? Leave a comment or email us at social@asq.org.

World Conference Kickoff roundup

World Conference Day 1 roundup

World Conference Day 2 roundup

Day 2 of ASQ World Conference: Back to Basics

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

Another busy day at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement 2014! The many workshops, sessions and events were sandwiched between two keynotes that addressed quality and leadership basics. The first, by Mike Abrashoff, former Commander, USS Benfold, was a great refresher in what makes a great leader. Abrashoff, after all, turned an under performing Naval war ship into a highly successful one.

Key takeaways: Practice humility as a leader. Empower staff and give them tools to accomplish what they need. Have high expectations–your staff want to succeed. Basic principles–but ones that are so often forgotten. Abrashoff’s keynote was a great reminder and refresher.

The afternoon keynote was by Alicia Boler-Davis, GM’s senior vice president of global quality and global customer experience. Boler-Davis spoke about the challenges and opportunities faced by the company in recent years.

Much of her address focused on customer experience–the key takeaway is that GM is not just in the business of making cars and trucks anymore. It’s in the business of delighting the customer. For example, GM is now developing “infotainment” features for its vehicles and has a social media command center that monitors online conversations about its products.

And on the lighter side, the day concluded with an extravaganza in the exhibit hall (yes, with Jenga games) and the annual networking reception with music and dancing–all held in the very chic Hilton Anatole hotel.

Wednesday highlights: A closing session featuring the International Team Excellence Award ceremony and keynote speaker Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO, StudentsFirst. And remember, you can stream a keynote by Simon Bailey, leadership expert and former leader of the Disney Institute (recorded Saturday for ASQ member leaders).

Read a summary of Day 1 of the conference-something old, something new.

Day 1 of ASQ World Conference: The Tried, True, Innovative and New

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

Welcome to Day 1 of ASQ’s World Conference of Quality and Improvement in Dallas, Texas! Today’s theme seemed to be: something old and something new. Something old, as in classic and time-tested. And something new, as in innovative and edgy.

New: Morning keynote speaker Erik Wahl, who drew in a full house with standing room only. Wahl, a graffiti artist, author and entrepreneur, spoke about the power of risk-taking and innovation. The key takeaway was: If you risk nothing, you get nothing. The quality connection? It’s good to know your trade, the quality profession, but it’s not enough anymore. You must innovate and step outside your comfort zone to succeed.

The afternoon keynote speaker, Bob Pence, CEO of Freese and Nichols Inc., a multiservice engineering, architecture, and environmental science firm, spoke about the success of tried-and-tried quality tools and methodologies. He also touched on ethics (do what’s right when nobody’s watching), innovation (it’s not enough “just” to solve the problem anymore), and organizational sacred cows (let them go). Remember, you can watch Bob Pence’s entire keynote here.

Other events on Monday included quality impact sessions (live team case studies as part of the International Team Excellence Awards process), lighthearted “After 5” sessions on topics like the quality-baseball connection, and many workshops and sessions. Networking was in full swing, with many meetings, receptions, and connections in the exhibit hall.

Highlights for Tuesday:

  • Morning keynote by Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold, andauthor.
  • Afternoon keynote by GM’s global quality and global customer experience VP, Alicia Boler-Davis. You can watch a live stream of this keynote.
  • The exhibit hall extravaganza, 2:15 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
  • And the evening networking reception.

Read a summary of the conference kickoff on Sunday.