Quality In Fields “Beyond” Quality

Last month, ASQ headquarters opened our doors to visitors as part of an innovative weekend event called Doors Open. Many buildings in downtown Milwaukee, where we’re headquartered, offered behind-the-scenes tours to visitors. (Did you know ASQ offices are in a 100+ year-old building that was designed by  world-renowned architect Daniel Burnham and once housed the department store Gimbels?)

ASQ HQ is always open to our members, so it was nice to see a community resource brought “home” in a new and different way.

Not surprisingly, visitors who stopped by ASQ asked not only about the building, but also about what ASQ does. Most didn’t work in the quality field, but some knew that quality had something to do with quality control in manufacturing. Many were surprised that quality has expanded far beyond manufacturing—into healthcare, education, service, government, and beyond.

Let’s talk about that “beyond”—think social responsibility and innovation, for example. Later this month, ASQ will be launching a redesigned website for TheSRO—the Socially Responsible Organization, a movement that aims to highlight the connection between social responsibility with quality.

Investing in quality principles such as continual improvement and reduction of errors and waste contributes to an organization’s social responsibility goals. The concepts and tools of quality can help any organization realize its SR objectives and goals.

As for innovation, a group of thought leaders recently launched ASQ’s innovation interest group—a sort of think tank for developing the ASQ body of knowledge in innovation management and spreading the knowledge of innovation tools.

And some of you already know about an interest group for quality in athletics and a proposed customer service quality body of knowledge.

All of these topics are seemingly “far” from quality’s manufacturing roots—yet, I think, vital to the future of the quality field in increasing its impact.

What new fields or disciplines could most reap the benefits of quality tools and techniques?

Posted in ASQ, Current Events, Social Responsibility, culture, innovation | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Infographic: The Pulse of Global Quality

I have written quite a bit about ASQ’s Global State of Quality research in recent months. The research is a comprehensive look at quality, spanning 22 countries and containing findings from nearly 2,000 respondents. You can access the entire report here, and now you can see the top findings from the research in this infographic. As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Take a look. What jumps out and surprises you?

If you’re curious about the methodology behind the research, I recommend ASQ’s latest installment of the report, Analysis, Trends, and Opportunities 2013. It’s free for ASQ members and available for a modest fee for non-members. In the future months we will offer short Spotlight reports highlighting individual topics from the research and interviews with quality leaders who explain “the why” behind the numbers.

Posted in Global State of Quality | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Case Study: Sustaining Excellence for the Long Term

Let’s say you’ve reached the “holy grail” of quality and excellence. You make a great product. Your service is top-notch. You innovate. You’ve developed a culture of quality where employees and leaders are empowered. Now, how do you sustain all this…for years, decades, centuries? Everyone can name once-excellent companies that had trouble sustaining the very things that took them to the top.

I think there is something to learn in a recent case study about Corning, a manufacturer of industrial glass and ceramics products. Founded in 1851, Corning was known for excellence and innovation for decades, and is going strong to this day and beyond. In 1995, Corning received the Baldrige award.

Of course, Corning’s journey wasn’t without challenges.  In the 2000s Corning faced a saturated market as a mature but not necessarily innovative company.

Here are a few of the things that Corning did to turn things around:

  • Concentrated on cost advantage.
  • Preserved and enhanced culture of innovation.
  • Enhanced its already excellent continuous improvement system.
  • Focused on quality renewal.
  • Implemented performance excellence.
  • Looked for opportunities beyond manufacturing.

According to the case study, “In the past five years, Corning has generated more profit than it did in the preceding 155 years combined…Corning’s renewed commitment to quality and the addition of rigor to its hallmark innovation process allows the company to better manage the life cycles of its inventions and improve profitability and sustainability. The performance excellence program provides a competitive advantage so that Corning is a low-cost producer across its product lines on a global basis. Over an eight-year period, performance excellence saved Corning U.S. $1.5 billion.”

Pretty successful, I’d say!

Now, we often say that quality and excellence are a journey, not a destination. How do you stay on the right path amid changing times and leaders?

Posted in Baldrige, Case Study, Uncategorized, case for quality, culture, innovation | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Roundup: What’s the Value of Professional Training?

Last month we were talking about professional training. This was inspired by ASQ’s Global State of Quality research, which showed that organizations with a centralized quality group are 30 percent more likely to provide training to their employees. Although many Influential Voices bloggers wrote in favor of training in the workplace, many also encouraged quality professionals to take charge of their own training and proactively seek opportunities.

Take a look:

Tim McMahon writes that managers should be teachers and initiate training and skill development. Nicole Radziwill encourages us to share talent that is already within our companies instead of always looking at external solutions.

John Priebe tells quality professionals to seek their own opportunities—don’t just wait for your organization to offer training. Jennifer Stepniowski proposes some solutions for quality professionals in small and mid-size organizations that often don’t have a budget for training. Babette Ten Haken also writes about the challenges of training at small organizations and for entrepreneurs.

Manu Vora makes the case that training should reflect organizational strategies and major projects. Jimena Calfa thinks of training as an investment—and, yes, continuous improvement—for a company. Lotto Lai observes that training often has a narrow scope—companies are more focused on financial return rather than training itself.

Scott Rutherford suggests some ways to determine whether your organization is getting the right kind of training. Guy Wallace writes that training should be specific and tied to results, not just activity. Bob Mitchell describes the training program developed by his employer, 3M. Shon Isenhour recommends teaching methods to use when conducting training.

Anshuman Tiwari writes a humorous post about the mistakes companies make with training—his suggestion is to do training early in the year to train employees for work that will need to be done. And James Lawther contributes a tongue-in-cheek post about the value of failure in training.

Michael Noble focuses on training options in the healthcare field. Edwin Garro has a special focus on training in Central America. Don Brecken writes about quality training in academia. And Jeffrey Phillips writes about training versus innovation at companies—are we putting resources into training to the detriment of innovation?

On a different note, Dan Zrymiak writes about the connection between Labor Day and the principles of Dr. Deming. He focuses on the holiday in the U.S. and Canada, but perhaps you will find similarities to your country.

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Retiring From ASQ–But Not From Quality

Last month, ASQ’s board chair shared with ASQ’s board of directors my decision to retire from my role as ASQ’s CEO in May 2014. I’ve had the privilege of working in support of ASQ’s mission and vision for 27 years and have devoted 35 years of my career to the field of association management. That’s a lifetime, really. A rewarding lifetime.

I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with thousands of passionate, committed, dedicated member leaders who understand how much impact quality can have in making the world a better place–and who also understand the importance of their association in advancing that cause.

When I joined ASQ in 1986 (then called the American Society for Quality Control), it was purely a professional society. Over the years, it has welcomed anyone who desires to use the concepts, techniques, and tools of quality to improve themselves and their world. ASQ’s membership has grown to include members in nearly 150 countries. The stories of success and impact I have heard through the years provide just a glimpse of the benefit quality could have if it was embraced by every organization in the world.

I will watch the impact of quality with interest in years to come. I suspect I’ll do more than watch. Once quality gets in your blood, it’s hard not to want to work to increase its use.

So, if that’s all true, why am I leaving? For another quality reason: Quality of life. I will be creating for myself a “sabbatical year.” A year of long-postponed adventures, of reflection, of time for family, and of interests that don’t fit in the schedule of my role at ASQ.

That’s not to say I’m done with work. During my sabbatical, I will consider what I want to do with the remainder of time that I want to devote to work. I trust others in the community have done the same and I welcome your thoughts, your wisdom, and your experience.

Posted in Current Events, career | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Roundup: How and Why Quality Professionals Use Social Media

We don’t always think of quality professionals using social media for professional networking. Yet according to ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers, many do just that—and most use social platforms beyond blogging.

 Granted, the Influential Voices are a somewhat unique group—they blog for personal enjoyment, on their own time. Yet I think that all quality practitioners—even though who are a bit cynical about social media–could learn some useful tips. After all, you don’t need to use every social network out there. But a few selected platforms can help you get a jump start on networking and learning, no matter what your professional goals.

Blogging: Unsurprisingly, many bloggers wrote about their preference for blogging in the social media arena. But many, like Tim McMahon, also supplement their blogging on other networks. For example, John Hunter writes about making the most of blogging tools—he is a big fan of RSS readers. Chad Walters also relies on RSS and LinkedIn to make blogging easier. Jimena Calfa got her start on social media with a blog before she signed on for any other networks.

Why aren’t we using social media? Jennifer Stepniowski notes that very few quality professionals are using social media right now, and wonders why this is. Michael Noble explains why he is cynical about the usefulness of social media. James Lawther asks if organizational social media policies are isolating staff from the world rather than helping them connect.

Why and how to use social media:  Bob Mitchell writes about the strides his ASQ section, the Minnesota section, has made in using social media and technology. Rajan Thiyagaran writes about the uses of social media to professionals, including capturing customer feedback.

Aimee Siegler writes in favor of LinkedIn for professional networking. Anshuman Tiwari also writes at length about the advantages of LinkedIn over other sites. Babette Ten Haken encourages us to move beyond the comfort zone on LinkedIn and make the most of this professional networking site.

Dan Zrymiak urges us to consider the value of the content that we post on social media–and also to replicate face-to-face communities and in-person networking. There’s no substitute for these.

Edwin Garro writes (in Spanish) about using ASQ’s internal social networking site, the Communities. Communities recently underwent a redesign and is back with many enhanced features.

From an industry-specific perspective, Shon Isenhour blogs about ways the Internet is useful in improving reliability in plants. Dr. Lotto Lai writes about using social media, including his blog, to promote a book he had written.

Manu Vora explains why he uses nearly all popular social networks. Like Manu, Cesar Diaz Guevara makes use of multiple networks, from blogging to Instagram.

Meet a new blogger: And on a different note, new Influential Voice Guy Bigwood introduces himself with a post about the quality-social responsibility connection.

Posted in Networking, Social Responsibility, career, social media | 1 Comment

Global State of Quality: Professional Training

We all know that quality is an exercise in continuous improvement. Are you continuously improving yourself through training? Again, ASQ’s Global State of Quality research has some interesting facts on this matter. (Remember, you can download the entire report for free at the above link.)

From the research:  “Organizations that govern quality with a centralized group are roughly 30 percent more likely to provide quality training to staff than organizations where a senior executive governs the quality process” (page 6).

Interesting! Do find this to be true in your company? Who encourages you to pursue professional training?

To me, it’s encouraging the most organizations, especially larger companies, do provide training to their employees.  In fact, only five percent of the surveyed organizations provide no quality training at all. Take a look at this chart from the research (page 23).

BUT! The research also shows that “the majority of organizations have a fairly narrow training scope by providing quality-related training to staff directly involved in the quality process. Only a handful of organizations provide quality training to all staff” (page 24).

So, most of us get some training, but it depends on where we work, and our physical location in the organization. Does this reflect your experience? Or do you pursue quality training on your own?

Posted in Global State of Quality, Training, career | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

What’s Your Certification Advice?

The latest episode of ASQ TV is about certifications. Not just ASQ certifications, but all professional certifications.

There’s a lot of anxiety associated with certifications. And that’s too bad because certifications advance your career, increase your body of knowledge, provide proof to current and future employers about your skills, and, of course, potentially increase your salary. Year after year ASQ’s annual survey of quality professionals’ salaries shows that certifications help people stand out and increase pay.

If you’re thinking of sitting for a certification and looking for guidance and advice, I encourage you to watch this video interview with cert expert Jim Rooney, who holds nine certifications. Jim shares good and somewhat surprising advice about certifications—such as, take the exam later rather than sooner. Take your time and study.

If you hold a professional certification, I’m curious about your certification tips and tricks. What study techniques and strategies helped you navigate the test?

Update: Some Influential Voices bloggers shared their advice for passing certification exams. Take a look!

Dan Zrymiak: ASQ Certification – Perspectives From Shill to Stalwart to Scholar to Sage.

Rajan Thiyagarajan: Professional Certification–A Key Differentiator.

Manu Vora: A buddy system, and other tricks.

Anshuman Tiwari: Looking at certifications as filters, catalysts, and accelerators.

Edwin Garro: Preparing for a certification from the perspective of a cert “coach.”

Posted in Uncategorized, career | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Which Social Networks Do Quality Professionals Use?

ASQ recently enhanced and redesigned our online communities. As some of you know, ASQ’s Communities are a social network that’s open to both our members and non-members. Communities have discussion boards, forums, blogs, and more. Communities are especially popular for certification discussions. I encourage you to take a look.

The overhaul of ASQ’s Communities got me wondering about which online communities you take part in for professional networking with others in quality. Many of you have blogged for quite a few years. Before that, were you active on social networks of yore, such as Usenet discussion forums and AOL? These days, which sites do you find the most helpful and useful for the quality field, and why?

Conversely, some of you might avoid social media altogether. Do you spend your energy on in-person networking? Or are you more concerned about privacy or computer issues?

Let me know in the comments—or respond on social media, of course.

Posted in Networking, career, social media | Tagged , | 4 Comments

June Roundup: Tackling the Big Quality Questions

In June, I asked some admittedly big questions of ASQ Influential Voices bloggers and blog readers.

  • What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?
  • And, what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world?

These questions aren’t just an intellectual exercise. Answering them may determine how we shape the future of the quality field. After all, these questions address some of the key findings in ASQ’s recent Global State of Quality research, a global perspective on quality.

The Influential Voices contributed very diverse answers, coming from a variety of industries and countries. Take a look.

Tim McMahon writes about the critical value of the customer—organizations that are customer focused will fare the best. Bob Mitchell, too, speaks to the importance of delivering to customer demands. John Priebe reminds us that quality must do more than conform to “known” customer requirements—quality must address the “unrealized” requirements as well.

John Hunter writes that there are many good ideas—the challenge for quality is getting them implemented. Cesar Diaz Guevara writes about engaging with top management and using strategic and business planning. Guy Wallace advises readers to know stakeholders, competitors, stay flexible, and always answer the question: “What’s in it for me?” when it comes to quality.

Babette Ten Haken urges us to avoid “Band-Aid” solutions to quality dilemmas, and Don Brecken, too, urges quality professionals to avoid simple solutions. Shon Isenhour writes about the importance of successful change initiatives.  And Manu Vora poses a variety of questions for quality leaders to consider.

Scott Rutherford dissects lack of leadership in academia and a lack of understanding the quality profession.

Dan Zrymiak writes about the importance for the quality community of speaking and “walking” with one voice. UPDATE: Please see Dan’s comment about a misinterpretation of his post.

Dam writes, “I didn’t encourage anyone to ‘Walk with One Voice.’ Our Challenge: We all must WALK OUR TALK and SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE! Our Question: What can we do today to effectively WALK OUR TALK and SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE? Walking our Talk refers to the concept of following through the ideals and values by which we purport to abide with tangible actions leading to meaningful outcomes. Walking the talk means being conscientious and respectful, and performing work with the care and attention it deserves.”

Michael Noble finds the two question too big to tackle from every industry’s perspective, so he addresses challenges faced by his industry—medical laboratory quality.

New blogger Jeffrey Phillips answers the questions from the perspective of innovation—are quality and innovation friends or enemies?

Jennifer Stepniowski says the  biggest challenge for quality is changing consumer behavior—encouraging costumers to buy quality goods, even if they have to pay a little more.

Dr. Lotto Lai writes about quality challenges in China. Chad Walters answers the two questions from the unique perspective of sports organizations (and no surprise, focus on the customer is key for sports, too).

And Anshuman Tiwari writes about maintaining the relevance of the quality field. Many newcomers to quality don’t necessarily have “quality” in their title—is this a risk or a benefit?

On a different note, Jimena Calfa responded to another blog post in June—how do you explain your job in quality to people outside the field? Jimena wrote about explaining what goes into being quality assurance engineer.  And Rajan Thiyagarajan asks people to consider everyday tasks when explaining quality. After all, when making breakfast or packing for a trip, we all want a “quality” result.

Posted in Current Events, Management, Uncategorized, case for quality | Tagged , , | 1 Comment