April Roundup: The Case For Conferences

When was the last time you traveled to a conference? Was the experience worth it? Conference attendance was the topic for discussion in April for ASQ’s Influential Voices blogging group. Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, this topic elicited very passionate responses from the bloggers.

Many shared their criteria for attending conferences, some wrote about memorable experiences at conferences they have attending, while others reflected on the concept of the conference itself. Take a look at the responses below.

Why Attend Conferences? Jennifer Stepniowski writes about factors she considers when attending events, including attendee demographics and cost.  Aimee Siegler shares some advantages of conferences, such as extensive opportunities to network.  Rajan Thiyagarajan lists his five reasons to attend conferences, which range from learning to hearing the keynote speakers. Luciana Paulise encourages small-business owners to attend conferences.

Pam Schodt says the pros of conferences, such as networking, outweigh the cons. Michael Noble shares seven tips on making meetings work for you, such as choosing events to which you can easily travel.  Longtime ASQ World Conference attendee Scott Rutherford writes about “growing” into a conference on offers some tips on enjoying events for those who’re experienced conference-goers (for example, connect with people you’ve already met).

Finally, Chad Walters reflect on his reasons for attending ASQ’s World Conference this year.

Attending  a Conference? Tim McMahon suggests preparing before the conference and following up after.Cesar Diaz Guevara offers his tips on networking and having fun at meetings and events, while Jimena Calfa offers her guide to networking. David Levy says that in his experience, conferences are an intro to tools, not the end all be all of learning. Finally, don’t forget the little things! Lotto Lai reminds us to be sure to take photos.

Other Thoughts: From an ASQ conference perspective, Dan Zrymiak writes that engaged ASQ members can get the most from ASQ events (as is true for most associations). John Hunter reflects on why conferences can seem outdated and offers some suggestions for a fresher approach. Longtime conference organizer and attendee Manu Vora offers his thoughts on planning and attending conferences and meetings.

Finally, Edwin Garro wrote a post in his native Spanish reflecting on the international aspects of ASQ’s World Conference.

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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.

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ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement 2015: Day 1

Every ASQ World Conference gives guests a taste of the local flavor, and, so far, ASQ’s 2015 World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Nashville, Tennessee, has been no different. At the opening reception on Sunday, May 3, a Dolly Parton impersonator and a country band welcomed visitors to the conference and to “music city.”  Naturally, the conference isn’t all fun and games, although a bit of fun is always welcome.

The theme of the 2015 conference is a lofty one: Transforming the world through innovation, inspiration, and leadership. These themes, especially inspiration and innovation, ran through the opening keynote by Shawn Achor, a best-selling author and researcher on positive psychology.

Achor said research shows that happiness is a choice for the human brain, and it’s where we decide to devote our resources that determines our level of happiness.  Happiness is the joy you feel growing toward your potential (not mere pleasure).

In relation to quality and improvement, happiness means striving toward being better and improving our companies and products. It is the opposite of complacency. Happiness isn’t pure optimism, but it’s deciding how to tackle problems and issues. Finally, positivity spreads positivity, even if it’s through very simple, no-cost gestures, such as smiling or making eye contact. A positive culture can be a better culture of quality and improvement.

These themes were also apparent in keynote speaker Dr. Joann’s Sternke’s address. Sternke, the superintendent of the award-winning Pewaukee School District, brought many program improvement and innovations to the school system. From a Baldrige perspective, she touched on themes like innovation and leadership by building a mission-driven culture.

Other notable conference events included:

  • Creative “After 5” sessions on the lighter side of quality, such as juggling and statistics and using music  for quality-based innovation.
  • The exhibit hall, home to the popular ASQ Center which has many icebreaker and networking games and opportunities: a giant Jenga game, a photo booth with goofy accessories, a photo opportunity with life-size quality guru portraits, and a live twitter feed (hashtag #WCQI15).
  • Quality impact sessions/live team case studies by finalists in ASQ’s International Team Excellence Awards process. Of course, that’s not even touching on the dozens of information-packed concurrent sessions.

Events on the lineup for Tuesday, May 5:

  • A keynote by entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan, 8 a.m.-9 .m.
  • A keynote by Charles Best, founder and CEO of donorschoose.com, 1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m.
  • The exhibit hall extravaganza, 2:15-3:45, with many giveaways, prizes, and entertainment.
  • And, of course, the networking reception (ticket required), 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., in the Delta Island.
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A Leader’s Roadmap to a Culture of Quality: Building on Forbes Insights-ASQ Leadership Research: Part 3 of 3

This is a guest post by Rob Lawton, an author, executive coach, and expert in creating rapid strategic alignment between enterprise objectives and customer priorities. He has directed strategic and operational improvement initiatives since 1985. Lawton coined the term “customer-centered culture” with his first book, Creating a Customer-Centered Culture: Leadership in Quality, Innovation and Speed (ASQ Quality Press, 1993). He has been published in Brazil, China, the U.K., and is referenced widely. Many of his articles are available at www.imtc3.com. Contact him at Robin.Lawton@icloud.com.

Part one

Part two

The Forbes Insights-ASQ research published in fall of 2014 distills several guidelines from interviewees that can be especially useful with more detail.  My purpose in this three-part series is to provide details and references to the missing specifics for successful action.

This blog post is the last in the series.  It spells out how to successfully address point #3, below (page numbers from the report are shown in parenthesis):

1.    All employees must apply the four key elements of any strategy for building a quality culture.  (Page 8: Boeing’s Ken Shead.)
2.    Closely understand customer expectations so you can focus and give them what they want.  Study respondents overwhelmingly report low effectiveness by their organizations in doing so.  (Page 16: Intel’s Stan Miller and Rudy Hacker.)
3.    Develop a formal quality policy, common language and leader behaviors as deployment mechanisms. (Pages 18-19, HP’s Rodney Donaville.)

DEVELOP QUALITY POLICY, COMMON LANGUAGE, AND LEADER BEHAVIORS

Mr. Donaville states in the study that establishing a common language (absent ambiguity) is essential for the culture leader.  We have found there are six essential levers that a leader can push on to strengthen and change the culture: language, values, measures, power, assumptions and modeling.  Specific guidance was provided in the preceding two blogs on the first four.

The moment we talk about a quality policy, we encounter another frequent stumbling block on the road to a strong quality culture.  Just about everyone in the study agrees that quality starts and ends with the customer’s definition of it.  If that is true, is there a difference between a customer satisfaction and quality policy? The evidence suggests there is.

A traditional quality policy generally points us toward technical product or process performance.  In practice, it is common to find that quality policies encourage action to find and reduce defects and errors. If it is possible to have a product with a very low defect rate but a high customer defection rate, there is a difference between quality and satisfaction that matters.  Likewise, if we can have a product with a modest defect rate but fanatically loyal customers, there is a difference between quality and satisfaction that matters.

Sadly, we find quality policies are far more common than those on customer satisfaction. Let’s solve the issue by putting the emphasis where all the leaders in the study say it should go, on customer satisfaction.   The following Customer Satisfaction Policy, displayed prominently by a major retailer, is a typical approach to the matter.

We guarantee customer satisfaction by refund, replacement or return. (Labeled as Walmart’s customer satisfaction policy and displayed on the wall at the returns or customer service desk.)

Is this really a policy on satisfaction?  Does is address Dimensions 1 or 2 in the graphic below (discussed in part two of this series)?

Since the intent is to describe the corrective action the company will take when the customer is unhappy with a purchase, it is a dissatisfaction policy focused on Dimension 2.

Consider a second example.

All employees, associates and partners will:

•    Proactively solicit customer needs and expectations.
•    Confirm that we have understood those expectations.
•    Develop, package, deliver and support our products to meet those expectations.
•    Measure the degree to which our customers’ product and outcome expectations are achieved.
•    Never blame the user when he or she cannot make a product or process work; provide understanding then help.   Assume they have done their best.
•    Aggressively seek to close any gap between what our customers expect and what they experience. (Developed by International Management Technologies, Inc. and provided to many of its clients with permission to use.)

This policy puts all six cultural levers to work here: language, values, measures, power, assumptions and modeling.  Bullets 1-4 are related to Dimension 1, bullets 5-6 cover Dimension 2.

SUMMARY

ASQ and Forbes Insights have provided us with great food for thought.  My purpose in this three-part blog series has been to put some practical guidelines and references on the table for those wanting to take action.  I invite you to spend about six minutes on a self-assessment and see where you are on the road map to excellence.  The questions are designed in such a way that, once you give your response, you’ll already have the start of an action plan forming in your mind.  Just select item #1 here. The average score across thousands of responders is about 70 (out of a possible 125).

You can also take the Forbes Insights/ASQ Culture of Quality self-assessment, which gives an overview of your organization’s culture of quality.

ASQ provides a catalyst to apply culture-strengthening practices to your own organization: the course Excellence in 8 Dimensions. My hope is the short action plan outlined in this series, or implied by your self-assessment results, has offered you useful insights and a practical path forward.

Posted in Case Study, Customer Service, Forbes Insights Culture of Quality, Management, Uncategorized, Voice of the Customer | Comments Off

The Pros and Cons of Conferences

[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. Some 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 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?

Posted in Education, Networking, World Conference on Quality and Improvement | 5 Comments

March Roundup: What To Do About STEM Education?

How are your math skills? If you’re reading this, you probably work in quality, engineering, or a related field, and chances are your math is pretty good. This is not the case for a lot of students—especially, it seems, in the United States. This was the topic for discussion for ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers in March, inspired by ASQ CEO Bill Troy’s post about ways to encourage business owners to support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Tim McMahon writes that STEM is in crisis—an offers several few ideas that can help, including becoming a mentor.  Rajan Thiyagarajan also shares his tips to improve STEM, which range from brushing up on STEM basics to exploring gamification. Sunil Kaushik also suggests brushing up on both fundamentals and fun

Speaking of fun, Don Brecken wonders if we should add a lot more of it to STEM education. Nicole Radziwill suggests and defines STEAM as the solution (STEM plus the arts). Jennifer Stepniowski suggests some unique ways to promote STEM to kids, including volunteering at schools.

Scott Rutherford asks if we’re truly promoting STEM in innovating ways. John Hunter argues that we need to improve STEM education to increase interest in the field. Cesar Diaz Guevara writes that engineering should be synonymous with inventiveness.

Pam Schodt offers some practical tips for teenagers in choosing a STEM career. Luciana Paulisa writes that the key is making STEM fit students’ intrinsic needs.

Jimena Calfa writes about the state of STEM in Argentina, while Lotto Lai reports about STEM education in Hong Kong. Manu Vora blogs about STEM education and competitiveness in India.

Edwin Garro reflects on the success of STEM in Costa Rica, including the success stories in his own family. Dan Zrymiak writes about promoting STEM in Canada, and Michael Noble looks at the causes of a possible STEM shortage in North America. Finally,  Anshuman Tiwari describes two young STEM students who would make great role models for students in India.

Posted in Current Events, STEM, Uncategorized | Comments Off

A Baldrige Update and Q&A With Bob Fangmeyer

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program published the latest revisions to the Criteria for Performance Excellence in 2015–2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework: A Systems Approach to Improving Your Organization’s Performance. The program also recently released a brochure-length Criteria-based resource: Baldrige Excellence Builder. In this guest post, Baldrige Program Director Bob Fangmeyer responds to questions quality professionals may have about using these resources to help organizations improve their performance.

In 2013, Fangmeyer became the third director to lead the Baldrige Program since its establishment by Congress in 1987. In his tenure so far, Bob has worked to lead the expansion of product and service offerings, strengthen partnerships and collaborations, and focus on increasing use of the Baldrige Excellence Framework in all sectors.

If my organization is not applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, how can we still benefit from using the Criteria?

First, it is important to understand that the Baldrige Excellence Framework, which includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, serves two purposes: as the standard of excellence that award applicants are evaluated against, and as an educational document designed to help any organization achieve better outcomes and results.

Second, it is important to understand that Baldrige is not a substitute for the quality and processes improvement tools you use, such as lean, Six Sigma, and ISO. We provide a framework that works in conjunction with such improvement tools to ensure that your organization is making appropriate improvements to the most important processes in order to achieve organization-wide goals and objectives. Complementary to quality or process improvement tools, the Baldrige Excellence Framework is a systems approach to leadership, management, and organizational performance improvement that ensures an integrated focus on the unique factors that drive success for your organization.

The many benefits to be gained by using the Criteria—or derivative products such as  Baldrige Excellence Builder (go here for a free sample) and Are We Making Progress? surveys—as a leadership guide and/or self-assessment tool include improved communication, understanding of customer requirements, organizational alignment, employee and customer engagement, and, of course, business and operational results. One easy first step is to see if you can answer the questions in the Organizational Profile (the prefatory section to the Criteria), and if others in your organization, including the leadership, would answer them the same way. We hear from organizations of all kinds that this simple exercise was one of the most important and impactful steps in getting their people and processes aligned, thereby enabling significant and rapid gains.

How is the new version of the Criteria different from previous versions?

The change to the title of the booklet aims to clarify that the contents are not only “criteria” for the Baldrige Award but also a framework for improving performance and achieving excellence based on a systems perspective.

The graphical depiction of the framework (see below) has changed to better highlight key attributes; as one example, the Organizational Profile more clearly shows that it’s the context for all performance areas. We also streamlined the Criteria’s format to make it more concise, readable, and user-friendly.

Last but not least, we have made revisions to the Criteria, as we do every two years, to ensure that the Baldrige framework represents what we call the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice. Those revisions, centered around change management, climate change, and “big data,” are detailed in the “Changes from 2013-2014” section of the booklet.

There seem to have been a lot of other changes in Baldrige recently, including new products and services. Why is that?

The Baldrige Program’s purpose is to improve organizational performance, competitiveness, and sustainability. Our mission is to define, recognize, and foster organizational performance excellence in every sector of the economy.

If we are to accomplish our mission and purpose, we need to reach and engage with as many organizations as possible. Therefore, we have been developing new products and services that meet the needs of a broader audience, including establishing a highly regarded executive development program, in-depth training on the Baldrige framework and Criteria, and assessment services unrelated to the Baldrige Award.

I want every organization that is interested in achieving better results to think “Baldrige equals excellence” and “Baldrige can help us get better.” One of the best ways to do that happens to be getting an objective external assessment, either through the national Baldrige Award process, or through a local or regional program, but I want them to explore and use Baldrige even if they never apply for any award or recognition.

What if my organization’s leadership believes adopting the Baldrige approach isn’t easy enough?

One answer is that achieving excellence is not easy. If excellence were easy, it would be common, and there would be no need for Baldrige! But the good news is that an organization can get started with a Baldrige approach and achieve significant improvements without heavy investment, particularly with our new products and services.

The dramatic improvements and long-term success of organizations that have embraced the Baldrige framework prove that it is worth the investment. By making this commitment, organizations of any sector or size can achieve desired results despite an increasingly challenging environment.

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A Leader’s Roadmap to a Culture of Quality: Building on Forbes Insights-ASQ Leadership Research: Part 2 of 3

This is a guest post by Rob Lawton, an author, executive coach, and expert in creating rapid strategic alignment between enterprise objectives and customer priorities. He has directed strategic and operational improvement initiatives since 1985. Lawton coined the term “customer-centered culture” with his first book, Creating a Customer-Centered Culture: Leadership in Quality, Innovation and Speed (ASQ Quality Press, 1993). He has been published in Brazil, China, the U.K., and is referenced widely. Many of his articles are available at www.imtc3.com. Contact him at Robin.Lawton@icloud.com.

The Forbes Insights-ASQ white paper published in fall of 2014 distills several guidelines from interviewees that can be especially useful with more detail. My purpose in this three part blog series is to provide details and references to the missing specifics for successful action.

Part 1 in this blog series addressed the first of three research findings on what leaders must do to create a quality culture:
1.    All employees must apply the four key elements of any strategy for building a quality culture.  (Page 8: Boeing’s Ken Shead).
2.    Closely understand customer expectations so you can focus and give them what they want.  Study respondents overwhelmingly report low effectiveness by their organizations in doing so.  (Page 16: Intel’s Stan Miller and Rudy Hacker)
3.    Develop a formal quality policy, common language and leader behaviors as deployment mechanisms. (Pages 18-19, HP’s Rodney Donaville)

Part Two in this blog series spells out how to successfully address point #2, above.

CLOSELY UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS

“Duh! Well, of course!” would be the expected response by many leaders and quality practitioners to this exhortation.  The intent to understand what customers want is easily agreed with but not well executed.

Most culture change leaders do not have the time, patience or inclination sufficient to adequately understand and apply the many quality methods and tools available.  Abundance, complexity and competing priorities abound.  The voice of the customer (VOC), customer experience, QFD and other labels refer to organized ways of uncovering and satisfying what customers want.  They’re all valuable but not necessarily easy to apply or relevant to every organizational setting.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of information is aimed at widget-making enterprises.  Only 13% of us personally make widgets so we need another way.

There are two practical and easy-to-apply versions of the cultural transformation roadmap. For those leaders who prefer text and a step-by step recipe, follow the path of answers to questions 1-8 covered in the first blog in this series.  For those of us who like pictures, think in terms of relationships and systems, like a reference that applies to every aspect of excellence in every context, and want to be able to point to “we are here,” use the 8 Dimensions of Excellence  graphic below (more on this graphic).


A culture of quality must address all eight topics labeled in this graphic.  Attacking the Dimensions in the sequence shown by the numbers works best.  Traditional quality management practices put especially heavy emphasis on Dimension 8.  In fact, most initiative names (lean, Six Sigma, activity-based costing, business process improvement, etc.) explicitly work on processes to benefit the producer.  Dimension 4, the customer’s process for acquiring and using the product, generally gets far less attention.

Leaders who have defined and measured Dimensions 1-4, in that order, have effectively uncovered the VOC.  That defines the target to hit; it is what quality or excellence means to customers.  The mechanics of doing this in any context is described with some detail in “Voice of the Customer In a Widget-free World.”

An easy way to test whether what we have said we value is actually valued is to examine what gets measured regarding each of the 8 Dimensions.  Most healthcare organizations will admit that their customers (patients, let’s say) want to achieve, above all else,  “good health.”  This is the voice of the customer for Dimension 1, their ultimate desired outcome, and should not come as a surprise.  Yet the vast majority of healthcare providers have no written definition for good health (though the World Health Organization has had one since 1948), has no measure for it, and no numerical goals for improvement.  Other than that, everything is wonderful.

Happily, there will be many measures for other things, mostly regarding operations and compliance, but the most important customer outcome is not defined, measured or linked to compensation or performance reviews (but volume, cycle time and cost are).  Customer surveys ask many questions (on courtesy, cleanliness, wait times) but few to none regarding the good health outcome (not to be confused with the clinical outcome).  We assume high scores indicate satisfaction, but we have carefully chosen which questions to ask and which to avoid.  The power of customers is therefore diminished and staff behavior is not linked to what the strategic plan intends.

You can fix this situation by using the 8 Dimensions framework with the steps outlined in the article referenced above. You will have a practical sense for what it takes to “closely understand customer expectations.”

The third blog in this series will outline the specifics of taking action on the third major research finding: Develop policy, common language and leader behaviors for deployment.

Posted in Case Study, Management, Uncategorized, case for quality, culture | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Encourage the Next Generation of STEM Professionals

A version of this blog post was originally published by www.biztimes.com.

We all know how important it is to get students interested in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math. But we also know that STEM doesn’t always have the best reputation among teens—with perceptions ranging from science being “hard” or boring. And yet, the news is not all bad.

Case in point. Every year ASQ surveys teenagers about various STEM topics. In our 2015 survey, 80 percent of teens said they admire engineers’ problem-solving abilities and 68 percent think engineers get paid a high salary. Only 38 percent, however, think that engineers can easily get a job.

To us at ASQ, the survey underscores that teens have at least some interest in STEM, but worry about the job market. Are their fears unwarranted? According to various sources, the U.S. may have a STEM skills shortage, and many such jobs are going unfilled. You can read more about the state of STEM jobs in the U.S. News and World Report and The Bayer Facts of Science Education XVI survey.

(And by the way, if you’re based outside of the U.S., I’m interested in the state of STEM in your country–are young people pursuing this field? Why or why not?)

So, what to do about this problem?  Note that unfilled STEM jobs slow down business growth, lower productivity, and lead to lower revenues–whether you’re a STEM business/employee or not. (Source is this infographic.) In ASQ’s 2014 Engineering Week survey, we asked our members to give engineering students some advice. I believe their advice is applicable nearly worldwide, and is also helpful to businesses that may be employing  students as interns or staff.

Be a mentor. Consider becoming a mentor, formally or informally.  For students, the “the best way to learn about leadership is by seeing it demonstrated in real life, not out of a book.”

Build relationships. Do you have a relationship with a local school, university, or STEM program? This can be a source of potential future interns, apprentices, and employees.

Consider STEM-related sponsorships. For example, a local doctor’s office might support students with a sponsorship to a Science Olympiad team or a small manufacturer might partner with students who are participating in a robotics club. You could also look into opportunities to speak about your own STEM-related field during career days at school.

Provide a business education. Students who go into STEM benefit from understanding business basics and how to communicate with the C-suite. Even if your business is not in the STEM field, any potential science student will gain from your knowledge and experience.

Educate yourself as a parent. Frequently, parents with no background in STEM fields are not aware of the opportunities in those areas, and consequently do not educate their kids in the vast career opportunities available. If your child shows interest in math or science, it’s time to read up on the different career paths available. Does your child want to be a mechanical or civil engineer? What about a career in nanotechnology, biomechanics, or astrophysics?  There are so many choices available and you should start educating yourself so that you can have informed conversations with your children.

Businesses can play an important role in helping to encourage the next generation of STEM professionals. It’s time to step up to the plate.

Posted in STEM, Uncategorized, career, culture, engineering, engineers | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

February Roundup: Is Quality “Global”?

Is quality a global phenomenon, or does it have a national identity? That was the question put to ASQ’s Influential Voices blogging group in January. At ASQ we often talk about “quality going global”—should it and does it? (We, of course, believe that it should.)  If so, how is quality knowledge best shared worldwide? Here’s what ASQ’s bloggers had to say:

Anshuman Tiwari makes the case that quality needs a better global presence. Manu Vora writes about the specifics of why, what, and how of making quality more global. Pam Schodt writes that globalization is a fact of life in many industries; so why not in quality? Nicole Radziwill states that it’s not a matter of quality “going global”–quality has always been global. Edwin Garro, too, writes that quality is universal and belongs to everyone.

Lotto Lai shares some perspectives on globalization from the Hong Kong Society of Quality. Luciana Paulise writes about the future of quality in Latin American small businesses. Jimena Calfa references ASQ’s own Global State of Quality research in her discussion.

Scott Rutherford writes about the importance of making the Quality Body of Knowledge® (QBoK) global and accessible to all. John Hunter also makes the case for making the QBoK open access. Sunk Kaushik asks if we need a social network specifically for quality professionals to share knowledge.

Jennifer Stepniowski writes about the challenges of making quality knowledge global and expanding ASQ’s global presence. Aimee Siegler, a former ASQ board member, remembers her role in helping ASQ “go global.” Dan Zrymiak also blogs about ASQ’s challenges of meeting global needs, arguing that quality is already global.

In the end, says Bob Mitchell, “Regardless where the the products are developed, fundamental quality principles are bedrock.”

Posted in Global, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment