Why Should Quality "Go Global"?

We were privileged last week to have with us at ASQ Headquarters in Milwaukee representatives from our global offices in India, Mexico, and China, and our partner organization in Brazil, Quali.  It is a rare treat to get nearly the entire global team together– we also have an office in the United Arab Emirates serving the Middle East and North Africa region–and it is cause for a few minutes of reflection on our global posture.

The first question that may occur to some is, why?  Until our rebranding in 2010, we were the American Society for Quality.  Why do we need to be spread out around the world?  Today I want to discuss ASQ’s reasoning for “going global,” but also to note the importance of making information about quality global in scope and available to all.

First, before we did the first thing to be global, we already were.  Some may consider quality as proprietary—that is, knowledge used by a nation to increase its competitiveness in the world. However, at ASQ, we have had many members all over the world years before we opened offices outside the U.S.  In fact, I suspect from almost the very start ASQ had members who lived outside of North America.

The ideas, the passion for quality, the networking, and the tools were attractive to those who found themselves seeking like-minded quality professionals from many different industries and businesses.  So even if we had NO plans to expand our membership globally, we would still be global.  Given that, we have an obligation to serve our global members. We want them to feel welcome, supported, and listened to.  In some cases that meant we needed a presence on the ground to better understand and serve their needs.

Second, the quality knowledge our members want and need cannot be bounded by borders.  If the Quality Body of Knowledge® is to have any value to our members, it must transcend national borders.  Where is quality making the biggest impact in the healthcare world today?  The U.S.?  India? Canada?  Wherever it is, members of the quality community are hard at work, using quality in ways tried and true and ways new and innovative, and our members want to learn from them, wherever they are.

The QBoK® is not a fixed, stagnant resource.  It is constantly growing and changing, and that evolution is happening from the auto industry in the Czech Republic to the energy industry in China and dozens of different fields in a hundred different countries.  To grow that knowledge, to give our members access to ways quality is making the world a better place, we have to be out in the world.

Third, ASQ is like any other business in one important respect: grow or perish. It’s that simple.  There is no such thing as a benign status quo.  We have to grow means, influence, and members.  Our members themselves demand it, our board demands it, and the quality community throughout the world demands it.  Our global partners don’t fear our growth–most of them welcome it because they grow along with us.

If we are to thrive for the next fifty years, we must achieve an acceptable degree of growth and the evidence is very clear that a significant portion of that growth must come from global markets. (Note that globalization is the one force that has appeared in every edition of ASQ’s Future of Quality study since 1996.)  We know we must attract more young professionals to quality, and to an ever-increasing degree, demographics tell us those young professionals will come from outside the U.S.

This month my question to you is: ASQ’s mission statement talks about increasing the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world.  Are we doing enough, throughout the world, to accomplish that mission?

Top 5 Quality Gifts From ASQ

At ASQ, we often talk about giving the gift of quality—that is, the gift of knowledge and tools one needs to practice quality.  ASQ also offers tangible gifts for the quality professional. If you’re searching for a creative or unique gift for a colleague, friend, or boss, we have a few suggestions—from popular books to a membership to a phone case to ASQ golf balls (yes, golf balls).

1.    The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition. This book is always a favorite colleague gift for those starting out in the field, and a timeless refresher for everyone else.

2.    An ASQ membership. This could be a good gift for everyone from students and interns to seasoned professionals. Choose from a student, associate, or a full membership. Along with all the benefits of a membership, ASQ members receive a free monthly gift bundle on a “hot” quality topic, such as the ISO 9001 revision.

3.    ASQ phone case. Or a sweatshirt. Or a bag. Or a pen, a hat, a T-shirt, or golf balls. Did you know that you can get a variety of fun, small gifts with the ASQ logo? See our store for ASQ accessories, office gear, and clothing.

4.    The ASQ Quality Improvement Pocket Guide. This inexpensive pocket guide is a quick, on-the-job reference for anyone interested in making their workplace more effective and efficient. It’s a great gift for quality newbies.

5.   Quality Press Gift Certificate. If you’d like the recipient to choose his or her own book, give a gift certificate to the Quality Press bookstore. The certificate can be redeemed for any of ASQ’s print or e-books, as well as standards and journals.

Recruiting Members and Volunteers Amid a Changing Landscape

In recent months I have been traveling to ASQ sections and divisions to meet with our members. Our members are very passionate about ASQ, and they don’t hesitate to bring up challenges that we must address as an organization. One of those challenges is our membership model. Simply put, members tell me that we must make it easier for quality professionals to be a part of ASQ. For some, the traditional section and/or division membership works great, but for others, it does not.

While we will certainly analyze this issue, I think we’re not the only association in this boat.  Most associations must generate new and creative ways to attract and retain members. This comes as no surprise. If you’re really interested, you could read this report from the Center for Association Leadership on changing demographic trends and how they affect associations.

From the report:

“The dependency on membership and participation for traditional third-sector organizations will likely continue, but the sustaining sources for such organizations — namely the ‘traditional’ members — will certainly evolve and could even disappear, forcing organizations to look for new sources of members, donors, volunteers, and revenue. Organizations may have to change their missions to meet the needs and demands of a whole new membership and service sector. The transformation is a result of dramatic demographic change in the U.S. population, a force that is altering the profile of U.S. membership associations like never before. The pool of ‘traditional’ members (i.e., members derived from historic rather than current demographic data) is diminishing quickly as demographics continue to shift.”

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. It appears that professional associations worldwide are also affected by demographic trends. Even without such trends, we intuitively know that there are many ways for people to get professional information these days—certainly on the internet and on social media, for a start.

At ASQ headquarters we are sometimes asked for advice on best practices on attracting members to their section or division. I am by no means an expert on this topic, but I do want to share some tips developed by ASQ’s Community Development team, which works closely with our members and volunteer leaders.

  • Asking people to attend an association event is an authentic, effective, and simple way to engage potential members.  The Community Development team tells me that people of all ages are three times as likely to help if asked directly. In this age of electronic communication, do we ask people to help, face to face, as frequently as we could?
  • In addition, current association members can refer members and colleagues. They can invite them to association meetings and events, and they can follow up with members who’ve lapsed. A simple call or email can do the trick.
  • To encourage committed members to step up and become association leaders—such as volunteers or chapter officers– explain what’s in it for them. Think leadership experience, practice and application of skills, and personal achievement. You should be ready to provide enough information about specific requirements and expectations. Finally, of course, asking them is the most effective technique of all.

Now let’s hear from you. If you’re part of a professional association, how do you encourage people to join or volunteer? How do local trends impact your association?

*Not to trumpet ASQ, but in November we will resume our annual Adding New Voices campaign, in which ASQ members can give a free, six-month membership to a colleague or friend. Members, watch your email for details.

10 Ways To Get the Most From Your ASQ Membership

Dan Zrymiak

Daniel Zrymiak is an Influential Voices blogger and longtime ASQ member. He has worked in quality for two decades, and is active in ASQ as a Quality Press author and reviewer, member leader, Technical Committee chair, and Fellow, the highest level of membership. He lives in Canada and blogs at A QualitEvolution.

In this guest post, I hope to advise ASQ members and the wider quality community on how to optimize an ASQ membership.  By actively participating in ASQ programs and benefits and by keeping current personal records, ASQ can be experienced as a professional loyalty program.

Just as an airline or hotel loyalty program would require you to be a passenger or hotel guest, any association or society places certain expectations. With progressive levels of achievement and advancement, more privileges and opportunities are available within ASQ (and within most associations that you may wish to join).

For a professional association like ASQ, some effective ways to build loyalty are summarized below:

1. Attend and present at ASQ meetings. From the most humble local section

Connecting at ASQ's World Conference on Quality and Improvement

gathering to the grandest palatial ballroom of the ASQ World Conference, the opportunity to interact and be a visible presence reinforces that ASQ extends beyond your local location, region, or industry specialization. The breadth and scope of ASQ can be most appreciated through direct interactions with other quality professionals.

2. Pursue certification and professional experience.  Certification allows the time spent within ASQ to be effectively leveraged to the benefit of your career. As a personal example, I applied an ASQ Certified Software Quality Engineer certification and professional experience to teach software QA at local universities and colleges.

3. Volunteer to serve as a member leader. Whether in an elected office or appointed position with a section or division, joining the growing community of member leaders within ASQ extends the involvement and creates the satisfaction that comes from addressing and fulfilling challenges.

4. Contribute your knowledge. Those ASQ members who devote their time as reviewers, authors, presenters, moderators, curriculum developers, or intellectual property contributors may be eligible for additional rewards which can include gifts, discounts on ASQ merchandise, honoraria, subsidized or complimentary conference registration, and recognition events.

5. Track your achievements and remain in good standing. By paying and renewing membership fees in a timely manner, interruptions are avoided.  A disrupted or intermittent record may create restrictions or lost opportunities for certain benefits. Also be sure to keep your personal records with accuracy and thoroughness.  Delaying the tracking may result in having your work not properly credited toward future member benefits.

6 .Complete your recertification. The steps to recertification permit you to retain your professional standing by submitting your validated records of professional involvement, in a most convenient and accessible manner.

7. Access an unlimited knowledge base. This benefit includes intellectual property retained through collections of publications, as well as the exposure to global expertise from experienced and successful practitioners, academics, and authors.  In addition, you can take advantage of multiple opportunities to conveniently acquire mentors and to mentor others within the profession, providing a cost-effective advantage over the expensive alternative of career consultants or executive coaches.

8. Upgrade to senior membership. This member level is available after ASQ members have attained or achieved levels of experience and fulfillment in particular areas (i.e. certification, career level, duration of membership).  The immediate financial benefit can be realized from the free journal, the benefit of which exceeds the incremental membership cost.  ASQ Senior Members also may take on additional levels of responsibility and influence within ASQ.

9. Pursue senior leadership and governance. ASQ provides members with opportunities for election into roles of authority and influence, such as section, division, or board leadership. This enables exceptional opportunities to demonstrate leadership and interact with corporate and government leaders.

10. Position for higher honors. Outstanding ASQ members and quality practitioners can be recognized by ASQ (i.e. Fellow memberships, ASQ awards).  For the competitive awards process, a personal portfolio of professional and personal accomplishments must be submitted for evaluation and selection.  However, falling short does not mean rejection or failure, only the added inspiration to improve and attain greater achievements.

To get the most from the loyalty capital you have cultivated over time, it is imperative that you strive for the promise of your full potential, all that awaits you within ASQ, and wherever your passionate pursuits may lead.

To learn more about ASQ membership, please see the ASQ membership page, call the ASQ Customer Care group, or email help@asq.org. If you’re an ASQ member seeking more information on leadership and volunteering opportunities or awards, please contact communitydevelopment@asq.org or your ASQ Community Development administrator.