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 John Hunter reflects on why conferences can seem outdated and offers some suggestions for a fresher approach.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.

Quality Trends in Uncommon Places

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

Most of the keynote speakers at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement weren’t traditional “quality” professionals. Yet all wove the theme of quality into their presentations, which ranged from what motivates us in the workplace to how to be more interesting (useful when courting potential clients and employers).

For May’s monthly theme on View From the Q, we’re breaking with tradition a bit and offering multiple topics for discussion. All are themes that came up at the conference. Yet these subjects are relevant to the quality community far beyond one event. Take a look.

Workplace Motivation and Goals: What motivates you at work? Keynote speaker and author Daniel Pink argued that rewards motivate us to accomplish very simple and rote tasks, but they’re useless in encouraging complex and creative work. Interestingly, ASQ blogger John Hunter (who wasn’t at the conference) just wrote a post for the W. Edwards Deming Institute blog featuring a podcast by Pink and this insight: “Quotes by Dan Pink are backed by decades of research , and support W. Edwards Deming’s views on managing people.”  Here’s a sampling of Daniel Pink’s case against rewards for performance:

  • Short-term motivators have outlived their use for 21st century work. Dr. Deming figured this out years ago.
  • Fact: Money is a motivator—it’s the standard of normal fairness. Pay enough to take issue of money off the table.
  • Besides money, the three key motivators are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
  • The technology for engagement isn’t management, but self-direction over time, tasks, team, and technique.

Do you think Pink and Deming are correct about about motivation in the workpalce?

Charm and Fascination (or “Soft Skills): Both Sally Hogshead and James Melton spoke at the conference about making oneself likeable, fascinating, and charming. You may think of these as “soft skills.”  Do soft skills matter if you’re extraordinary at the technical aspects of your job? Sally and James said yes! Key takeaway from James Melton: “Treat strangers with the same courtesy as you do loved ones. You will go far.” You never know when that stranger turns out to be a client or an employer. Sally Hogshead said that you don’t have to be the best at your job to be successfu.  But you do need to be distinct. How do you make yourself distinct as a quality professional?

The Quality/C-Suite Connection: Author Karen Martin spoke about the disconnect between the quality department and the C-suite. It’s a common problem, and one covered on this blog. See: Can We “Sell” Quality? and Baldrige In the C-Suite.  How can you, the quality professional, help build a bridge to the C-suite? Karen suggests becoming a coach, teacher, and mentor in your organization. Do you agree?

What’s The Future of Quality? Futurist Jamais Cascio laid out his vision of epic global changes in the next decade. How will the quality profession change in tandem? It’s a question of great interest to ASQ. Every three years we conduct a Future of Quality study, anticipating the future of the field and preparing for the changes it will bring. The latest study was done in 2011, and you can read it here (PDF). Speaking of the future, ASQ’s just-released Global State of Quality research  gives a comprehensive look at the quality function in organizations around the world. The research is certainly helping us plan for the future by uncovering current trends. Look for a more in-depth post on The Global State of Quality later in May. Paul Borawski will be back with additional insights on the research.

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.

See also:

ASQ World Conference Day 2: A Look Into the Future

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

The second day of ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement started with a look into our collective global future and ended with a glimpse of the future of quality itself.

It seemed appropriate that the Tuesday morning keynote by futurist Jamais Cascio addressed the many unprecedented ways the world is changing. Key takeaway: The next decade will change our planet, including our climate, our technology, our geopolitics, and our communication methods.

Other key takeaways:

  • Get ready for major economic shifts and unprecedented changes in climate worldwide.  
  • Jobs are also changing–mechanical work is being replicated by machine.
  • Transparency is everywhere: In news, in surveillance equipment, and in technology.
  • New technologies bring forth ethical questions: Who’s responsible for the decisions of machines?
  • Despite enormous changes, our lives will continue. The future is what we create. We are all futurists. What will you create?

Nowhere was that theme clearer than at the unveiling of ASQ’s Global State of Quality research in the afternoon. This was a first-ever view of this groundbreaking data on quality and its impact on organizations worldwide. Data was gathered from 2,000 organizations in 22 countries. The first section of the research, Discoveries 2013, was presented as part of a moderated forum.

Key takeaways:

  • 30 percent of participants reported that quality is governed and managed by a centralized quality group in their organization.
  • 34 percent of participating organizations strongly agreed that there are measurable quality goals in their strategy.
  • Interestingly, only 14 percent of organizations strongly agreed that they use quality metrics in performance-based compensation.
  • The definition of quality may need to change and evolve with every new generation.

You can download the entire Discoveries 2013 report at The Global State of Quality website. Additional findings, data, and analysis will be released later this summer and in the fall.

Other highlights on Tuesday:  

Poster presentations by International Team Excellence Award finalists in the ASQ Center.
  • Featured presentation by author and leadership expert James Melton on communicating effectively. Key takeaway: Treat strangers with the same courtesy as you do loved ones. You will go far.
  • More quality impact sessions/live team case studies by International Team Excellence Award finalists. The award recipients will be announced tomorrow!
  • An afternoon extravaganza in the very busy exhibit hall. 
  • And a networking reception for all conference goers in the evening: Food, drink, merrymaking and connecting!

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow, Wednesday, is the last day of the conference! Be sure to stay for the closing section. It features the International Team Excellence Award ceremony and keynote speaker Sally Hogshead. Sally takes a unique approach to personal branding—instead of analyzing how you see the world, she analyzes how other people see you.

We hope to see you tomorrow! As always, you can view details on the ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement site. And remember, the conference Twitter hashtag is #WCQI13.

See also: Day 1 ASQ World Conference recap: The science of motivation and more. Day 3 of the conference: End with energy.