Applying Organizational Excellence at Lean Six Sigma Conference

Six Sigma Escape Room winners
Six Sigma Escape Room winners

Building off the success of the 2019 event, over 500 quality professionals came together in Phoenix at the Lean and Six Sigma Conference where they focused on applying lean and Six Sigma for organizational excellence.

Quality professionals are uniquely positioned to lead their organizations through today’s ever-changing landscape of disruption and transformation, and this year’s conference featured sessions, workshops, and speakers aimed to help attendees optimize excellence and growth though change management, data analytics, strategic alignment, and more.

I have been able to meet people from all over the globe and from a variety of industries all focused on the same thing–continuous improvement.

Lindsay Lapatinsky
Keynote Speakers

Monday morning kicked off with Dr. Gregory Watson’s keynote address on the art of leading change in the age of Quality 4.0. As an ASQ Fellow and past chair, Watson brought his breadth of knowledge on Six Sigma to the presentation where he walked the audience through the development and popularization of Six Sigma. Organizational excellence in Quality 4.0 cannot be created and sustained by statistics alone, Watson explained. It must also be nurtured and fostered through strategic decisions and executive team buy-in. Watson discussed Deming’s profound knowledge and the quality imperative to rethink the profession and its methods to adapt to the age of Quality 4.0. For those interested in continuing to learn about the role of quality in executive leadership, Watson is currently working with the Quality Management Division on a free 12-part webinar series on managing for quality. Register for this webinar at https://my.asq.org/communities/events/28.

Award-winning illusionist Stuart MacDonald provided a completely unique look at quality at his Monday evening keynote address. MacDonald began his presentation by performing his signature magic act, much to the crowd’s delight. His performance, which fooled famous magicians Penn and Teller, was improved by lean processes. He led the audience through his professional introduction to lean and process improvement and his strategies to implement a 30-day continuous improvement plan that allowed him to improve his act by 100%. The audience left with practical tools for applying continual improvement—and a few magic tricks up their sleeves.

conference presenter
Stuart MacDonald’s keynote session

Founder of The Kaplan Mobray Leadership Institute and award-winning author of The 10Ks of Personal Branding Kaplan Mobray welcomed attendees to the second day of the conference with his address on the role of passion and creativity in organizational excellence. After energizing the audience with his saxophone skills, Mobray got specific on how quality professionals can use personal performance improvement to achieve operational excellence. By using interactive and creative exercises, Mobray engaged the audience to explore new ways to solve problems and create problems to solve. “Improve the experience,” Mobray said, “and you elevate the result.”

Closing out the 2020 Lean and Six Sigma Conference was speaker and coach Gregory Offner. Offner focused his presentation on the benefits of proactive change management. Beginning his presentation by playing the piano, Offner guided attendees through his experience with damaging his vocal cords and nearly permanently losing his voice. Offner provided insight on how to disrupt effectively while maintaining daily business operations. He used his personal story of disruption and transformation, along with 16 years of sales and consulting experience, to discuss the value of micro-disruption and continuous self-improvement.

Between concurrent sessions, workshops, and Gemba walks, there were plenty of opportunities for attendees to learn about a variety of topics. A few of the standout sessions focused on artificial intelligence, escape rooms, and process observation.

One of the most buzzed about sessions was the Lean and Six Sigma Escape room. Hosted by ASQ Six Sigma Forum members Jessica Colon and Bob Kollm, this interactive session put participants’ lean and Six Sigma skills to the test through a series of clues and puzzles. Participants were split into teams and rooms where they used quality tools, strategies, and even a chi square to unlock the answers to the puzzle first.

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt Grace Duffy led the concurrent session “The Importance of PLAN in PDC/SA or DMAIC”. Highlighting the importance of effective planning, Duffy explained how a Modular Kaizen approach uses concepts of lean and Agile to fit process improvement into manageable daily work activities. Attendees particularly enjoyed the former NASA Quality Manager’s example of the importance of pre-team initiation preparation.

This year’s Gemba Walks, hosted by Master Black Belt Chad Smith and Management Consultant Bob Kollm, focused on the Ohno-Inspired Way of Truly Understanding the Current State. In this interactive session participants learned about process observation and put their learning into action. Other conference participants may have noticed the gemba walk happening, as the group traveled around the resort and conference to observe hotel staff cleaning guest rooms and “flipping” hotel space.  

Attendees in hotel room
Gemba Walk participants observe a hotel room cleaning.
ASQ Divisions

This year’s conference would not have been successful without the support and sponsorship from the Lean Enterprise Division and the Six Sigma Forum.

The Lean Enterprise Division is a global network of professionals helping individuals and organizations apply proven and leading edge lean principles and practices to achieve personal and organizational success.

“Not only are the sessions and keynotes fantastic year after year, the Lean and Six Sigma conference is one of my favorite networking events. The conference is the one opportunity a year I have to network with LSS professionals face to face. I have had the pleasure of meeting mentors, coaches, teachers, colleagues, and friends at this conference that have helped me grow professionally and personally throughout the years.”

                -Lindsay Lapatinsky, ASQ Lean Enterprise Division Chair

The Six Sigma Forum increases the use and impact of Six Sigma globally by building relationships, learning collectively, and advancing knowledge.

Sponsors and Exhibitors

Nova Southeastern University

Park Avenue Solutions

ASQ Six Sigma Forum

ASQ Lean Enterprise Division


Creato Performance Solutions

EngineRoom/MoreSteam

MoreSteam/EngineRoom

TRACtion Service

Minitab LLC

Gemba Academy

University of Tennessee

QI Macros for Excel

OpusWorks

ASQ Pheonix Section

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.

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