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.

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.

The Ps and Qs of the new General Motors

Hello, readers and ASQ Influential Voices. This is Laurel Nelson-Rowe, ASQ Managing Director. This month, I’m guest blogging on View From the Q. (Paul Borawski will be back in October with a preview of World Quality Month.)

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get an up-close look at GM’s quality culture during a trip to the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. There’s been a lot written lately about the “New GM,” even to “Report Cards” on its performance in Fortune Magazine, and reports in ASQ’s Quality Progress. A highlight to the visit was a conversation with Terry Woychowski, GM’s new vice president of global quality and launch. He talked a lot about performance—one of the three “Ps” of GM’s emerging quality culture. At GM, Terry says, quality is “promise, personal, and performance”–quite clear and concise for GM, an ASQ Enterprise Quality Roundtable member.

I invite you to watch clips from our conversation, below, and to reflect on the following:

Terry, a GM veteran, says the GM promise starts with quality—“that the product will do everything we said it would do.” He wants customers and employees to hold GM to that promise, for every product, every service, in the every segment and every market, where the GM brand plays. He’s on the phone, on video, on the Internet, and in the field with constant reminders to GM employees everywhere of their individual, personal responsibility for quality—that quality needs to be part of their personal, and their organization, character. “There can be no spectators when it comes to quality,” Terry emphasizes.

I was particularly struck by Terry’s comment that GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, though difficult and painful, “clarified as never before the GM mission: GM will design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles.” I say that’s another essential “P:” Pointing everyone in GM, around the globe, in the same direction.

Do you think companies must sometimes (often? regularly?) undergo radical organizational change or substantial economic shifts to get back to the rigorous quality systems? To rededicate individuals and corporate cultures to performance excellence? What lessons must we learn, and how many times must we re-learn these lessons, to make quality a constant priority?

(By the way, that’s a soon-to-be-released Chevy Sonic in the background.)

GM Culture of Quality—Promise, Personal, Performance

Working on Quality “Cradle to Grave”

Making Quality a Top Priority

The Story of Chevy Volt

Global Standards

Quality Surprises

Predicting Future Quality Headlines