Have You Missed the Deadline?

Producing a monthly magazine makes everyone on the QP team very deadline oriented--though some are better at it than others. (Just ask my staff how close to the final deadline I push this column every issue.)

Of course, it's human nature to put off until tomorrow or next week or even next month a task that doesn't seem urgent today. A Pareto analysis of the significance of common tasks would show some--cleaning out old desk files, reorganizing family photos--may not be worth the guilt trip, while others--remapping your work processes, changing the oil in the car--could have a major impact. (Just ask the Enron or WorldCom employees who procrastinated diversifying their retirement plans beyond company stock.)

But if there's one task no one should put off, it's planning for your career, especially in today's fast and furiously changing world.

As you'll read in "Coming Soon: The Future" (p. 25) and "The Changing Role of Quality Professionals" (p. 31), this is as true for quality practitioners as for anyone. Both articles result from studies conducted by ASQ earlier this year: the first from the 2002 futures study and the second from a survey of ASQ Fellows.

The studies identified similar forces, trends and themes shaping quality and its future:

  • A focus on business and bottom-line results.
  • Move of the quality function and activity into top management.
  • Continuing shift of quality from compliance to education. Integration and dispersion of quality into more fields and industries.
  • Continuing decrease in trust and confidence in organizations and leaders, with quality professionals becoming champions of business ethics.

What does all this mean? It may mean that to stay marketable, you'll need additional training or education. Or maybe to ensure your current or a new position is completely satisfying and worthy of your time and talents, you'll need to learn how to sell your skills and experience better.

Several articles in this issue, plus the monthly "Career Corner" column, offer tips and ideas. You'll also find resources and information in the "Career Channel" area of the member site, www.asqnet.org. And don't forget networking opportunities within ASQ, your industry or local organizations.

Unless you're counting the days to a carefree, cushy retirement, you can't afford to rest on your laurels or pretend nothing will change. When was the last time you updated your résumé? Or took stock of your skills in relation to events in your organization or the marketplace? Your deadline may be now.

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

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