Ken Case Hears What We've Been Saying

At last, in Ken Case, ASQ will have a leader who recognizes what we have been saying for 16 years: Quality professionals will have to become management system professionals to survive and prosper ("Coming Soon: the Future," November 2002, p. 25).

Perhaps ASQ can take note of this instead of marginalizing ISO 9001 and other management system standards.

It is about time we have a division, if not a Society, focused on management systems. All organizations have systems--whether they recognize, analyze, define, use and improve them is another matter.

Quality Management International
Exton, PA

"Seven Key Forces" Outdated, Need Update

The "Seven Key Forces" in Ken Case's article are outdated. I have updated them as follows:

1. The most critical elements in bottom-line results are customer development and satisfaction.

2. Control of the company's processes that affect the bottom line must be integrated into its management systems and continuously improved. (ISO 9001:2000 contains more than 100 examples, each preceded by the word "shall.")

3. An organization's achieved quality will be at the minimum level that management and supervisors demonstrate they will accept and reward.

4. Play to win rather than play to avoid losing. Organizations bent on resisting change typically use delaying tactics, insisting the economic case for a broader application of quality needs to be proven and proven and proven, while customer satisfaction and bottom-line performance erode.

5. Global demand for products and services has created a global workforce. It's here, folks!

6. Customer expectations continue to rise. Develop strategies and tactics to benefit from the trend. Realize your competitor on the other side of the world was doing this last night while you were asleep. Now he's sleeping.

7. Trust and confidence in business leaders who fail to recognize these key elements will continue to decline.

Independent quality consultant
Ouincy, IL

Articles on Future Support Real World

I enjoyed Ken Case's and Jim Spichiger's ("The Changing Role of Quality Professionals," November 2002, p. 31) articles about the future of the profession. I have 25 years' experience revolving around the profession as business leader, practitioner, consultant and educator, and your research supports the real world.

In recent seminars, I have presented topics that attempt to reposition quality as a business strategy. Why? Because executives do not want to hear the word "quality," albeit quality is the engine of business.

Based on my sense of how things have evolved from quality control to quality assurance to total quality management, I believe the views expressed by the authors are right on.

Management system educator and consultant
IVO Strategy Institute
Toronto, Ontario

We Must Take Charge Of Our Careers

Jim Spichiger's article is right on the money. From my perspective, a sizable percentage of ASQ members aren't concerned with their careers and "The Changing Role of Quality Professionals." Whether this article will shake them up remains to be seen, but I hope it will.

I have watched the same changes in training and development in the field of data processing (as it was then known). First, a need surfaced, a cadre of solution experts coalesced, and an organizational function was formed. Then a body of knowledge emerged and was deployed through suppliers and academia. Educational degree programs were created, and people became qualified through education and training. The functions eventually grew into standalone entities, and the qualified people often lost sight of their customers' needs while evolving into elitists. Ultimately, the pendulum swung, and people with the application expertise were deployed to work in the IT fields.

Today, the processing of data for tracking performance and decision making is dispersed among work units. Training is returning to the operating manager's list of responsibilities. The role of the data processor or computer expert is to keep the mainframe server up and running and provide technical assistance to the line operations. The trainer, once categorized as the charismatic stand-up teacher, is rapidly being replaced by technological delivery methods and self-directed learning.

In both instances, the evolutionary cycle initially moved the expertise further away from those needing it the most.

In talking with fellow quality professionals, I have been discouraged to find so many with limited interest in improving themselves careerwise. "That's all I know how to do" will not suffice in this rapidly changing world. I know: I'm one of the old-timers. Lifelong learning is essential for everyone. Professional development is no longer the responsibility of the employer.

ASQ has a delicate balancing act to perform: to guide the progressive quality professional while satisfying the status quo-ness of the good old boys. Assuming the mantra "Quality is everyone's business" is valid, how will ASQ step up to this dichotomy?

Spichiger makes five excellent suggestions. Listen up!

The Offerjost-Westcott Group
Old Saybrook, CT

Quality Professionals Must Stay Focused

Jim Spichiger's article was great, and the survey results helped get his point across.

I would like to add a sixth suggestion to the end of the article: Be focused. Flexibility, efficiency and knowledge should be deployed when they are needed. Saving energy and giving the exact amount of knowledge to the business when needed are two of the most important lessons I learned from my 10 years' experience as an external consultant, expert, auditor and educator.

I believe a good quality management system based on ISO 9000:2000 will become the universal platform for managing business processes and the integration and alignment of other management systems. The role of information technology and the internet will increase the speed of processing and the need for customized flexibility.


Core Concepts in Golf Articles the Same

I just read Forrest W. Breyfogle III's article "Golf and Six Sigma" in the November 2002 issue ("Frontiers of Quality," p. 83). The title was the first thing that caught my eye because I recently finished categorizing over 10 years' worth of QP articles and recalled another article that discussed using a data based improvement process for the golf game. Sure enough, Ernest W. Karlin and Ernie Hanewinckel wrote "A Personal Quality Improvement Program for Golfers" in the July 1998 issue (p. 71).

There may be four years between the two articles, but the core concepts are the same. Objective data collection process and measurement formats can help improve a game. It's a nice demonstration of data oriented applications for those who may be leery of exploring such practices in a business environment. It's interesting to see related articles written over a span of time, too.

Apple Valley, MN

More Information Sought About Symbols

I just finished reading "Use Symbols Instead of Words" by Gregg Stocker (November 2002, p. 68) and found it very informative. Could he share some other sources of information with me? I'm curious about the subject matter.

San Marcos, CA

Author's Response: Thanks for the kind words regarding my article. There are a few good references on the subject of visual systems:

  • The Toyota Production System by Taiichi Ohno (Productivity Press, 1988) explains the theory behind the Toyota system (lean manufacturing), of which visual control systems are a major component. It's excellent reading and explains Ohno's thoughts about lean manufacturing, but it doesn't give any specific how-to information on visual controls.
  • The Visual Factory by Michel Greif (Productivity Press, 1991) is an excellent book that provides numerous examples of visual methods.
  •  Visual Systems: Harnessing the Power of a Visual Workplace by Gwendolyn D. Galsworth (Amacom, 1997) is a similar book that explains visual methods in terms of 5S.

I hope this helps.

Richmond, TX

October Issue Intriguing, Hard To Put Down

I brought the October 2002 issue with me to work, got hooked on the first article, "A Quality Major" (John W. Sinn, p. 24), and had to stop after reading "How To Achieve Operational Excellence" (Madeline Bigelow, p. 70) because I had work to do.

That issue will be a solid reference for me for years to come. I intend to quote liberally from the articles to plead the case to improve my company's quality system. Although my company is not ISO 9000 certified, it has emulated the system to a certain degree. Much of what I read will help me define our ability to audit our internal quality processes.

"Quality and Economics: Five Key Issues" (Peter J. Brust and Frank M. Gryna, p. 64) could just as readily be written for individual corporations, especially ones that are players on an international stage. Substitute the name of a company wherever it says "United States" or "a nation," and you have a blueprint for profitability and growth.

I would like to see my company use indexes such as the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to measure its output. It is a way of comparing apples to apples, because nations, as conglomerate producers, have vastly different capabilities, as do competing businesses. A customer satisfaction index levels the playing field so all can understand and compare output with a sense of market acceptance.

I am extremely pleased with the information and articles in this issue. Keep up the good work.

Advanced Drainage Systems
Washougal, WA


The November 2002 "Measure for Measure" (Philip Stein, "Mass Measurements," p. 89) states, "The difference between the weight in air and the weight in a vacuum for stainless steel is about 150 parts per million or 0.15%." It should read "0.015%."

In Gregg Stocker's "Use Symbols Instead of Words" (November 2002, p. 68), a sentence reading "Yellow tags are for frequently used items, and red tags are for unneeded items" should read, "Yellow tags are for infrequently used items, and red tags are for unneeded items."

Simon Collier, not Mike Thomas, was ASQ's first Edwards Medal winner ("ASQ News," November 2002, p. 17). Thomas won the 2002 Simon Collier Award.

Contact 'QP'

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