Bigger Than Any of Us

Knowledge management is one of those buzzwords or phrases continually making the rounds of businesses and universities, and you can probably find as many definitions for it as you can people tossing it around. However you define it, its importance in what is now an information economy justifies its buzz and makes it worthy of organizations’ attention.

On p. 25, Duke Okes offers his definition of knowledge management and addresses how quality professionals can apply their skills and experience to help their organizations manage knowledge. (Not incidentally, this opens up potential new career opportunities for people in quality.)

One aspect of knowledge management Okes discusses is the need to collect, organize and share knowledge. Within the quality world, such a process is under way: the quality body of knowledge (Q-BoK). During the first phase of this ongoing project, ASQ staff and volunteer experts organized and classified the Society’s intellectual property and improved content management processes. Now the initiative is spreading to encompass as many sources and people as possible. The Q-BoK is not limited to what ASQ produces or owns.

“As the totality of all the quality tools and technologies we have explored and applied over the past half-century, the Q-BoK is bigger than any one of us or any single community,” says Dennis Arter, an auditing expert, author, ASQ Fellow and volunteer champion of the initiative. “It is all the knowledge, skill, teaching, learning and applications we use in our search for perfection.”

Elements, many of which are accessible at www.asq.org, include:

  • A Learn About Quality area initially covering 40 topics, including basics.
  • Thousands of journal and magazine articles, book chapters, news items and newsletters, including ones from ASQ’s divisions and forums.
  • A research program to prove quality works.
  • Content partnerships with other publishers and institutions in quality.
  • Involvement in the Wikipedia project (see Arter’s article on p. 22 of the September QP).

Arter summarizes the need for the Q-BoK: “Just as search engines have allowed us to tap into the information of the internet, the Q-BoK will allow the citizens of the world to find out about quality.”

Shortly before this issue went to press, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. We hope to have news to share in the November issue of QP on how ASQ members and other quality professionals have been affected. Plus, Dan Reid’s “Standards Outlook” column will address what organizations can learn from Katrina about quality planning. Meanwhile, you can help by donating your time, money or quality expertise. To find out how, go to www.asq.org/asq-cares/index.html.

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