Future in Focus

Study provides clues to quality’s future

In his 2004 book, Futuring, Edward Cornish wrote: "The goal of futuring is not to predict the future but to improve it. We want to anticipate possible or likely future conditions so that we can prepare for them. We especially want to know about opportunities and risks that we should be ready for."

Improvement, of course, is quality’s goal, and ASQ sought to build a better future when it undertook its first Futures Study in 1996. Twelve years later, ASQ has released the results of its fifth such study, which contains three main components: a list of the top forces shaping the future, scenarios to help us understand the context in which the forces may play out, and the implications of the forces and scenarios.

Some of what you’ll read is pretty scary—the possible effects of climate change, war and poverty. But there is also hope and promise for how the world can address the problems and stresses it faces. Quality could be a significant part of the solution.

What struck me about the results of this most recent study was how interwoven the forces are. You can’t talk about one without mentioning another. This trend has become more pronounced with each successive iteration.

There’s also an underlying sentiment that quality is somehow bigger—more important, more applicable and more crucial—than it ever has been before. Read more in "What’s Up?".

What better time to consider our future than as the American public prepares to go to the polls to elect a new president? Campaign rhetoric has been focused on the economy, energy, education, foreign policy and healthcare. What we all want to know, though, is what role quality will play in the new administration’s approach to each of these important issues. Which presidential candidate—McCain or Obama—would be the stronger advocate for quality? Weigh in, and see what your peers think by answering our Quick Poll question.

In an open letter to the new U.S. President, ASQ’s president, Roberto Saco, stresses the need for action in addressing the nation’s biggest ills and urges the new president to create a National Quality Agenda in response to chronic and persistent problems in healthcare, infrastructure, education and energy policy. Saco’s letter likens the nation to the analogous frog sitting in a pot of water, not able to realize the heat is rising until it’s too late.

The election process itself has been the source of scrutiny in recent years as ballot-counting errors have cropped up with touch-screen voting machines. The reliability and validity of vote counts promises to be a crucial issue in November, especially with the current neck-and-neck race.

How confident are you that your vote will be counted? Read all about the quality lapses in "Vote of No Confidence".

Seiche Sanders

Seiche Sanders

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