Garnering Support

Top challenge for quality professionals is getting commitment from the top

Ensuring a commitment to quality from top management is the No. 1 challenge facing quality professionals, according to a recent international survey by the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), a London-based professional organization.

Nearly 65% of the 1,636 quality managers, auditors, consultants and other quality professionals who responded to the survey called this challenge the most critical issue facing quality professionals today. Other critical issues that survey respondents ranked high included:  

  • Continuing to keep quality relevant for organizations (56.9%).
  • Improving the profile of the quality profession (56.2%).
  • Broadening responsibilities (for example, environmental management systems and occupational health and safety) (54.6%).
  • Maintaining the identity of the quality professional (43.6%).

These critical issues are "particularly important as many organizations take the view that ‘quality was addressed during the 1990s and we now have quality under control,’" the report says. "This view is not borne out in our news media with quality problems highlighted in government, business or the global supply chains on a  weekly basis."

In addition to these rankings, the CQI report, "Current Trends and Future Directions in the Quality Profession," predicts the quality profession will become increasingly involved in business sustainability, not only in driving cost reductions, but also ensuring organizations work more efficiently and effectively.

Quality professionals also must lead their organizations in encouraging innovation. Organizations need to exceed customer needs and expectations to succeed and recover from economic turmoil, according to the survey.

From the findings, CQI concluded that the role of the quality professional is changing from that of policeman and procedure writer to that of mentor, adviser and internal consultant.

Another key issue facing CQI members is how to develop their competency set to meet the new challenges of a changing work environment, especially given current heavy workloads and the restrictions of company and personal budgets.

In the survey, members provided direct feedback on questions about their organizations’ and companies’ management and quality methods.

A total of 53.6% of respondents indicated their senior management viewed quality as vital to survival.

Respondents also ranked the top challenges their organizations will face during the next five years:

  • Reducing costs (83.3%).
  • Ensuring business continuity (73%).
  • Reducing defects (70.5%).
  • Managing health and safety risks (69.5%).
  • Competing through innovation (56.1%).

For more information from the survey and CQI, visit www.thecqi.org.

—Nicole Adrian, contributing editor


Kennedy Urges ASQ To Keep Providing Input On Healthcare Reform

Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), co-chair of the House of Representatives’ 21st Century Healthcare Caucus, told ASQ, "This is your moment," and urged ASQ to continue to provide input about whether operational excellence and process improvement would be a focus of healthcare reform efforts.

At a September forum on healthcare IT that ASQ organized on Capitol Hill, a panel discussion focused on what needs to be done to prepare for successful implementation of health IT systems.

Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA), who co-chairs the caucus with Kennedy, also offered encouragement to ASQ. "I look to organizations like you to help us," he said.

The ASQ panel didn’t focus on the nuts and bolts of the technology, but ways to prepare for the successful implementation of health IT systems.

"The proven tools of quality management, change management and process improvement can be of immense help in preparing healthcare environments for [healthcare] IT and other transformative activities," said Joe Fortuna, chair-elect of the ASQ Healthcare Division and the panel’s moderator.

More details and follow-up from the meeting are found at www.asq.org/advocacy/issues-actions/20090915-healthcare-reform-legislation.html.

Capitol Q

ASQ has been in discussions with the U.S. Department of Energy to build their relationship and pursue various collaborations. Since the 1990s, ASQ’s Energy & Environmental, Design and Construction Division has worked with the department on conferences and standards … An assistant to Arne Duncan, the secretary of the Education Department, will be a keynote speaker at next year’s National Quality in Education Conference, which takes place Nov. 7–9, 2010, in Chicago.

Capitol Q is a regular Keeping Current feature that highlights ASQ’s advocacy efforts with government leaders. More information can be found at ASQ’s Advocacy Room at www.asq.org/advocacy/index.html.

Who’s Who in Q

Name: Rama Shankar.

Residence: Glenview, IL.

Education: Shankar holds a master’s degree in materials management from the Indian Institute of Materials Management in India and a master’s degree in engineering management from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Current Job: Managing partner at consulting firm Delta Management Associates, where she provides training to organizations and assists in implementing process improvement projects and establishing quality management systems. She is also an adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, the Daley College in Chicago and the Great Lakes Institute of Management in Chennai, India.

Previous Experience: Shankar has worked in many industries and disciplines, including optical equipment, medical devices, aerospace, consulting and pharmaceuticals.

ASQ Activities: She conducts open enrollment and in-house seminars on Six Sigma—Green Belt, Black Belt, lean for service, supplier quality and root cause analysis. Shankar develops and reviews courses and course material related to Six Sigma and lean. She’s been the training institute director of ASQ’s Chicago Section since 2005, and she has also served as the section’s director and chair in years past. 

Recent Honor: Shankar has received many awards over the years, including the ASQ Chicago Section’s Founder’s Award for 2005-2006.

Published: She is the author of Process Improvement Using Six Sigma—A DMAIC Guide, ASQ Quality Press, 2009.

Family: Married for 26 years, one son and one daughter.

Quality Quote: You need to be a resident maniac to make things happen. I think quality professionals need to be resident maniacs to follow through and ensure all the minutiae have been addressed to reach a successful solution to a problem.


PRESIDENT OBAMA has nominated Patrick Gallagher to become the 14th director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher currently serves as the NIST deputy director. He joined NIST in 1993 as an instrument scientist at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) and became director of the NCNR in 2004. He assumed the duties of deputy director in September 2008. Gallagher will succeed William Jeffrey, who left NIST in 2007.

RANDY A. DOUGHERTY, vice president of the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) in Milwaukee, has been named chair of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). The IAF oversees more than 1 million users of third-party certificates to the world’s quality and environmental standards. Dougherty had completed his second term as chair of the IAF’s technical committee.

AN INTERNATIONAL TEAM that developed standards for optics and photonics has received the Lawrence D. Eicher Leadership Award from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The award recognizes superior performance by one of ISO’s standards development groups. Elisabeth Leitner of technical committee 172 accepted the award on the team’s behalf. Meanwhile, a Dutch business school recently received ISO’s award for higher education in standardization. Erasmus University, the Netherlands, was recognized for its work in standardizing programs covering graduate and undergraduate degrees.

A PROGRAM TO HELP toy companies comply with the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act has been launched by the Toy Industry Association. Companies that complete the Toy Safety Certification Program can have their products certified. Toys certified under the program will begin to appear on store shelves next year. 

NEARLY 75% of companies said in a recent survey they have not made data security a top strategic initiative, even though most have experienced a security breach involving loss or theft of credit card information. More than half the companies that took the survey also said they do not secure sensitive customer information, such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and bank account details. Imperva, a data security company, and Ponemon Institute, a research firm, surveyed more than 500 companies to gauge progress toward the Payment Card Industry’s data security standard. More information on the survey results can be found at www.imperva.com/news/press/2009/09_23_imperva_ponemon.html.

AFTER SEVERAL REQUESTS over the years, scoring data from the Baldrige award selection process has been released for researchers and others to review and analyze. The data—collected from 1990 to 2006—is available in tabular and graphic forms. Future updates to the scoring data website will add features such as individual applicant scores for individual Baldrige criteria items and the ability to track the scoring progress for repeat applicants. To access the information, visit www.baldrige.nist.gov/Data_Analysis/index.htm (case sensitive).

THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION for Standardization (ISO) released a new standard last month that covers cruise control systems for vehicles. ISO touts ISO 22179:2009, Intelligent transport systems—Full speed range adaptive cruise control (FSRA) systems—Performance requirements and test procedures, as being able to improve highway safety and enhance driver comfort. For more information, visit www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1257 (case sensitive).

TO COMBAT ABOVE-AVERAGE rates of hospital acquired infections, SUNY Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, NY, implemented an improvement program to reduce central line infections in all intensive care units. A year after implementation—with the help of quality tools such as checklists and an electronic data-mining system—the hospital has reduced its rate to zero. For more information, visit www.healthleadersmedia.com.

ASQ News

BALDRIGE AND HEALTHCARE  A three-part, prerecorded webinar series is available from ASQ on how a healthcare organization used Baldrige criteria to drive organizational transformation. The free series, in three one-hour installments, highlights how Baldrige can help organizations address the challenges facing healthcare today. To access the series, visit ASQ’s Knowledge Center at www.asq.org/knowledge-center/baldrige/index.html.

SR WEBINAR  A four-part webinar series that ASQ presented last month on the importance of social responsibility is now available for download. The webinar focuses on how organizations can build business value by improving environmental and societal outcomes over the long term. To access the webinar series, visit www.asq.org/webinar/seeking-sustainable-success.html.

FUTURE OF QUALITY REPORT  The complete report from discussions among business, education and healthcare leaders at a summit hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and ASQ earlier this year is now available to download. At the June event in Washington, D.C., leaders from high-profile companies and organizations weighed in on areas in which they thought quality and performance improvement could have the greatest effect. Download the complete report at www.asq.org/knowledge-center/future-of-quality-dialogue.html.

CALL FOR CASE STUDIES  The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and ASQ are looking for success stories on quality and patient safety improvement. The case studies will be considered for publication in HIMSS’s new program, "Stories of Success! Leveraging HIT, Improving Quality and Safety." Deadline for submissions is Nov. 16. For more details, visit www.asq.org/healthcare-use/why-quality/stories-of-success.html.

CAREER-FOCUSED PODCASTS  ASQ has designed a three-part podcast series featuring tips and strategies for career-transitioning quality professionals. To access the podcasts, visit www.asq.org/career/resources/job-search.html.


QP looks back on an event or person that made a difference in the history of quality.

Nov. 19, 1925

Henri Fayol, a French mining engineer and a management theorist, died on this date. Many call Fayol one of the most influential contributors to modern concepts of management and a key figure in the classical school of management theory.

Fayol developed a general theory of business administration, also known as Fayolism, which included 14 principles of management: division of work, authority, discipline, unity of command, unity of direction, subordination of individual interest, renumeration, centralization, scalar chain (line of authority), order, equity, stability of tenure of personnel, initiative, and esprit de corps (employee morale).



Quick Poll Results

Each month, visitors can take a short, informal survey, and we post the results.

Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"Organizationally, what is the reaction when an impending audit is announced?"

  • Fearful 37.2%
  • Defensive 36%
  • Resigned 13.9%
  • Open and confident 12.7%

Visit QP’s home page for the most recent poll question posted:

"To aid in your organization’s economic recovery, what area should quality professionals focus on?"

  • Product development.
  • Supply and purchasing.
  • Training and human resources development.
  • The economics of quality.
  • A strategy of hands-on management.

As Seen in Quality News Today

Monday through Friday, QP editors post the latest local, national and international news related to quality in Quality News Today at www.qualityprogress.com.

     Check out some of the most recent headlines posted, and be sure to visit regularly to keep yourself updated on happenings that affect the quality world.

Quality Awards Listings

Is your organization looking to apply for a quality award next year?

Consult our quality awards listings, which include state-by-state, national, international and automotive awards, descriptions and details on how to apply.

The listings can be found under the Tools & Resources tab at www.qualityprogress.com.

Word To The Wise

To educate newcomers and refresh practitioners and professionals, QP features a quality term and definition each month.


A situation in which critical information is withheld from the team because individual members censor or restrain themselves—either because they believe their concerns are not worth discussing or  they are afraid of confrontation.

Source: "Quality Glossary," Quality Progress, June 2007, www.asq.org/quality-progress/2007/06/quality-tools/quality-glossary.html.


This month’s Web Watch focuses on quality gurus.

This is a short but thorough biography of Joseph M. Juran on the Carlson School of Management’s website. It begins with his birth and details his accomplishments through today.

This website is dedicated to the W. Edwards Deming Institute, a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 by Deming. The website features information about Deming himself, the institute and its history, and lists the criteria on which the Deming prize is based. Users can also download a PDF of the Deming Institute newsletter and purchase online educational materials, videos and books about Deming.

Gurus such as Philip Crosby, Genichi Taguchi and Armand Feigenbaum are featured on this site from the Murton Group. A short biography of each is followed by explanations of their respective theories and examples of the tools each developed or used.

This site provides information on gurus such as Deming, Juran, Crosby, Taguchi, Kaoru Ishikawa, Walter Shewhart and Shigeo Shingo, as well as lesser known quality personalities, such as Bill Smith and Mohamed Zairi. Visitors may submit additional information about any of the gurus listed and suggest new names to be added to the site, which adds content regularly. The site also includes a discussion forum.

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