Quality’s New Role

Attend WCQI to learn more about risk management

by Greg Hutchins

When was the last time you were at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI)? If it has been several years, it is worth considering attending the 2011 conference in Pittsburgh. It will be a really great event.

In my opinion, your attendance at next year’s WCQI may be the most important thing you can do to enhance—and maybe even preserve—your career as a quality professional.

Let me explain.

ASQ’s World Conference is the world’s quintessential quality event. It is a great way to stay on top of the quality profession, learn new tools, and catch up with and make new friends. The theme for next year’s event is "The New Role of Quality: Tomorrow’s Applications of Proven Quality Tools."

Hot topic

One of the event’s five focus areas is risk management. Those who read my Career Corner columns know risk management is a topic I’ve covered a lot. Those readers are also aware that for a long time, I’ve thought risk management was going to be the next big thing in quality.

Well, that day has arrived. ASQ—through WCQI—has anointed risk management and globalization as two huge areas that will affect our profession in the near and future terms.

The WCQI program description on risk management reads as follows:

"Today’s challenges bring uncertainty and increased sensitivity to risk. Organizations that demonstrate the ability to effectively identify, assess and prioritize risk are least likely to be inhibited by it and more likely to fully realize the opportunities they have. This focus area is developed to celebrate the role that quality can play in minimizing and understanding risk and its impact."

The program description goes on to say those who wish to present on risk management should focus on: risk assessment, risk abatement, supply chain risk, and balancing quality, cost and risk.

It’s interesting that although risk management is its own separate focus area, the subject is integrated into the other four WCQI focus areas: global, building a quality culture, organizational excellence and quality basics. This clearly shows risk management’s role as one of the most important quality tools for the future.

What’s in it for you?

Any event or workshop must be able to answer the question participants will ask: "What’s in it for me?" Participant benefits must be immediate, practical and applicable in these constrained times.

Attending WCQI could be a paradigm-busting experience for any quality professional. The good folks who plan the event want you to have an "aha" experience while learning and applying new quality processes and tools, enhancing your career in the process.

The skills and tools you will learn at WCQI include:

  • How to initiate an internal and supply risk management program.
  • How to use risk management to evaluate internal operations, including conducting risk assessments and mitigating risks at the root cause and symptomatic levels.
  • How to use risk management to determine if you should source domestically or offshore.
  • How to integrate the new risk-based families of ISO standards.
  • How to develop supplier/vendor risk management scorecards.

Next, the skills you will learn to enhance your career include:

  • How to reframe your quality professional work/career/job skills as a risk management professional.
  • How quality professionals can seamlessly integrate risk management into their portfolio of value-added skills.
  • How to add proven and demonstrable value to your work and career.

I look forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh.

Greg Hutchins is the principal engineer with Quality Plus Engineering, a critical infrastructure protection firm headquartered in Portland, OR. He is a member of ASQ.

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