Change Agents

Speakers lend advice on leading teams through change, disruption and technology

To lead change in today’s ever-evolving marketplace, you must shift your mindset from “me” to “we” and be aware of the importance of connecting with others on a human level, according to one keynote speaker at this year’s ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement.

“Being a leader is the ability to knowledge transfer every ability and skill you have to your team,” said Cheryl Cran, founder of NextMapping/NextMapping.com and CEO of Synthesis at Work Inc.

Cran was one of five keynote speakers to appear at the three-day event in Fort Worth, TX. About 3,000 people attended the conference.

Change is most successful when people understand why it is necessary and how to make it happen, Cran noted, demonstrating that leaders must become adept at technical and human skills. She emphasized that leading change requires “multiple intelligences.” In other words, leaders must hone emotional, generational, change and communication intelligences to be more impactful.

“Leaders in a ‘learn’ culture are facilitators of knowledge—they do not have all the answers,” she said.

Another keynote speaker at the conference, Tricia Wang, a global technology ethnographer and co-founder of Sudden Compass, presented on integrating big data and “thick data” to lead change in an organization's approach to data, R&D and decision making.

“Thick data are precious data from humans that capture their emotions and stories,” she said.

Many organizations ignore this data in favor of big data, which may have a greater sample size but often lesser depth of meaning.That must stop, she said.

“Company-centric data benefit the organization instead of the customer. Be customer centric to obtain thick data,” she said.

Benjamin Lavoie, the global head of technology and innovation for Anheuser-Busch InBev, said that to lead change effectively—whether that change is personal or professional—you must be willing to fail.

He described what he calls “the failure differential,” which demonstrates the impact of following your potential versus following the safe path. The likelihood of someone making an impact is much greater if he or she chooses to follow the path of what might be, rather than what’s expected to be—an unsettling thought for some professionals focused on predictability and absolutes, he argued.

“Start asking yourself tougher questions: ‘What is my purpose? What is my passion? What is my legacy? What unique gift do I have?’” he said.

In an age in which disruption has become the norm, Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group, a disruptive industry analyst firm, said it’s necessary to consider how organizations can thrive in this setting and the type of leaders required to create change in organizations, society and the world.

To ensure today’s leaders end up on the right side of change, Li addressed three key topics: strategy, leadership and culture. The most basic tenet of leadership is building relationships, she said, and the most successful leaders inspire these types of feelings in those they lead. Leadership is not about title, authority or power—it is a state of mind centered on a passion for people, Li said.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger, a business futurist, reminded the audience during his keynote presentation that change is coming quickly and now is the time for quality professionals and leaders to look for new revenue opportunities. Organizations must leverage technology or risk seeing technology leveraged against them, he warned.

He cited the emergence of artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain protocols as examples of the surge in technology that has changed the way organizations operate. Organizations must embrace these advances with open arms, he said.

Quality 4.0 Study, and New Mission, Vision and Tagline Unveiled

There were several big reveals at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement this year, including groundbreaking Quality 4.0 research, results from this year’s board of directors election and ASQ’s new mission, vision and tagline statements.

Quality 4.0 research

A lack of digital skills and talent in the workforce is considered the top challenge for organizations pursuing Quality 4.0 initiatives, according to research by ASQ, the Boston Consulting Group and the German Association of Quality.

Drawing from a global online survey, as well as in-depth interviews with manufacturing industry leaders and practitioners on their views of Quality 4.0 today and in the future, several themes emerged from the research, including:

  • Only 16% of survey respondents have implemented Quality 4.0 initiatives and 63% have not started planning.
  • Quality 4.0 can yield high impact across metrics (for example, 12 to 20% lower quality-check costs).
  • About 47% of survey respondents said digital technology is important for manufacturing and 41% said digital technology is important for R&D.
  • Employees with soft skills will be of great need in the future but so will employees with data analytic skills.

Access the full report, titled “Winning the Race to Quality 4.0,” at asq.org.

Board election results

Results from this year’s ASQ Board of Directors election were announced.

This year, multiple candidates vied for each of three positions: chair-elect, treasurer and director at large.

  • Janet Raddatz was named chair-elect.
  • Steven Schuelka was named treasurer.
  • Glenn Walters and Linda Andrade-Gonzalez were named directors at large.

For a complete listing of board members and ASQ leadership, visit asq.org/about-asq/leadership.

Mission, vision and tagline

At the conference, past ASQ Board Chair Elmer Corbin introduced ASQ’s refreshed mission, vision and tagline.

The new statements demonstrate that ASQ helps members evolve their professional contributions to achieve the highest level of quality thought leadership in their organizations.

  • Mission: ASQ empowers the people, communities and organizations of the world to achieve excellence through quality.
  • Vision: ASQ will be the thought leader and community of choice for individuals and organizations seeking excellence through quality.
  • Tagline: Excellence through quality.

ASQ’s logo with its new “Excellence Through Quality” tagline.

Team competition results

This year’s ASQ International Team Excellence Awards (ITEA) Process included 17 entrants from seven countries. Four teams were recognized for their accomplishments:

  • Gold status: Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research & Design Institute Co. Ltd. (“Sunflower, Better NPP, Better Life” team).
  • Gold status: SanCor Salud (“Activated—Abacom” team).
  • Silver status: Max Life Insurance Co. Ltd. (“Sell Right for Customer Delight at Axis Bank" team).
  • Bronze status: Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center/Yanfeng Automotive Interiors (“Green Interior” team).

Find a link to the team's project summaries at asq.org/programs/team-excellence/past-winners.

Next year’s world conference will be held May 3-6 in Columbus, OH. Visit asq.org/wcqi throughout the year for updates and announcements.

ASQ Board Nominations Now Being Accepted

Nominations are now being accepted for positions on the 2021 ASQ Board of Directors, including chair elect, treasurer and director at large. Self-nominations are welcome. Visit https://asq.org/about-asq/leadership/nominations to see the application form along with instructions. Submissions are due by Aug. 31.


Career-Friendly Cities Ranked

If you’re looking for a job, you might want to head to Salt Lake City. It also might be best to steer clear of Shreveport, LA.

That’s according to a recent study by WalletHub, a personal finance website, which compared more than 180 U.S. cities by using 29 indicators to determine a location’s “career-friendliness.” Indicators included availability of monthly starting salaries, annual job growth, economic mobility, job satisfaction, and family and single happiness.

Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale. A score of 100 represents the most-favorable conditions for job market entrants. WalletHub determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the sample.

The scoring resulted in Salt Lake City at No. 1, while Shreveport finished at the bottom at No. 182.

The cities rounding out the five best spots to start a career are:

  • Pittsburgh.
  • Atlanta.
  • Orlando.
  • Austin, TX.

The cities bringing up the back of the pack include:

  • Oxnard, CA.
  • Bridgeport, CT.
  • Hialeah, FL.
  • Montgomery, AL.

To view the full report and individual city rankings, visit https://tinyurl.com/city-ranking-wallethub.


Risk of Death Rises for Patients at Low-Graded Hospitals

Patients treated at hospitals that earned “D” or “F” grades on patient safety from a national healthcare watchdog group face a 92% higher risk of death from avoidable medical errors than at hospitals with an “A” grade.

The Leapfrog Group, which recently published its annual hospital safety grades, said that about 32% of the 2,600 hospitals evaluated received an “A” grade for safety, 26% earned a “B” grade and 36% earned a “C” grade. About 7% of the hospitals evaluated were awarded a “D” or an “F” grade.

“The good news is that tens of thousands of lives have been saved because of progress on patient safety. The bad news is that there’s still a lot of needless death and harm in American hospitals,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group. “Hospitals don’t all have the same track record, so it really matters which hospital people choose, which is the purpose of our Hospital Safety Grade.”

When it came to safety, patients at hospitals with a “C” grade were 88% more likely to die from an avoidable error compared with patients treated at hospitals that received an “A.” Patients at hospitals with a “D” or an “F” grade were 92% more likely to die from an avoidable error compared to hospitals with an “A.”

For more from the report, visit https://tinyurl.com/leapfrog-grades-2019.

Quality-related news from around the world

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Amazon Will Pay Its Workers To Quit and Deliver Packages

First, Amazon made two-day shipping the norm. Now, it’s encouraging its employees to quit and start their own delivery businesses. Under a new incentive program, Amazon will fund up to $10,000 in start-up costs and provide three months of pay to any employee who decides to make the jump.

Read more about the program at https://tinyurl.com/amazon-delivery-business.

One Year After Ford Boldly Decided to Stop Making Sedans

One year ago, as Ford reported its earnings for the first quarter of 2018, the company shocked consumers, investors and dealers with what seemed like an abrupt announcement: The iconic company famous for making affordable cars available to the masses planned to stop making sedans. Now, Ford officials are looking at sales trends with joy and relief.

Read more about Ford’s migration into SUVs at https://tinyurl.com/ford-sedans-year-later.

Top 10 Most Reliable Airlines in the U.S.

Personal finance website WalletHub released a list of the best and worst airlines in the United States, ranking carriers based on reliability, comfort, pet-friendliness and safety. It compared the nine largest U.S. carriers and three regional airlines across 15 different metrics.

Find out which airlines made the cut: https://tinyurl.com/top-airlines.

To get a roundup of the week’s most noteworthy stories delivered to your inbox every Friday, subscribe to the QNT Weekly enewsletter at asq.org/newsletters.

Getting to know…

Marie Lawton

Current position: Senior quality engineer/quality management system coordinator at Advanced Atomization Technologies, Clyde, NY.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in applied science from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

What was your introduction to quality? My first job in quality was as a quality auditor at Eastman Kodak in its professional sheet film business.

Is there a teacher who influenced you more than others? Mrs. Meisch was my chemistry teacher and shared a love of “all things science.” Her enthusiasm was contagious. And no matter how hard the subject matter, you wanted to succeed to make her proud.

Do you have a mentor who made a difference in your career? I have been fortunate to have a couple: Marv Miroff at Eastman Kodak and Matt Eisert at Pulsafeeder.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? My dad told me to never turn down a job. You will lose future opportunities if you do. I have followed this advice, and it has never steered me wrong.

Previous noteworthy jobs? My last position as quality leader at Pulsafeeder Engineered Products in Rochester was fascinating. I learned something new every day.

What noteworthy activities or achievements outside of ASQ do you participate in? I managed my sons’ travel hockey league for five years. It was a blast!

What ASQ activities do you participate in? I serve as the global membership chair of ASQ’s Inspection Division.

Personal: Married with four children—Valerie, Anthony, Jenifer and Tyler.

What are your favorite ways to relax? I love to read, cook and do home improvement projects.

What books are you currently reading? The ASQ Auditing Handbook, fourth edition (J.P. Russell, ed., ASQ Quality Press, 2012).

Do you have any favorite authors? Patricia Cornwell, Kristen Ashley, Lani Lynn Vale and James Patterson.

What was the last movie you saw? “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Quality quote: Teach, listen and be open to change—the benefits can be exponential.

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