Toward the Future
The most recent issues of News for a
Change have included a multipart report on
ASQ’s Futures Study that was conducted during
the summer of 2002. Ken Case, president-elect of
ASQ, has shared the seven key forces that are most
likely to affect quality in the foreseeable future,
as well as three of the four scenarios that were
developed to speculate on how society may look in
the not-too-distant future.
Scenario 1, the most likely projection, was
called “The Fruits of Knowledge.” The
worst case was described in scenario 2, “Back
to the Past.” The third scenario was
presented in the May issue and was called
“Sustainability.” We’ll now learn
about “The Garden of Quality,” where
the world is described as a global village.
In this scenario, we’ve progressed from
allowing technology to drive business and business to
drive society, to submitting technology to human and
biospheric well-being. Most large institutions are
fraying, giving way to fluid, evolving,
human-centered systems based on trust and mutual
benefit. Communicating worldwide is as easy and
prevalent as breathing. Quality is embedded in every
sphere of activity. People work within affined
communities to pursue common goals for human
- Snowballing social, global, and ecological
crises made us realize we had to change quickly,
prompting a mandate to reorganize society around
personal, social, and environmental
- Cooperation and collaboration are the
organizing principles, building off the
successful global antiterrorism
- ASQ/AQP maintain a huge library of best
practices on the global quality network.
- Creating products and services that contribute
to human betterment has replaced consumption as an
- Military services have been replaced by
peacekeepers who go where needed to resolve
conflicts between or for organizations.
- Racism is eliminated. Women are at last truly
equal to men.
- Most social problems are solved at the local or
regional level, with leaders cooperating
intensively via the Internet.
- Artificial intelligence is integrated into most
systems, providing error-free service and freeing
humans to pursue breakthrough thinking.
- Illness is nearly extinct, thanks to
prevention-oriented lifestyles and genetically
based customized medicine.
- Researchers are using satellite networks and
DNA supercomputers to map the interactions of
Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere. This allows
quality methods to be applied to counter the
ecological legacies of the 20th century.
- Quality systems are being used to identify and
eliminate the negative impacts of all human
- The paradigm of mankind having dominion over
other animals and plants has been replaced by the
realization that we are part of the biological
community we call Earth.
- Humans have accepted the data that told us we
were destroying our host, as we determined our very
survival depended on valuing
The Quality Profession
- In the 2010s, we accepted quality as a guiding
principle and radically reshaped society at all
- Quality moved up the value chain to become an
ethic—more than a set of principles and
- Quality has gone beyond making the world better
for consumption to addressing the broader issues of
creating and sustaining a civil society.
- ASQ and AQP are globally recognized as a model
for co-creating the future with other cutting-edge
organizations on a variety of topics, and their
contribution to world peace.
KEN CASE is regents professor of industrial
engineering and management at Oklahoma State
University, where he also serves as executive
director of the master of science in engineering and
technology management program. He has doctorate and
master’s degrees in industrial engineering, and
a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering
from Oklahoma State University. Case is currently
ASQ’s president-elect and has served as board
treasurer, national director, editorial board member,
and Tulsa Section chair. An ASQ-certified quality
engineer, reliability engineer, quality auditor, and
quality manager, Case was named outstanding engineer
in Oklahoma in 1987. He is a past president of the
Institute of Industrial Engineers, a member of the
National Academy of Engineering, a Baldrige judge
(1991-93), and an academician in the International
Academy for Quality.