ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — August 2003

In This Issue

Changing Attitudes and Accelerating Change
Coaching and Performance Reviews—Time for Some Changes
Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Negotiating for Quality
Looking Toward the Future

In A Nutshell
Proven Strategies on Service and Life


AQP Connections
Articles in Brief
The Help Desk
News Bites
What’s Up?

Book Nook

August 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

Looking 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, who is now president of ASQ, has shared the seven key forces that are most likely to affect quality in the foreseeable future, as well as the four scenarios that were developed to speculate on how society may look in the not-too-distant future.

It’s now time to look at the cross-cutting trends that were present in these scenarios and how those trends are likely to affect us in the future.

Impact on Society

Aging Population
The population of the developed world is aging, but in developing countries it is exploding. This will further deplete natural resources and strain the health care systems of these countries. Up to half the population of nations such as Mexico and India is under the age of 20. The middle class in China equaled the population of the United States in 1999, and as it ages it will shift the economic power of the world.

Sustainability of Life on Earth
We are approaching a golden age of environmental protection and sustainable development. Sustainable development will not only protect Earth’s resources, but also become the preferred stimulus of economic growth. There is a tremendous opportunity for governments and businesses to provide the systems that will accelerate progress toward sustainability.

Renewable Energy Sources
Renewable resources such as wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass gradually will replace fossil fuels and nuclear energy as the primary source for power generation. As these technologies improve, they will become more affordable and society will realize that dependence on traditional energy sources is foolhardy. This trend will accelerate when fossil fuel availability is reduced, costs escalate, and supplies become traded as political currency.

Internet Usage Growth
Internet usage will continue to grow, with remarkable progress made in the developing world. Internet usage in the Third World will help certain educated populations leapfrog in the 21st century economy as active consumers, as well as producers of online education and consumer products. The Internet will finally achieve its potential as a business-management and product-development tool. However, security measures will have to be addressed if corporations are to trust the Internet for product development, which involves proprietary information. Otherwise, dedicated broadband private services will replace the Internet for all but its mass-marketing capabilities.

Impact on Quality Professionals

Dispersion of the Quality Function
Quality will be more important than ever for organizations of all varieties, yet the numbers of stand-alone quality departments and professionals with the word “quality” in their title will continue to decline. The tools and body of knowledge of quality will be adopted by more types of people in a wider spectrum of organizational settings. Therefore, it will become more difficult to define who and what constitutes the “quality profession.” Instead of operating within a quality department, practitioners will more likely be dispersed throughout an organization. They will need access to quality tools and will need to possess the skill sets required to function in this new setting.

Integrating Quality Among Employees
This new environment may be overwhelming, but it can open up new possibilities for the quality professional. The role of future quality professionals will be as technical coaches and mentors. They will lead by virtue of a deep commitment to fundamental business. Improvement will come from their knowledge, skills, and attitudes about solving problems democratically. They will recognize the value of teamwork. We need to develop these types of skills among our best and brightest.

Next Generation of Quality Tools and Techniques
Creation of the next accepted set of quality tools and techniques will require a mindset change—an acceptance of approaches that appear counter to current quality approaches. For example, instead of trying to sell universities on a full-level academic quality department, quality professionals should be encouraging multidimensional quality hubs. ASQ itself could push for adding the study of quality principles and management as a business school requirement for future managers as executives.

The Human Side of Quality
Innovators and others will be forced to consider the human element when developing and introducing new technologies. Concern that our relationship with technology is intruding on our relationships with people will propel the “appropriate use” (or “simple”) movement. The key phrase here is simple and its corollary, enjoyable. The increasing complexity of life and the speed of change will create a premium on those things that simplify life in enjoyable ways.

The Economics of Quality
The economics of quality will re-emerge as the most critical dimension of quality. It always has been, but it was recognized as critical by executives who inherently believed in the link between economics and quality. Today’s executives, however, are looking for more direct evidence. This means we must be comfortable talking with executives in their language—that of finance, economics, and business.

A Viewpoint of What the Future Holds for AQP
News for a Change asked Michael Glowacki, president of AQP, to share his views on what the future holds for AQP—based on his consideration of ASQ’s Futures Study.

“The future of quality is in the hands of every person lifting a tool or touching a keyboard,” Glowacki commented. “The job of management is to set direction, establish objectives, provide knowledge, step out of the way, monitor performance, and reward appropriately. The evolution from dimensional accuracy to process capability to system effectiveness has forced everyone involved in providing goods and services to customers to become well-versed in the tools, techniques, and vocabulary of doing it right.

“Quality focus is no longer a turnaround technique. It is a notch on the key that unlocks the door and lets you enter the market. Many people claim to have the template. When the key doesn’t work the person turning it gets blamed.

“But who is protecting the consumer/customer? This may be the role of a new quality association, one that merges solid technical approaches with proven employee engagement techniques. An association that would provide the key and ensure that the key clicks the tumblers. The melding of ASQ’s and AQP’s bodies of knowledge creates that association and promises a bright future for all of us involved in improvement and higher performance.”

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 ASQ’s president 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.

MICHAEL GLOWACKI lives in Chicago with his extended family. He has been an AQP member since 1984 and is currently employed as manager, organization development, in the Elkay division of Elkay Manufacturing Company. He earned an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University-Chicago.

Return to top

  • Print this page
  • Save this page

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this item

View comments
Add comments
Comments FAQ

ASQ News