Conference Survival Guide: Part 2

[This is a guest blog post by Julia McIntosh of ASQ’s communication department.]

A few weeks ago, ASQ CEO Paul Borawski asked for your best advice for “surviving” a conference or networking event. As we gear up for ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement May 6-8 in Indianapolis, Indiana, we’re sharing advice we’ve received from ASQ Influential Voices bloggers and ASQ volunteers (also known as member leaders).

And now to the advice!

Update: Influential Voices blogger Bob Mitchell shared his advice: Bring a smart phone and business cards.

Blogger Scott Rutherford has a wealth of tips, including to bring an extra bag for all the things you will acquire during the event!

Aimee Siegler, also an ASQ blogger, strongly encourages conference-goers to sit with someone they don’t know. Aimee advises attendees to attend sessions that cover different industries and unfamiliar topics to learn something new.

In addition to the above advice, ASQ blogger Jennifer Stepniowski says, “Plan your day!” Figure out what you’ll be doing, when, and where. Also, leave some time to summarize your day and reflect on what you’ve learned.

Advice from ASQ member leader Elías Monréal for getting the most out of ASQ’s World Conference specifically:

“Here are a few of my tips: 1) Find the hospitality suites from the various ASQ Divisions: FD&C, ASD, Inspection, Audit, etc. Not only good source of food/drink but GREAT networking opportunity. 2) Budget for time to schmooze around the Exhibition Hall. Who knows, just might make new friend, find that new product, add a division/interest group, buy that ASQ book at conference reduced rate, or catch your breath from long day. 3) Bring a cardboard box to ship home those trinkets/giveaways/shirts/books/magazines to avoid the excess baggage fee or second bag fee. 4) Pack aspirin…trust me on this one. 4) You may take 10,000 photos to remember event but try to tell yourself, you will return to WCQI next year.”

And, finally, advice from too many people to list: Wear comfortable shoes!

If you have more tips, please share them in the comments! And be sure to watch View From the Q for live updates from ASQ’s World Conference  next week. You can also follow conference keynotes and other events on Twitter. The hashtag is #WCQI13.

Roundup: GM’s Quality Journey

If you want to spark conversation in the quality community, even among everyday consumers, talk quality and cars. Last month’s interview with General Motors’ global quality chief, Terry Woychowski, sparked plenty of debate among ASQ’s Influential Voices. (And for more car and quality talk, see ASQ’s interview with Ford.)

Opinions ranged regarding the new GM quality culture: some believe that its quality promises are new and refreshing, while others claim they are based on old quality principles.

Guy Wallace, for example, believes that GM’s quality goals, along with its mission and value statements, are based on concepts that he learned more than 30 years ago. Is that a “bad” thing? No, says Guy—this interview may in fact be very useful to those new to the quality movement.

Bruce Waltuck suggests ways that GM can build on its current quality culture. He revisits the teachings of quality greats and states that to succeed in the auto industry, companies must rely on more than conformance and freedom from error or defect. Rather, companies must understand that quality is defined by both the provider and the consumer.

Several other threads ran through the responses:

Many were impressed with Terry’s clarity of vision for GM quality culture. Anshuman Tiwari notes that while GM isn’t completely recovered from its crisis two years ago, there are plenty of lessons to learn from the company, including its focus on the three Ps–Promise, Personal, Performance–and the belief that the quality of its products are a direct reflection of its employees and management.

Cesar Diaz Guevara, too, discusses GM’s three Ps and suggests two more—Pointing and Passion. Cesar argues that passion is the component that should bind everything together.

Rajan Thiyagarajan writes about GM’s success in India. He explains how this global company has done a great job of catering to specific markets by customizing the design of vehicles for different regions.

Dr. Robert Burney praises how GM incorporates quality culture into the organization by defining each employee’s role. As a healthcare professional, he suggests that conversely, too few hospital employees could successfully recite their institution’s mission statement. Robert says that GM’s real lesson is simply to “have a mission and get everyone on board to achieve it.”

Other bloggers discussed whether a radical reshuffling of a company’s priorities is necessary to recognize the importance of quality. Jennifer Stepniowski believes that companies should assess organizational change on a regular basis and make small changes when necessary and avoid radical overhauls. Chris Hermenitt argues that problems must be faced as they arise–letting issues accumulate becomes a risky situation, whether in a personal or business situation.

Noteably, Steve Jobs was frequently mentioned in recent Influential Voices observances, with some remarking on his death and his impact on quality at Apple. Matthew Heusser, for example, focuses on quality lessons GM and others can learn from newer generation companies, such as Apple or Netflix. And that’s a great transition to ASQ CEO Paul Borawski’s latest blog post on learning from two “greats” who recently passed away: Steve Jobs and Motorola’s Bob Galvin.

The Ps and Qs of the new General Motors

Hello, readers and ASQ Influential Voices. This is Laurel Nelson-Rowe, ASQ Managing Director. This month, I’m guest blogging on View From the Q. (Paul Borawski will be back in October with a preview of World Quality Month.)

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get an up-close look at GM’s quality culture during a trip to the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. There’s been a lot written lately about the “New GM,” even to “Report Cards” on its performance in Fortune Magazine, and reports in ASQ’s Quality Progress. A highlight to the visit was a conversation with Terry Woychowski, GM’s new vice president of global quality and launch. He talked a lot about performance—one of the three “Ps” of GM’s emerging quality culture. At GM, Terry says, quality is “promise, personal, and performance”–quite clear and concise for GM, an ASQ Enterprise Quality Roundtable member.

I invite you to watch clips from our conversation, below, and to reflect on the following:

Terry, a GM veteran, says the GM promise starts with quality—“that the product will do everything we said it would do.” He wants customers and employees to hold GM to that promise, for every product, every service, in the every segment and every market, where the GM brand plays. He’s on the phone, on video, on the Internet, and in the field with constant reminders to GM employees everywhere of their individual, personal responsibility for quality—that quality needs to be part of their personal, and their organization, character. “There can be no spectators when it comes to quality,” Terry emphasizes.

I was particularly struck by Terry’s comment that GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, though difficult and painful, “clarified as never before the GM mission: GM will design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles.” I say that’s another essential “P:” Pointing everyone in GM, around the globe, in the same direction.

Do you think companies must sometimes (often? regularly?) undergo radical organizational change or substantial economic shifts to get back to the rigorous quality systems? To rededicate individuals and corporate cultures to performance excellence? What lessons must we learn, and how many times must we re-learn these lessons, to make quality a constant priority?

(By the way, that’s a soon-to-be-released Chevy Sonic in the background.)

GM Culture of Quality—Promise, Personal, Performance

Working on Quality “Cradle to Grave”

Making Quality a Top Priority

The Story of Chevy Volt

Global Standards

Quality Surprises

Predicting Future Quality Headlines