Day 1 of ASQ World Conference: The Tried, True, Innovative and New

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

Welcome to Day 1 of ASQ’s World Conference of Quality and Improvement in Dallas, Texas! Today’s theme seemed to be: something old and something new. Something old, as in classic and time-tested. And something new, as in innovative and edgy.

New: Morning keynote speaker Erik Wahl, who drew in a full house with standing room only. Wahl, a graffiti artist, author and entrepreneur, spoke about the power of risk-taking and innovation. The key takeaway was: If you risk nothing, you get nothing. The quality connection? It’s good to know your trade, the quality profession, but it’s not enough anymore. You must innovate and step outside your comfort zone to succeed.

The afternoon keynote speaker, Bob Pence, CEO of Freese and Nichols Inc., a multiservice engineering, architecture, and environmental science firm, spoke about the success of tried-and-tried quality tools and methodologies. He also touched on ethics (do what’s right when nobody’s watching), innovation (it’s not enough “just” to solve the problem anymore), and organizational sacred cows (let them go). Remember, you can watch Bob Pence’s entire keynote here.

Other events on Monday included quality impact sessions (live team case studies as part of the International Team Excellence Awards process), lighthearted “After 5” sessions on topics like the quality-baseball connection, and many workshops and sessions. Networking was in full swing, with many meetings, receptions, and connections in the exhibit hall.

Highlights for Tuesday:

  • Morning keynote by Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold, andauthor.
  • Afternoon keynote by GM’s global quality and global customer experience VP, Alicia Boler-Davis. You can watch a live stream of this keynote.
  • The exhibit hall extravaganza, 2:15 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
  • And the evening networking reception.

Read a summary of the conference kickoff on Sunday.

ASQ World Conference 2014 Kickoff

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

And we’re off! ASQ’s World Conference on Quality Improvement 2014 kicked off today in Dallas, Texas.

If there’s one trend that’s obvious so far, it’s making connections. Connections between ideas; connections between people. This year’s conference has a strong focus on networking, and what’s a more fun way to network than to literally “build connections”through Legos and Jenga in the exhibit hall?

This was just one of the fun icebreakers at the opening reception–and the games will be available throughout the conference. In addition, conference goers are encouraged to start a “meetup” in the ASQ Center on any topic of interest (look for the sign up boards in the Center).

Here are some highlights for tomorrow:

-Welcome and opening keynote by Erik Wahl, a graffiti artist, among many other things.

-Afternoon keynote by Robert Pence, president and CEO, Freese and Nichols, Inc.

-Quality impact sessions and live team case studies.

-“After 5” sessions, featuring the lighter side of quality.

-A photo booth offering professional portraits, ASQ Center, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

5 Tips On Making the Most of ASQ's World Conference

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

Just as last year, we’ve received some great tips and advice from ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers on “surviving”–and making the most of–conferences and events. This may come in handy if you’re attending ASQ’s upcoming World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Dallas May 5-7, or any other professional events.  If you are going to the World Conference, be sure to follow the events on Twitter with hashtag #WCQI14. And if you are not attending, you can stream the keynotes live this year, which is a great e-learning opportunity.

Now, on to the advice!

1. Prepare and follow up. Do research on relevant sessions and speakers before the conference and follow up with new contacts afterward, says ASQ blogger Tim McMahon.

2. Take photos! ASQ blogger Lotto Lai suggests taking lots of photos so you have a souvenir and a reminder of what you’ve learned and who you’ve met.

3. Talk PDCA and root cause. ASQ blogger Jennifer Stepniowski notes that you can “talk shop” with conference-goers. Where else can you chat about quality with the person in the Starbucks line? Take advantage of this opportunity!

4. Follow the conference on social media. That’s the advice of Influential Voices blogger Bob Mitchell. This year again, there will be a live Twitter feed at the World Conference in the exhibit hall. And, we’ll be live tweeting keynote speeches and live blogging about daily events (as mentioned above, you can live stream the keynotes and follow the conversation on Twitter. Hashtag is #WCQI14).

5.  Keep your schedule full. You should always have something going on at the conference, says ASQ blogger Dan Zrymiak. Attend the “must see” events but make time for sessions and speakers outside your industry. You’ll learn a lot.

Do you want to share your conference advice? Leave a comment on this blog or email We’ll compile feedback in a future blog post.

Engineering Survey: Engineers in Leadership Roles

In a recent survey for ASQ conducted by Kelton Global, U.S. workers identified honesty and communications as key traits they want to see in corporate leaders. A poll by ASQ of its global member engineers worldwide shows they, too, feel honesty and communications are essential to successful leadership.

However, it’s those same traits that workers surveyed by Kelton say are the most lacking, with 20% saying communicating well and 16% citing honesty as leaders’ shortcomings.

In advance of Engineers Week, we also asked workers what backgrounds best prepare CEOs. According to the Kelton Global survey, only 9% said engineers would make the best corporate leaders, falling severely behind those in the fields of Operations (23%), Finance (17%), Marketing (14%), Academia (13%), and Sales (11%).

Engineers have a different view, though, with 69 percent saying their skill set provides a solid foundation for a successful CEO, according to the ASQ member survey — citing skills like analytical thinking and problem-solving.

According to the Kelton Global survey, workers value to the following traits in company leadership:

  • Honesty—30%
  • Communication—22%
  • Critical Thinking—11%
  • Commitment—10%

Traits most lacking in company leadership

  • Communicating Well—20%
  • Honesty—16%

As we start National Engineers Week, this information is as valuable as ever. In the survey conducted of ASQ member engineers, 61% were already in a leadership position, and of the remaining, 16% indicated a high interest in attaining a leadership role. For those looking to advance, how can engineers break the stigma of lacking integrity and having poor communication skills?

About the Surveys

The ASQ leadership survey was conducted by Kelton Global between Jan. 2 and Jan. 9 among 1,027 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and older using an email invitation and an online survey. Margin of error = +/- 3.1 percent. The poll of ASQ member engineers was conducted between Jan. 2 and Jan. 16 among 444 ASQ members around the world who identify themselves as engineers using an email invitation and online poll.