ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - March 2002


Issue Highlight — Restoration
Peter Block's musing about a home restoration project serves as an excellent metaphor for issues in the cellar of our mind: “In our larger communities, we treat the inner city as a cellar that we do not want to enter....To enter this world, we would have the conversations that we have been avoiding.”

AQP “Quest for Quality” Chapter Keeps on Going and Going and …

NFC keeps hearing good stories about the staying power of some distinguished AQP chapters. The Quest for Quality Chapter kept coming up, so we asked them to share with us what keeps them going and going and going.

“We Will Survive” might be a fitting theme song for the Richland, WA, chapter, as we continue to maintain a steady membership base and hold monthly dinner meetings, and have added a number of other special member benefits and programs since first starting in 1990.

A scholarship program for high school seniors sponsored by AQP’s Quest for Quality chapter and the local section of ASQ has been one of the activities that keeps us inspired and working together. This year, as in the past two years, our chapter is teaming with the local section of ASQ to offer a scholarship to a graduating senior who will be entering college and pursuing a field of study related to quality and participation (which can apply to just about any major). We feel this is a great way to help our local community. Our June meeting is always well attended, as it is a real treat to hear the scholarship recipient share his or her essay.

We were initially chartered by a handful of professionals working at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Richland. Our chapter grew to boast local and national members totaling more than 200 in the early 1990s. At that time, the Hanford work force was growing, and most companies paid for or reimbursed employees for professional memberships. A typical chapter meeting usually drew between 50 and 80 attendees, and the chapter also participated in a number of community events as well.

As downsizing and budget cuts began to hit eastern Washington, the chapter watched as memberships dropped off proportionally. A lot of people just were not willing to pay $75 for a national membership or $15 for local membership out of their own pockets (these were the mid-1990s rates).

However, many of our original charter members and a few newcomers demonstrated their commitment to quality and passion for participation and kept the chapter going. It has not always been easy, but it has definitely been worth the effort. Our chapter holds annual elections for the positions of president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and two directors. There are also seven chapter teams, each championed by a team lead. The elected officers and team leads together form what is known as the chapter leadership team, which meets monthly to discuss issues, plan programs, and address special needs.

Over the years, new approaches and ideas have been needed to publicize and encourage attendance at local chapter events. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent speakers in the area, which has helped us to retain many members and to draw in potential new recruits to our monthly dinner meetings. Targeted mailings also periodically publicize topics of particular interest to specific types of companies/industries (e.g., retail, banking, health care, manufacturing).

One of the special benefits of local chapter membership is access to the Resource Library. The library, which is maintained at the workplace of one of our team leads, is the result of several years of analysis, review, and purchasing of books and audio- and videotapes. There are currently more than 150 items in the library, including a number of books and tapes from past AQP Spring Conferences. (By the way, we also gladly accept donations, so if any published authors are reading this article….)

Another initiative that has helped keep our chapter solvent through the years is the creation and implementation of a Sponsor Program. The chapter currently has seven Sponsor companies—local companies that are strong supporters of the tenets of AQP (leadership, teamwork, associate involvement in goal setting and decision making, etc.) Sponsors pay an annual fee based on the number of employees. In return, all company employees receive the member discounts on chapter activities and access to the chapter resource library. Sponsors also receive a plaque to post in their place of business.

We introduced our chapter Web site in 1999 (check it out at This provides a convenient way for members—and potential members—to learn more about AQP, our chapter, and upcoming programs and special events. Our chapter resource library inventory is listed, as well as links to other quality-related events/seminars/conferences and to other Web sites.

At this time our chapter has a total of about 40 national and local members. Our dinner meetings average 25 attendees. Our leadership team now meets monthly with the local ASQ section leaders, and we plan to combine our programs in the coming year, with each organization planning the speaker/program for every other month. We are also teaming with the local National Management Association to sponsor some seminars on leadership this year.

Our numbers may seem low when compared to our heyday in the early 1990s, but we continue to pride ourselves on our commitment to quality programs and quality people (our members and guests)!

Chapter networking a key to “staying alive:” Dale Bartholomew notes that, “We hear people say that they not only come back for our interesting presentations but also for valuable networking before and during the dinners.” In the picture above are: (left to right) Brian Johnson of Motoring Services, a first-time visitor from SCM Consulting (a local engineering firm), Chapter President David Keeser of PNNL (Battelle), Chapter Vice President Ofelia Bredt of PNNL, and Dale Bartholomew of Leadership Advantage.

The 2001 recipient of the combined AQP/ASQ scholarship was Sana Zuberi.

Sana Zuberi graduated from Richland High School and enrolled in Washington State University in the fall, with the goal of pursuing a career as a pharmacist.

All scholarship applications were reviewed and rated based on established criteria including scholastics, leadership/professional roles and responsibilities, and a written essay in response to this question:

How can quality processes, tools, and techniques be used in the educational system to accomplish the following:

  • Improve the educational environment for all students and teachers
  • Produce students who are well educated and prepared to either continue their higher education or enter the work force.

March 2002 News for a Change Homepage

  In This Issue...
Making Change Stick
AQP “Quest for Quality” Chapter Keeps on Going and Going and …
Denta +: A Case Study in Exceptional Customer Experience Your Employees Know More Than You–So Listen!
Contact Center Employee Satisfaction and the Bottom Line
Funky Business and Taming Talent
Upcoming AQP Courses at a Glance...
What’s Up?

Peter Block Column


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