ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — May 2003

In This Issue
Seeing Groups–
and the World–
in a New Way
AQP’s National Team Excellence Awards Diary
Ask the PowerPhrase® Expert
Looking Toward the Future



AQP Connections
Articles in Brief
News Bites
What’s Up?
Out of Context
Book Nook

May 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

Looking Toward the Future

In the January issue of News for a Change, Ken Case, president-elect of ASQ, began a multipart report on the Futures Study that was conducted during the summer of 2002. He shared the seven key forces that are most likely to affect quality in the foreseeable future. In February and March, he presented the first two of four scenarios that speculate how society may look in the not-too-distant future: scenario one, “The Fruits of Knowledge”, which was considered the most likely projection, and scenario two, “Back to the Past,” which represented the worst case.

Now it’s time for me to describe scenario three, “Sustainability,” where sustainability becomes the central organizing principle for society, and quality is recognized as the best approach for achieving sustainability. Quality philosophies, techniques, and tools have become commonplace in this scenario; however, much of the progress that’s been attained has come through a rise in paternalism and authoritarianism, including a stronger, larger government.
Before we get into the details of this scenario, I’ll remind you that although it is plausible, it isn’t likely to happen exactly as described. It’s far more probable that parts of this scenario will combine with segments of the other scenarios to create the actual future. We can benefit from considering this prospect if we can determine how to make its favorable aspects become reality, as well to avoid its unfavorable aspects.


  • Two decades of worldwide turbulence have pushed society to a sustainability paradigm.
  • Environmental crises, economic meltdowns, social violence, and international terrorism have led shell-shocked citizens to turn to government for an end to anarchy and environmental destruction.
  • National governments have become stronger. Public order has tightened and crime has declined at the expense of civil liberties and freedom of information.
  • Government is unified on a global basis with a single world currency.
  • Local governments, however, manage cultural uniqueness.


  • In 2019, environmental sustainability became a regulatory mandate, backed
    by the Clean Earth Policy established at the 4th United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development. A conference highlight was ASQ/AQP’s presentation on their groundbreaking work in sustainability.
  • The policy is enforced nationally and internationally and consumers vote with their wallets if a company is noncompliant.
  • The technological tide is turning from profit-driven research and development toward technologies that support social and environmental wellness.
  • Government-sponsored research and development has produced amazing biological remedies, like mass farming of ocean algae to restore the ozone layer.
  • Cellulose-based ethanol distilled from plants has replaced petroleum fuels.
  • Benign methods of weather control have eliminated the destructive effects of natural disasters.
  • World population is stable at eight billion, as women have attained political influence, education, and employment in most societies.


  • Since 2009, mass customization has been the rule for information products. Many goods self-adapt to changing user needs by intelligently monitoring usage patterns.
  • Distinctions between product and service are blurred in a customer-centered experience.
  • Consumer choices are made more on the desire for “experience” obtained with the product than on its practicality or quality.

The Quality Profession

  • Environmental standards, based on quality principles, are implemented worldwide to ensure a sustainable planet. The Global Quality Council mediates world business disputes.
  • A global acceptance of nanotechnology has led to development of standards to monitor and control research (e.g., cloning).
  • Looser restrictions on national work permits have created a near-global talent pool and induced governments to focus quality tools and techniques on creating attractive work-and-live communities.
  • Through the efforts of the quality community, a set of standards governing organizational ethics has been universally credited with the return of consumer confidence, the resultant stabilization of the stock market, the rise in respect for business leaders, and the increase in real organizational value.

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.

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