Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making Connections for Improved Experience

In a guest post to A View from the Q, ASQ Managing Director Laurel Nelson-Rowe reports record attendance at the World Conference on Quality & Improvement (WCQI) and a 75% lift in attendance to the ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference. Laurel asks "Why do you attend events, conferences, or meetings that bring quality professionals together? And if you don’t—why not?".

I, too, have seen a resurgence in interest in the field of Quality and continuous improvement. I am hopeful that Quality is beginning to connect more on an emotional, personal and community level. Quality is more than a set of impersonal, rational methods and tools to deliver improved product, processes and service. Perceived Quality is about the total experience. Customers want what they want, when they want it, a price they are willing to pay for the perceived value.... but they might not know what they want until you give it to them - consistently, flawlessly time after time. Simon Sinek is famously quoted, "People do not buy what you do, people buy why you do it".  The connection between engaged customers-suppliers and employees is on a deeper limbic brain level of emotion and purpose.

As a 25 year member of ASQ I have been attending the WCQI (known previously as the ‘AQC’) since 1989. I think I may have missed maybe 5-6 ASQ conferences over those 25 years. I have attended as a regular attendee, a speaker, a session moderator, or a member leader of the ASQ Statistics Division. The Statistics Division – like most ASQ Divisions – has its own annual conference as well. The “Fall Technical Conference” is targeted specifically to the Statistics Division membership; the papers tend be more detailed and advanced than those presented at the WCQI, but both conferences fulfill their intended purpose. I find the conferences a terrific opportunity to build my professional network, learn new topics and renew old acquaintances.

The ASQ Section is a geographical community of practice, whereas the Divisions are the technical bodies of knowledge (subject matter experts). The MN ASQ Section (#1203) to which I am a member offers professional ASQ certification prep courses as well as monthly Programs for its members. Many programs are structured to deliver a “hard” tools presentation pre-dinner, and a “soft skills” topic post-dinner. These programs offer best practice sharing and yet another face-to-face opportunity to build one’s professional network. The Section has held special Programs dedicated solely on building your professional social network where we have sponsored speakers to discuss tips and tricks to improve your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and ASQ Communities experience. The MN Section is currently exploring the feasibility of offering remote training to our out-state members in the far reaches of our section's boundaries via web conferencing and/or self-paced computer-based training. The MN Section, too, has its own annual quality conference, called the ‘Professional Development Summit’, featuring papers and short course workshops.

A relatively new development in the networking space are “flashmob” type of impromptu meet-ups of young quality professionals. I have observed several such impromptu sessions in 3M grow from a simple, single suggestion between 2-3 individuals quickly blossom into a gathering of 10-20 like-minded people, thanks to internal social collaboration tools. One such recent meeting was initiated by a couple of new 3M CQEs seeking more information about the CMQ/OE certification from a more seasoned quality professional. The meeting grew to an after-work gathering during Happy Hour at a local watering hole.

It is indeed heartening to see the growing interest in and excitement about Quality.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your innovative ideas. The “flashmob” type of impromptu meet-ups of young quality professionals must been couraged by large companies. The brainstorming sessions will help working project managers to experiment with and apply some of the new project management concepts in practice.