Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Celebrating World Quality Month 2013

What are you and/or your organization planning this November to recognize World Quality Month?  According to ASQ, World Quality Month was inaugurated in November 2010. "World Quality Month was established to reignite attention once generated in the 1980s by National Quality Month in the U.S. and to create a united, global forum for the people and organizations that have celebrated World Quality Days in November to come together and raise their voices for quality"

Per the Chartered Quality Institute (England), World Quality Week runs November 11-15, 2013, and World Quality Day is Thursday, November 14. The theme for 2013 is "Making Collaboration Count".

The Minnesota Section of ASQ is launching World Quality Month with a special program the evening of Friday, November 1 featuring ASQ Chairman, Dr. John Timmerman.  John will deliver a presentation titled, "Innovation 2.0". This program is open to members and non-members; senior Quality Leaders from 60+ local organizations and businesses (i.e. MN Executive Roundtable) have also been invited.

Earlier that same day Dr. Timmerman will join several company executives in kicking-off 3M's World Quality Month, beginning with a tour of the 3M Innovation Center at its world headquarters. 3M executives will speak to the importance of quality processes, products and people to the 3M brand, reputation, sustainability, and business performance excellence. This kick-off event will be webstreamed to all of our worldwide operations. Best practices, workshops, contests and social events are planned throughout the month of November to celebrate collaborative continuous improvement.

Does your organization need suggestions to help celebrate WQM 2013? Consult the resources at

New Opportunities for Quality

In his September 2013 blog post, ASQ CEO Paul Borawski asks, "What new fields or disciplines could most reap the benefits of quality tools and techniques?"

I work in manufacturing - the traditional focus of most quality methods and tools. I continue to enjoy a 33 year career in product development, process development, business process redesign, quality engineering, quality management, leadership, Six Sigma and Lean. But I also have the distinct pleasure of being able to share my acquired knowledge and skills in the role as a Baldrige Examiner to help improve organizational performance in healthcare, education, small business, local government and nonprofits.

It is my experience and opinion that two areas ripe for continuous improvement are back office transactions and front office customer service. Even within a manufacturing operation, it is estimated that 70% of all cost reduction opportunities lie in transactional process improvement. The challenges to improving transactional processes are well documented: a general lack of process thinking, lack of customer-supplier relationship and understanding of requirements, lack of defect understanding, and the lack of data. Lean principles offer the thinking and tools to help organizations begin their journey of transactional continuous improvement.

Customer service - or more accurately, the lack thereof, is a huge opportunity just begging for improvement. Whereas the new definition of quality in today's highly competitive, ever changing global environment is about delivering consistently superior Customer Experience, it seems that customer service - across a broad cross-section of the economy - has taken a back seat to impersonal automation in the name of efficiency and productivity. Missing is the emphasis on human interaction for overall effectiveness, increased customer loyalty and improved organizational outcomes. Deming's System of Profound Knowledge teaches managers that appreciation of a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and knowledge of psychology help to transform business effectiveness. I believe that effective Quality training coupled with customer-focused improvement efforts build employee empowerment and engagement leading to sustainable processes and outcomes.