Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Day with the Future of Quality

In a guest blog to A View from the Q submitted by Edwin Garro, an ASQ Fellow and founding member of ASQ Section 6000, Costa Rica, Edwin shares his recent experience while visiting San Rafael de Poás Technical High School, in the mountains of Alajuela, Costa Rica where 15- and 16- year olds will graduate in 2017 with a technical degree in Quality and Productivity. Edwin asks whether similar programs exist elsewhere.

It has been my great pleasure to participate on the Program Improvement Advisory Committee for the Bachelor of Manufacturing Management degree offered at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. Though not a high school curriculum as per Edwin Garro's example, UMC's BMM degree program is tailored to employees of local manufacturers and includes a strong emphasis on quality principles, statistics and quality management. Per the UMC BMM program brochure the program "is designed to meet the needs of people already in the workplace and two-year graduates who want to continue their education to the bachelor's degree level with seamless integration of prior credits earned. The program is available for in-class instruction on campus, as well as through online education. The online education components of the program are delivered through asynchronous electronic communication technologies and self-directed learning." This is a unique quality management degree program specifically targeted to support area manufacturers and businesses located in rural northeast Minnesota and to help improve the marketability of UMC students.

"The bachelor of manufacturing management (B.M.M.) is a career-oriented program that prepares students to manage people and machines in a manufacturing environment. Graduates will be able to supervise a manufacturing process, manage human and mechanical resources within budgetary constraints, and assure product quality. Program outcomes:
1- play a growing role in their workplace, especially in supervision and management
2- contribute to manufacturing system technology and quality control
3- establish a quality control department and train staff to meet quality audits
4- develop grades and standards of quality
5- set up acceptance sampling and inspection procedures
6- prepare quality control charts and reports
7- control the movement of materials in the most efficient manner at the right time, to and from the correct place in the required quantity
8- do a safety audit through a comprehensive approach to problems of safety in the workplace, including meeting the OSHA standards."

Dr. Christo Robberts is the program director for the Quality Management program and the Manufacturing Management programs at the University of Minnesota Crookston. For more information please visit the University of Minnesota-Crookston webpage at

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Does Mission Matter?

While Vision, Leadership, Values and Principles are widely recognized for their importance to an organization's sustainability, effectiveness and excellence, incoming ASQ Board Chair, Pat Lalonde, asks whether mission matters to improving the quality culture.

The Criteria for Performance Excellence (Baldrige) defines Mission as, "Your organization’s overall function. The mission answers the question, “What is your organization attempting to accomplish?” The mission might define customers or markets served, distinctive or core competencies, or technologies used."

My experience in leading the ASQ Statistics Division (1999-2000 and 2001-2002), the Minnesota Section of ASQ (2011-2013), as well as my 34 years professional work experience reinforces the importance of an understood, well-deployed, consistent mission to developing the organization's strategic plan and then working the resulting business plans to achieve excellence. Whereas Vision is more aspirational, Mission provides clarity to the workforce and guides day-to-day decisions regarding business operations. Clarity of mission is critical in defining who you are and how or whether your value proposition differentiates you from the competition. A sound Mission - in concert with a well-articulated Vision - assists in the development of a strategic plan that addresses gaps between the Current State and the organization's desired Future State.

A consistently applied Mission, congruent with the organization's Values and Principles guides behaviors and decision-making in recognition of the organization's core competencies, strengths, challenges and opportunities regarding the selection of key suppliers and complementary business partners.

Of course, the organization's Mission must be considered and consistently applied by leadership, management and the workforce in order to be effective. I invite the reader to visit the MN ASQ Section website to learn how its leadership skillfully responded to member input and redefined its Mission and Vision as part of its strategic planning process, optimizing its value proposition(s) for the effective development and distribution of its products and services to its key markets and customer segments.