Monday, September 05, 2011

Quality - Past and Present

In his latest blog post Paul Borawski asks two questions pertaining to the past and future of quality and ASQ.

Does the quality community bear some responsibility for making sure its philosophic foundations are not lost to history?
As a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence (CQM/OE) and a Certified Quality Engineer (CQE), I always felt that ASQ over-emphasized the importance of being able to match the Quality guru with his contributions to quality philosophy in its certification exams. Quality philosophy, principles, tools and methods are bedrock. In this age of the internet, powerful search engines exist that provide almost instantaneous global access to man's acquired, accumulated knowledge. Social and professional networking tools such as wiki's, websites, webinars, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, microblogs, etc., offer unlimited access to case studies, best practices, benchmarking, discussion boards, tools, templates, and global collaboration with knowledge experts. In addition, there are numerous, prestigious awards that honor and perpetuate the memory and philosophy of the quality gurus. More important, I believe, is ASQ's role and value proposition to couple and disseminate quality theory, philosophy, and principles with continuous improvement methods and tools, organizational and project management skills, team dynamics and interpersonal communication skills, change management, leadership principles, and organizational design to empower individuals and organizations to achieve excellence. Knowledge of what to do, and how to do it are only part of any solution. A good plan poorly executed is no better than no plan at all. Flawless execution is what separates the winners from the losers; and, execution requires more than just an understanding of how to use a tool.

What do professionals under the age of 35 see as the future of quality?
I am not a member of this demographic, but my role in 3M has me teaching, coaching and consulting many younger professionals as well as seasoned experts. In more recent classroom discussions of "Quality" many of the younger professionals cite customer focus, defect-free features, entitlement thinking, reliability, speed, and end-to-end value stream performance. Definitions of Quality range from the traditional "Conformance to Requirements" (Crosby), "Fitness for Use" (Juran), "Delight the Customer", "Loss to Society"(Taguchi), etc. but on a more personal level I hear phrases like service, community, social responsibility and sustainability.

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