Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011: Quality in Review

In his year-end post, Paul Borawski offers his perspectives of some positive and negative events in the field of Quality and asks for your examples of successes and disappointments in Quality.

Like Paul, I am disappointed that the federal government chose to discontinue its funding of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program. As a Baldrige Evaluator for the State of Minnesota, I have seen first hand how the Criteria have helped many diverse organizations - including manufacturing, healthcare, education, retail, banking and services improve their overall business performance results. Fortunately, the Baldrige Foundation and many state and regional programs will be able to transition the program to the private sector. In my view, the National Award is less important than continuing the application - review - visit process such as that which exists in the Minnesota state program where every applicant gets a site visit.

Other positive news on the Quality front is the movement to sustainability, corporate social responsibility and Total Customer Experience. These foci, along with Hoshin kanri planning, are successfully elevating Quality into the C-suites of businesses and organizations for truly impactful and differentiating performance improvement. Demonstrating the important role of repeatable processes for innovation and growth is another exciting opportunity for the Quality professional. I am extremely proud to see that my employer, 3M, long highly regarded for its unparallelled product quality, is once again recognized as one of the world's most innovative companies - ranked #3 in Forbes (April 2011) based on survey responses of more than 450 innovation executives at more than 400 different companies around the globe.

As the Chair-elect for ASQ Section 1203 I am also extremely pleased with changes the Executive Board and our committees are making in the MN Section.  A significant outcome of our 2008 Long Range Planning process was a redesign of our Board, strengthening our focus on member recruitment and development. And, the MNASQ website was recently redesigned to improve communications with our members. In July 2011 the MNASQ Board completed another round of Long Range Planning (LRP) where we incorporated several tools and approach that I brought from my many years of service to the ASQ Statistics Division (Chair 1999-2000 and 2002-2003). We also incorporated the Hoshin X-matrix, A3s and Bowler scorecard. The MNASQ LRP participants identified seven key strategies for the next 3-5 years, prioritized our annual strategies for the current fiscal year, and assigned project owners to our key tactics. The Section's Mission and Vision statements were revised to emphasize "community" and "total customer experience". I am very excited by the Program Committee's plans for the annual MN Quality Conference that has been re-designed and re-purposed as the Professional Development Summit. The MN ASQ Section is also sponsoring an invitation-only Executive Roundtable where local executives and senior quality leaders will discuss, in a non-competing peer-to-peer format, common challenges and solutions as per the ASQ 2011 Future of Quality study. The MN Council for Quality and Manufacturers' Alliance are co-sponsoring this unique event with MNASQ.

2010-2011 has been a challenging year for the US and global economies, but I am confident that the global Quality community's influence will only continue to grow in breadth, depth, and impact. I look forward to exciting opportunities in 2011-2012 and the years ahead.

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