Friday, June 22, 2012

Moving Quality up the Corporate Agenda

In his June blog post ASQ CEO Paul Borawski asks, "What success have you had in moving quality beyond product?"

In addition to my role as an "Influential Voices of Quality" blogger I am also the incoming Chair of the Minnesota section of ASQ.  During my term as chair-elect I led a project team to design, develop and deliver an Executive Roundtable to gather up to 60 senior executives of businesses and organizations throughout the MN section's geographical area.  This Roundtable was an invitation-only peer-to-peer networking meeting where executives discussed common challenges and best practices to operational excellence, innovation and growth. The event was co-sponsored by MNASQ, the MN Council for Quality (recently re-branded as the Performance Excellence Network), and the Manufacturers' Alliance. A pre-Roundtable survey was distributed to the target audience to prioritize their areas of interest and need. These MN executives and senior Quality leaders' common challenges and concerns are focused around innovation for growth - not just products and services, but more importantly, business processes and building a culture of innovation; plus, the increasing rate of change, the aging workforce (retiring Baby Boomers) and talent management.

48 executives and senior Quality leaders from 44 organizations in the Twin Cities metro, out-state Minnesota, and as far away as western South and North Dakota participated in this 1-day event, representing a wide cross-section of the local economy, including manufacturing, healthcare, biomedical, food-drug-cosmetic, retail, business and personal services, banking, insurance and finance, education, state and local government and non-profits. Based on their survey responses the day's discussions were framed around the 2011 CEO Challenge, the 2011 Future of Quality study, and the MN State demographer's talent profile of the Minnesota economy. In addition, the President of Cargill Kitchen Solutions presented a keynote on innovation and quality.

Feedback from the inaugural event has been phenomenal! 100% top-box satisfaction. The MN Section is already planning the 2013 Executive Roundtable event. The executives benefited from the peer-to-peer networking, learning and sharing. The MN ASQ Section gained valuable insights (e.g. Voice of Customer) to help us develop new, relevant, targeted training material and explore multiple delivery methods to reach members and potential members in all four corners of our geographical reach, to help their organizations achieve success.

Closer to home, my employer has been on a journey to incorporate hoshin kanri, PDCA and business execution into its strategic planning processes. Tools such as the X-matrix, A3s, bowler scorecards and management by fact are helping to prioritize business objectives, identify and resource top improvement opportunities, deploy aligned project teams and improve key performance indices. Senior executives are leading corporate teams. These methods and tools are not only used in the operations side of the enterprise but also in the support functions like Quality, HR, Legal, Finance, Supply Chain, etc. Certainly we have product quality, productivity and cost goals and objectives, but at 3M "quality" has definitely penetrated the C-Suite.


  1. I really enjoying reading this article. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for your comments. As you know, we are more like farmers planting seeds waiting for them to grow before harvest. Some seeds take root and others do not.lean manufacturing training

  2. Quality is a necessary feat in any field of business. A must read to gain an insight on the quality necessity for the corporate agenda.