Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How Do Quality Professionals Explain Their Jobs?

In the March 2013 issue of Quality Progress magazine, contributor Marcia Weeden laments the difficulty of explaining what she does as a quality professional to her friends and acquaintances who have no idea what quality is. Marcia states, "Sometimes, if I am lucky, somebody might guess, 'Is that like quality control? You inspect things?' I have hope. At least they know that much".

I just tell such people that I am a farmer!

Seriously, though, I borrowed that line from the episode "The Career Day" of  "That 70's Show" starring Ashton Kucher.  In this episode, Kelso (Kucher) is trying to understand what his dad's job is as a "senior executive statistical analysis technician".  Totally dazed, confused and frustrated, Kelso finally gives up and says that he will just tell his class that his dad is a farmer!

I have had similar experiences to Marcia Weeden where acquaintances might associate quality assurance with quality control. My response is to explain that my role is more strategic and that my goal is to replace product inspection with process control. I work with business teams to design processes and products that help the business WIN in the marketplace by creating value for the customer. (Entitlement Quality is when the customer gets what they want, when they want it, at a price they are willing to pay, and the business makes a reasonable profit). Borrowing from the Baldrige Criteria, I developed a 2-minute visual presentation comparing quality to the hamburger where the meat pattie represents the business results; the buns represent the organization's mission, vision, principles, and action plans. The condiments represent Lean, Six Sigma, TQM, and other continuous improvement activities. The lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles, etc. are leadership, planning, work systems & processes, and customer & workforce focus.  The entire experience of ordering and enjoying your hamburger - prepared exactly as you ordered it - is the final outcome of a "Quality" process.

Do you have a similar metaphor or story to explain your job in the quality profession?

1 comment:

  1. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the PMP trainingproviders like http://www.pmstudy.com/. You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.