Sunday, January 25, 2015

Finding Inspiration from Quality Leaders

In his January 2014 blog post, ASQ CEO Bill Troy talks about his recent meeting with Paul O’Neill, a quality thought leader, 2013 Juran Medalist, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and CEO of Alcoa from 1987 to 1999. Paul O'Neill is currently applying the principles of quality to fix the problems facing U.S. healthcare. Towards the end of his post, Bill Troy asks whose teachings on quality influenced you or inspired you?

Early in my professional quality career I had the great pleasure and unique opportunity to work for Galen Britz, a giant in 3M's storied culture of quality and a huge advocate for Deming's System of Profound Knowledge. Galen served as Quality Manager of several 3M business units and Chairman of 3M's Corporate Quality Council before retiring in 1999. Galen Britz was also my mentor. Galen is a kind, spiritual and gentle man, and my friend. I learned a great deal about authentic leadership from Galen. Another key figure in my 3M quality career is Thomas Pohlen who, I believe, was the quintessential statistical practitioner and prototypical Master Black Belt long before 3M formally adopted Six Sigma. Tom mentored and trained a considerable portion of 3M executives in statistical thinking during the 1990's. Galen Britz and Tom Pohlen were champions of "Statistical Thinking" in 3M and were instrumental in influencing 3M leadership to bring in Heero Hacquebord to teach and coach "Statistical Thinking for Leaders". This training enabled our leaders to pursue real, meaningful, continual improvement of our products and processes through the proper application of quality strategies and tools to separately address special cause, common cause, and structural variation.

My association with Galen Britz, Tom Pohlen and Heero Hacquebord seeded my interest and directly led to my many years of active membership and service in the ASQ Statistics Division. Participation in the ASQ Statistics Division afforded me the great privilege to meet and work with such notable Quality professionals and thought leaders as Stu Hunter, Lynne Hare, Roger Hoerl, Ron Snee, Davis Balestracci, and many others too numerous to call out, whom I am indebted for my understanding of and passion for customer-focused quality.

Today, my biggest thrill and greatest sense of accomplishment is guiding and coaching the development of my students, direct reports and mentees. I strive to create the same sense of joy, excitement and enthusiasm in learning, development and, of course, contribution to business and society.