About This Blog

A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Career Transitions in Quality: New Tricks for Old Dogs

This is a summary of my recent presentation covering a framework and approach to navigate through the different industries and competency areas.

Critical To Quality Segments for Managing Your Career Transition:

What is driving the change? Why is this change right for you?
•Visualize and capture your emotional desire –sustain persistence

Bring To Table
•Existing Skills, Experience, Capabilities
•Industry Participation: (see following slide for examples from Oil and Gas)
•Itemize your personal inventory of capabilities –Gallup Strengthsfinder

•Align and prioritize with the demands and desires of your target destination

Add New
•Incremental Skills needed
•Capabilities to train on the job or upgrade during career transitions
•Understand the demands and work to address personal gaps
•Learn how to learn, devote time to self-enrichment and personal pursuits

•ASQ Mentorship, ASQ Certifications, Professional and Academic Training
•Use Informational Interviews to make contacts and elicit target knowledge
•Pursue mentorship, ASQ Certifications, Professional and Academic Training

Ride The Wave
•Identify and align with prevailing trends and preferences
•Connect and couple Quality with positive and popular initiatives including:
•Productivity, Business Transformation, Organizational Development, Due Diligence, M&A
•Social Responsibility, Safety, Environmental Mgmt., Employee Empowerment, First Nations
•Non-Profit, Public Service (Healthcare, Education) –can’t be offshored nor outsourced
•Understand and adapt to ongoing trends (i.e. globalization, technology)
•Prepare now for world in 2017, 2020, 2036

ASQ is a source and provider of the Quality Body of Knowledge to support Career Transitions and professional growth

ASQ Members are a source of mentorship and expertise
•Explore ASQ
–globally at www.asq.org
•Attend the ASQ programs & events in person and virtually
•Follow ASQ Influential Voices, ASQ Career Connection
•Join ASQ Community groups on www.linkedin.com
•Support your local ASQ Section and ASQ Divisions

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Quality Professional Development - Flexibility, Reusability, Eligibility

ASQ can be very expensive with high priced options for certification, education, conferences, and events.  This article is to show ways to satisfy member demand for professional growth while doing so in a cost-effective way by applying best practices for flexibility, reusability, and eligibility.

Being part of ASQ should not be synonymous with high-pressure sales, exaggerated claims, and misleading misrepresentations about the future benefits of overpriced certifications.  ASQ has survived and sustained itself for 70 years by being relevant and suitable for its membership.  A modest and methodical approach, carefully and thoughtfully considered, and emphasizing prudence and thrift, will enable ASQ members to realize their personal and career aspirations in a way that does not disrupt or diminish other elements of their personal or professional lives.

This article captures some personal and reflections and perspectives on my 25+ years of professional education and growth.  I wanted to share my own experiences in managing professional upgrades and training while concurrently fulfilling my job duties and personal commitments (i.e. home, family, other pursuits).
An early experience came when my employer declined my request to sponsor my attendance to a quality conference with the rationalization that if I deemed it a personal priority, I would find a way to muster the resources myself to attend.  Through a combination of prudent choices and thrifty purchase selections (red-eye flights on stand-by, distant motels, public transit) and cost-effective alternatives (breakfast from grocery stores rather than restaurants or coffee shops), I was able to come within a personal budget that made conference attendance viable.
20 years ago, ASQC had twice as many members as it does today, with less overhead and fewer options.  Consequently, certifications and conferences were considerably less expensive.  The situation in the late 1990s and early 2000s was that the training, references, and examination fees could be acquired for a few hundred dollars, making it comparable in cost to a single class at a local accredited post-secondary institution.  These endeavors were greatly supported by the eminent educators and mentors found within ASQC who devoted their services and expertise voluntarily to assist and guide participants.
When you have to spend your own money, the importance of the pursuit is considered in the context of not only the potential gains from completing the certification or conference, but also the competing financial commitments of home, family, and other personal pursuits.  For this reason, no ASQ member should ever be pressured beyond their personal comfort levels to partake in a costly training or networking initiative, lest family and personal lives be disrupted. 
In the 20 years since I attended my first ASQ meeting at the Metrotown Holiday Inn, I have acquired 7 renewable ASQ certifications and attended 8 World Conferences.  If someone were to start today and match the same levels based on full prices or "rack rates" for training and registration, that level of involvement would require a personal commitment of over $25,000. 

Spending $2000 or more per individual certification just to train for and write an open book exam is not sustainable for our membership.


I recommend three approaches for professional development to build your Quality portfolio within your financial means.
The ASQ exams or equivalent credentials from similar professional societies demand a certain level of proficiency, but do not mandate exactly how that proficiency must be acquired.  You can arrive at the exam site on foot, by public transit, on cycle, in a car, or by a limousine or private jet.  Once you step in and take your seat, your status is equal to all other examinees.  The same mentality should be considered whether you acquired your knowledge from personal tutors, expensive courses, webinars, or independent self-study.  Knowledge is knowledge, and does not discriminate by the size of the invoices paid.
As part of your preparation, you should understand your present proficiency level in the subject area.  People who don't know what they don't know (misunderstand their ignorance) will have a false impression of their readiness.  The best approach is to acquire practice exams that will reflect the complexity and coverage of the various questions, and indicate areas where additional study is required.
Not all training is required to be provided by ASQ or ASQ affiliated instructors.  For exams like CQE and CSSBB, there is a statistical component.  This can be augmented by generic training in statistics for business and management, and used to support preparation efforts.  You have every right to select your source of knowledge.
There is also flexibility to participate.  ASQ does not require perfect attendance, and it is better to pick your spots to focus on the most meaningful and impactful events.  Personal commitments (i.e. wedding anniversaries) should be prioritized, and as ASQ has been around for 70 years, you should never be pressured with a "last chance" sales pitch.  Unlike a fly-by-night operation that packs up when the carnival or exhibition leaves town (to find a new set of suckers), ASQ will remain to accommodate the time that is more conducive to your schedule.
When you acquire assets of knowledge or intellectual capital, these are yours to apply and reuse personally and professionally.  Some of the best (i.e. Juran's Quality Handbook, Gemba Kaizen) are filled with relevant and practical knowledge that can be applied to both academic exams and practical work situations. 
ASQ Certifications are distinguished by having an approved Body of Knowledge, which is continually reviewed and regularly updated by industry and academic participants.  Often the same elements of the overall Quality Body of Knowledge (QBoK) are reused across multiple certifications. 
Lean, as an example, is a subset of the Quality Body of Knowledge, and the following ASQ Certifications include a section on Lean Tools (i.e. Cycle Time, 5S, Kanban, Kaizen, Value Stream Mapping) within the training and exams.  Because Lean is already so infused into the Quality continuum, one set of references should be adequate to support study preparations for up to 12 distinct certifications. 
  • Certified Quality Improvement Associate
  • Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt
  • Certified Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Certified Quality Technician
  • Certified Quality Inspector
  • Certified Quality Process Analyst
  • Certified Suppler Quality Professional
  • Certified Lean Bronze (SME with ASQ contributions)

  • Certified Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Certified Quality Auditor
  • Certified Quality Engineer

  • Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence
In addition to Lean, multiple certifications cover overlapping content for Quality BoK subjects including Statistical Process Control, Cost of Quality, and Design of Experiments.  The best approach is to contact existing long-term ASQ members who already have multiple certifications, which means they likely have a wealth of knowledge gathering dust on their bookshelves.  This reusability can support cost-effective training and the overall growth of professionalism within ASQ among members.
This section refers to those activities which enable a person to attend or audit a training course or presentation without paying the full registration.  I have been able to do this by being a reviewer and auditor.  Also, if you are a presenter at a conference, one of the privileges is the ability to attend other sessions for free or at a discounted rate.
ASQ also provides its qualified members with the opportunity to be a behind-the scenes reviewer of content and questions. This requires some work and commitment, but the benefit is that participants actually get initial exposure to current knowledge and transcripts, and are literally paid to learn Quality.
When a new exam is released, early adopters have the ability to take the exams at a discounted rate.  These savings can be compounded as ASQ releases more training and certification options, or retools their existing offerings to incorporate technology and innovations.
This eligibility is one of the reasons and selling points for promoting each and every ASQ member to pursue and attain the level of Senior Member.  It does not cost anything to upgrade, and with the self-verification option, there should be no restriction once a member is eligible.  An additional benefit of ASQ senior members is the eligibility to receive a free ASQ journal, filled with important content that will also support professional development and knowledge within the Quality profession.
The expression "the rich get richer" has validity in ASQ because once a person gets established as an author, speaker, and contributor, more opportunities are presented to them to entice their participation in additional conferences and publications.  Surprisingly there is a shortage of knowledgeable speakers and authors, making this the perfect time to become involved. 
If your approach incorporates flexibility, reusability, and eligibility, your time and financial commitments will go farther, you will more quickly yield returns and cost recovery, and many advantages and savings will come your way. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Comparison of Job Opportunities by ASQ Certification

I wanted to follow up on the validity of some claims regarding the relative demand for quality practitioners with ASQ credentials.  This is a snapshot of mid-August in Canada, operating in an economy challenged by low commodity prices, increased unemployment, and rising expenses.

This is a summary and comparison of different ASQ and Quality Credentials, and the relative demand for each.
Indeed is an aggregator site which shows job openings by keyword and location.  I have found this to be a reliable and relevant indicator of hiring activity.
In this summary, I am simply comparing the outcomes of the different search results.  I don't have particular insights why a particular skill set is in demand while others are out of favor within their respective communities.  This also does not separate particular job descriptions which may be repeated because multiple certifications are referenced.
To summarize, I have categorized these into 3 groups: Six Sigma, ASQ-Core, and ASQ-Niche.  The ASQ-Core certifications are the three most popular: CQE, CQA, and CMQ/OE.  The ASQ-Niche reflect options which are more specialized including CSQE for Software, and Lean Bronze (from a partnership with SME.  To summarize the results below:

- Six Sigma is by far the strongest and most widely requested quality credential, with the highest salary ranges. GET YOUR ASQ SIX SIGMA BELTS TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR JOB OPPORTUNITIES!!!
- ASQ-Core certifications like CQE and CQA have some demand but at a lower wage band than Six Sigma.  CMQ/OE has a minimal presence.   CORE ASQ CERTIFICATIONS NEED TO BE MORE EFFECTIVELY MARKETED IN CANADA!!!
- ASQ-Niche certifications have MINIMAL DEMAND IN CANADA
  • Lean Bronze demand is minimal with the lowest stature and salary levels
  • CSQE is requested only as part of an "all of the above" list of software credentials.
  • Neither the Lean Bronze nor CSQE are distinct differentiators, but are included among a plethora of certification options for qualification and consideration.  
One drawback of this search is that some certification acronyms were common with other references or company names.  For example Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE) had other meanings, returning disproportionately high results.
To offset regional disparities in industry and economic performance (particularly the unusual and sustained decline in resources and petroleum), the searches were made across Canada.  This would invoke the "Law of Large Numbers"

If you are looking for new positions, a Six Sigma Black Belt provides the most opportunities disbursed across the widest range. 
Salary Estimate
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A Six Sigma Green Belt is also widely demanded in Canada
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In British Columbia, entering Six Sigma will return a wide range of open roles across multiple salary levels.
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ASQ-Core certifications consist of CQE, CQA, and CMQ/OE
CQE roles are in demand, but the average salary levels are below those of Six Sigma professionals.
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CQA also has a presence, but the salary ranges are at or near the CQE median
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The CMQ/OE, which is a very progressive certification based on a diverse and thorough body of knowledge, is barely referenced.
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ASQ-NICHE Certifications
Lean Bronze job titles are Specialist/Advisor, which indicates a tactical role for novice or entry-level practitioners.

Job Type

Although Lean Bronze is referenced, it is not an exclusive differentiator.  In one Quality Improvement Advisor posting, the Lean Bronze is listed as one several credentials, and is shown as being equivalent to a Six Sigma Green Belt or any of the ASQ certifications.

Technical Requirements and Professional Designations:
Minimum: One of: 
Lean six sigma green belt, SME Bronze Lean certification, IHI Improvement Advisor certification, American Society of Quality (ASQ) certification,
This is reinforced by the more specific searches in BC and Alberta.  The demand for this particular credential has not resonated into the requirements for any open roles out west.


CSQE is the Software Quality credential, which should resonate with the growing technology organizations like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Oracle.  Unfortunately this credential is only demanded for software testing roles, and is not core to the hiring criteria.
Salary Estimate
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In one case, the CSQE was included among multiple credentials including the introductory CQIA, proving that the HR or Hiring Manager does not know the distinctions between the credentials.
Certification in one or more CAST, CMST, CSTE, CSTP, CTFL, CTAL, CMSQ , CSQA, CSQE, CQIA, CTAL-TA, CTAL-TTA, or equivalent.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

ASQ Canada - Proposals to Overcome Member Attrition in Canada

I wanted to raise for your attention the fact that in Region 4, there was a 15% overall drop in ASQ Membership numbers from month-to-month (see chart below comparing membership levels for June and July).   This seems excessive for a typical month-to-month change, and I wanted to explore the assignable causes for this significant decline.  The range of attrition by section was 8%-22%, and all ASQ Sections in Canada experienced a membership decline in the last month.  I would like to understand how this compares with overall ASQ trends between June and July 2016.  Even if the problems are not unique to Canada, the solutions proposed below can be applied to entrench and strengthen ASQ in Canada, and reverse this trend.


Analysis and Solutions


Since members do not leave abruptly but instead wait for their last expiry period, I think this relates to the non-renewals of the ASQ membership, plus a grace period for unpaid members.  Significant reductions in membership affect business planning, as membership levels, combined with participation rates, determine the estimates for attendance and capacity planning (i.e. banquet bookings, meeting room sizes).  


Today’s Canada-US exchange rate (0.76) makes the annual ASQ rate approximately $209 (a 27% increase over the last 3 years).   If this membership value is not recovered or recoverable by Canadian members, the attrition rates will continue and potentially increase.  Even if the new levels stabilize, we cannot sustain our membership or member units in Canada with 15-20% annual membership attrition rates.  This currency devaluation also affects the overall cost and participation rate of ASQ Certifications among ASQ Canada members, with the result that revenues and purchases of ASQ products and services will decrease overall in Canada.


I respectfully propose that ASQ consider adopting the following innovations to more effectively align to the expectations of the Canadian market, intended to reverse the evident member attrition:


-          Extend the capabilities of ASQ Customer Care to support ASQ members in Canada in both official languages (English and French), during core business hours (8AM-5PM) across all time zones (Newfoundland, Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific).


-          Offer French translations for ASQ Certifications (i.e. exams, training, webinars, and published material).


-          Price ASQ products and services at par for ASQ members based in Canada, with non-members paying the USD rates.  This at-par (i.e. ASQ membership is offered at $159 CAD) discount would incentivize Canadians to remain in ASQ and procure products and services.


-          Have ASQ HQ organize annual ASQ conference events with staff participation and support (similar to WCQI, Lean Six Sigma) in Canada.  This could be co-located with an ASQ BoD meeting or SAC/TCC training.  This would have the additional advantage of enabling ASQ to benefit from the 30% currency discount in Canada, relative to USA prices.


-          Allocate a proportionate ASQ infrastructure and staffing in Canada reflective of the membership.  Assuming a benchmark of 7.5%, this allocation could be devoted to Canada-based ASQ staff or staff specializing on unique Canadian concerns (i.e. tax planning for Revenue Canada not IRS, banking solutions with Canadian banks, etc.)


-          Allocate a minimum of 1 seat on the ASQ Board of Directors to a Canadian-based ASQ member.  If this is not already represented through SAC or TCC, then one of the Member At Large roles should be earmarked for a Canadian representative.


I know that these will not happen overnight.  My hope is that the necessary dialogues already started will continue and bear fruit.  I would like to build on the excellent discussions organized to reinforce the importance of the Canadian market to ASQ.