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.


Monday, December 31, 2012

WCQI Program - So Many Choices, So Little Time

The Program for the upcoming WCQI 2013 is now available online.  This is a very impressive selection of compelling speakers and interesting topics.


    SessionNumber SessionTitle
Taz Daughtrey ISE02 (Software) Software Reliability Engineering Contributions to Software Security
Ron Snee ICQI 06 Creating Stable Operations: A Systems Approach
Prashant Hoskote ICQI 07 Implementing an Enterprise-wide Quality Management System
Deborah Hopen M05 When David Has to Satisfy Goliath
Lori Dellinger M10 Navigating a Multigenerational Workforce
Duke Okes ICQI 12 4 + Uses for SIPOC
Eric Michrowski M20 Social Media: Key Opportunities for Quality Professionals
Linda Westfall ISE05 (Software) Panel: Software is Everywhere - and How to Live With It
Taz Daughtrey ISE05 (Software) Panel: Software is Everywhere - and How to Live With It
Jd Marhevko ICQI 16 Driving a Quality/Lean Steering Committee
David Walker ISE06 (Software) Leveraging the CMMI to Pursue Excellence in Software Development
Burton Liebesman ICQI 19 Linked Quality and Financial Case Studies
Denis Devos T14 Creating a Lean Culture at Ecolab
Linda Westfall ISE08 (Software) Risk-based Configuration Control  Balancing Flexibility With Stability
Connie Borror ICQI 21 Seven Super Tools for Healthcare Improvement
Tracy Owens ICQI 23 Innovation Live!!!
Grace Duffy ICQI 24 Use a School of Fishbones for Process Improvement
Elizabeth Cudney ICQI 25 Continual Improvement in Large Health Networks
Ron Meier ICQI 28 Implementing Enterprise-wide Risk Management
Lars Sorqvist W13 Cross-functional Support Process Management
Peter Merrill W18 Collaborating for Creativity and Change


I have drafted an initial Itinerary for myself, but as one can observe, there are many schedule conflicts.Having been a member of multiple divisions, committees, and peer groups, I have had the opportunity to cross paths with some very impressive practitioners.  While the list above represents a small fraction of the speakers, I can personally attest to having collaborated or partnered with them in the course of my ASQ involvement.  While some are peers and "fellow travelers", others have been inspirational mentors to me and would be valuable resources with whom to gain additional insights.

In creating this list for myself, I really find myself at a loss of which individuals to select for attendance.  While I believe that all are deserving of my time and attention, I also have to consider which would reinforce areas which I already know, compared to which topics would effectively stretch and expand my professional knowledge.

This list includes selections from WCQI, ICQI, and ISE, and I am very proud to have previously had the privilege to speak at all three of these conferences in 2011 and 2012.  The interesting thing is that I have drafted an itinerary solely on the basis of being acquainted with the individual; there are so many more options for a conference attendee to partake and enjoy.

I have listed below how I am acquainted with the selected speaker.  In all cases, their interactions with me were positive and impressive, and I could vouch for the value they will deliver to conference attendees.

Taz Daughtrey (ASQ Fellow, ASQ Software Division editor and author, co-collaborator on upcoming ASQ Cost of Quality book)

Ron Snee (ASQ Fellow, IAQ Academician)

Prashant Hoskote (ASQ Quality Management Division Member-Leader)

Deborah Hopen (ASQ Quality Management Division award recipient)

Lori Dellinger  (ASQ Service Quality Division Chair, ASQ Committee Chair)

Duke Okes  (ASQ Quality Management Division Member-Leader)

Eric Michrowski  (Fellow Canadian - Vancouver resident)

Linda Westfall  (ASQ Software Division author and speaker - generously gave me one of her ASQ Press books in 2010 for attending her ISE session - a practice which I emulated in 2012)

Jd Marhevko (ASQ Fellow, ASQ Quality Management Division - Past Chair and Mentor) 

David Walker (ASQ Software Division - generously provided me with opportunity to address 2012 ISE)

Burton Liebesman   (ASQ Fellow, ASQ EEC Division Chair, ASQ Quality Management Division Technical Committee member - Mentor)

Denis Devos  (ASQ Fellow and Fellow Canadian - ASQ Quality Management Division Canadian Liaison)

Connie Borror (ASQ Fellow, past Division Chair)

Tracy Owens (ASQ Quality Management Division - Member-Leader)

Grace Duffy (ASQ Fellow, ASQ Quality Management Division - Past Chair and Mentor)

Elizabeth Cudney (IAQ Associate, ASQ Awards Committee (Feigenbaum Medallist) member)

Ron Meier (ASQ Quality Management Division - Member-Leader)

Lars Sorqvist (IAQ Academician, Vice-President)

Peter Merrill (ASQ Quality Management Division - Member-Leader; Canadian Quality Congress Keynote Speaker)

I have provided the connection to the speakers, which in turn can help anyone connected to me through Influential Voices or any of the ASQ initiatives in which I have been involved.  If there is a lesson to be reinforced it is this
- Get involved with the ASQ Divisions and ASQ Committees to obtain connections to influential and prestigious leaders in our profession.
- Aspire to be included in select groups (ASQ Fellow, International Academy for Quality) to entrench your international network.
- Support your peers and colleagues, and promote their successes.  If you believe that "A rising tide lifts all boats", you will benefit by positive association.

Enjoy 2013 - the best years of Quality are ahead and waiting to be realized.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peace On Earth - Goodwill Towards All




Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a joyful and fulfilling 2013.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The 5 Ps of Quality Career Rewards

If you're reading this, you are curious about how to fulfill the implicit promise from ASQ to obtain that RAISE.


CAUTION:  Any career advice is opinion only based on my unique experiences, and you should apply this at your own discretion.

I want to be careful because what has worked in my career is reflective of the economy that existed between 1991 and the present day.  As our economy is now characterized by automation, globalization, and financial uncertainty, every employee or contractor should primarily be concerned with retaining and preserving their ongoing commitments and connections to their employers or clients, and doing their level best to fulfill obligations and provide those valuable contributions which have always characterized quality practitioners throughout the years.

In deference to the "4P Alliteration" relating quality to marketing principles, I will provide some additional P's to organize my points, and support my conclusions.

1. Perspective

When evaluating your current situation, it is important to have a clear perspective and keep everything in balance.  If you allow your career or profession to define you, at the expense of family and other enjoyable pursuits, there is a risk of missing out on the rewards of a balanced and fulfilling life.  Work exists to sustain life, not the other way around.




Having expressed that sentiment, each person in our workforce owes their present position three conditions which, if violated, could affect their employability:
- Being independently trustworthy and productive in their role
- Working harmoniously and constructively with colleagues, partners, and customers
- Operating within their allotted budget

Before having the audacity to approach your boss or organization for a raise, ensure that you have a consistent track record and reputation of fulfilling these three basic principles.

When establishing perspective, also consider fair and ethical compensation, as part of social responsibility.  In this sense, if you have evidence that you are deliberately being under-compensated based on your gender, race, or illegal discrimination, I suggest that you consult with an attorney or mediator to obtain the proper expertise to resolve your situation.

2. Preparation

Before approaching your employer for a raise, it is important to prepare and understand the facts of your profession, your business, your industry, and your alternatives.  The negotiating reference, "Getting To Yes" introduces the term BATNA to help determine a Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement or contingency plan if the desired outcome does not occur.  Without a firm BATNA, the negotiation tactic can turn tragic, like Willy Loman in the play Death of a Salesman who drops his expectations from a raise to a desperate plea to retain his job.



3. Position

In most organizations, the salary range is reflective of the role and level of authority, and should incorporate market intelligence and competitive salaries for the same type of role.  Obtaining the raise often becomes a linear relationship where pay is increased with an expansion of the role or level.

There are additional considerations:
- Risk and reward:  An employee may obtain more opportunity for additional pay if they take on a greater portion of the business risk.  A typical example is found when a consultant becomes a partner in the firm, and shares in the investment, losses, and ultimately the gains and profits.
- Essential vs. Discretionary: In my career I have been in roles which were both essential to the core operations of the business and those which were termed as "nice-to-have".  In a particular case, I was performing quality on an innovative web banking product developed alongside a legacy banking solution.  When the web product did not obtain the sales to justify the product development costs, the program was substantially reduced, and resources were shifted to the "core" legacy product maintenance efforts.  If a business area is discretionary and at risk of reduction or cancellation, obtaining a raise would be less likely.
- Alliances and supporters: In addition to your own direct impact on the company, your work should have an accelerated impact or multiplier effect on other departments.  The greater the span of positive impact, the more effective would be the case to identify benefits supporting a raise.

4. Patronage

The fourth P is given from the viewpoint of the boss or organization, attempting to justify why an employee should obtain a raise.  The underlying condition is that giving the employee a raise aligns with the long-term strategic interest of the organization.  This should be distinguished from any gestures of social responsibility or charity, which may occur.  As an example, a firm may close its production facility during a low season, but continue to meet its payroll in order to preserve the financial stability of a community.

Before approaching your boss or organization for a raise, it is important to understand why raises would be provided.  I have listed some examples:
- Correct a demonstrated imbalance or shortfall.  This can occur if employees were hired before salary levels increased, and the old salary level has experienced employees paid less than the newcomers they are expected to train and mentor.
- Recognize an employee who has accepted, or will accept, additional workload and responsibilities.  This may sound positive but could actually be a source of employee abuse when the workload previously performed by multiple team members is bundled into the portfolio of a single employee.  I have personally observed on multiple occasions where I have left a role, only to have my individual workload spread across two or more successors.
- Retain a valued employee and/or preserve an essential skill set or knowledge base.  This goes beyond just hard work and best efforts to demonstrate that the capabilities of the employee align with the priorities of the organization.
- Reward exceptional performance beyond the expectations of the role and level.  This is easier to demonstrate at lower levels, but more difficult when advanced or senior roles come with higher expectations.




5. Personal Brand

Before making the pitch or delivering the case for your persuasion, it is important to ensure a reasonable and frequent series of interactions, in order to have a progressive ongoing dialogue.  While an aggressive and robust case may be more persuasive in the short term, it is important to support promises and claims with actions, success stories, and a consistent track record over time.  It is important to shift from infrequent "take it or leave it" discussions towards an ongoing valuation of your capabilities relative to the demands of the organization.

The current business trend is to build your Personal Brand.  While at first this seems selfish, it actually requires collaboration and constant feedback to refine and solidify the desired manner in which you want to be received and treated.

The 5 P's I have listed (Perspective, Preparation, Position, Patronage, and Personal Brand), will not guarantee a raise in 2013, but will provide awareness and enlightenment to both employee and supervisor.  The analytical approach will also identify potential gaps which may have been obstructing or diminishing your chances of getting raises to this point, and which correction could have beneficial outcomes.

As a final point, you should consider that stewards of an organization who are entrusted with shareholder capital are exhorted to spend or invest that money as if it were their own.  As a boss and hiring manager, I would only advocate for extraordinary raises if:
- I would be prepared to personally support the raise from my own money
- I would not be hesitant to have that subordinate make a higher salary than I was making
- I would be prepared to take a personal stand on the issue

If that compelling conviction was not in place, as a boss I would defer to the organization.  With that in mind, if you really want that raise beyond the normal pay and performance structure that your employer has set for your particular role and level, you must win over your leadership so that your cause becomes their cause, and through their personal advocacy and influence, you are able to benefit and reap the rewards of your quality career.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

World Quality Month: Train and Certify in Executive Capabilities

In the latest View from the Q , the CEO of ASQ, Paul Borawski expressed his strategic "Elevator Speech" he uses to grab attention of executives when advocating Quality.



This approach reflects his CEO vantage point, where decisions are driven by costs and business priorities.

 "I often start with the classic cost of quality “rule of thumb” 
– in an average manufacturing company,
    20% of revenue is wasted on poor quality; 
    30% in service companies; 
    70% in health care (I’m told)"


The tragic fact is that the majority of practitioners who consider themselves Quality Professionals are elegantly and exquisitely trained in the tactical aspects of the job, namely inspections, calibrations, auditing, statistical process control, compliance management systems, or short-term improvement projects.

However, in executive issues and concerns, Quality Professionals have not been adequately equipped by our mentors, leaders, and professional societies to address concerns and perform at this senior level.  This perspective is demonstrated by the fact that ASQ Fellows and Academicians at the International Academy for Quality (IAQ) have advocated for the increased adoption of Financial and Governance materials into our Quality Body of Knowledge (BoK), and through various committees and think-tanks, have prepared many persuasive studies and presentations supporting this position.


As an IAQ member and ASQ Fellow, I am using this forum on Influential Voices to build awareness and interest across our membership, in order to support positive desires for enhanced professional capabilities with constructive actions in pursuit of this growth area for Quality Practitioners.


Specifically, if you are reading this, I am looking to elicit your feedback.  If you want to demonstrate your commitment to growing the Quality Profession into a group of elite practitioners who would be welcomed in any executive suite, I invite you to CLICK HERE to Respond to these Survey Questions .

 As a Quality practitioner, are you familiar with the competency areas of Finance and Governance, and their potential relationship to the Quality profession?

As a Quality practitioner, do you perceive tangible value in expanding scope to include competency in areas of Finance and/or Governance?

 Do you believe that additional training and certification in Finance and/or Governance would be beneficial to ASQ members and Quality practitioners?

If ASQ or a similar professional organization provided an extension or “add-on” to an existing certification (i.e. Certified Quality Auditor, Certified Manager of Quality/ Organizational Excellence) emphasizing Finance and/or Governance, would you consider this as being worthwhile to obtain?

 If ASQ or a similar professional organization provided a distinct certification emphasizing Finance and/or Governance, would you consider this as being worthwhile to obtain?
   

If enough support is demonstrated, ASQ could be convinced to expand our training and certification from the current tactical and operational areas, UPWARDS and ONWARDS, in order that we might accelerate the rate of adoption of quality,








Sunday, October 28, 2012

Automotive Quality - From "Fehler" (Failure) to Stow and Go Success

The recent post in View from the Q by Laurel-Nelson Rowe touched on a very interesting subject, namely the quality of design in automobiles.  Knowing that Chrysler is substantially and significantly owned by FIAT, I would have expected the presentation by Herr Klaus Busse to describe Fehler In Allen Teilen 


and be forced to resort to returning the Chrysler to FIX IT AGAIN TONY!



As someone interested in the American Automotive industry, I was especially impressed with the innovative vehicles from two automotive companies operating in the post-WW2 era: Tucker and Hudson.  The Tucker Corporation, led by the charismatic Preston Tucker, strove to create the safest and best performing vehicle available for commercial use. Unfortunately due to financial and political obstacles, the Tucker organization was ground into bankruptcy in favor of the status quo favoring the Big 3 automotive giants. The Tucker Torpedo remains a valuable collection item, and its innovative features were decades ahead of the comparative models from the Big 3.





The Hudson Hornet was the most successful NASCAR competitive vehicle in the 1950's, and inspired design innovations for racing, predating the "muscle car" era by a full generation.  This success was immortalized in the Pixar Disney movie, Cars, as the character "Doc Hudson", voiced by the late great Paul Newman.  Unfortunately, Hudson Motors was merged into a conglomerate known as American Motors, and the then CEO, a number-crunching financier named George Romney (father of Mitt Romney), shifted the focus of American Motors from  powerful vehicles like the Hudson Hornet to emphasize iconic models like the Nash Rambler, Gremlin, and Pacer, which were also immortalized in Pixar Disney's Cars 2 as the villainous LEMONS.  In a strange turn of events, the assets of American Motors were absorbed into Chrysler which still makes and markets the Jeep line of products.




But back to the question raised by our illustrious ASQ Managing Director,  What do you seek in the driving experiences of your future?  At Chrysler, which has been mocked and lampooned for its K-Car models and clunky Mini-Vans (courtesy of Lee Iacocca), the current commercials are emphasizing a design feature, "One Touch, Stow and Go".  This is a Visual Demo of One Touch Stow and Go which is available as part of Chrysler interiors that expands the possibilities and usability of the vehicle.  The simplicity of use, along with the increased versatility of the vans to alternately toggle between passengers and cargo reflects nothing short of design genius.  This is a differentiator for a family vehicle, and currently a premium feature which will prove itself so essential that within 5 years, a stow and go capability will be an essential requirement for new passenger vehicles of all shapes and sizes.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Redefining The Quality Function: From Inspection to Governance

In addressing the latest commentary on View From The Q , I will paraphrase President John F. Kennedy.

"Ask not what you can do beyond the Quality Function
    Ask what the Quality Function can be leveraged and engaged to perform"

I will respond by addressing three of Paul B's passages, and providing my own perspective.

1. "transform into profit centers"

If one refers to their Operations Management 101 textbooks, it is apparent that manufacturing was always intended as a profitable enterprise, and the intent of all manufacturing phases was to add value and transform inputs and materials, with skill and expertise, into something of higher value.

Consider this scenario of sequential value upgrades
- Start with $300,000 of Raw Materials (RM)
- Apply technology and expertise to modify the items into $500,000 of Work In Progress (WIP) goods
- Complete the internal processes and stages to realize $700,000 of Finished Goods (FG)
- Add the marketing and logistics to fulfill customer demand with $900,000 of Packaged and Shipped Products (PSP).

In our present world of rapidly competitive pricing and finite market demand, the best option for many organizations is to realize gains from internal efficiencies including:
- Optimization of yield from capital and labor time and materials
- Reduction of waste and unplanned delays
- Minimization of inventories (namely RM, WIP, FG, PSP).
- Predictability and certainty of outcomes
- Marketability from increased operational capacity, versatility and flexibility

These priorities align very closely with the Quality Function, which can apply the expected outcomes of Quality Management systems constructively towards the aspirations of "Smart Manufacturing".

2. "highly automated and IT driven production"

This is not a visionary practice - it has actually been in effect for decades.  In my personal experience, I managed the quality system of a manufacturer over fifteen years ago which deployed an automated CNC (Computer Numerical Control) production system which automated several key manufacturing stages.  The system was structured to permit the automatic conversion of AutoCAD designs into the machine-readable code that permitted instant replication of the design to the applied materials.

Automation, software technologies, and innovative devices permit highly versatile operations with reduced setup times and increased consistencies, which aligns with the implicit promise of the "Smart Manufacturing" concept.  The disadvantage is that automation loses the subjective, expert touch of a skilled and experienced artisan, who can make personal modifications or customizations where needed.

When converting from manual processing to automated systems, the emphasis has to evolve from post-production inspection controls to early stages of design and deployment.  Because an incorrect design can be replicated indefinitely without correction, it is critical and essential to devote additional efforts to conducting and enforcing design reviews, document controls, change/release practices, and configuration management.

The sampling methods characteristic of Quality Engineering are not as readily applicable to software or integrated technology solutions.  Where traditional sampling specifies a target of deficient products per sample, automation would make the errors more uniform, so that outcomes are consistently incorrect and more difficult to distinguish.  Reviews of code and design provide a better value, and more effectively reveal errors when correction costs are relatively low.

In a fast-paced, automated manufacturing environment, it is tempting in the name of efficiency to disregard the interests and perspective of the customer or regulatory bodies.  To counteract this trend, the Quality Function must adopt and emerge as the advocate of Customer and Regulatory concerns, and ensure that "robotic" outcomes remain usable, compliant, and ultimately marketable.

The Quality Function already includes elements of Software Quality to address IT and Mobile devices.  Six Sigma and Quality Management courses have progressively integrated technology in order to remain relevant, and must continue this approach.  The competent Quality Manager should be prepared to demonstrate their versatility by being aware and proficient in the main elements of Software Quality.

3. "how to increase the value of quality in an organization"

At WCQI 2012 in Anaheim, I had the opportunity to present a controversial session entitled, "THE END OF QUALITY".  Using a linguistic trick where in English the word END can be interpreted both as a termination and a purpose, I structured my presentation to challenge the audience to release their prior impressions and reposition the purpose or "END" of the Quality Function as an Executive agent, emphasizing Executive priorities of Finance and Governance.  This extends from the passionate pursuits of the International Academy for Quality Governance Think Tank, and the ASQ Quality Management Division - Finance and Governance Committee which is actively working with the International Management Accountants organization to define a Body of Knowledge to ensure that Quality professionals can demonstrate proficiency in Financial competencies.

By embracing the concerns of Finance and Governance, the Quality Function raises its stature and profile, and strengthens its influence over the other areas within its domain (products, services, regulatory control, customer satisfaction, etc.).  Since all Quality Function tasks will be aligned with financial priorities (internal efficiencies, reduced cost to operate, premium product marketability) and governance objectives (emanating from the organization's mission, vision, goals, objectives, and expectations for monitoring and reporting), there will be fewer obstructions and less resistance.

ROUND UP

In order to realize the aspirations of Smart Manufacturing and permit our enterprises to achieve the desired gains from internal efficiencies, the Quality Function has to evolve from its traditional perceived roles emphasizing inspection and controls.  In addition to being a driving participant in superior design and internal collaboration, the Quality Function must adopt a more vigorous role as an advocate of Customer and Regulatory concerns.  By supporting the Executive concerns of Finance and Governance, the Quality Function is an essential component of Smart Manufacturing and Enterprise Success.



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cost of Poor Quality: Lessons Learned from a Massive Meat Recall

Residents of Western Canada are experiencing a massive recall of beef products due to the detection of unsafe levels of E. coli in meat packaged and distributed by XL Foods of Brooks, Alberta.

This recall has been publicized and is currently under investigation by the Canadian government.  Readers can view the process first-hand at XL Foods Inspection Report.  The company is known officially as "Establishment 38".


Lesson 1: Analyze, Improve, and Control process outcomes

FINDING: Establishment 38 had monitoring measures in place but was not properly conducting trend analysis of the data it collected. The CFIA review found that the plant needs to improve its trend analysis and also stengthen its response measures when a higher than normal number of detections are made.

In this case, the company committed the infrastructure and expertise to generate the necessary scientific data, but was missing the will and capability to accurately recognize hazardous conditions requiring an appropriate response.  Given the advances in automation, this could have been automatically programmed with simple code.  Basic quality engineering practices specify the trend patterns that should prompt investigation into the processes.  This would have added a few hours of work per month for existing employees.

Lesson 2: Segregate non-conforming product from the noncompliant process

FINDING: In addition, the company's control measures for meat that tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 were not always being followed correctly. 

There is a food safety process known as "bracketing" which was specified but not adequately followed by XL foods to ensure protection from releasing contaminated product.  This quality concern reflects a process that was robustly designed but disregarded by the employees.  If this was an oversight, the training and competence of the workers is at issue, and requires correction to the knowledge base.  If this however was the result of employee defiance or management subterfuge, then there is an enterprise-wide issue with quality engagement that places product throughput priorities ahead of product safety and consumer protection. Given that XL Foods is a unionized environment, there are organizational risks that would contribute to deficient outcomes. A series of coaching and engagement seminars, kaizen sessions, or quality circles would effectively reinforce guiding principles and ensure that correct responses were applied and reinforced for deficient product.

Lesson 3: Monitor and control all physical, chemical, and biological hazards according to an approved mitigations and contingency plan

FINDING: The company's maintenance plan required updating in order to address minor sanitary issues, mostly related to the older age of the building. The CFIA detected issues related to adequate control of condensation and ventilation issues.

Hazard analysis was conducted and reflected in a robust maintenance plan.  A frequent occurrence is that maintenance, particularly preventive maintenance, is sacrificed as an accounting line item with the ethic, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".  Even if the deficient maintenance practices did not create nor enhance the E Coli levels, the inclusion of this finding in the government inspection report reflects that overall confidence of quality and safety is diminished by less than ideal sanitary working conditions. Upgraded maintenance requires investment in capital and assets, along with tools and consumables, but the positive outcomes are realized in both objective terms (better compliance) and subjective impressions (pride, confidence)

The cost of abiding by these lessons could be measured in hundreds or even thousands of dollars, spent as appendages to existing processes and operations.  The tragedy is that the government inspectors' reports reveal that systems and practices were established by the company, but not fully followed by the employees.  In this sense, the investment in quality and safety management was not yielded, but treated as overhead or a "necessary evil cost of doing business".  Top management has to lead by example in following through in deed and word, to show the importance and priority of product safety and quality above all else.

The cost of neglecting and disregarding these lessons has resulted in the disparagement of XL Foods and the entire Canadian meat-packing industry as a safe and reliable provider of quality beef products.  The federal government has shut down operations of XL Foods, pending completion of legally mandated corrective actions and assurance of product safety and integrity.  The scrutiny and oversight needed for XL Foods until trust is fully regained will place a far greater financial burden on the organization than the initial cost of following the original program already in place.

Lesson 4: Hazards are ever-present and must be discovered and controlled internally to prevent the risk of external release and discovery.

In this specific case, E. Coli is present in all beef products.  There are multiple safeguards and contingencies at the disposal of providers, suppliers, and processors, to control E. Coli and ensure that it is limited to safe levels, however with each control comes a cost that must be borne by a party reluctant to absorb that burden from their portion of the returns.  By passing on the burden of responsibility, the risk of release is also passed on to its final destination - the customer.

In general, unless we as Quality professionals are vigilant and conscientious, the efforts of our labors may be rendered futile by an unanticipated hazard that could have otherwise been anticipated or detected at an earlier stage where controls or contingencies would have been easier and less expensive.  This is the underlying driver behind efforts to reduce the Cost of Poor Quality.  The adoption of robust systems, data analytics, and effective response measures is really a protection against the unwanted costs of government investigations, bad publicity, business shutdowns, and a destroyed industrial reputation.




Friday, September 21, 2012

Finance and Governance lessons from ASQ

Where are my current passions within the Quality profession?

In addition to being an ASQ Influential Voice, I am currently the chair of the ASQ Quality Management Division's Technical Committee for Finance and Governance.  I have also recently joined the International Academy of Quality's Governance Think-Tank.  As one of the active advocates of this domain of quality assurance, I felt that this was an area that I personally would explore and develop as "greenfield".  I believe that we have saturated and exhausted the knowledge base for operational and tactical elements of quality, and need to advance and evolve our perception as a profession.

This is a brief post to keep current, and to share some insights I gained from the recent ASQ Press publication, The Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt Handbook by Tom Kubiak.  There are two sections in particular which are pertinent to Governance and Finance, which I would like to share and promote.  I believe that the value of this handbook goes beyond exam preparation.   This is an essential resource for anyone who aspires to a leadership role within an organization.

Governance:

On pages 144-145 in Chapter 9, Organizational Finance and Business Performance Metrics, Kubiak indicated where Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) rules connect with Lean Six Sigma.

1. SOX has four objectives to achieve
- Hold management accountable
- Increase public disclosure
- Increase regular regulatory reviews
- Hold accountants accountable

2. Internal controls should emphasize the following attributes:
- Recordkeeping
- Compliance
- Prevention and detection
- Processes
- Control

These attributes describing good governance could just as easily reflect a mature corporate quality system.  Gains and improvements are positively correlated in quality and governance, such that better quality leads to better governance.

Finance:

On pages 232-233 in Chapter 16: Project Financial Tools, Kubiak prepared a table of savings by category.  This practical approach categorizes Value Stream items (Labor, Material, Overhead, Customer, Process, etc.) on the left margin, and has a concise set of options across the horizontal axis:

1. Cost (hard) savings
- Cost take out (bottom line)
- Revenue growth (top line)
- Working capital/ cash flow

2. Cost (soft) avoidance
- Cost avoidance (budget)
- Cost avoidance (non-budget)

This approach would address the ambiguity commonly found in Cost of Quality programs, and would instill consistency across the enterprise.

I am very encouraged that ASQ is publishing references which are pertinent and usable.  In my current role, I am managing budgets and deliverables across several programs in multiple sites.  This is why I am looking for the profession to evolve to reflect this activity level.  An ideal situation would be for a robust "Community of Practice" to be formed within ASQ which continually explored and industrialized innovative approaches.  The skillset and capabilities of quality practitioners need to be engaged and leveraged effectively in order to establish ourselves as thought leaders in this area.

I am enjoying the CSSMBB Handbook by Kubiak, and I hope that ASQ Press will continue to promote and publish in this niche.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quality for Rapid Delivery

In the interests of the September theme, I will keep this short.  In his blog, Paul B posed the following challenge:

"a conversation about how the practice of quality could evolve to support the needs of a rapidly changing world. So share with us some of the ways the practice of quality is changing to meet the needs of faster, faster, faster."

Quality has to change, specifically it has to evolve.

Our reading material has to be shifted from the industrial statisticians of decades past (Deming, Juran, Crosby) to those who reflect the demands of rapid delivery.
- Steve Jobs: Founder and visionary for Apple products
- Steve McConnell: Software development expert and author of many books, most notably Rapid Development.
- Malcolm Gladwell: Social commentator and author of Outliers and Blink.
- Michael Lewis: Financial columnist and author of revolutionary analytics non-fiction bestsellers, The Big Short (about the financial crisis) and Moneyball (a demonstration of the power of analytics in professional sports).

Rapid Delivery does not permit the traditional methods of Quality Control to be realized before completion.  This has to evolve from a passive practice of waiting for errors to justify action, to an aggressive mode of Quality Anticipation, where problems are blocked and tackled before their appearance.

Rapid Delivery needs to migrate from cumbersome and time-consuming practices like traditional Statistical Process Control and Auditing to more responsive and adaptable methods of Business Intelligence, Financial Forecasting and Tracking, and Analytics.

There are three attributes which distinguish Rapid Delivery: Commitment (to get it done), Mentorship (to deliver correctly), and Preparation (to deliver completely).   Imagine 3 scenarios:
Rapid Production: sandwich shop during the lunch rush hour
Rapid Service: hotel checkout with a lineup of travelers waiting for airport shuttles
Rapid Response: emergency health services in an extreme tragic situation

If any of the three attributes of Commitment, Mentorship, and Preparation are missing from the Rapid Delivery scenarios, the failures would be imminent and immediate, and would negate the positive advantages of Rapid Delivery.  There is no time to wait for audit reports or evaluate control chart trends, actions must be immediate and constructive towards a solution.

Without Commitment, Rapid Delivery will fall into a pattern of missed transactions, apologies, and unmet expectations.
Without Mentorship, Rapid Delivery will expose deficiencies in training, and reveal inconsistencies in personal capabilities.
Without Preparation, Rapid Delivery will simply fall short of expectations due to missing components or delayed processes which affect the "just-in-time" demands of such delivery.

Quality has a place, but obsolete quality methods do not, which is why our practices need to evolve as part of a QualitEvolution.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Plan 9 from Casablanca

I enjoy watching movies with my family, and tormenting them because our tastes are not aligned.  I exposed my 10 year old son to what is allegedly the worst movie ever made, Plan 9 from Outer Space.  This Ed Wood classic combines aliens and zombies with a minimal budget on special effects to have a comical outcome.  The errors, or "Epic Fails" as his generation terms the overt mistakes, include:
- inconsistent footage which shows a police car riding at night, during the day, and arriving at night
- a replacement actor for the perished Bela Lugosi who uses a cape to cover his facial appearance in all scenes
- an airline cockpit with a shower curtain and handheld controls coming off the dashboard
- a police detective using the barrel of his pistol to scratch his head during contemplation, and point directions.

However, after being in this critical mode, I watched the movie Casablanca again.  Casablanca is one of my favorites, as I believe that each of the characters are representative of national positions during the escalation of World War Two.  The Rick Blaine character, played by the iconic Humphrey Bogart, represented the transformation of America from a neutral isolationist party to an active champion in the fight for democracy.

After viewing Plan 9 from Outer Space, I started to look for Epic Fails within Casablanca.  I found that there were three serious flaws in the casting of the supporting characters.

1. Sam, the jazz pianist, was portrayed as a loyal friend, confidante, and servant of the Bogart character.  In the context of the times, an African-American jazz musician playing in Paris and Casablanca would have been more free-spirited and independent, likely partaking in the vices (hashish, prostitution, etc.) of the region and period.

2. Victor Laszlo, the escaped freedom fighter, was played by Paul Henreid, as a dandy who wore tailored suits, drank champagne cocktails, and conducted orchestras (young version of Lawrence Welk?).  As a fugitive who had encountered the worst of Nazi torture and still not revealed any secrets, it is unlikely that he would have been so amenable to the relationship between his wife and a nightclub operator.

3. Captain Renault, the corrupt police prefect, certainly captured the charm and corruption.  However as a policeman, Claude Rains was unconvincing as someone who could effectively manage the criminal element while playing both sides of the French loyalties, to Vichy and Free France.  For a police officer, he was actually passive-aggressive, closing down Rick's cafe because he was shocked, SHOCKED, to find gambling on the premises (immediately before receiving his nightly winnings).

As a creative exercise in corrective action, I would remake Casablanca and cast with a "Dream Team" of Academy Award winners who more effectively represented the characters to avoid an Epic fail.

Rick Blaine: Nicholas Cage has the emotional range to both dominate a scene and quietly project the moodiness and internal demons of a conflicted soul.  He wouldn't just spill his drinks on the table, he would throw the bottles against the wall to express his frustration.  Nicholas Cage also has a thrill-seeking element of a daredevil that would put him willingly in harm's way to pursue dangerous and deadly missions.

Ilsa Lund: Kate Winslet may not be as beautiful as Ingrid Bergman, but she projects sufficient charm and substance to be a worthy partner and equal to both Rick Blaine and Victor Laszlo.

Sam: Forest Whittaker played Charlie Parker in the movie Bird, and could transfer that element of the tortured jazz musician to the Casablanca framework.  This could incorporate elements of drug abuse, since Casablanca is a place for hashish.  These jazz musicians were actually quite savvy and sophisticated, and would have been emancipated from, not subservient to, their Caucasian bosses.

Captain Renault: Gene Hackman won both of his Academy Awards playing tough characters in law enforcement.  Hackman projects such authority that he has played US Presidents and Cabinet Secretaries in multiple movies, and could convincingly play someone who had signing authority to legalize transfer papers.  However, his turn as the corrupt, womanizing law partner in the movie, The Firm, is convincing to entrust him with this complex and pivotal role in Casablanca.

Victor Laszlo: Russell Crowe has played characters who were principled and steadfast, and who survived and prevailed through incredible physical hardship.   However his leadership of soldiers and freedom fighters requires a combination of charisma and strategy.  Instead of drinking champagne cocktails, this version of Laszlo would be challenging authority and rousing the people to freedom, like an Eastern European Fidel Castro.

Ugarte:  This under-exposed character was the crafty terrorist who stole the transfer papers and gave them to Rick Blaine for safe-keeping.  Sean Penn would be a good fit because not only does he have the acting capabilities to effectively play the criminal, Penn, along with Nicholas Cage and Forrest Whittaker, was in the cast of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (proving that lowbrow comedy leads to high art).

Major Strasser: Robert DeNiro could capture the relentless, obsessive, thin-skinned German officer who pursues Victor Laszlo, only to be shot by "The Usual Suspects".   DeNiro has played characters who are fastidious in detail, and as a Nazi soldier, could effectively intimidate Captain Renault and Rick Blaine, not only by force, but from possession of embarrassing background information.

Signor Ferrari:  Of the main characters, this is one that could be played by the expressive Jack Nicholson.  The impression is that this character is not only a merchant and nightclub owner, he is the de facto criminal boss of Casablanca, through whom all operations must connect and pay tribute.  Jack Nicholson has owned this domain to the point where he has played the devil himself, which equates dealing with Ferrari to selling your soul for a price.

So this is my pitch, a remake of Casablanca starting Oscar winners, Nicholas Cage, Kate Winslet, Gene Hackman, and Russell Crowe, with supporting roles for Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Sean Penn, and Forest Whittaker.  That just leaves two special roles for Kevin Bacon (Sascha) and Anthony Hopkins (Karl) in order to ensure that we have confined the degrees of separation.

But really, are the old movies that different.  To the current generation of tweens and teens, all black and white filmed movies are the same.  Too bad being a quality person does not come with an "off" switch, as I will never view movies the same again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ASQ Exam Success: Real-Life Best Practices

While it has been several years since I was in the arena, from 1998-2004 I stepped up and wrote 8 of the most difficult exams ASQ has to offer including the Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (back when it was simply Certified Quality Manager), Certified Six Sigma Black Belt, Certified Quality Engineer, Certified Software Quality Engineer, Certified Reliability Engineer, and the various derivations of the ASQ Certified Auditor program (includng HACCP and Biomedical).  From that experience, I also contributed back to ASQ several years ago by co-authoring a certification handbook and developing exam questions for the illustrious question bank.  I have lived the advice which I am now imparting.  In sharing this advice, I am presuming that the ASQ vetting process restricts exam participation only to those who have the necessary knowledge and experience to legitimately earn their certification.

For simplicity I will keep it to 5 key best practices:
- Material Preparation
- Memorization
- Elimination
- Essay Completion
- Time Management

1. Material Preparation
The ASQ rules must be followed: no questions, no internet connections, etc.  Some practices which have helped me succeed include:
- Make personal notes from all references, courses, and solutions to anticipated questions across the entire body of knowledge.  This reduces the dependency on textbooks and cumbersome references, and targets your awareness.
- Summarize key points, formulas, and examples of common statistical questions.  This is helpful not only as a study aid, but performing this step reinforces the key concepts.
- If you are using statistical tables, highlight the most frequently occurring numbers to correspond to questions (z table: 1.96 for +/- 0.5 two-tailed rejection area for null hypothesis H0).  If the numbers are highlighted, they can be readily applied to your formulas, saving time and creating certainty.
- If you do use a textbook or certification handbook/primer, photocopy the index pages and reference them outside of the book.  This will save from the repetitive inconvenience of having to constantly flip to the back, then the middle of the book in use.

2. Memorization
- While some educators frown upon this as a learning method, it is extremely effective when being tested for a large body of knowledge.  The power of instant recall provides certainty and confidence, and reduces mistakes from "second-guessing".
- Rapidly responding to a known question allows you to "bank" valuable time to be devoted to more complex or intricate questions.  Since the test is a mix of questions across all levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, the intent of ASQ is to balance complex questions with simple and straightforward rote confirmations of basic fundamental knowledge.  Spending too much time on simple rote questions will be to your disadvantage.

3. Elimination
- This requires the examinee to have the bias, not to select the first right answer, but to eliminate the incorrect responses until only the best response remains.
- Exam questions can be phrased very carefully, and it is important that the examinee understands not only why their selection is correct, but why the other choices are invalid.  Forcing this bias may reveal trickery and intentional diversions in a seemingly straightforward question, making it evident why careful comprehension is essential to success.
- This trait is important when the examinee is required to select from several options and determine which of the options are correct.  The ability to eliminate invalid options is a higher demonstration of knowledge and reflects capabilities to apply the knowledge.
- Mathematical and statistical questions are challenging in that every incorrect step or choice will be reflected in an invalid choice on the exam.  With back-tracing, walk the solution through the steps to the initial problem, and by showing your math work, you can deduce whether the response is suitable.

4. Essay Questions
- In the most advanced exams, the participants will be required to demonstrate their knowledge by responding to scenarios in an essay form.  The scenarios are carefully written to address several key points requiring references from the body of knowledge.
- Marking is based largely on the adequacy of coverage of the main points within the scenario.  The message must be mined and inputs yielded to determine a suitable response.
- Create the entire outline first, leaving several lines between each point.  This will convey that the entire scenario has been considered within the time constraints.
- Start with a small summary along each outline point, and apply 2-4 sentences to each area.  As time permits, add more content to elaborate the position.
- Reinforce the key themes by connecting the key points of the essay back to the explicit words in the question, thereby closing the loop introduced in the initial scenario.

5. Time Management
- Since there is a finite window to respond to questions, time management is critical.  It is imperative to maximize the available time provided, so personal choices need to be made to arrive early and persist until the exam time has completed.
- Allocate a reasonable amount of time per question.  As a default, a 3-5 minute maximum should be applied.  If the question cannot be completed, it should be abandoned until all questions have been addressed.
- One approach is to complete the instant response questions first.  For example, if an exam had 60 questions that could be responded on sight, completion of this portion could take 15-20 minutes, and increase the confidence and certainty of the examinee, along with a higher average time per remaining question (from under 2 to over 3 average minutes per question).  This is a counter-attack to the ASQ exam strategy of "Shock and Awe" where the first 20 questions will have complex and time-consuming challenges.
- Track "Earn vs. Burn" during the exam to compare questions addressed with time remaining.  If you add an extra 20% of effort to check and confirm responses, the ratio should be
- 50% completion at 40% time elapsed,
- 100% completion at 80% time elapsed
- remaining time to check for mistakes or incomplete questions

I want everyone who attempts an ASQ exam to pass and become confident long-term professionals, eventually working their way towards recertification and progression towards Senior and Fellow Membership.

It might be helpful to consider that the 5 key best practices exist to mitigate risks that inhibit exam success:


- Material Preparation: mitigate risk of inadequate exam readiness

- Memorization: mitigate risk of confusion and uncertainty

- Elimination: mitigate risk of improper selection of "best response"

- Essay Completion: mitigate risk of unbalanced communication

- Time Management: mitigate risk of managing multiple challenges within a short time window


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Red Flags of Baldrige: Identified Flaws and Fixes To Save American Quality


WARNING:  This post takes a contrary-minded viewpoint on the merits and validity of this U.S. government program.  It is intended to stimulate necessary discussion that will ultimately lead to necessary changes to be relevant and applicable to the industry.  Those who approach quality as dogmatic fundamentalists should cease reading any further, lest their staunch convictions be adulterated with reason and objective evidence.

The article in the View from the Q poses the question why after 25 years, the Baldrige program has not been more widely adopted, but in fact is hovering on the list of endangered government programs.  As a Canadian, I read this article with detached interest, since the mandate of the 1987 Quality Improvement Act is to aid and support companies of the United States of America.  For analysis and evolution of this program, I have identified the following gaps or “Red Flags” which I believe to be impediments to the adoption and participation in this government program.

1.      Outdated Model:   It has been 25 years since the Quality Improvement Act was ratified.  Imagine opening a time capsule from 1987 and reviewing the business literature of the day.  There have been many changes since that time which have affected American business and quality, which were not considered in the initial intentions of the Baldrige program.  The proliferation of technology in software, devices, automation, and individual connectivity to internet communications has altered every major business model in that time.  The emergence of foreign economies as service and manufacturing centers with superior opportunities for cost-saving labor arbitrage (a.k.a. cheaper workers with higher productivity) has changed business models for companies.  The effects of NAFTA and WTO on trade and commerce have expanded supply chains and market opportunities.  Finally, the combined effects of increased deficits and debt, multiple wars on terror, and expansive government bail-outs have bloated the public debt, necessitating an upcoming “Fiscal cliff” in 2013 which will be characterized by tax increases and significant spending cuts to non-essential programs.  Baldrige was created to reflect a bygone era which no longer exists.

2.       Baldrige success does not predict future prosperity:  The premise of the Quality Improvement act was the affirmation of Tom Peters’ hypothesis in the book In Search of Excellence: Quality leaders will have sustained profitability.  While the merits of this argument are sound, the actuality is not universally applied.  In two particular examples, Baldrige Award recipients have encountered severe losses.  General Motors, who won for the efforts of their Cadillac division, reached a point of distress that required severe government intervention.  Motorola, an award winner in multiple categories, encountered significant financial losses and declines in market share until it finally was absorbed by Google, where it now operates as a subsidiary.

3.       Program Redundancy:   In the detailed account within View from the Q, there are now 40 concurrent programs in operation within the United States at the State or Regional level.  There are also approximately 40 similar programs offered internationally, reflective of the transnational, globalized mode of 21st century business operations.  The underutilized but highly valued ISO 9004:2009 standard for Quality Management replicates many of the ideals of quality improvement in a more concise and structured format that aligns with the other ISO standards for management systems and quality auditing.  From this description it would appear that there is a substantial amount of noise and confusion from the plethora of competing options and opportunities.

4.       Bureaucratic Layer:  The Baldrige program has entrenched itself as a permanent and indefinite entity of the federal government.  The growing number of Baldrige examiners, duly sanctioned to evaluate and bestow upon worthy organizations the highly prized seal of Baldrige approval, provides the impression not of a value-adding program, but a self-serving appendage creating overhead and financial burden.  The justification and rationalization is that Baldrige is equivalent to quality.  As an anecdote, I attended the WCQI in Anaheim in May 2012, and during my stay had the opportunity to shop at a convenience store located within a few blocks of the conference.   I was shocked SHOCKED to find that, in spite of having no Baldrige certificate, this store independently managed to keep the fresh fruit chilled, the beer and white wine cold, the red wine and spirits at room temperature, and the cigars humidified in the humidor.  It doesn’t take a Baldrige examiner to impart the wisdom to a convenience store operator about the customer dissatisfaction from warm and mouldy fruit, warm beverages, or dry cigars.  If anything, the Baldrige “seal of approval” can be used to divert attention from poor quality outcomes by forcing the customer to presume quality and evade direct accountability for day-to-day events.

5.       Partisan Political Patriotism:  By naming the award after Baldrige, this tags the program as a Republican initiative, which implicitly disconnects itself with the 45-60% of those who are not card-carrying Republicans.  While the late Secretary Baldrige was held in high personal regard, the overall impression of the Reagan’s second term was steeped in disruption, controversy and scandal.  Land of Confusion  An example of pop culture was the Spitting Image video to the song Land of Confusion which portrayed a bumbling and confused Reagan accidentally setting off a nuclear bomb.  .  Consider the reaction and willingness to adopt if the award was named after political figures of similar stature: (i.e. Robert McNamara, Ralph Nader, Janet Reno).  I am personally uncomfortable with anything that has advocates terming themselves as “zealots”, which implies irrational levels of inflexibility and objectivity.  Zealots are useful in defending fortresses under siege (i.e. the Alamo, Masada, Chick-Fil-A), but highly inappropriate within a professional environment.

6.       Public challenge to the Private Sector:  Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of those who prize liberty and freedom more than the phrase “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you”.  Apparently the bureaucrats within the Beltway don’t believe that the private sector already faces enough challenges with managing against competitors, appeasing shareholders and creditors, eliciting productivity from employees and unionized collective agreements, and dealing with an ever-expanding regulatory burden.  By taking inspiration from historical figures like Mao and Stalin, the federal bureaucrats have manifested their own “Great Leap Forward” and “Five Year Plan” to entrench quality improvement by decree.  The “carrot” in the program is the presentation of the award by a senior government official, being either the President or the Secretary of Commerce.  This reinforces the anti-business sentiment expressed by President Obama, “You didn’t build that” by making government pick winners in the marketplace.  The European model of mixed economies, which is proving its worth in places like Italy, Greece, Spain, and France, is culturally incompatible with the heroic frontier risk-taking, thrill-seeking mentality of the American mindset.

Having established the reasons why the current incarnation of Baldrige falls short of its ideals and intentions, I propose six solutions to address the gaps, and in so doing, restore Quality as a top executive priority.

1.       Unified program with international scope:  Instead of having 81 distinct programs with the same intention, start with the internationally recognized ISO 9004:2009 standard, and rebuild a single robust program that is relevant to global organizations and adopted by all levels of government.
2.       Politically neutral and generic:  In this increasingly partisan environment and separation of convictions, it would be less offensive if a more neutral or generic nomenclature were used to define this program.  By tagging a program with a political reference (i.e. ObamaCare, Reaganomics),  the objectivity and virtues are lost and the political supporters or opponents rally in support or defiance without regard to the merits of the respective initiatives.
3.       Emphasize objectivity, simplicity and common sense: Instead of using bombastic references to galvanize support (i.e. zealots), impress upon the collective intelligence and respect to build a quality culture based on objectivity, shared values and reinforced positive outcomes.
4.       Privatize, industrialize, and modernize:  By decoupling from the federal bureaucracy, this program can function and more readily adapt to changes in order to remain relevant and sustainable.  This will force the program to “walk its talk” by transforming from detached “examiners” to value-adding partners and collaborators.  While this will deprive the worthy organizations of a photo opportunity with a leading political figure of the day, the organizations will just have to adjust. 
5.       Recognize impact of high-performing individuals:  The advent of technology has given rise to an Artisan Mentality, where individuals with specialized skills can affect quality outcomes more profoundly than an organizational system.  This reality should be addressed and encouraged as an element of overall quality improvement.
6.       Adaptable and agile:  The only constant is change.  By anticipating the effects of change, a program should incorporate a robust change mechanism to continually review and integrate new developments.   For example, how would a social networking company like Facebook demonstrate their quality improvement?  This is what an adaptable program must address.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Socially Responsible and Affordable Health Care

Several years ago, while at a prior employer, I directed Quality and Regulatory Affairs for a medical software company that made a wide array of clinical products, installed and deployed in Europe and North America.  One of the success stories was an innovative firmware solution that combined innovative mobility technology with usable software to track patient and blood samples to support safe and accurate blood transfusions.

Several years after having this technology demonstrated and proven, the national media in Canada has caught up to our innovation by publishing a very powerful article at the site (http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/08/06/errors-mislabelled-samples-pose-staggering-cost-to-canadas-blood-banks/).

After these many years, I take personal pride in the role I played in the development, testing, regulatory approval, deployment, and ongoing maintenance of this particular product suite.  The alternative to an automated barcoding solution was a cumbersome administrative process that was more susceptible to human error in delivering mismatched, expired, or contaminated blood.  This small but successful solution contributed to affordable health care by alerting with alarms of blood that did not match the patient (saving expensive and potentially fatal responses) or spent too long between controlled environments (resulting in less waste of precious blood inventory and better medical outcomes).

There are many examples of technological and process improvements which have simultaneously reduced costs and risks, resulting in health care outcomes which are more socially responsible and affordable.  Had America followed Canada's example (thank you Tommy Douglas) and adopted a nationwide health program as early as 1974 as cited in this proposal at the site (http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2009/september/03/nixon-proposal.aspx), the effects could have been contained and the efficiencies realized decades before the devastating economic impact emerged during the Great Recession.

The lack of affordable health care was dramatically evident when it became a major contributor to automotive manufacturing losses.  According to multiple accounts, particularly Lee Iacocca at (http://www.leeiacocca.net/thoughts-on-leadership/health-care.aspx) and this CNN Money site at (http://money.cnn.com/2007/01/26/news/companies/pluggedin_taylor_ford.fortune/index.htm), the impact was substantial when losses were realized by the three major American car manufacturers.  The average amount per vehicle (over $1500) accounted for over 50% of the profitability difference between American and transplanted import cars manufactured in USA ($2900 according to CNN).  Iacocca also expressed that in addition to the employer's burden, average healthcare costs per family exceeded $12,000 and was a leading cause of personal bankruptcies.

The principles of Social Responsibility align very closely with the provision of Affordable Health Care.  There is not a single principle that is in conflict with risk reduction and cost savings.  It only needs the will of engaged citizens and stakeholders to bring this vision into fulfillment for the benefit of all.

1. Principle: Accountability: An organization should be accountable for its impacts on society, the economy, and the environment.

2. Principle: Transparency: An organization should be transparent in its decisions and activities that impact on society and the environment.

3. Principle: Ethical Behavior: An organization should behave ethically

4. Principle: Respect for Stakeholder Interests: An organization should respect, consider and respond to the interests of its stakeholders.

5. Principle: Respect for the Rule of Law: An organization should accept that respect for the rule of law is mandatory.

6. Principle: Respect for International Norms of Behavior: An organization should respect international norms of behavior, while adhering to the principle of respect for the rule of law.

7. Principle: Respect for Human Rights: An organization should respect human rights and recognize both their importance and their universality.