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, July 30, 2012

Pipelines, Politics, and Social Responsibility

Those of you in Wisconsin are likely quite concerned about the recent Enbridge pipeline that leaked over 1000 barrels of oil into a pristine area of Wisconsin, just two years after a ruptured Enbridge line fouled part of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan (cite Vancouver Sun, July 30, 2012, Mike Hager).

The Enbridge pipeline for Keystone XL, which would transport petroleum product from Western Canada south through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, has been prominently debated during the US Presidential primaries as a divisive "wedge" issue, pitting free enterprise energy advocates against big government regulators.

I have a personal interest in this because I have direct professional experience with Enbridge and its corporate culture, as represented by my former peers and colleagues who were long-term employees of Enbridge.  Without disclosing personal viewpoints, I will only express that the journalistic accounts are accurate and consistent with my own experiences, and the anecdotal account of tactical responses by Enbridge in Michigan was received with neither shock nor surprise.

At this point, I will insert one of my favorite quotes from the George Clooney movie, Michael Clayton, where he sets the expectation that when there is an unfortunate situation, the best approach is not a cover-up but a quick response.
"There's no play here. There's no angle. There's no champagne room. I'm not a miracle worker, I'm a janitor. The math on this is simple. The smaller the mess the easier it is for me to clean up."

In light of this, the Premier of the Canadian westernmost province, British Columbia, is contemplating the correct response to the proposal of a "Northern Gateway" which would permit Enbridge to build a petroleum pipleline across the pristine interior, through reservations segregated for First Nations (a.k.a Native Indians), to an expanded port along the beautiful but treacherous Pacific Coast for shipment to China.

As a politician facing election, Premier Christy Clark has to find a workable balance between the fervent, dogmatic energy capitalists and the raging, righteous environmental protectionists.  From her detailed position published nationally at Globe and Mail - Pipeline Conditions to define the acceptance criteria.  The genius of this is that the conditions raise awareness of the potential risks created from the Northern Gateway, and impose obligations on Enbridge to explicitly address those risks.

A review of the ISO Social Responsibility guidelines reinforce the positive position taken by Premier Christy Clark, and emphasize the importance of diligent governance.  History has established that no technology nor engineering outcome is perfect, and a geography cannot un-collide a derailed container nor un-leak a defective pipe. The emphasis for this type of gateway or pipelie has to be on accurate monitoring, rapid response, and immediate containment.

The point of this article is to acknowledge the controversy associated with pipelines, and the divisive polarization of politics that inhibit progress and solutions.  The proper application of Social Responsibility has the potential to engage all stakeholders, determine areas of concern, identify mitigations, and ultimately generate a workable solution.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Finance and Governance: Profiling a Technical Committee within the ASQ Quality Management Division

Within the ASQ Quality Management Division, there are several Technical Committees, each with different composition and mandates.  I am the chair of the ASQ QMD Finance and Governance Technical Committee, which is one of several groups within the Quality Management division offering specialized knowledge in an advanced area of quality management. 

Organizational Excellence - To support and promote international excellence models (Baldrige, EFQM and others) to help businesses, hospitals and schools reach higher levels of performance.
Chair: Bill Denney

Finance & Governance - To establish systematic approaches to the application of financial control and optimization methods to quality initiatives, the development of financial systems and metrics compatible with a systems perspective of organizations, developing and integrating financial and governance programs with quality management systems and practices, and the long-term incorporation of quality ideals into the strategic and executive priorities.
Chair: Daniel Zrymiak

Innovation & Value Creation - To extend problem solving and optimization methodologies into creative design practices to satisfy increasingly sophisticated customers.
Chair: Tracy Owens

Enterprise Risk Management - To establish systematic approaches to managing risks, the multiple effects of risk drivers, and mitigation strategies on a business-wide basis.
Chair: Ron Meier

Public Health - To help advance the public health mission of Prevent, Promote, and Protect. Prevent disease by engaging the community to identify and solve health problems, Promote health by informing the community of healthy choices, and Protect the community from health problems and hazards.
Chair: Grace Duffy / Jack Moran

Social Responsibility - To help people and organizations understand why it is important to behave ethically and with sensitivity toward social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. Striving for social responsibility helps individuals, organizations and governments have a positive impact on development, business and society with a positive contribution to bottom-line result.
Chair: Marc Kelemen

The Finance and Governance Technical Committee is unique in that there are intersections with several formal and informal ASQ Bodies.

-          ASQ Fellows: The origins are from brainstorming discussions within the ASQ Fellow membership group.  All current members of the QMD Technical Committee are concurrently ASQ Fellows.  This Technical Committee was adopted as an incremental staging point for creating a distinct Community of Practice in support of quality practitioners oriented towards financial and governance pursuits.

-          IAQ Governance: This QMD Finance and Governance Technical Committee intersect with a similar group within the International Academy for Quality.  The IAQ refers to their sub-groups as “Think-Tanks”, with one of the think-tanks emphasizing global governance.  There are several publications and ongoing references being created to support quality practitioners throughout the world. 

-          ASQ Society Technical Committee: There is an ASQ Technical Committee which has a different mandate: evaluating presentations for conferences.  At the recent WCQI and concurrent conferences (ICQI, ISE, Sustainability, Healthcare), there were multiple presentations delivered by at least 4 of the QMD Technical Committee members.  This has also contributed to the ongoing expertise, body of knowledge development and collection of information.  There also needs to be a connection for Finance and Governance subject matter experts, reviewers and moderators of topics in this area, as well as panelists and facilitators for workshops. 

-          ASQ Certification: There is currently a gap in the existing ASQ Bodies of Knowledge between the operational and technical demands of the CQA, CQE, CRE, CSSGB and other “hands-on” certifications with the managerial expectations of the CSSBB, CSSMBB, and CMQ/OE.  The gap consists primarily of the elements covered within finance and governance, and is most evident with the CSSMBB demands, many of which have not been addressed or covered in earlier ASQ certifications.  This Technical Committee has been in contact with ASQ to address this gap with proposals to supplement the quality practitioner with specific training and certification programs.

-          ASQ Influential Voices:   There are tremendous opportunities to reach a growing segment of ASQ members and online participants who do not necessarily attend meetings or conferences, but are attentive to the cluster of ASQ Blogs and online updates.  Dynamic opinions and insights can be captured on a real-time basis to gauge preferences and truly understand the current prevailing opinions and desires of our constituency.

-          ASQ Board: There is currently a desire at the top executive levels of ASQ to engage membership and organizations more effectively, and demonstrate improved financial and governance outcomes.

-          ASQ Membership: The ASQ Membership at large (as reflected in the attached correspondence) has expressed interest in learning more about this subject area, and progressing in their respective quality journeys by becoming more proficient in this area.

From this preamble, it is evident that our Finance and Governance Technical Committee does not exist as an entity unto itself, but as a conduit to connect our membership to thought leaders in the field of Finance and Governance.

I have drafted a simple response to the questions to create an FAQ to guide vision and planning discussions over the next few weeks.

What resources do the Technical Committees require and what are their deliverables over the next 18 months?

-         Collect: Obtain information from research and different ASQ and international quality bodies pertaining to Finance and Governance
-         Communicate: Access to online resources to support phone conferencing, shared networks, and collaboration on articles and research
-         Convene: At conferences and similar gatherings, access to private meeting rooms or work areas
-         Present and Publish: Continue with individual efforts to author, publish, and present interesting, relevent, and timely contributions.
-        Community of Practice: Build a community of expertise, connecting with individual members of ASQ and Quality Managemend Division
What benefit do you get from being on a Technical Committee within QMD?
-         The creation and permanent establishment of a thriving and dynamic Community of Practice.
-         Participation in the leadership and long-term direction of the Quality Management Division as a distinctive entity.

What do you contribute to the greater good as a member of a Technical Committee within QMD?

-         This as “Business Class” Quality where executive concerns can be addressed. 
-          Connectivity from the rank and file ASQ Member to the elite bodies and thought leadership within our profession. 

How does your Technical Committee support the accomplishment of the quality objectives of QMD?
a.       Of ASQ?
b.      Of Global Quality?
c.       Of Organizational Excellence?
d.      Of Management (quality and other disciplines)?

-          Primarily as a conduit of information, eventually leading towards the entrenchment of a permanent Community of Practice for those quality practitioners who aspire to become proficient in the areas of Finance and Governance, in both the application of those principles to their particular roles, and the increase fluency and capability of delivering quality outcomes within the finance and governance domains.

What other comments would you contribute?

-         This is a “motherhood” issue where nobody is overtly opposed to the incorporation of finance and governance within the Body of Knowledge for Quality.  I would like to drive this subject area from the periphery to become a central tenet of the Quality Profession.

The opinions and comments expressed are mine, and I have extended the distribution list to invite others to weigh in to this vision.  If we have a better appreciation for the potential, the appropriate vision and planning can materialize.  I recognize that this vision is larger than my personal capabilities, and would support a transition to a more seasoned and experienced leadership model.  I welcome your inputs and invite all to participate and liaise with the Quality Management Division’s Finance and Governance Technical Committee.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Speak The Language That Connects

I enjoyed the recent posting on A View from the Q at http://asq.org/blog/, which profiled the opinion of Mr. Prashant Hoskote.  I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting this esteemed practitioner at the recent World Conference in May 2012 at Anaheim.  Prashant is very highly regarded and active in the Quality Management Division as a Technical Committee leader, so his perspective should be received with considerable interest.

Quality practitioners have emerged from many distinct sources and origins.  One of the most impressive is Sr. Mary Jean Ryan, who is currently the Chair of the International Academy for Quality and has recently been recognized with an ASQ Medal for her illustrious and superlative contributions to our profession.  As a member of a religious order who operates a significant entity, Sr. Mary Jean not only speaks the languages of quality and business, but also the words of Scripture and Wisdom.

The most appropriate quote for this context appears multiple times in the Bible, and is translated as "He who exalts himself will be humbled, while he who humbles himself will be exalted".  The wisdom in this message is that when communicating or persuading, it is essential to place less emphasis on personal credentials and capabilities and instead devote the attention to the facts and merits of the proposal or decision.

Prashant is correct in his high-level overview that there are distinctions in the languages of quality and business.  However, business is not a constant category, but can be segmented.  For the purpose of this example, I will create four distinct viewpoints: finance, marketing, engineering, and operations.  These perspectives would be reflective of the competing viewpoints within a company.  The example is for amusement and addresses an area of personal interest for me.

Here is the communication challenge: Convince your CEO, who has never played the casino game, Craps, to place a Pass Line bet.  This scenario is suitable because it can demonstrate (to the extent of being an overdramatic farce) the distinct communication approaches of each group, and how they would portray the relative merits of this bet.  (Warning: If you lack a sense of humor, please stop reading any further)


There would be an emphasis on credentials and standards: "I have a Lean Six Sigma Purple Belt in Hospitality and Gaming, and have adhered to the ISO 7011 standards for international Craps"

A guru would need to be quoted: "Juran found flaws in the roulette table which he capitalized into a personal profit, but the dice guru, Bumpy Johnson of Harlem, had a flawless method outlined in 14 key principles"

A display of statistical prowess would need to be demonstrated: "By following the conditional probability scales, over a sequence of 100 rolls, the odds could be tabulated in this manner.  A Design of Experiments hypothesis could observe the relative differences between left-handed and right-handed dice rollers.  This would be plotted in a hybrid control chart"

Finally, when the CEO went against the odds and rolled consecutive snake eyes (2) followed by consecutive boxcars (12) and lost the bets, the weaseling and backpedaling would occur: "This is operating outside of our control, and we will need to conduct a quality audit and corrective action investigation to find the root cause.  This is a good thing as it provides an opportunity for improvement".

After this approach, the CEO would be inclined to swear off gambling permanently.  From the examples below, other disciplines would be more amusing, concise, and effective.


The Finance expert would calmly point out that all gambling comes with an expected loss, and is therefore not recommended as a money-making enterprise, solely as entertainment.

The Pass Line bet in Craps possesses one of the lowest rates of loss per bet (1.5% compared to 5% for Roulette or 10% for Slot Machines), and the risk of losing all money is lower.  Due to the nature of the bet, there is caution making it suitable for a frugal gamer.

If the Casino provides free amenities (i.e. complimentary drinks and snacks), then the true challenge is to eat and drink more than your gambling losses, thus profiting from your presence.


Before providing advice, the Marketing executive would protest their inability to think while thirsty or on an empty stomach.  Following a 3 martini lunch at the steakhouse, the creative ideas would be flowing.

Marketing would advise to "go with the flow" and "fake it until you make it".  Find the person with the most chips and bet in an identical manner.  Tip the pit bosses and listen to their recommendations.


The art and science of Engineering is to find innovations and breakthroughs.   The Engineering expert would study the Craps table and propose alternate ways to roll the dice, position the thrower, bounce off the table, and "game the system" to increase predictability.

Additional tricks would be applied discreetly to hopefully change the outcomes in favor of the bet.  This might result in eviction or an unpleasant encounter with casino security involving sledgehammers.


Operations are about simplification and clear choices.  The Operations expert would calmly gain the confidence of the CEO by taking away complexity and fear, and making the outcomes seem logical and reasonable.

Shooter: person rolling the dice

Placing the bet:  The Craps table can be confusing, but to make the Pass Line bet, place the chip on the block with the word "Pass Line".

Potential outcomes:  There are four possible outcomes when a Pass Bet is made and the dice is rolled
Immediate win:  If a 7 or 11 is rolled, the Pass Bet wins and you double your money
Immediate loss: if a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled, the Pass Bet loses, and you lose your money
Delayed win: if a 4,5,6,8,9, or 10 is rolled, the Pass bet is frozen.  When the Shooter rolls that same number again before rolling a 7, the Pass Bet wins and you double your money.
Delayed loss:   if a 4,5,6,8,9, or 10 is rolled, the Pass bet is frozen.  When the Shooter rolls a 7 before that same number appears again, the Pass Bet loses and you lose your money.

The terms Delayed Win and Delayed Loss are simplifications.  The Craps terminology is "establishing the point" and the visual indicator is a disc called a "Puck" which flips between On and Off, depending on whether the Pass Line bet is active (4,5,6,8,9, or 10 have been rolled and waiting for a repeat or 7) or inactive.

Now let's say the CEO rolls consecutive Snake Eyes (1 and 1) and Boxcars (6 and 6) and loses his Pass Line bets.  The Operations resource won't panic, but calmly point to the "Don't Pass" square on the Craps table and politely suggest that betting in the opposite manner, similar to switching from heads to tails in a coin flip, may change the luck and return some wins.

Do I feel lucky - well do you CEO?
The Operations expert will first get the confidence, and then incrementally suggest extensions to the approach.  For example, when the Point is established (waiting for Shooter to roll a 4,5,6,8,9, or 10 to win the Pass Line Bet or roll a 7 to lose), the Pass Line bet can be expanded by placing an "Odds" bet.  This type of bet contains NO EXPECTED LOSS.  If the CEO believes that the Shooter can avoid rolling a 7, then the Odds bet will reward the lucky hunch with additional windfall.  If the bet is wrong, the bet will be lost, but the casino will not profit from the transaction.  This is why seasoned gamblers look for casinos with 10X or even 100X odds, which permits high-stakes gambling without diverting commission or percentages to the casino, making this the best bet for the gambler.


Here endeth the lesson of winning Craps strategy.  But the real lesson is that in communicating, strip away those elements that exist solely to flaunt knowledge.  Emphasize wisdom and simplicity, and communicate to create comfort and confidence.

When Quality people function in practical and empathetic styles, and follow the examples of Covey to Seek First to Understand, then the messaging and communication will flow naturally.  The approach of Dr. Covey has been proven effective and is widely accepted  Dr. Stephen Covey

To test your ability to communicate, attempt to explain simple but obscure concepts to novices.  If your explanations are confusing or discourage others, then a change in approach is needed.   Energy and enthusiasm will stimulate interest, but the connection is the most important.  Whether it is quality, finance, marketing, engineering, or operations, it is critical to success to speak the language that effectively connects with the recipient.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Quality and Social Responsibility: Diverging from True North

Happy Bastille Day to those who follow French history.  July 14, 1789 was a day of independence where the virtues of liberty, equality, and fraternity were paramount.  It is in this spirit that I read the latest  "View from the Q" post at http://asq.org/blog/ describing the response to the ideals of Social Responsibility.  As a student of history, I have observed that sovereign nations were formed and governments toppled over the pursuit and quest for Social Responsibility (SR).  The historical movie, Viva Zapata, told the story of how Mexican revolutionaries rose from agrarian poverty to permanently entrench land rights and improved standards of living for the Mexican people.

To the question, is SR mainstream thought, or still in the fringe?  SR is instilled within us as the virtue best described with the word Agape, a Greek word which reflects the unselfish love of community, and has been intermittently translated in English as both Love and Charity.  With respect to being Mainstream, the Bible is the best-selling book in the English language, and Agape is prominent in the New Testament, in Paul's first letter to Corinthians, Chapter 13 (Love is patient, love is kind ...).  The love described in that passage is originally Agape, and reflects SR.

The next part of the View from the Q questions the role of the Quality community in promoting and propagating SR.  I believe this to be essential for the continued evolution of our profession so that Quality practitioners do not end up on the wrong side of history.  Again this is where the lessons of history have much to impart.  Whether practitioners are industrial statisticians, data scientists, customer service analysts, software testers, compliance auditors, program managers, or cost improvement project managers, the ideals of SR must be adhered in order to mitigate the Loss to Society from socially negligent and contemptible actions.

I will demonstrate this point with the absurd example of Professional Wrestling.  The examples below are selected to reflect ""Quality Attributes" of athleticism, stunt dynamics, storyline drama, and showmanship.


These are two examples showing the athletic abilities of the top wrestlers, which incorporate Olympic wrestling, martial arts, Mexican Lucha Libre styles, and Canadian Stampede-style wrestling.  The nimble agility and choreography create a tremendous visual impression which is hard to replicate.

Rey Mysterio vs. Rob Van Dam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOF933J395w

Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYz3Nsx6Y9c


These examples expand on the athletics with perfectly scaled and timed crashes through visual obstacles like tables, ladders, and chairs.  This draws the comic inferences of the old slaptstick films (i.e. Three Stooges, Keystone Cops), along with the current extreme stunts in movies (i.e. Jackass).  The combination of physical skills and shock value make these matches particularly memorable.

(Hell In The Cell) Mick "Mankind" Foley vs. The Undertaker  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz-3qp5ejXM

(Tables, Ladders, and Chairs) Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boys  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgHVInTEsmQ&feature=related


Since professional wrestling is scripted, many of the wrestlers have characters and personas which translate into the match.  The heroic patriot challenges the disrespectful "pretty boy" (who disrepects the Canadian flag in the opening sequence while performing in Canada), while the villainous champions need to resort to cheating and improper assistance in order to retain their champion belts from worthy contenders who have truly beaten them athletically.  The soap opera elements added to the attraction of professional wrestling and contributed to its prominence as a mainstream entertainment choice of the last generation.

Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiUiac_yPzI ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31Lsm3DczyY&feature=relmfu

Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H vs. Undertaker & Kane  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cRNfjzo0Rs


The entertainment element eventually allows the top performers to transcend the wrestling ring into conventional entertainment as action heroes.  Both of the performers in this match over-act to comical levels, but by emphasizing looks and acting ability, they create their own spectacle without having to do the "dirty work" of intense physical wrestling.

The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH45tDW1eI0

From a Quality perspective, these matches were at the top of their respective categories, and provided millions of professional wrestling fans with entertaining moments, and the owner, Vince McMahon, an unprecedented revenue stream, taking wrestling from community barns to international broadcasts at major arenas and venues.  These are examples of a Quality success.

However, when these events are viewed in the context of Social Responsibility, the effects are disastrous.  Many of the performers have endured tragic fates, serious physical injury, mental illness, marital breakups, personal trauma, and addiction to harmful substances and supplements.  The social impact of professional wrestling has been detrimental, with the influence causing teenage and adult boys to injure themselves in imitation.  The physical image and overt aggression has influenced others to harm themselves and others with steroid use, bullying behavior, and rejection of proper virtues and ideals.  A majority of long-term professional wrestlers live out their retirements in pain, loneliness, addiction, and face early mortality.  The history of professional wrestling would be much different if the ideals of Social Responsibility were applied.

In navigation, there are distinctions between True North (polar axis of Earth) and Magnetic North (where the compasses point).  There is also potential of a gap between Quality ideals and SR ideals.  As Quality practitioners, we must be mindful of that gap so that in achieving our Quality objectives, we do not compromise or diminish our society by disregarding the ideals of Social Responsibility.  That way we can be sure that our paths will lead towards True North, not just where the instruments point us.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Beyond Good Intentions: The Principles of Social Responsibility

This article is also available on TheSRO website for Blogs: http://community.thesro.org/profiles/blogs/beyond-good-intentions-the-principles-of-social-responsiblity

The ISO 26000 provides the international community with the following principles on Social Responsibility.  From knowledge of these principles, an organization can move beyond good intentions by establishing its governance and operations to incorporate the best outcomes prescribed by these principles.  This summary will list the principles along with an overall explanation.  The details of each Social Responsibility principle will require individual blog articles to appropriately address the guidelines.

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.

The principles take the concepts of Social Responsibility beyond good intentions by emphasizing actions, choices, and the tangible effects of those decisions.  The Principles also are written in such a way that the typical excuses and rationalizations are rendered futile or moot. 

The common element of every Social Responsibility principle is Respect, whether or not the word Respect is overtly mentioned.  The opposite of Respect, Contempt, contributes to the negligence, misconduct, and overt harm that socially irresponsible organizations bring to society.  If Quality is the pursuit of eliminating Waste and Deviation, Social Responsibility could be considered as the pursuit of eliminating Contempt, and replacing that with Respect.

These Social Responsibility Principles are not mutually exclusive elements.  The interdependencies are self-evident as demonstrated with the following examples.
-          Ethical Behavior as defined by Respect for International Norms of Behavior
-          Transparency in accordance with Respect for the Rule of Law
-          Accountability in fulfillment of Respect for Stakeholder Interests and Respect for Human Rights

A deficiency or malady in one of the principles taints and tarnishes the fulfillment of other principles by their very definition.  The absence or inadequacy of a principle like Accountability creates doubt and illegitimacy in the claims of fulfillment in Stakeholder Interests, since there would be elements for which the organization is not accountable.

As a final observation, the common object of the Social Responsibility Principles is the Organization.  While decisions and actions are taken by Individuals, those individuals work as agents or proxies, representing the Organization and its core values.  If the divergence is the act of rogue or defiant Individuals operating in a manner inconsistent with the values of the Organization, then there is an implicit expectation that the Organization will address the variation and divergence in a visible and tangible manner, and reinforce its Social Responsibility obligations and principles accordingly.

As Organization that follows the Social Responsibility Principles goes beyond good intentions by stating expectations or “virtues”, and then providing guidelines to achieve that elevated existence of doing well by “doing good”.

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Entitlement for Excellence - Focus on the Goals

In our increasingly indulgent society, there is an implicit expectation that accomplishment will always lead to awards and accolades for the individual.  In a free and democratic society, we celebrate the high achievers, and they inspire us to reach similar lofty heights in our own endeavors.  However there is no "fairness", some people are fortunate at the right time while others who obtain superior results appear to go unrecognized.

A visible example of this is in professional sports, namely NHL hockey.  One of the iconic standards of excellence is to score 50 goals in a season.  For decades, this was an exceptional accomplishment which ranked with baseball's 60 home run tally or .400 batting average as an infrequent personal milestone.  Normally the achievement of a 50 goal season would bring a formal recognition to the player with either an NHL Award (i.e. Hart for MVP, Byng for Sportsmanship, etc.) or selection to the NHL First All-Star Team or Second All-Star Team.

The combination of NHL expansion and more skilled offensive talents in the game resulted in such an expansion of goal-scoring productivity that the 50 goal season became a commonplace event and an annual expectation.  The following list of players indicates those achievers who scored 50 or more goals in a season (one as high as 70 goals), but never received individual recognition with an NHL Award or selection to the NHL First or Second All-Star Teams in their career.  This list includes players (along with the hockey seasons where they scored at least 50 goals) who were eventually selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but because they played concurrently with some of the greatest players ever, they were overlooked for individual recognition during their playing years.

  • Rick MacLeish: 72-73
  • Danny Grant: 74-75
  • Pierre Larouche: 75-76, 79-80
  • Jean Pronovost: 75-76
  • Guy Chouinard: 78-79
  • Blaine Stoughton: 79-80
  • Wayne Babych: 80-81
  • Jacques Richard: 80-81
  • Dennis Maruk: 80-81, 81-82 (included a 60 goal season)
  • Dino Ciccarelli: 81-82, 86-87
  • Rick Vaive: 81-82, 82-83, 83-84
  • Michel Goulet: 82-83, 83-84, 84-85, 85-86
  • Al Secord: 82-83 (also one of 3 players with 30 goals and 300 penalty minutes in the same season)
  • Glenn Anderson: 83-84, 85-86
  • Mike Bullard: 83-84
  • Craig Simpson: 87-88
  • Jimmy Carson: 87-88
  • Stephane Richer: 87-88, 89-90
  • Bernie Nicholls: 88-89 (70 goal season)
  • Brian Bellows: 89-90
  • Gary Leeman: 89-90
  • Jeremy Roenick: 91-92, 92-93
  • Dave Andreychuk: 93-94
  • Ray Sheppard: 93-94
  • Peter Bondra: 95-96, 97-98
In July 2012, the NHL Free Agent frenzy resulted in teams paying multi-million dollar contracts for players who scored in the range of 20-30 goals in a season, far below the vaunted 50 goal threshold.  In today's market, a player who achieved a 50 goal season could command a multi-year contract with a cumulative amount exceeding more than 50 million dollars.  The majority of the 50 goal scorers in the list above had annual salaries below the entry-level contracts currently provided to rookie players.

At a personal level, aspiring to excellence solely for the recognition and rewards is an exercise in vanity, from which you will inherit the wind.  For every celebrated NHL hockey star like Wayne Gretzky or Doug Gilmour, there is a player who was accomplished in their own right, but is better known as the answer to a trivia question, "Who came over in the trade?"  (Jimmy Carson was part of the LA-Edmonton trade that transferred Gretzky from Edmonton Oilers to LA Kings, while Gary Leeman was part of the Calgary-Toronto trade that shifted Doug Gilmour from the Calgary Flames to the Toronto Maple Leafs).

A fan of NHL hockey will read this and appreciate the collection of scorers, while I hope others will note that in their own lives, greatness has to come from within.   So what lesson or message can be derived? Basically, being excellent in your field of endeavor is often not enough to be tagged with recognition or realize great financial rewards.  For example 2012 has brought turmoil to the mobility industry, where innovative and previously dominant organizations like Nokia and Research In Motion (RIM) are now rapidly restructuring their businesses in order to compete and survive against the latest Android and Apple offerings.  Sometimes being great is not good enough.

When recognitions and accolades come, they are always appreciated, but we stand on the shoulders of giants who have made great accomplishments, humbling our own in comparison.  Motivation should should intrinsic and emanate from personal convictions and principles in order to be truly fulfilling.  Success does not come from an award, a medal, nor a certificate on the wall.  It comes from the realization of goals (50 goals for an NHL player) which all have their part in reaching the ideals.  Success is not an entitlement, it is the outcome of achieving your predetermined goals and fulfilling them in an honorable manner.

 If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Quality on Canada Day

As we enjoy Canada Day and celebrate the national holiday of Canada, recognizing our Confederation, Dominion and formation as a sovereign nation, I can't help but contemplate the unique nature of what could be termed as a Canadian approach to Quality.

In these turbulent and challenging times, Canadians have been protected from the financial and political turmoil that is appearing in other countries.  For a country founded on "peace, order, and good government", an approach emphasizing caution and moderation has served us well and shielded us from the excesses of our peers.  Looking ahead in 2012, my view is coloured with optimism and opportunity for myself and those around me.  (The word "Coloured" is intentionally spelled in the Canadian manner, not in the shorter Webster version "colored")

From my personal perspective, I view the role of the Quality function as being one that instills "Canadian values" within an organization.  Those ideals to which we aspire as professionals, namely quality and social responsibility, are very closely aligned with Canadian ideals.  While other nations celebrate generals and revolutionaries, Canadians recently voted in a poll to honor a dedicated political leader, Tommy Douglas, who used his executive power to legislate and deploy a public medical system.  In 1962, 50 years prior to the judicial debates on "Obamacare", Canadian citizens were already enjoying a prototype medical system that supported them in their times of need.  As our conservative columnist, Diane Francis, opined, a population that does not have to hoard its personal resources to shield itself for basic needs is more confident and capable to spend, invest, and support recovering economies.

As I reflect on my personal experiences with the American Society for Quality (a misnomer as ASQ is a truly international organization which includes Canada), I contemplate and question that a nation famous for "peace, order, and good government" is not more widely represented within this body.  Canadians have distinguished themselves as members, leaders, authors, conference participants, and award recipients.  However these contributions come with an international professional perspective in that when I write or speak, I do so primarily as a professional, with my distinct Canadian characteristics pushed to the background.  I believe that Canadians who strive and do well in their field of endeavour should wave their flag as a signal for other Canadians to step up, struggle and emerge. (Luctor et Emergo)

The emergence of Social Responsibility is a very positive development in that business enterprises are recognizing the financial benefits of sustainable operations - put another way "doing well by doing good".  Social Responsibility is not something found exclusively in the gemba of the factory floor, nor the engineering lab.  Social Responsibility is something that requires inclusion where diversity and cultural contributions are necessitated.  In this regard, the Canadian approach to multiculturalism provides many tangible lessons and experiences that can be shared and applied towards many positive outcomes.

I am proud to be a Canadian, but what does that truly convey?  I am not a Canadian because through a generous act of Providence, I reside on a particular land mass.  I am a Canadian because I live and project Canadian values and strive for peace, order, and good government with a lifestyle that extolls the virtues of caution and moderation.  I respect others and strive to earn their respect through merit and support of our mutual endeavors.  These values and ideals have allowed our country to be shaped by participants from every other nation in the world - truly an example of a global experiment.

A Canadian approach to Quality can be summarized with five key points:
- Our involvement is welcomed,
- Our credibility is accepted,
- Our contributions are valued,
- Our initiatives are supported,
- The outcomes of our efforts are trusted.

The name Canada was from a First Nations expression, "Welcome to the Village".  On those ideals, I salute my fellow Canadians (and Canadian Fellows (Fellow Members of ASQ)), and aspire to make the world more like a Canadian village characterized by peace, prosperity, optimism, and hope for the future.