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

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

Saturday, 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.