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.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Start with Why - Sustain with Servant Leadership

In November, I had the opportunity to review comments from the ASQ Board of Directors, who advocated the positive concepts of Sinek and the Servant Leadership approach as a suitable leadership model for Quality.  A significant portion of the content below on Servant Leadership is extracted from the November Quality Progress.  

The purpose of this article is to summarize these ideas in order to build awareness and interest, and subsequently have more quality professionals receptive to these very constructive and collaborative approaches.

Simon Sinek, the renowned business author and communicator, has delivered a series of leadership books and presentations with the theme “Start With Why”.  Leadership arises when the focus is directed to WHY a business or organization exists:
-          Start with WHY, then use that to determine HOW and WHAT
-          Trust is based on common values and beliefs, and is inspired by WHY
-          Our willingness to follow a leader reflects and is an expression of ourselves
-          Leaders must have a vision that inspires others
-          Leadership is a responsibility of service to others for their benefit

According to Sinek, when leading by inspiration, not manipulation, the emphasis is on the shared purposes, causes, and beliefs.  The salient below reflect Sinek’s overview of this approach and its benefits:
-          Groups of people form from having a common set of values and beliefs
-          Inspire from the Inside-Out with Authenticity
o    Clarity of Why
o    Discipline of How
o    Consistency of What
-          Trust is a human condition, essential for our survival
o    Judge the quality of the crew in rough waters
o    Rational brain focuses on What, and controls thoughts and analytical elements
o    Limbic brain focuses on How and Why, and controls feelings, trust, loyalty, behavior, language, and decisions
-          Reliance on symbols to draw other with common values and beliefs
o    Feelings and decisions are not rational but emotional
o    Feelings say something about WHO WE ARE
-          Law of Diffusion
o    First 16% (2.5% Innovators, 13.5% Early Adopters) trust their gut and are intuitive to adopt new ideas and products
o    Last 16% are laggards and the last to adopt
o    Middle 68% majority wait for all early adopters to use the “trial version” and need 20% penetration before becoming engaged
o    Shift from Early Adopters to Majority is “Tipping Point”, and transcendence is “Crossing the Chasm”
-          Leaders prove what they believe – undying belief in a future vision
o    Strategy is adaptable when you have a clear sense of where you are going
o    Outcomes (Money, Quotas, Results) are not the target but arbitrary
-          Leadership is a responsibility, not a rank or position
o    Serving those who serve others provides very high satisfaction and fulfillment
o    Great leaders sacrifice themselves for others
o    We follow those who lead for ourselves (i.e. 250,000 people who came to hear Dr. Martin Luther King came for themselves and their common values and beliefs)

This actually aligns very closely with the Servant Leadership concept advocated by Greenleaf and his contemporaries.   According to Greenleaf et al, servant leadership is a philosophy that emphasizes focusing first on others’ needs. Servant leaders are attentive to the growth and development of their stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners and the community. This approach enriches the lives of individuals, builds organizations that are more customer-focused and that it ultimately creates a more just and caring world:
  • Servant leadership is a timeless concept—especially relevant for quality organizations because of its relationship with continuous improvement.
  • Organizations benefit from servant leadership because it creates more effective and innovative teams and greater profitability.
  • It can be practiced by anyone, regardless of his or her location in the organizational hierarchy.
"The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
Characteristics of Servant Leadership include:
  • Service first: Service to others is the prime motivator of the servant leader, and leadership becomes the way of providing that service.
  • Community building: Servant leaders define their stakeholders broadly, focus on the common good and seek to build a trusting community.
  • Persuasion not coercion: Servant leaders do not dictate or autocratically exercise power. Rather, they persuade others to agree and to act.
  • Followers willingly follow: Followers of servant leaders choose to follow, voluntarily, because they trust the servant leader and own a shared purpose.
  • Journey: Servant leadership is a journey—a process of continuous improvement and growth.
  • Asking questions: A servant leader values the wisdom of others and therefore addresses any issue by asking questions.
  • Listening: Servant leaders are experts in listening. Iarocci and Monroe said servant leaders automatically respond to any problem by listening first.
  • Withdrawing and reorienting: Servant leaders are self-reflective and practice the art of withdrawing and reorienting to improve their perspective on the self and the work at hand.
  • Exercising foresight: Servant leaders practice foresight by keeping up with current events, scanning the horizon for signals of change, listening actively and looking outside the boundaries of their own organizations.
  • Growing others: Servant leaders relentlessly pursue the growth and development of others and create more servant leaders, not more followers.
Organization which practice servant leadership are marked by lower levels of absenteeism, greater customer satisfaction, and higher levels of productivity and performance,  Because servant leaders are attentive to the growth and development of others, individuals who practice servant leadership tend to positively influence those around them and, in turn, create more servant leaders.
Seven key dimensions of servant leadership were defined:
·         behaving ethically,
·         emotional healing,
·         putting subordinates first,
·         helping subordinates grow and succeed,
·         empowering,
·         creating value for the community, and
·         conceptual skills.

These researchers found servant leadership to significantly enhance commitment to the organization, job performance, and community citizenship behavior.  These studies demonstrated that servant leadership led to team performance through its positive influence on trust. When subordinates feel psychologically safe, they are willing to take risks associated with being creative, are willing to challenge the status quo (which leads to better decision making), and are motivated to perform well as a way of reciprocating for fair treatment by the leader.

Servant leadership was shown to positively influence the relationship between goal clarity and team potency. Servant leaders gain team member trust and build long term relationships by showing genuine concern for all team members.  And because it is the leader’s team, follower trust in leadership acts to elevate team members’ trust in the capabilities of their team to be effective. Servant leaders, who are fair, and honest with team members, promote open and problem-driven communication within the team, resulting in enhanced team member confidence in their team’s capabilities to be effective even in the face of uncertainty and obstacles. Servant leaders cultivate personal integrity among team members to create a spiritual climate within the team, which elicits team members to cooperate with and care about each other and enables them to be optimistic about their team’s capabilities to be effective.
Servant leadership was researched by academics (Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006), (Liden et al., 2008) , (Neubert, Kacmar, Carlson, Chonko, & Roberts, 2008) and ((Mayer, Bardes, & Piccolo, 2008) to demonstrate its impact on organizations and satisfaction.  The full reference list is below.


Simon Sinek – YouTube presentations (multiple)

Ehrhart, M. G. (2004). Leadership and procedural justice climate as antecedents of unit-level organizational citizenship behavior. Personnel Psychology, 57, 61-94.

Graham, J. W. (1991). Servant leadership in organizations: Inspirational and moral. Leadership Quarterly, 2, 105-119.

Greenleaf, R. K. (1970). The servant as leader. Newton Centre, MA: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center.

Hale, J. R.,& Fields, D. L. (2007). Exploring servant leadership across cultures: A study of followers in Ghana and the USA. Leadership, 3(4), 397-417.

Han, Y., Kakabadse, N. K., & Kakabadse, A. (2010). Servant leadership in the People's Republic of China: A case study of the public sector. Journal of Management
, 29(3), 265-281.

Hu, J., & Liden, R.C. (2011). Antecedents of team potency and team effectiveness: An examination of goal and process clarity and servant leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 851-862.

Liden, R.C. (2012). Leadership research in Asia: A brief assessment and suggestions for the future. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 29, 205-212.

Liden, R.C., Panaccio, A., Meuser, J.D., Hu, J., & Wayne, S.J. (in press). Servant leadership: Antecedents, processes, and outcomes. In Day, D.V. (Ed.) The Oxford handbook of leadership and organizations. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Liden, R.C., Wayne, S. J., Zhao, H. & Henderson, D. (2008). Servant leadership: Development of a multidimensional measures and multilevel assessment, Leadership Quarterly, 19, 161-177.

Mayer, D. M., Bardes, M., & Piccolo, R. F. (2008). Do servant-leaders help satisfy follower needs? An organizational justice perspective. European Journal of Work
and Organizational Psychology, 17,

Neubert, M. J., Kacmar, K. M., Carlson, D. S., Chonko, L. B., & Roberts, J. A. (2008). Regulatory focus as a mediator of the influence of initiating structure and servant leadership on employee behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology,93(6), 1220-1233.

Peterson, S., Galvin, B. M., & Lange, D. 2012. CEO servant leadership: Exploring executive characteristics and firm performance. Personnel Psychology, 65: 565-596.

Piccolo, R. F.,& Colquitt, J.A. (2006). Transformational leadership and job behaviors: The mediating role of core job characteristics. Academy of Management Journal, 49, 327-340.

Schaubroeck, J., Lam, S. S. K., & Peng, A. C. 2011. Cognition-based and affect-based trust as mediators of leader behavior influences on team performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96: 863-871.

Van Dierendonck, D. 2011. Servant leadership: A review and synthesis. Journal of Management, 37: 1228-1261.

Walumbwa, F. O., Hartnell, C. A., & Oke, A. (2010). Servant leadership, procedural justice climate, service climate, employee attitudes, and organizational citizenship behavior: A cross-level investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 517-529.

Yukl, G. (2010). Leadership in organizations (seventh edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Absurdity of Canadian Senate

There is currently a scandal in Canada concerning the controversial expenses that were submitted by several recently appointed senators.  Without going into detail, I will outline this as a scenario of a Quality System failure, and use the lessons learned to determine appropriate process improvement steps.

The first failure was the fact that two of the senators involved were not policymakers nor administrators, but broadcast journalists with decades of national exposure.  These senators were not elected, but unilaterally appointed by the Prime Minister for a duration that would likely extend beyond his term in office.  In Canada, senators are not elected but are appointed and entitled to remain as Senators until death, poor health, or their 75th birthday.

To use an American equivalent, imagine the public outcry if a Democratic President was able to appoint sympathetic journalists and broadcasters from MSNBC to the US Senate, or alternatively if the Republican President could select from the many sympathetic voices at Fox News.  There would definitely be a conflict of interest, as journalists would have explicit incentives to compromise the factual accounts and communicate government propaganda (to claim that they do already would be pure conjecture :) ).

The second failure was that the expense policies were not clarified and explicitly enforced.  By relaxing the standards, these rogue senators could claim expenses for housing and travel costs that were unrelated to their duties.  While the senators were designated as representatives of rural, outlying provinces (Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan respectively), both had established their primary residences in central Canada.

While these senators have since been suspended for their deficient expense submissions, the true breakdown was in the administration of these expenses.  Normal corporate governance requires that expenses above a certain level are reviewed and approved before being paid out.  If there are discrepancies or the expenses are against policy, that should be known in advance before reimbursement.  The senators are being penalized and publicly reprimanded, while the true breakdown is in the expense administration, which was either grossly negligent or morally complicit by providing excessive payments to these "celebrity senators".

The third failure is the fact that the Senate in Canada primarily serves as an advisory body to the House of Commons or elected Parliament.  Phrases like "sober second thought" explain the extra legislative oversight that the Senate has on new or revised changes to bills, laws, or regulations.  Essentially, the Senate functions as a quality control mechanism, where older and wiser participants can influence the politically charged and often polarized parliamentary environment to prevent radical and irrational legislation.

Given the advances in information technology and access to expertise in every domain, is there truly a need for a distinct body like the Canadian Senate to provide oversight?  There is no relationship between the salaries and benefits of Senators and the time and materials expended to review and provide recommendations on legislature.  Even if this body was deemed the appropriate forum for legislative oversight of federal laws, that would require a specific set of criteria to ensure Canadian Senators are adequately qualified and capable of their roles.  Sympathetic appointments like Frank Mahovlich (a legendary hockey player who won Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, and was part of the winning 1972 Team Canada squad) would not be adequately qualified for this function.

So based on the lessons learned from these scandals, my recommendations to address the Absurdity of the Canadian Senate are:
- Redefine the role of Senators, and modify the compensation to reflect the actual time and materials devoted to addressing federal Canadian legislation, and other pertinent duties.
- Establish objective qualifications for senators to ensure their capability and successful performance of their roles and responsibilities.
- Define eligibility requirements to disqualify celebrities, sympathetic figures, and political participants (i.e. journalists, regulators) who may be induced to compromise the integrity of their work for a quid pro quo appointment to the Canadian Senate.
- Deploy and sustain a financial governance system that fairly and accurately provides proper remuneration and reimbursement in accordance with the established government policies.  If administrative errors occur, these should be addressed quickly and discreetly to avoid the embarrassment of a national scandal.

I welcome opinions, as well as examples from other countries on the management of their bicameral parliamentary systems.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Quality - Defend Our Professional Scope

The View From The Q article this month addresses Quality beyond its normal comfort range.  I particularly like the orientation towards Innovation.  Traditional impressions of Quality focus on correction and prevention (Defense), but with the adoption of Innovation, we can be instrumental in accomplishing breakthrough products and services (Offense).  As the old sports adage proclaims, "Defense wins championships, but Offense sells tickets".  Innovation brings attention and revenue which will sustain us in the long-term.

So while our profession starts to divert towards the promises of Innovation and Social Responsibility, a portion of our natural domain is left "undefended".  Consider the IT industry (software, systems, technology, automation, etc.).

In this field, Quality is still synonymous with Software Testing.  A job posting for a QA role seeks someone with testing experience or product development capabilities in various programming languages - a very tactical role.  Often, developers or analysts are relegated to testing in order to build their skill set to a point where their product familiarity qualifies them to develop or conduct analysis for product development.

Those positions which relate to management systems or continuous improvement, areas which should be the natural constituency of Quality, are instead earmarked for those with Project Management or IT Governance backgrounds.  The Project Management Professional (PMP) designation is explicitly required for many Quality roles within the software industry, even though Quality comprises less than 10% of the PMP Body of Knowledge.

While the Quality profession embarks on new pursuits, it must also reinforce and fortify its areas of competency.

  • Limiting ourselves to tactical roles is not an option, as it will prevent our profession from the necessary advancement and growth to attract long-term involvement.
  • Pursuing speculative and loosely defined competencies like Innovation and Social Responsibility will build a foundation for future endeavors, but will not address present and immediate needs for career and professional development.

As professionals it is not enough to possess knowledge.  We must assert our presence and reposition our role to take on greater influence and responsibility, moving from tactical control roles to more influential executive and governance responsibilities.  As Quality Professionals, we have the capability and skill set to raise our profile, embrace those areas which should be within our natural scope, and fulfill the promise and potential of our noble profession.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Long Term Excellence - Honda vs. General Motors examples

The recent View From The Q column challenged us how to sustain excellence in the long-term for our organizations.

I thought about how Honda started off as a company making piston rings and motorized cycles for Japanese markets, and through their approach progressed to became a global leader in many industries including automotive, airplane manufacturing, power motor products (i.e. lawn mowers, gardening devices), power generators, and other industries.  This is supported by an enviable logistical supply chain and information management organization that serves Honda across different markets and cultures.

From this example, the most important thing is to have an audacious vision, and commit to doing everything possible to realize those incredible goals.  Imagine fifty years ago when the Beach Boys were singing about their Honda Honda.

While the music fans of the 1960s were praising Honda for their cycles, the brain-trust was contemplating designs for international race cars, luxury vehicles, and organizational innovations.

Long-term excellence requires a long-term 50 year view of people and organizations.  If we can follow the example of Honda, we can envision ourselves as international leaders, and use that vision to drive choices and habits which complement and contribute to the realization of that audacious vision.

In turn, anything that conflicts with that vision; namely apathy, lethargy, sloth, tolerance of sub-standard outcomes, compromises of integrity, and other maladies would surely be resisted in an environment where everyone has bought into the vision and is working toward its fulfillment.

Consider in contrast the Chevy Corvair.  This was the product of General Motors (a company so entrenched that the maxim was coined "What's good for General Motors is good for America"), which had ample financial resources, but very unsound business practices that prompted consumer advocate Ralph Nader to declare this particular vehicle design "Unsafe at Any Speed".

Fifty years ago, it would have been ludicrous to think that a Japanese manufacturer of piston rings and motorcycles would compete and surpass the largest and most established leader in motor vehicles.  

The difference between the two organizations was the vision, and the internal ethic driven to fulfill that vision.  If your organization is not passionate like Honda, then it will be compelled to follow a fate similar to General Motors.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Deming on Labor Day

Today is Labor Day, which is celebrated in Canada and USA as a tribute to workers, and a time to reflect on what can make the workplace better.

The sentiments range from pride and patriotism, to resentment and frustration.  Labor Day draws attention to may controversial topics including minimum wages, working conditions, and the increasing expectation of employees needed to survive and thrive in this global market.

Deming identified this decades ago in his writings, succinctly summarized as the Seven Deadly Diseases.  According to The Deming Institute , many of the issues currently faced by workers during 2013 Labor Day were anticipated and could have been prevented had our organizations abided by Deming's wisdom, by working to avoid the appearance and proliferation of these Deadly Diseases.

1. Lack of constancy of purpose to plan product and service that will have a market and keep the company in business, and provide jobs.
2. Emphasis on short-term profits: short-term thinking (just the opposite from constancy of purpose to stay in business), fed by fear of unfriendly takeover, and by push from bankers and owners for dividends.
3. Evaluation of performance, merit rating, or annual review.
4. Mobility of management; job hopping.
5. Management by use only of visible figures, with little or no consideration of figures that are unknown or unknowable.
6. Excessive medical costs.
7. Excessive costs of liability, swelled by lawyers that work on contingency fees.
Think of every major Labor issue - the root causes are traceable back to one of these deadly diseases that ultimately consume the efforts and energies of organizations to the detriment of the overall quality of their product or service solution.  

Deming recognized, and others have since repeatedly proven, that workplaces characterized by engaged and focused employees, working from methodical systems and processes, succeed and outperform their competitors in quality, profitability, and sustainability.  

Contrast that with the records of those characters on the polar opposite of Deming.  A quick internet search revealed a notorious executive, "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, who was celebrated for his ruthless cost-cutting, plant closures, employee terminations, and stock price gains until allegations of revenue inflation and accounting fraud ruined his reputation.  "Chainsaw Al", through his aggressive and adversarial approach to his workplace infused his companies with the diseases mentioned by Deming.

As we reflect on Labor Day, the choice of our workplace is simple: 
  • Adopt and embrace the philosophies and practices of Deming and his advocates or;
  • "Chainsaws" will be visiting your organization soon

Sunday, July 28, 2013

ASQ Certification - Perspectives From Shill to Stalwart to Scholar to Sage

The question post by ASQ for Certification Advice is interesting to me, but I must address this from multiple perspectives.

Many years ago, I have the opportunity to attend a presentation profiling the "Six Hats" advocated by De Bono.  In that approach, an issue or situation should be approached from multiple perspectives.  An individual can change their perspective by putting on a figurative "HAT" that reflects the details and objectives by which they must analyze and formulate a solution.

In keeping with this theme, I will summarize my Certification Advice from four distinct perspectives: SHILL, STALWART, SCHOLAR, and SAGE.  Readers should be warned that in order to avoid being too clinical, I have applied doses of humor to help make this palatable for the curious readers.


As someone with involvement in ASQ that spans decades as an author, reviewer, instructor, and member-leader, I am inclined to promote the ASQ solutions as essential prerequisites to successful certification attempts.

ASQ has Handbooks (I am particularly fond of the ASQ Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook which also has a corresponding ASQ Groups page at ASQ Green Belt Handbook page.  Additional ASQ Links are provided including a link to very helpful advice by ASQ author, Govind Ramu, for Successful ASQ Certification Tips.

Plus If You Act Now (or at a time convenient to you), you can supplement this helpful content with practice exam questions, courses, and tutorials offered at your Local ASQ Section, by your ASQ Division at the next conference, or at a WCQI international quality conference.

Also, since many of the certifications draw from common elements of the Quality Body of Knowledge, having the capability to pass one exam will provide relevant preparation for similar or related certifications.  Did you know that the BoK for the Certified Quality Engineer is 75-80% aligned with the Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Certified Six Sigma Green Belt?  Were you aware of the common elements linking the Certified Quality Improvement Associate, the Certified Quality Auditor, and the Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence?  Why settle for one ASQ Certification, when you can get the "Family Pack".

There is no limit to the helpful resources that can all be yours ... if the price is right!!!


In this approach the emphasis is on the expectations of professionalism and the cultivation of a mentality conducive to prestige and tradition.  I am including this in order to distinguish the legitimate practitioners from the "hacks and charlatans" who unilaterally declare themselves as Quality Experts without having performed or obtained any professional credentials.

In my past experience instructing at universities and colleges, one of the most frustrating encounters would come from a negligent student who, upon realizing that the exam or assignment was due, would suddenly request that I simply provide them with a summary or "brain-dump" of required material that could be replicated with short notice.  I have no desire to offer this "quick fix" advice to those seeking ASQ Certifications.

Given that ASQ markets its certifications as a way to promote the profession and distinguish the "vital few" quality professionals from the trivial many inspectors, analysts, clerks, and testers who populate our ranks; it behooves the Fellows and Seniors within our ranks to cautiously guard our profession so that only worthy and deserving individual may advance and progress.

One attribute that may discourage the casual outsider is the requirement by ASQ to recertify for particular certifications every three years by either repeating the exam or demonstrating through professional activity their continued application and acceptance of Quality.


In this approach, I appeal to the desire of the prospective student to pursue knowledge and grow their intellect.

For Quality to persist and evolve, it must extend beyond tactics and techniques.  The pursuit and study of particular practices, and the intellectual justification supporting those practices, has been the life's work of many eminent scientists and intellectuals.  The Quality discipline combines objective operational studies with vocational subjective reviews of psychological patterns and preferences.

Certification in the Quality discipline is a subset of the knowledge that is required to be known.  Since the four hour examination period can only probe for a fraction of the expected knowledge, the Quality professional needs to know substantially more than what would be required simply to pass an exam.

The key is to presume that for every item within the scope of examination, the effort to obtain complete understanding and appreciation of the subject material is tenfold.


Finally this a reminder that in our profession, we have been well served by those who came before us, and to whom we owe a considerable debt.

If we were to seek their counsel in this regard, I am certain that their advice would be summarized in one word, RESPECT.

Respect for the Profession - by always maintaining its integrity and intellectual rigor.

Respect for the Material - by always abiding by the ideals and aspirations of Quality. 

Respect for the Student - by always pursuing worthy goals with disciplined and uncompromising efforts and dedication on a journey towards fulfillment and perfection.

When I first approached my certifications more than 15 years ago, I did so with urgency and passion.  I had already been working in increasingly progressive roles and was at a point of significant personal responsibility for product release decisions, personnel management, and systems development.

ASQ Certifications should be reflective of the experience level of the participant and are not intended as an entry-point into the profession, but more appropriately as a tangible crystallization of knowledge, experience, and personal conviction.  Only then will the initiatives success and deliver the promised expectations as purported by ASQ leadership in the multiple communications.

Authenticity and Impact - My list of Top 5 Mock Movie Musical Characters

Every so often, I use this to indulge my interest in a particular cinema genre which I find personally compelling.  For years, movies have created characters and storylines profiling characters in the music business.  I thought that it might be interesting to highlight five particular characterizations, which I am informally ranking based on their authenticity and impact.

5. Crazy Heart: Bad Blake

The portrayal of the Bad Blake character earned actor Jeff Bridges a well-deserved Oscar, while his song, "The Weary Kind", was recognized with a Grammy award as being the best song written specifically for a motion picture.  The authenticity of the song matched the Outlaw style of the character, and would not have been out of place on a compilation album alongside such artists as Willie Nelson, Waylong Jennings, or Kris Kristofferson.

4. Walk Hard: Dewey Cox

This movie is a guilty pleasure where comic actor, John C. Reilly, takes his character from a rural background in the southern US to a musical journey which intersects with the early pioneers of Rock and Roll (Elvis, Buddy Holly), the pop and folk stars of the 1960's (including an interesting exchange with the Beatles), the slick and glam styles of the 1970's until his emotional tribute concert at the end of his career.  While Reilly is a versatile and talented performer with a singing range spanning from Roy Orbison to Bob Dylan to David Bowie, the composition of the music matched the styles of the particular era.  In one case, one of the composers, Van Dyke Parks, was an actual collaborator with the Beach Boys during their Smile project.

3. The Rutles

This production from the mid-1970's involved many talented performers including cast members from the early Saturday Night Live cast (Bill Murray, John Belushi), the Monty Python comedy troupe (Eric Idle, Neil Innes),, and was complemented by the cameo appearance of legendary Beatle George Harrison.  As may be evident, the Rutles are a parody of the Beatles, and their story aligns with the history and progression of the Beatles from their formation to their dissolution.  A sequel of the Rutles was timed to align with the Beatles "Anthology" release (but the Rutles entitled their version "Archaeology").  Devoted fans of the Beatles can listen to a Rutles song and determine which of the Beatles many compositions are being parodied or replicated.  Examples can be shown below:

Rutles: "Ouch!";  Beatles: "Help!"
Rutles: "Hold My Hand"; Beatles "All My Loving, She Loves You. I Want To Hold Your Hand"
Rutles: "Love Life"; Beatles: "All You Need Is Love"
Rutles: "Get Up And Go"; Beatles: "Get Back"

Even songs that did not directly translate to an existing Beatles' song effectively replicated the singing styles and Liverpool accents of the original Beatles.  "Am I an luff, I must be in luff"

2. Spinal Tap/ The Folksmen

This refers to the groups formed by the comic actors and musicians, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer; all of whom were cast members of Saturday Night Live.  McKean gained his initial fame as Lenny on the old Laverne and Shirley sitcom, while Harry Shearer uses his versatile, deep vocal stylings to represent many characters on the Simpsons cartoon show.

In the movie, Spinal Tap, these three portrayed the members of the heavy metal band, Spinal Tap.  In a subsequent movie, A Mighty Wind, the same three convincingly played folk musicians who were reuniting for a memorial concert to a fictional record company executive.  As Spinal Tap, the songs crafted for the movie have been popularized and performed at major concerts in front of tens of thousands of listeners.  As The Folksmen, the song, Mighty Wind (of which McKean, Guest, and Shearer have composition credits along with Eugene Levy) won a Grammy for best motion picture song.

Curiously, although the musical styles are substantially different, there have been concerts which included both Spinal Tap and the Folksmen.  This has even been stripped down to an acoustic version where the three performers sing from both catalogs.  The transformation of these acts from fictional performers to legitimate acts that get booked for paid performances reflects the authenticity of the characters.

1. The Blues Brothers

The original Blues Brothers was the partnership of Saturday Night Live performers John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd.  Being devoted fans of Blues music, they created these personas to showcase the Blues performers past and present.  Their backing band consisted of existing studio musicians who had left their musical signatures on many of the top Blues songs in recent memory.  Additional contributing musicians include the legendary Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, and Aretha Franklin.

The movies themselves were very entertaining, probably the only hybrid of a musical and an action movie with phenomenal car chases and classic comedy scenes.  John Belushi was so effective and authentic as a blues singer that many of the songs they covered are more frequently attributed to the Blues Brothers than to their original (and proper) artists.  These include:
  • Soul Man (Sam and Dave)
  • Gimme Some Loving (Spencer Davis Group)
  • She Caught The KATY (Taj Mahal)
  • Sweet Home Chicago (Robert Johnson)
  • Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (Wilson Pickett)
The impact of the Blues Brothers was further entrenched by the proliferation of the themed "House of Blues" restaurants, which provide entertainment venues and offer merchandise and soul food menus for patrons. By spanning over generations, the characters of Jake and Elwood Blues will outlive their initial performers (RIP John Belushi) to the point that impersonators are booked to perform for patrons in the same manner as Elvis or The Beatles have tribute acts.

This is my list - I welcome commentary and additional opinions or contributions.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Where's The Beef in Social Networking?

Several decades ago, there was a very effective advertising campaign by Wendy's, a fast food restaurant.  In order to raise attention to their competitive advantage of having more substantial burger offerings, Wendy's commercials featured an elderly lady who would admonish other burgers with the cry,

This very popular ad and catch-phrase was common enough to be adopted by political candidates as a way to dismissively insult the views of their opponents, while emphasizing the merits of their particular platform.

In this context, "BEEF" is a euphemism for substance and legitimacy of content and message.

How does this relate back to Social Networking?  When I consider the three sites I most commonly use (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook), I find that when they enhance and support existing relationships and programs, the value substantially increases.  However, if people expect that these sites will serve as replacements or proxies for personal, face-to-face networking, that is a very daunting challenge.

Starting with Twitter, there is an excellent "day-in-the-life" example of how ASQ effectively uses Twitter to engage and manage its community of followers, and communicate pertinent information.

This is a very positive instance, and one that reinforces the value of my ASQ Membership.  While it may duplicate the function of the site at ASQ Communities, the advantage of Twitter is that once I am logged in, I can continue to receive updates passively, and share with members of the greater Quality community who may not be ASQ members.

One way LinkedIn expands from Twitter is by providing users with the ability to join specific Groups.  These LinkedIn Groups can be effective forums for communication and exchange, and effectively reinforces existing networks, while incrementally building new ones.  As mentioned above, the "Beef" comes when internet acquaintances are transformed into real-life contacts at ASQ conferences, workshops, or events.

There is a downside to commentary within the LinkedIn Groups in that without an active moderator, some of the discussions can degenerate or diverge into irrelevant topics, rants, or sales promotions.  The Group is only as viable as the group manager.

Facebook is too broad for me to comment on overall.  With respect to ASQ, I think that their "Facebook page" includes the appropriate announcement, hyperlinks, and stock images to prompt commentary and responses.

These examples work because the existing substance supporting the social networks include:
  • An existing portfolio of substantial purposes, content, and value
  • A defined communication plan 
  • Consistent branding and messaging
  • Combination of vibrant images and crisp, concise expressions
  • Facilitated and moderated commentary

From this common starting point, Quality Professional can effectively engage and collaborate to everyone's mutual gain. By replicating the successful community approach adopted by ASQ, individual users of Social Networking will showcase,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Making the "Quality Sausage" - Transparency and Disclosure

The last two posts from ASQ's View From The Q have posed two challenges to Quality practitioners:
- What do you disclose as an organization?
- How do you describe your role in quality to others?

There is a colloquial expression: Don't Ask How The Sausage Gets Made

I found this image which provides an ideal method of crafting meat and spices into a palatable sausage product.  However since meat is butchered prior to being incorporated into the sausage mix, the actual preparation is less appealing.  

As a poster expresses, if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.

So to respond back to the questions of how we describe our role and internal quality metrics, we need to first understand the effects and impacts of communicating this information to the general public, who may not be acquainted with the intricacies or peculiarities of our particular industries.

While governments are bound by Freedom of Information acts which require disclosure of all communications and relevant information, private organizations can be more discreet about their internal practices.  It is in the interest of all organizations to craft their message in a way that instills confidence and assurance about their particular product or service.

In our information age, there are third-party organizations which exist as safeguards against abuse and manipulation.   The Better Business Bureau addresses specific complaints of fraud or poor business practices.  Several websites (i.e. TripAdvisor) collect and display testimonials and ratings of customers which provide visibility to the overall quality of the product or service.

Communications should emphasize how the various practices and processes ensure a consistently satisfactory end result, leading to a desirable outcome.  By emphasizing "how the sausage is made" at the expense of the final product, the general public can be confused and misled into incorrect and damaging conclusions.

An example of this is the use of Urea Formaldehyde as an adhesive for inexpensive composite wood products used in furniture.

Early in my career, I worked at a manufacturing operation which would cut composite wood from large slabs into custom-designed shapes for furniture.  When these slabs were cut, the formaldehyde would be released into the factory with the following side effects characteristic of formaldehyde exposure:
- irritation in throat
- watery eyes
- skin rash and inflammation

However when these items were painted and sealed, the coating would cover the urea formaldehyde adhesive, and the risk to public safety would be effectively mitigated.

For this scenario, how should the company disclose this fact?  This could be incorporated into an ISO 14001 Environmental Management system, and addressed as part of the efforts needed to comply with the standard.  However, without the contextual information or the risk mitigation approach, informing the general public that their shelves and furniture contain poisonous formaldehyde would create alarm disproportionate to the risk.

The role of the Quality practitioner is to identify and follow up on these "unsavory" items to ensure that the purpose, function, and customer delight with the final outcome is not threatened nor compromised by these internal challenges or shortcomings.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Executive Summary of ISO 9001:2015 draft version

I was able to obtain a draft copy of the ISO 9001 2015 version at this location

This copy provides an overview of the Quality Management function, and is intentionally generic to enable application across different locations and industries.

Below is an executive summary which I have posted to highlight the high-level principles and sections of this standard.

Quality Management Principles
QMP 1 – Customer Focus
The primary focus of quality management is to meet customer requirements and to strive to exceed customer expectations.

QMP 2 – Leadership
Leaders at all levels establish unity of purpose and direction and create conditions in which people are engaged in achieving the quality objectives of the organization.

QMP 3 – Engagement of People
It is essential for the organization that all people are competent, empowered and engaged in delivering value. Competent, empowered and engaged people throughout the organization enhance its capability to create value.

QMP 4 – Process Approach
Consistent and predictable results are achieved more effectively and efficiently when activities are understood and managed as interrelated processes that function as a coherent system.

QMP 5 – Improvement
Successful organizations have an ongoing focus on improvement.

QMP 6 – Evidence-based Decision Making
Decisions based on the analysis and evaluation of data and information are more likely to produce desired results.

QMP 7 – Relationship Management
For sustained success, organizations manage their relationships with interested parties, such as suppliers.

Quality Management System

·         Leadership and commitment
·         Quality policy
·         Organizational roles, responsibilities and authorities

·         Actions to address risks and opportunities
·         Quality objectives and planning to achieve them
·         Planning of changes

·         Resources
·         Competence
·         Awareness
·         Communication
·         Documented information

·         Operational planning and control
·         Determination of market needs and interactions with customers
·         Operational planning process
·         Control of external provision of goods and services
·         Development of goods and services
·         Production of goods and provision of services
·         Release of goods and services
·         Nonconforming goods and services

Performance evaluation
·         Monitoring, measurement, analysis and evaluation
·         Internal Audit
·         Management review

Continual improvement
·         Nonconformity and corrective action
·         Improvement