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.

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,