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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Education - Quality Is More Than Just Showing Up

I see the role of Quality in Education as posing specific questions about processes and deliverables, and seeking objective evidence to support corrective actions, improvements, and innovations.  The ultimate outcome is not to have appeased and comforted children, but educated and inspired graduates capable of being independent and productive participants in our workforce.

There is a quote attributed to the famous actor, writer, and director, Woody Allen.
"Showing up is 80 percent of life."

While this should not be an end in itself, showing up ready for work or learning is an essential prerequisite.

What used to be an expectation is now a surprise and a delight, so in order to encourage this behavior, I support recognizing and rewarding the consistent attendees.  However the role of Quality has to become more intensive within our education.

There were specific questions with the View From The Q for which I have opinions and perspectives as a parent, educator, taxpayer, and quality practitioner.

Do you see a correlation between the quality of education in your country and the young people entering the workforce? 

Yes.  I believe that education requires a collaborative effort between students, their families, teachers, administrators, and the community at large.  Where this has been successfully applied, the students emerge to become very productive and adaptable participants within the workforce.

It is important to recognize that students are not customers.  We should not cater to students as we would to a hotel guest.  Part of an educational experience requires the student to develop their ability to independently manage their commitments and demonstrate proficiency in challenging circumstances.

While the quality of education has been enhanced by access to technology and innovative practices, the work ethic, respect, integrity, and adaptability that characterizes top performing employees must be instilled during their formative years, preferably during their education.  Without cultivating diligence and fortitude within our students, the lectures and instructions will be futile in preparing them to participate in our workforce.

Does your culture celebrate success or is any attempt considered “good enough”? 

Yes and yes.  The two options are not mutually exclusive.  Encouragement and rewards progressively celebrate small accomplishments at general levels, and more specific achievements of excellence.  Those students who aspire to be among the elite within their pursuits have options available to them to challenge themselves among their peers and demonstrate their superiority.

Within ASQ, this dual track is evident with the different membership grades and the ASQ Medals and Awards.  The "Senior Member" upgrade could be considered a "good enough" recognition because it is a positive step for our membership.  In contrast, the "Fellow Member" and ASQ Awards have stringent examination criteria and the risk of rejection and disappointment for the nominee or applicant, but celebrate successful accomplishment with meaningful events and ceremonies.

And finally, what is the role of quality in improving public education in any nation?

The role of Quality should be to establish measures and indicators that would provide ongoing facts and details pertaining to the questions below.  The Quality function should be prominent and visible within our schools and openly embraced by our educators.  I will adapt the characteristics from ISO 9126 to Education.

Functionality: What is the purpose and function of the school and curriculum, and how do we demonstrate fulfillment?

Reliability: What are the risks and potential failure modes, and what mitigations and contingencies have been established to counteract these maladies or tendencies?

Usability: How is the education tailored or customized for the students, families, and communities for increased impact and effectiveness?

Efficiency:  How are resources deployed, and what could be done to optimize value and reduce waste?

Maintainability: Can the education be adapted to changes in curriculum priorities, community or demographic profiles, or technological advancements?

Portability: How can education transcend the "bricks and mortar" model to continue the learning experience beyond the physical infrastructure?  How can education be applied remotely to support special needs or circumstances?

In order to respond to these high level questions, deeper investigations and audits are required.  This is where the Quality deployment can effectively influence and enable the continual improvement and sustainability of Education.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 - The "Perfect" WCQI Conference

My impressions of WCQI 2014: I was honored to be part of this experience, which truly allowed me to reach the pinnacle and encounter perfection.  My time at WCQI 2014 validated much of my personal and professional aspirations, and has given me the impetus to move forward and onward toward my own personal pinnacle.

Let me elaborate if I may.  Those of us who have adopted Quality as a vocation and a calling, believe that we strive for perfection.

A popular movie, Friday Night Lights, profiled a coach who exhorted his team to be perfect.  In one of the climactic scenes of the movie, the coach revealed his meaning, which I will paraphrase below (to neutralize the overt sports references).

 "Being perfect is  about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn't one more thing you could've done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that - you're perfect!" 

This sentiment describing perfection is not about defects or controls, but about personal passion and conviction.  The joy of perfection was validated by multiple keynote speakers, who shared their enthusiastic testimonials of accomplishment and encouraged us to do likewise.

For me the 2014 WCQI conference was nothing short of Perfect because I embraced the opportunity as if it were my last.  For a number of the programs and events, I was among the First In and Last Out because the opportunities for such inspiring gatherings are rare and precious, and should be embraced and savored.

Perfection was frequently on display at WCQI, as demonstrated by these and other examples:

- During the recognition ceremonies for ASQ Fellows and ASQ Awards, family members of award recipients who passed away were extended an opportunity to address the audience.  These included some of the most sincere, heartfelt, and compelling testimonials revealing how Quality is so highly regarded and admired in our society.  Through this gesture, ASQ Leadership demonstrated the highest levels of class and decency.

- During the proceedings, I had the opportunity to have my opinions and perspectives sincerely elicited and respectfully applied towards the future development and innovation of programs and initiatives that will influence our profession in the years and decades ahead.  Those seeking my counsel were themselves highly experienced and influential leaders within the Quality profession, so it was a tremendous honor to have their respect accorded to me so that I might share my perspectives on:
  • Extending and enhancing involvement and engagement of student participants at future World Conferences (ASQ Board Initiative)
  • Availability and distribution of intellectual content across all Quality Divisions for knowledge transfer and synergistic collaboration (ASQ Board Initiative)
  • Development and Peer Review of a distinct Social Responsibility Body of Knowledge patterned after the ASQ Quality Body of Knowledge (SRO Initiative)
  • Innovation of international engagement and collaboration opportunities for global Quality practitioners (IAQ Initiative)
- It was an honor and tribute to the dedicated volunteers and ASQ staffers to support their efforts and assist where and when able.  As part of this engagement, I had multiple opportunities to share their "burdens and glories". Waking up pre-sunrise to promote involvement and engagement at a division member breakfast, making new volunteer and publication commitments, taking on additional sessions to support as a moderator, and assisting others where needed all brought fulfillment, but the most delightful honor was to participate in the ceremonial flag demonstration carrying my national emblem, the Canadian Maple Leaf.

Friday, May 2, 2014

WCQI ICEBREAKER: Solving The Quality Gaps - Edible Marijuana Products in Colorado

In advance of the upcoming WCQI, I wanted to submit a post that would be an effective conversational icebreaker.

Over the last few days, a number of news stories have been published describing the problems associated with the recent deregulation and legalization of marijuana, and the unintended side effects.  One concerns the lack of control over edible marijuana products.

The cardiovascular risks of smoking any substance, whether tobacco, marijuana, or herbal cigarettes, include increased viscosity of blood and arterial stenosis, which are significant contributors to heart and stroke related maladies. As an alternative, people consume their narcotic in the form of food and drink.  This makes marijuana a food additive.

Federal governments already have regulations for food additives.  As an example, the USA has the following regulation available at this link.

Subpart A--General Provisions
Sec. 172.5 General provisions for direct food additives.
(a) Regulations prescribing conditions under which food additive substances may be safely used predicate usage under conditions of good manufacturing practice. For the purposes of this part, good manufacturing practice shall be defined to include the following restrictions.
(1) The quantity of the substance added to food does not exceed the amount reasonably required to accomplish its intended physical, nutritive, or other technical effect in food.
(2) Any substance intended for use in or on food is of appropriate food grade and is prepared and handled as a food ingredient.
(b) The existence of a regulation prescribing safe conditions of use for a food additive shall not be construed to relieve the use of the substance from compliance with any other provision of the Act.
(c) The existence of any regulation prescribing safe conditions of use for a nutrient substance does not constitute a finding that the substance is useful or required as a supplement to the diet of humans.

The unanticipated effect of introducing drinks, cookies, candies, and other treats with the marijuana food additive is the overconsumption of the THC narcotic.  While there are limits of 10 mg of THC per serving, our North American culture does not practice effective portion control.  As a result, there are instances of overdoses leading to death or destructive behavior.

Meanwhile the Associated Press is reporting,
"Colorado authorities are scrambling to do more than rein in edibles.  Lawmakers are considering legislation that would require edibles - the cookies and candies themselves, not just the wrappers - to be marked and colored to indicate they contain marijuana.  Another bill would reduce possession limits on concentrated marijuana"

Now that we recognize a Quality Gap, what can we as Quality Practitioners do to bring this situation under control and stability?

  • As a Food Additive, the cultivation, processing, and integration of marijuana substances into food must be planned and governed according to the FDA Quality Systems Regulations, Good Manufacturing Practices, or their international equivalents.

  • Given that marijuana is promoted for its contribution to health and wellness, these claims should be validated and verified in a manner consistent with Biomedical practices, and subjected to the necessary clinical tests to support assertions.  These biomedical experiments would also provide the necessary objective evidence to determine recommended and maximum dosage levels for THC consumption within a time period.

  • As a potentially toxic food additive with side effects that could cause death or permanent heath impacts, a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program is essential to not only regulate and safeguard the products, but to instill immediate corrective responses where safety constraints are violated.

  • A robust product configuration system is needed for edible marijuana products.  Clear identification, traceability, and distribution tracking systems are required to support any product return or recall initiatives that may be required to preserve public safety.  This applies not only to the product itself, but to the packaging and potential redistribution to consumers where such products are not yet legalized.

These are just basic quality approaches that should be applied, regardless of passing opinion on the actual decriminalization of marijuana.  I welcome ideas and interactions from other quality practitioners on the best way to address the quality gaps currently present with the inadequately regulated and controlled edible marijuana items.