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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.

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.

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