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 27, 2014

A "Country and Western" View of Quality Control

As a bonus submission for consideration at the upcoming WCQI 2015, I have submitted an abstract which aligns with the location of the conference, Opryland Hotel in Nashville.  The comparison is made between Quality dropping the term Control from its title, and Country and Western music compressing its genre to simply Country music.  As this has a very low likelihood of selection, I thought that I would incorporate this into a blog post.

Session Outcomes
In keeping with the theme of Opryland in Nashville, Country music is used as a reference to describe Quality. Specifically, Country used to be referred to Country and Western Music, just as Quality used to be Quality Control. Western music will be contrasted with Quality Control traditions in an amusing and engaging presentation.

Quality for Life Areas of Interest
  • Social/Relationship Quality

Quality was originally known as Quality Control.  This is demonstrated by the fact that ASQ was originally formed as ASQC - American Society for Quaility Control.  Juran's Quality Handbook was Juran's Quality Control Handbook in earlier editions.

Country music was originally known as Country and Western music, with these distinctions.
- Country emphasized patriotism, relationships, mama, trains, trucks, prison, and getting drunk.
- Western music used traditional folk melodies and instruments to share the histories of cowboys, gunslingers, pioneers, and harsh weather conditions.

Both Quality and Country sought to appeal to more urbane and sophisicated audiences, so they obscured and reduced the profile of the traditional roots, in order to attempt to redefine their base and scope.  Both Country Music and the Quality profession should embrace and celebrate their origins and traditions.

In keeping with the musical themes of Nashville and Opryland, this presentation will make the connection between traditional elements of Quality Control and distinguished Western musicians.

1. Singing Cowboys and Statisticians

In the earlier part of the 20th century, the movies were populated with characters like Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry.  The singing cowboys remind us of the originators of Quality Control, namely statisticians like Shewhart who were constantly applying their mathematical and analysis skills to create and entrench objective practices for consistent monitoring and measurement.

2. Marty Robbins and Deming

Marty Robbins stands out as the pinnacle of Western music.  His album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs and songs like El Paso, won Grammy awards and provided a template for other artists to follow and benchmark.  Similarly, Deming's 14 points has inspired countless authors and practitioners, and is still considered the benchmark management ethic.

3. Frankie Laine and the Quality Gurus

Frankie Laine was a dynamic and passionate singer whose mastery of this genre was demonstrated was sustained through decades of records and movie themes. The international appeal of Frankie Laine was evident by the popularity of his version of Cool Water, which was one of the best selling songs in the United Kingdom in the 1950s.  In a similar way, prominent Quality Gurus like Juran, Feigenbaum, Gryna, and Crosby helped to create an international acceptance of quality control practices.  As a result, our profession is inseparable from the Quality Gurus, much like western movie and television themes (i.e. Blazing Saddles, Rawhide, Mule Train, O.K. Corral) are associated with Frankie Laine.

4. Slim Whitman and the Japanese Quality Masters

Slim Whitman is best known for his extensive vocal range and yodeling proficiency.  This distinctive style has been incorporated into the works of Johnny Carson, Andy Kaufman, and Tim Burton.  As Quality Control was deployed and popularized in Japan, leaders began to distinguish themselves with expert techniques.  Ishikawa (Ishikawa diagram Quality circle), Taguchi (Taguchi Loss Functions, robust design, design of experiments), and Shingo (lean, Toyota Production System) extended the effectiveness and propagation of Quality Control.

By knowing the traditions, the legacy can be preserved, and the future of Quality and  Country Music can be sustained.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Linking To Talent

This article is for the benefit of ASQ sections and divisions who wish to delight and impress those attending meetings.  While ASQ communities are expected and encouraged to build the skills and capabilities of their own members, there are times when it is inspiring and refreshing to enjoy the work of others who, by virtue of their expertise and proficiency, can display their talents and panache to the pleasure and delight of all.  

ASQ has been engaging guest speakers and teams throughout its history.  This is a practice which, if done in a manner that meets and surpasses expectations, can be satisfying and delightful for the attendees and organizers, and fulfilling for those who are extended the privilege and opportunity to present.  I will refer to this practice as “Linking To Talent”.

Linking to Talent is a practice that benefits all, and raises the level of performance to new standards.  By using our own members, this demonstrates how we can be inspired by the quality within our region and location.

Organizers can link to talent through personal connections.  As we have many learned and well-travelled communicators within the profession, a few informal phone calls could readily generate ideas of potential candidates for speakers or presenters.  This is particularly important if an organizer has to make a sudden substitution for a key event or presentation.  Professional conferences like WCQI support this by arranging for contingency or “back-up” speakers or presenters.  Conversely, those who become proficient can cultivate a reputation and following that will place a demand on their participation.

To simplify and support this type of exchange and interaction, I propose that the ASQ sections and divisions support this by placing a contact list on their websites.  This would be voluntary, and would need to abide by the privacy requirements to avoid improper communications to participants.  I believe that this type of resource would support members, organizers, participants, and raise the quality level of our meetings and events.  It would also create visibility of our “homegrown talent” in order to enhance the prestige and reputation of such accomplished speakers and attractions.

I view this an initiative which can be completed as a Quick Win, and can be done in a few manageable steps:

Step 1:   Invite and elicit participants, requesting their descriptions of their talents and capabilities with respect to speaking or demonstrating their expertise.  Ensure that they include the scope and breadth of their travel and time commitments.

Step 2: Aggregate and categorize the list of participants to create portfolios of speakers.  This can reveal a level of depth and coverage, and will identify whether particular areas are thin and need further development.

Step 3: Upload this onto a commonly available but secured website.  This can be updated in a manner similar to the ASQ Leadership Directory, which is available in a password protected portion of the ASQ website.

Step 4: Socialize and communicate this resource to section and division leaders (including the Membership Chair and Programs Chair).  Having access to an updated list will actually create demand and entice the creation of innovative programs to showcase talent for the members.

Step 5: Encourage new participants to continually add to the “talent pool”.  Continue to maintain and raise the standard of performance so that proficiency becomes the norm.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Worthy Focus and Diligent Execution

In response to the latest update on View from the Q , I wanted to add to the observations of our ASQ CEO.  I agree and have provided additional insights below which validate his sentiments.   I believe that organizational success comes from having a worthy focus, and making the necessary commitment to follow through on that focus with diligent execution. The two examples provided by the ASQ CEO, Volvo and Ikea, resonate with employee commitment and passion to fulfill and expand upon the stated focus of the organization.

The emphasis on focus has been reinforced by the late Steve Jobs, who applied this to execute upon his vision.  This validates that a focus can work globally to create value and innovation globally.

The two examples included in View from the Q, Volvo and Ikea, reflect Scandinavian ingenuity and innovation, and actually contrast the conventional approach popularized in the USA culture.

The reputation and appearance of the Volvo was the object of satirical farce in the Dudley Moore movie, Crazy People, where he made an advertising campaign around the perceived image.

In a similar tone, the culture of obtaining ready-to-assemble furniture is synonymous with a particular demographic.  With the change in economic stature of the typical home dweller, the appeal of inexpensive and durable furniture cannot be underestimated.  Even mildly damaged merchandise obtained from the "As-Is" section of the store is superior to many alternatives.

So is there such a thing as a Scandinavian Quality Model?  It is worth investigating, particularly since the combined per capita income of citizens in these countries is well above the global average.  The Economist magazine praised the Nordic Model in this recent article.  Based on the performance of its leading companies, we in North America have much to learn and benchmark from our European counterparts.

According to Juran Quality Handbook, 5th Edition (1998, McGraw Hill), Sweden in particular benchmarked its national quality award on the American model, while the American Customer Satisfaction Index was inspired by it Swedish equivalent.

"In 1990, the Swedish Quality Institute was formed to run the Swedish Quality Award (1992), which is based on the Malcolm Baldrige model. In the business world, the wave of privatization at the beginning of the 1990s encouraged the spread of TQM. Certification is also strongly promoted, especially in Denmark. All Scandinavian nations pay particular attention to the quality of services, most notably in health care, and to environmental quality. Sweden takes a special interest in customer satisfaction issues, at both the academic level and in practical applications. It was the first country to introduce a national customer satisfaction observatory the Swedish Customer Satisfaction Barometer (SCSB), which was created in 1989 and was the model for the American Customer Satisfaction Index formed in 1994. The SCSB monitors customer satisfaction in a number of industries and individual corporations within those industries. It has five objectives:
1. To compare industries
2. To compare individual firms with the industry average
3. To make comparisons over time
4. To predict long-term performance
5. To answer specific questions"

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Quality Planning Changes in ISO 9001:2015 (Risks and Opportunities)

In reviewing the ISO DIS 9001 version for commentary and discussion, I thought that one of the most significant modifications was found within the Quality Planning section.  The text is below, and my commentary will follow.

6 Planning for the quality management system

6.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities

6.1.1 When planning for the quality management system, the organization shall consider the issues
referred to in 4.1 and the requirements referred to in 4.2 and determine the risks and opportunities that need to be addressed to:
a) give assurance that the quality management system can achieve its intended result(s);
b) prevent, or reduce, undesired effects;
c) achieve continual improvement.

6.1.2 The organization shall plan:
a) actions to address these risks and opportunities;
b) how to:
  1) integrate and implement the actions into its quality management system processes (see 4.4);
  2) evaluate the effectiveness of these actions.

Actions taken to address risks and opportunities shall be proportionate to the potential impact on the conformity of products and services.

NOTE Options to address risks and opportunities can include: avoiding risk, taking risk in order to pursue an opportunity, eliminating the risk source, changing the likelihood or consequences, sharing the risk, or retaining risk by informed decision.


In this version, I have highlighted the phrase, "determined risks and opportunities".  The emphasis on risks has distinguished the 2015 version of ISO 9001 from its earlier incarnations.  By explicitly referencing risks and opportunities, the new ISO 9001 standard will expand the quality planning to include these identified risks and opportunities, and the effectiveness of the quality management system in relation to the mitigation and control of risks and the fulfillment and capitalization of opportunities.

Conformity and effectiveness of the quality management system extends beyond the conditions of the ISO 9001 standard to now incorporate both risks and opportunities.  For example, if a commercial enterprise uses a non-renewable resource, its quality system must incorporate risk mitigation steps to address resource depletion and material substitution (i.e. recycled material).

The corresponding sections of ISO 9004:2009 are intended to provide the "how" for the implementation of ISO 9001 attributes.  However, by inserting the phrase, "determined risks and opportunities", the scope shifts from strictly internal quality attributes to external drivers and influences.

The inclusion of risks and opportunities also creates natural extensions of the management system from quality to include overall sustainability, security, information controls, environmental management, social responsibility, and other corporate governance practices.