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.

Monday, September 29, 2014

ASQ Awards linked by 5 key attributes

Oct. 1 is the upcoming deadline for ASQ Awards.  In an effort to clarify what these awards recognize, it is important to distill them down to their essential components.  A quick review of the past medalists of ASQ awards reveals that a number of people are multiple recipients of ASQ recognitions, including ASQ Fellow and Honorary Membership designations.

I have created this list of 5 attributes in order to encourage those who may not yet realize that they are in fact qualified and capable of attaining these recognitions.  These attributes are frequently cited across the ASQ Awards, so building up these credentials will enhance the suitability of anyone interested in additional recognitions.

1. Education and Professional Background

This is a key prerequisite. As the quality profession has many distinguished participants, it is essential to measure up to and surpass the standard expectations.  This is necessary to filter out the more transient practitioners who attempt to "reinvent" themselves as quality experts without having the necessary depth or breadth of professional or educational accomplishments.

2. Technical Competence and Contributions

This is important to demonstrate the distinctive contributions that have innovated and expanded the value of Quality to its constituents.  At a minimum, anyone aspiring to be recognized should first consistently demonstrate their capabilities and credibility.  Without this step, the value and importance of ASQ recognitions would be severely diminished.

3. Practical Application of Quality

This is where the value of the work to the profession and society is conveyed and compared.  Quality is often derided as "theory" by those who are resistant to change and protective of their particular status quo.  Only when Quality is convincingly demonstrated to have beneficial effects on outcomes, costs, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement will the methods or techniques be truly embraced and sustained.

4. Publications, Presentations, and Communications

This is a critical component as no ASQ recognition is possible without fulfilling the requirement of a nomination form, which in and of itself is a communications endeavor.  A common evaluation criteria is the array of publications and presentations, particularly those produced within the last 2 years.  It is therefore important to not only be productive in this area, but to diligently track such publications and their impacts. For example, work done through ASQ Press or ASQ Journals is captured in the archives and easily referenced within ASQ.

5. Leadership in the Quality Profession

This refers to leadership within the employer or firm, and within professional societies like ASQ.  Leadership is viewed at multiple levels, along with the accomplishments attained.  The impact of the individual on others, whether fellow Quality practitioners, organizations, clients, or geographic territories (i.e. cities, states, countries, sub-continents), must be tangible.

To emphasize the importance, I have pasted the criteria provided by ASQ on their nomination form for selection to the ASQ Board.  From this list, the characteristics of leadership should be cultivated and expanded over time.

Leadership Competency

1. Fostering a Shared Vision
Communicates a clear and inspiring vision for change, attains the commitment of others to accomplish the vision
2. Strategic Thinking
Takes a long-range perspective, understands trends affecting ASQ, considers competitive benchmarks when making decisions, proposes strategies that align with ASQ's mission, vision, and values
3. Customer-Driven Focus
Seeks and considers data-based information on the perspectives of members, member units, and other customers; prioritizes projects based on alignment with customers' expectations; relies on customer satisfaction data as the primary basis for decision making
4. Staff Partnership
Seeks and considers data-based information on the perspectives of staff, takes staff perspectives into account when prioritizing projects, relies on staff satisfaction data as the primary basis for decision making
5. Stakeholder Considerations
Seeks and considers data-based information on the perspectives of other stakeholders, takes stakeholders' perspectives into account when prioritizing projects, relies on stakeholder satisfaction data as the primary basis for decision making
6. Decision Making
Manages by fact but is sensitive to time constraints that limit the depth of data collection and analysis, takes calculated risks when significant opportunities are involved, willing to make difficult decisions that will improve ASQ's future, articulates the rationale associated with decisions, adopts decisions "as own" when they differ from original perspective, assumes responsibilities for the decisions that are made and their results
7. Leadership Development
Identifies potential leaders, seeks opportunities for potential leaders to learn and practice, provides specific performance feedback to potential leaders
8. Living Within Boundaries
Seeks to understand roles and boundaries of position, focuses attention on areas for which accountability and authority are clearly established, provides feedback on work accomplished in other areas without expecting changed approaches or decisions
9. Accountability
Accepts appropriate assignments that don't jeopardize routine duties and previous assignments; meets expectations within time, budget, and other constraints; accepts responsibility for setbacks
10. Teamwork
Understands when to use teams to achieve goals, participates equally well as a team leader or member, avoids dysfunctional behaviors, coaches team members through challenging work
11. Flexibility
Welcomes new ideas that don't fit with existing perceptions, demonstrates a high tolerance for ambiguity and change, seeks win/win strategies for planned changes
12. Communications
Listens actively to others' comments and presentations, invests time and effort to understand others' written and verbal documents and presentations, communicates thoughts clearly and concisely both verbally and in writing
13. Technical Knowledge and Skills
Understands ASQ's portfolio of products and services, demonstrates proficiency in most areas of ASQ's Body of Knowledge, seeks to increase learning and keep abreast of new developments in the field
14. Global Perspective
Seeks to understand cultural differences and their effect on projects and decisions, incorporates global considerations into all planning efforts, endorses projects that expand ASQ's reach globally
15. Social Responsibility
Seeks solutions that minimize wasted time, efforts, materials, etc.; exemplifies ethical behavior; supports total transparency of ASQ's governance actions (except when members' confidential information is involved)
16. Personal Approaches
Behaves with openness and predictability, maintains a realistic but optimistic outlook for the future, faces adversity without excessive stress or regrettable behaviors, demonstrates consistent values that align with ASQ's values, balances needs for authority with a strong need for accomplishment

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Membership Development: Seek First To Understand

As we approach Quality Month, the opportunity for membership development is something for which ASQ sections and divisions should prepare.

It is important to promote and reinforce the positive attributes, and establish the relevance and alignment between the personal priorities of the prospective member and the organization.

Involvement in any organization requires costs and time which have to be justified.  This is especially true in our current age when there are many competing and conflicting pursuits.  For this reason, ASQ, or any organization, must deliver member value commensurate with the time and money invested by its members and participants.

In order to understand where ASQ, or any organization, must align its approach, it is essential to, in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, popularized by Stephen Covey in his many books, Seek First To Understand.

With a better understanding of the passions, aspirations, and life journeys of existing and prospective members, organizations like ASQ can provide a membership experience with more impact and relevance.

Involvement in any activity or organization must be enjoyable in order to build and sustain the necessary fellowship, personal connections, and professional bonds.  Engagement is highly driven by friendships and relationships based on trust and common motives and values.  ASQ attracts like-minded idealists and strives to create a community of choice for Quality practitioners.

The development of long-term membership loyalty extends beyond the individual member to include the spouses, families, and communities of those member.  Consequently it is imperative that there are abundant examples of the positive impacts of ASQ on the community and society.  This reinforces the ethic of being part of something beneficial, and is a source of pride.  The motive then becomes one of continuity and expanding upon a legacy of virtue with even greater achievements.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Strategy: Surviving Contact by Using Mobilization and Governance

This post is in response to the latest View from the Q blog on Strategy.

I don't have anything to add to the formation of a strategy, as Bill Troy addressed this subject concisely and effectively.  Instead I will place focus on the next step, namely to follow through and execute upon the defined strategy.

I am reminded of a quote by the noted German military leader and strategist, Helmuth Von Moltke.

     "No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy"

This reminds us of the importance not only of crafting a suitable strategy, but managing its execution in such a way that the overall purpose of that strategy can be fulfilled, even in changing circumstances.

Consider the recent release by Apple of its iPhone 6 from the context of its competitors Nokia and Blackberry (Research In Motion).

While, there is no doubt that all three organizations had a strategy, the presence and eventual predominance of Apple had a devastating effect on both Nokia and Blackberry.

Even if the technology solutions are equivalent between the companies, the marketing and promotional advantages of Apple have transcended technology to instill a memorable and indelible impression in popular culture. For example, the involvement and engagement of the band U2 has drawn considerable interest and traffic to Apple in a way that neither Nokia nor Blackberry could have imagined.

So what is needed to ensure that our strategies survive contact with the enemy, which in the context of a business strategy would be a competitor?

I propose three key practices: Mission, Mobilization, and Governance.


Having a clear mission which defines the vision of success is essential to have all of the participants overcome their petty differences and jointly embrace and pursue the common good.  The greater the mission, the more compelling the dedication and devotion will be to the fulfillment and achievement of that mission.  For this reason, it is essential that the mission and vision align with the values of the organization and its people.

In the absence of clear and unifying mission and vision objectives, the Quality profession tends to fall into a destructive pattern which I refer to as Quality "Indig" Nation.  Rather than focus on the tasks at hand, the participants will devolve into these damaging archetypes which can impair and undermine the overall strategy.

Cynics: The quest for defects and faults will exceed into farcical proportions so that the Quality function will be a voice of negativity and defeat.  While everyone else within the organization is pursuing the objectives, the Quality function takes upon itself the role of contrarian, repeated expressing why "it will never work".

Purists: The dogmatic natures of certain "believers" will oppose any adaptation or modification if it is deemed "apocryphal" and violates the Canon of the "Holy Saints" Deming, Toyota, ISO standards, or whatever technical reference is deemed scripture.  Spirited and emotional debates can consume valuable time and energy without accomplishing or fulfilling the strategy objectives.

Tribalists: The Quality profession does not have a homogeneous background, but has evolved through the combined efforts of different types of practitioners with their particular expertise.  However when one of these groups loses sight of the greater good and mutual respect, and seeks to dominate at the expense of the others, it is like the person with the hammer who sees all problems as a nail.  Rather than addressing the overall problems, the emphasis is on promoting a particular concept or set of practices, and opposing balance and diversity of the solution.

Blockers: There are those who have invested so much of their time an energy into a particular management system that they are resistant to change, lest a newly introduced dynamic threaten the sanctity and continuity. The resistance to change will inhibit progress, innovation, and prevent organizations from making the necessary adjustments and adaptations.

Esoterics: Often the work of Quality practitioners is accompanied by unusual terms and trends.  Engineers and project managers often adopt the nomenclature of spiritual pursuits or martial arts.  For example, one does not have to be a Sensei, a Black Belt, nor a Guru in order to track late deliveries using a control chart.

From a Quality perspective, the object is not to flaunt your knowledge and expertise, but simply to use the best mix of techniques and methods to fulfill the mission in a way that supports the greater good of the organization.  As a profession, we must overcome our negative archetypes to serve and lead in the effective execution of our defined strategies.


In order for the strategy to be effectively deployed, the necessary capital, materials, and resources should first be identified, procured, acquired, or obtained.  One cannot assume that everything will be available on demand for the duration, and often a business case is needed to justify why this strategy requires the priority allocation of goods and services.

An improper mobilization could actually be more harmful in the execution of the strategy, as interrupted or incomplete work will be viewed negatively as a failure of the overall strategy.  Nothing succeeds like success, so mobilization is important to ensure a continuous set of progressive victories.

Symphony of Work: This approach requires that all participants are aware of their particular part in the overall effort.  In this context, the timing is as important as the overall fulfillment, as there are many interdependencies.

Coordinated Advancement: The advancement must be coordinated to ensure that all components are able to make the necessary gains.  In some cases, this requires adjustments which are not favorable to the high performing units, who must divert from original objectives to support their peers for the greater good.  A military example of this was found when Gen. George Patton, having led the 3rd Army through France, was summoned to redirect his army north in order to assist with the Battle of the Bulge.

Constraints Management:  This practice, as referenced in Goldratt's reference, The Goal, advises that progress and pace are determined by the constraint or bottleneck within the system.  By managing the bottlenecks or critical project paths, the overall speed will improve.

Effective mobilization will help the strategy survive contact by ensuring adequate materials and resources, and coordinating the logistics and constraints to overcome interruptions and improve progress.


Governance is essential not only to strategy but also to Quality.  Without Governance, the lack of transparency and visibility of actual results and accomplishments will lead to future estimates being based on inaccurate assumptions.

Accountability:  In any venture, it is important to have a work breakdown structure which clearly reveals the parties responsible and accountable for fulfillment of that strategy.  From this structure and framework, the interdependencies are revealed and can be managed.  With accountability, expectations can be refined so that future estimates will be more accurate.

Action: When the Governance function reports that the strategy may be compromised, the execution steps must change.  The organization should determine whether this requires an adjustment in resources, or a particular mitigation or contingency step.  Once the actions have been identified, they must be effectively mobilized and rapidly deployed.

Adaptation: It may be necessary to shift strategies within the overall environment.  This may be done in response to both negative risks and positive breakthroughs.  For example, Pfizer had developed Sildenafil as a treatment for hypertension and angina.  However after clinical trials revealed a particular side effect, Pfizer marketed this drug as Viagra, which became a highly profitable medication to combat erectile dysfunction.

Acceleration:  If the strategy is being successfully deployed, the the next step is to accelerate the implementation to increase the scope, scale, and impact of the strategy.

By following a strategy with a compelling Mission, adept Mobilization, and responsive Governance, the rate of successful fulfillment will be substantially improved.