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.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Five Questions To a Solution

Five Questions To A Solution

As we advance in our organizations to leadership roles, we are approached to find solutions to a variety of situations.   I would like to share a protocol of five questions which I have adapted from my work with clients, as I help to transform their businesses.  This is a generic and simple method which can be applied to clarify a situation and support the determination of appropriate solutions.

1.       What are the Expectations?

This should precede any report or description, in order to help set the context for everyone involved.  It also should help to reveal whether the report or update is compatible with the standards of performance.  For example, if an ASQ Section provides a report of accounts, there should be expectations of a precise dollar amount, a period (last month, last quarter), and a way to validate an reconcile the expenses claimed with actual items received.  If the report is associated with a defined protocol (e.g. ASQ PAR > Performance Awards and Recognition), then some of those expectations have already been explicitly and objectively defined. 

Without clear expectations, then a report or update can take on varying forms and content.  With expectations, the report has references against which to demonstrate success or challenges.

2.       What Issues have been identified for resolution?

This summarizes what obstacles or obstructions are presently delaying or preventing the achievement or fulfillment of the intended actions.  Once raised and escalated, issues should be assigned or escalated so that they can be resolved.  By having a sense of the outstanding or open issues, a leader can prioritize what has to be fixed or corrected first, based on the impact that each issue has to overall success.

3.       What Risks show potential for a future problem?

Along with issues which have already occurred, risks can be identified predicting problems in the future.  This could be something like identifying a leaky roof on a sunny day, which while not damaging the building in the summer, could be devastating once rain and snow appear.  Rather than taking a pessimistic or negative view, risks should be elicited as a way to help improve or correct conditions or situations early before significant damage is done.  If the risk is not able to be mitigated and removed, then contingency plans should be made (i.e. tarp over the leaky roof, barrels on a scaffold to catch water that penetrates the leaky roof).

4.       What Decisions have resulted?

There should be more to a business meeting than eating lunch, drinking coffee, and determining the time and location of the next meeting.  If the right people are in attendance, then decisions are made.  These decisions should be recorded and kept on a register until they are fulfilled or implemented.  The decisions can be positive or corrective.  The health and vitality of the organization can be measured by the connection between decisions made and decisions successfully implemented. 

5.       What are the Action items?

A recommended practice is to highlight the action items, their owners (people accountable and responsible for completing the actions), and the expected completion dates (linking back to expectations).  The external dependencies should be considered with each action. 

So with these five items (Expectations, Issues, Risks, Decisions, Actions), member-leaders and participants can more objectively assess situations and progress toward solutions and fulfillment of good intentions.  If these items are captured and summarized, this information can be reviewed.  Strategic decisions can be made based on knowing and addressing these items.  Alternatively if there is no movement on these initiatives (i.e. Particular action goes for years without being completed), then it can be escalated or reassigned.

If member-leaders are receptive to this approach, then the interaction across committees, sections, regions, divisions, interest groups, and similar entities can be synthesized into a consistently constructive dialogue.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ASQ Vancouver Message

At the recent ASQ Vancouver Section meeting, I provided the following comments.


It is my pleasure to address ASQ Vancouver as the incoming Regional Director for ASQ Region 4, Canada.  As a Regional Director, I serve as a liaison between the ASQ sections in Canada and the ASQ Board and Section Affairs Council.  My role is to support the section chairs and member-leaders across Canada to provide a consistent and positive member experience. 

I am very proud to have been a member of ASQ Vancouver since the mid 1990s, nearly two decades ago.  The approach taken by ASQ Vancouver has some very positive attributes which I would like to see applied across Canada.  Specifically I would like to emphasize the following four characteristics: Member-value, Social, Development, and Community.

This is a priority for ASQ, and will be supported and reinforced by the adoption of the Performance Award and Recognition (PAR) program, which will be used to track and improve success in this area.  ASQ Vancouver has demonstrated value to members through its programs, tours, testimonials, hands-on examples, and lessons learned from those who live and drive Quality within their organizations.  ASQ members should perceive their relationship with ASQ as a loyalty program, where efforts and contributions can materialize into benefits and advantages.  I commit to working with our members and member-leaders to help realize these advantages and ensure a rewarding ASQ member experience.

While some are content to enjoy their ASQ membership remotely, there are many benefits to participating in the social elements of a professional organization like ASQ.
-          Social Involvement: The team-oriented approach and servant leadership mentality make ASQ a positive and encouraging organization to volunteer and participate.
-          Social Networking: ASQ Vancouver has distinguished itself as a leading participant on various networks including linkedin, facebook, and twitter.  According to ASQ HQ specialists, a strong internet presence actually draws in global participants and extends an international reach.
-          Social Events: This includes the meetings, tours, interactive presentations, breakfast sessions, and other initiatives which permit direct face-to-face networking.
-          Social Responsibility:  The Community Good Works program sponsored and supported by ASQ Vancouver is a tremendous example of the positive application of quality practices and principles toward the benefit of society.  According to a recent Globe and Mail article, leading companies in Canada have recognized that a Social Responsibility program is a positive differentiator when recruiting and attracting talent.

ASQ provides opportunities for development at multiple levels and perspectives:
-          Personal: Safe and supportive environment to develop as a member-leader, author, presenter, or project leader.
-          Professional: Through refresher courses, certifications, and credentials, ASQ supports the professional growth of its members and participants.
-          Career/ Business:  ASQ aids in the networking and connections needed for transitions or advancement

ASQ Vancouver and Region 4, Canada, is under-represented in ASQ initiatives and recognitions.  Canadian organizations should explore the International Team Excellence Award Process.  Canadian ASQ Senior members who have been in the profession for over 15 years, have attained ASQ certification, have contributed to ASQ as member-leaders, instructors, authors, presenters, and have distinguished themselves among quality practitioners should pursue personal recognition as an ASQ Fellow Member.  The programs are available (like a breakfast buffet at a fine hotel) and it is up to each ASQ member to “whet their appetite”.

ASQ Vancouver has been very effective at building and sustaining an active membership by appealing not only to the traditional quality community, but by engaging other groups including:
-          Student connection, particularly from British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) where there has been a mutually positive, symbiotic relationship.  In addition to developing a new generation of members and practitioners, the vitality and innovation from students have strengthened and revitalized our section and society to be relevant in the current digital age.
-          International STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) professionals who can readily participate in the Canadian workforce through the Quality profession.
-          Complementary professions (i.e. project managers, risk managers, engineers, business analysts, tech support agents) who, without having the word “quality” in their official job title, apply and deploy quality in their functional roles.
-          Career transition specialists and experts including recruiters, career and leadership coaches, and hiring managers.

I look forward to working with ASQ and the ASQ Sections in Canada over the next two years to support the various programs and initiatives intended to provide and improve the value delivered to ASQ members and member-leaders.  Quality is a diverse and vibrant profession which benefits society and encapsulates many positive ideals and virtues.  I am honored and humbled to have been nominated by Dave Muncaster for this important role, and I look forward to expanding the positive influence of ASQ Vancouver across all of the sections in Canada.

ASQ Mining Interest Group

For World Quality Month 2014, I provided the following address to the ASQ Mining Interest Group.


Having recently returned from ASQ headquarters in Milwaukee, I am pleased to share that we are all part of a vibrant and dynamic organization, which continues to adapt and evolve to address the changing needs of our respective global professional communities.  In this regard, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to observe and partake in the progress of the ASQ Mining Interest Group.

As a global society, ASQ has committed to taking those constructive steps which it believes will enhance and improve member value.  This includes a greater commitment to improving information technology and financial controls.  The sustainment of these endeavors will be managed through the ASQ’s Performance Awards and Recognition (PAR) program.  I encourage all ASQ members to familiarize themselves with this program in order to make their respective member units more effective.

The ASQ Mining Interest Group falls within the framework of the ASQ Technical Communities Council (TCC) which manages Divisions, Interest Groups, and Technical Committees.  As a Regional Director for the ASQ sections in Canada (Region 4), I will work constructively to assist and encourage the integration of ASQ Mining events with ASQ Section activities, ensuring that quality practitioners aligned with ASQ in Canada can benefit from the innovative and dynamic programs.

I can personally attest to the high caliber of the annual gala event in Saskatoon, held in October 2014 at the Sheraton Cavalier.  It was remarkable to be part of a prestigious panel of speakers, spanning executives, practitioners, public servants, and professional leaders.  I particularly enjoyed the direct testimonials from mining employees with “hands-on” quality experiences.  The time went very quickly and by having the meals in the meeting rooms, this permitted programming to continue and be enjoyed concurrently with networking and social contacts.  It was a very efficient and fulfilling day which raises the standard for other ASQ events.

ASQ Member Value is gained from constructive and memorable experiences.  I think that the ASQ Mining Interest Group is on a very constructive track to becoming a thriving ASQ Division and an essential part of the TCC.  Unlike the ASQ Sections and Regions, Technical Communities like the ASQ Mining Interest Group are not limited nor constrained by geography.  For example, I was delighted to know that there were contributors from Australia who were working to refine a distinct body of knowledge and intellectual content, pertinent to the mining industry.  This is truly representative of a global professional organization.

Overall, based on the presentations, my impression is that the leadership within mining has embraced quality as an essential practice.  It was particularly compelling to hear speakers from different backgrounds and perspectives consistently emphasize the importance of quality to success in mining, and share specific examples of successful implementation and outcomes from quality deployment.  This makes the program relevant for those outside of mining, who can then use these actual examples where theory has been transformed into practice.  I look forward to continued growth and success.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Quality Power

This post is in response to the timely and provocative question from the ASQ CEO, Bill Troy.  In his View From The Q post, the challenge is made to members of the Quality community to expand their capabilities to include leadership.

The Quality profession has two sources of influence and power from which it must deliver its intended function:
  • Inspirational power derived from the passionate convictions of sincere appeals to a shared positive mission and vision. (Transformational)

  • Punitive power gained by enforcing specifications, requirements, regulations, and compliance to official policies. (Control)

In my view, leadership capability is a necessity.  Our profession has evolved from being control-oriented and reactive (consider that the original name of our organization was American Society for Quality Control) to being transformation-driven.  The ASQC-era definitions of quality are summarized below:

  • Conformance to requirements
  • Fitness for use and purpose

These reflect restraining forces, where the Quality function would provide data collection and process control services to refine existing work, and prevent undesirable outcomes.  In this context, Quality would exert power primarily as an enforcer of customer requirements and industry regulations.

In the current ASQ-era, a grander vision is sought, which extends to driving forces of organizational excellence, business transformation, social responsibility, and personal achievement.  Leadership is required for the successful mobilization and transition from the status quo to a higher level of greater enlightenment, versatility, and robust operations.

Unlike the control mentality, where influence is built upon defensive reactions to potential maladies; the transformation mentality requires its influence to be drawn from leadership characteristics and principles:

  • An optimistic and competitive vision of the future
  • A call to urgent action and consistent accomplishment
  • Alignment of common priorities with the promise of mutual gains
  • Pursuit of innovative breakthroughs and evolutionary advancement
  • Continual motivation to overcome obstacles and challenges

Without a determined and deliberate approach, and the proper application of effective and contextually appropriate leadership methods and techniques, the necessary transformations and aspirations of excellence will not occur.  Quality without leadership is reduced to a bureaucratic function, tolerated only by its minimal necessity.  In contrast, when visionary leadership is applied, Quality becomes the driver of all organizational activities, and the foundation of personal and professional success and excellence.