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.

Friday, January 29, 2016

MONOPOLY - Strategies and Lessons Learned

With the popularity of Donald Trump, for some reason I have been inclined to spend more of my time playing Monopoly.  I play online because it is the quickest, though I also enjoy live board games as well with real people

My general strategy is to acquire the less expensive properties and quickly build up houses.  I have learned that since there are only 32 houses available, my strategy is to try to consume these houses prior to having any of my opponents in a position to purchases houses on their own properties.

Once the houses are consumed, I then focus on acquiring the railroads and utilities.  If opponents are short of cash, they are often more willing to make trades.

Here is an example from a game where I had the 3 ideal color sets, railroads, and utilities, and consumed all of the available houses.

An alternate game shows the same strategy.  Because I had the blue color set first, I ended up having to place a hotel on a less expensive property to ensure that I had sufficient houses available.

I have contemplated this game and thought of some different phases which reflect the different stages of Monopoly competition.   This could be used to more clearly understand our own behaviors to particular situations.

1. Opening Optimism:
This is the initial phase where all players are keen to take their turns and make every purchase possible.  This is analogous to the initial burst of enthusiasm when starting a new venture.

2. Steady Gathering:
Through the next stage, all of the participants are relatively equal and gather their properties and assets in a way that will position their next step.  This methodical approach sets the foundation for future opportunities.  Long-term goals are critical.  In my personal case (with respect to Monopoly), because I target the less expensive properties, my opponents are more willing to make individual trades which appears to their short-term advantage, but enables the achievement of my ultimate objectives.

3. Risky Venturing:
If I am fortunate enough to get a color set, giving me a monopoly, I generally purchase houses that will provide more rental income.  To do this, I have to sacrifice cash, even mortgaging my other properties to enable this initiative.  This is risky because if my expenses or penalties exceed my current cash flow, I will have to sell my houses at a 50% loss.  If the properties return income, that will justify the short-term cash restrictions.

4. Prosperous Growth:
Once the properties are established, they become the foundation for future growth and ultimately the consumption and acquisition of my opponents' properties and assets.  In this phase, I am confident and anticipate every turn as a potential source of income, property acquisition, or advantage.

5. Futility and Defeat:
No strategy is foolproof.  Sometimes the opponents have good fortune and are able to build up their properties earlier.  In this stage, I am hesitant to take my turn, hopeful to avoid paying high rentals, and if I do land in jail, I will remain as the safety of jail is preferable to the risk of financial ruin.

6. Absurdity:
Sometimes the opponents will conspire and make unreasonable trades with each other to enable their success.  Paying 5X the property value will enrich one opponent at the expense of another outside of my control.  This happens in both automated and real-life Monopoly competition.  If someone wants to do this, it is not necessarily rational but then neither is life.

So this in Monopoly, and every player has their own strategy.  I would probably resemble the father of Donald Trump, Fred Trump who made his fortune with lower income housing in a less visible and prestigious part of New York City.  In contrast, Donald Trump was more flamboyant and would be the player who gravitated to Park Place and Boardwalk (or their international equivalents)

Now think about your attitude to work and life.  Do you charge out in the morning, chasing every opportunity?  Do you make risky ventures with the expectation of a great payoff.  Are you simply gathering your modest gains randomly, or are they targeted for a greater future opportunity?  Most importantly, are you hiding from life's challenges, or are you embracing and tackling those entities in your path.

The most important thing I have learned is to have a clear plan and work toward that plan.  Maybe it is not the best plan for everyone, but it works for me.  When I play online, I generally play against 3 opponents.  By random selection, I should only win 25% of the time, but by focusing and prioritizing on building properties in the range between Reading Railroad and Free Parking (squares 6-19 from Go), my success rate is between 65-70%, even when playing with top opponents.

Always be building up and improving.  Sometimes a calculated risk is necessary to get to a desired level.  In real-life terms, this may involve taking time away from work to focus on school, or leaving the predictable income levels of a full-time job to start a new business venture. 

Back to Donald Trump.  My impression is that he spent a lifetime preparing to be an overnight political success.  Consider how unlikely it is that a citizen who has never previously held nor been officially nominated for public office has challenged and surpassed opponents with far more extensive backgrounds in public service and elected office.  Whether or not he got elected, nobody can doubt that if presidential politics were a Monopoly board, Mr. Trump would be the one with the hotels and houses on his properties, anticipating a windfall every time someone landed on his square.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Student Strategy for ASQ - Emphasize Today's Benefits

There are a lot of efforts and initiatives to engage students into ASQ.  This is a very promising demographic, and the energy, vitality, and zeal for innovation exhibited by the students will enrich ASQ and make it a better organization.

In pursuing this group, we have to consider their needs, their capability to participate, and the benefits that will help them today for their professional advantages tomorrow.

How do the ASQ Advantages apply to students?

1. Training and certification:
Many of the training options and certifications are available for those at the starting point of the profession.  Having a credential like the CQIA (Certified Quality Improvement Associate) may appear elementary to the Black Belts and Quality Managers among us, but it can certainly distinguish a new professional from the pack.  The cost is modest, and the connection to other ASQ Certified professionals is valuable and enduring.

2. Interaction with active networks:
While others have to wait for the job ads to appear, and submit their resumes as part of a "cattle call" hiring process, students who are connected to an active ASQ network are tapped in and made aware of potential opportunities in the earliest stages.  Not only is there an early awareness of potential jobs or contract opportunities, quite often the hiring manager is also an ASQ member, permitting a solid interaction to occur.

3. Participation in projects to showcase skills:
Students will face the common dilemma: they can't get hired without work experience, and they can't get work experience until they are hired.  ASQ provides project opportunities, in a non-profit manner, to permit students to showcase their skills and work ethic.  If this helps ASQ and the immediate cluster of companies or organizations close to ASQ, then a reciprocal benefit could occur whereby the students can leverage that positive impression into a full-time role or contracting opportunity.

4. Comity and mobility:
In our global society, opportunities may arise outside of your immediate geographic location.  ASQ provides a connection across cities, states, provinces, and countries.  A Six Sigma Green Belt earned through ASQ's rigorous and stringent examination process will carry equal weight and validity wherever ASQ operates or has a visible presence.  This is an advantage for the student, who can get credentials through ASQ in rural Canada or India, and apply these certifications to demonstrate their qualifications for a role based in Texas or the United Kingdom.

5. Exposure to real-life examples of quality:
New graduates are often derided as having "theory".  ASQ recognizes the importance of academic achievement, and complements that with various forums from which a member can become acquainted with the successful application of quality practices, and the positive impacts on business outcomes and customer satisfaction.

This is not an exhaustive list, but simply the tip of the "ASQ Iceberg", as there are more benefits not mentioned above.  Of course, these benefits are dependent on the willingness of the ASQ Member Unit to engage and support student members.  As more people learn and understand the benefits, they can embrace and sustain not only student membership, but overall member retention.

I have a vested interest in the infusion of diverse cultures and age demographics.  Our ASQ composition should reflect the actual Quality workforce in heritage and attitude.  I want to experience and encounter the global potential and possibilities of our professional community, and that has to start with the way we attract and engage our members with the most vitality - the student communities.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Culture of Quality - Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action

In response to the excellent blog post in the View from the Q on Corporate Culture I am suggesting that the leaders in this situation apply the AIDA method, and strive to gain and promote Awareness, Interest, Decisions, and Actions within the organization.

The scenario appears to reflect deficiencies in all four areas, particularly the blockages between different levels and layers of the organization.

Awareness is critical.  Once different groups and stakeholders recognize the interdependencies of their actions, prerequisites and entry criteria can be properly established.  A consistent methodology can be deployed which complements and addresses all of the necessary functions.  If there are extraordinary circumstances (i.e. shortage of operating capital), then innovative solutions can be developed and applied to mitigate or eliminate the situations.

Interest is important.  For any constructive and sustained change to occur, it has to be presented in a way that captures and creates a genuine interest across all parties, who will see and experience the benefit of those changes.  While people should not have to be "sold" on diligence or compliance, the manner of achieving that diligence should be examined.  For example, an abusive and toxic culture may generate immediate improvements in the short term, but will contribute to absenteeism, attrition, and a loss of continuity and reputation in the long-term.  A better approach is effective employee engagement and empowerment.

Decisions are critical for correct improvements.  The case study makes reference to the fact that the line employees cannot get to senior management, who won't respond to emails nor be available for calls.  My personal opinion would be to inject the decision-makers into the "Gemba" or location of the actual work so that they can gain first-hand exposure to the situation, and make rapid decisions to authorize improvements or investments in improved quality and operations.

Actions define the next steps, and ultimately guide the development of the corporate culture.  For example, if an employee is terminated for refusing to ship a deficient product, that will send the message that delivery schedules override quality standards, and deficiencies should be concealed.  If on the other hand, the company commends the employee and takes the necessary actions to resolve the quality problems, that will send encouraging motivation for others to advocate quality and integrity.

There are no immediate solutions.  Improvements are incremental and must be reinforced with each shipment or issue managed and resolved.  Transparency and visibility are critical to accurate and precise solutions.  Expectations must be managed, and one option is for the company to pull back from business opportunities until they can be properly served and fulfilled.  It is better for an organization to build a stellar reputation by doing a few solutions or deliverables at a high standard, than by stretching too thin to be all things to all customers.

Culture: Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action.  Without these elements, the culture will not change for the better.