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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.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Involvement - It Only Works If You Use It

Currently I am involved with a few organizations, but there are two which I would like to highlight: American Society for Quality (ASQ) and the YMCA. 

My YMCA is a family membership, which our family uses for swimming and exercise programs.

The ASQ membership is a professional society, which I have used for the last 20 years to support and enhance my career and professional development.

Imagine making the monthly or annual payments, only to not partake in the many benefits.  I can't lose weight or improve my fitness and stamina unless I actually go to the YMCA, use the equipment or facilities, or take part in the lessons and workout sessions.  There are additional benefits, when compared to similar organizations.  The fitness coaching is excellent, and offered at a less expensive rate.  However I often find the workout facilities to be empty (except at peak times), providing opportunities to almost have a private gym experience.

With respect to ASQ, there are abundant benefits, but only if these are actually used.  By following a normal and expected pattern of professional involvement, a member should be able to recover their investment in member value or discounts every three years, if not sooner.

- Member discounts on events and programs provide a short-term incentive.
- The member rate for certifications justifies the membership cost
- Members have the ability to synchronize multiple certifications for renewal, which saves $70 per certification every three years.  This is a significant benefit for those with 3 or more renewable certifications
- Attendance at conferences offsets the membership costs, particularly if the conference fee is subsidized or waived for speakers, reviewers, or moderators
- Subscriptions to quality journals and publication purchases provide additional member discounts
- There are opportunities to encounter influential and accomplished practitioners in informal setting, enabling mentoring and guidance.  This is superior to the "pay-to-play" professional coaching model which may or may not result in successful outcomes.
- Strategic purchasing and portfolio management (i.e. upgrade to Senior Member, renew at least 1 month in advance) will generate additional discounts within ASQ.

Involvement in an organization can be rewarding and support personal and professional goals.  However for it to work, it has to align with your particular situation, and the mentality has to complement the core values and principles. 

In the 20 years since I have become acquainted with ASQ, I have discovered a combination of credentials and activities that unleashes the best value and member satisfaction for me.  While this won't work for everyone, I believe it describes a level to which every ASQ member should aspire before judging whether ASQ is valuable and beneficial.

- Join as a Full Member and at the earliest opportunity, upgrade to a Senior ASQ membership

- Renew early (1 month early) to remain in good standing and be eligible for additional incentives and benefits

- In addition to your home section, join a minimum of 1 ASQ Division.  The more you join, the more communities and opportunities are available to you to pursue professional involvement

- Pursue, achieve, and sustain your status in a minimum of 2 renewable ASQ certifications

- Attend a major ASQ conference (i.e. WCQI, JTCC) at least once every three years to experience the high energy personal connections

- Get involved at the section, division, regional, and society levels as a volunteer, committee member, member-leader, competition judge, or other capacity.

- Support learning as an instructor, reviewer, exam proctor, or intellectual property author for the ASQ materials related to certification and Quality Body of Knowledge

- Subscribe, review, and produce publications and presentations.  This will not only enhance your stature, but may make you eligible for honoraria or royalties.

I did these very steps within the first five years, and consequently it has helped my ASQ long-term engagement.  From this foundation, I have been able to recover my investment in ASQ many times over, ten-fold would be very modest. 

Consider the alternate approach.
- Restricting to an Associate or Student Membership limits the benefits and opportunities
- Late or missed renewals affects continuity, and deprives the member of potential benefits
- Confining membership to 1 section or virtual removes networking opportunities
- Not attending a conference will limit the perception of ASQ to small-scale meetings with lower energy

Minimal involvement will produce minimal results.  You won't burn calories or build strength if you only visit the gym 6 times a year, and you won't develop professionally unless it becomes a priority and essential part of your schedule.

Involvement in ASQ is great, but only if it works.  My personal challenge is for each an every member to aspire to the following as a minimum:
- ASQ Senior Member (to get the ASQ journal benefit)
- Achievement of two or more renewable ASQ certifications (to get the synchronized recertification benefit)
- Affiliation with two or more ASQ Divisions (to expand opportunities for networking and involvement)

Fear Of Missing Out - You can overcome that fear with involvement, which is within your control.