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, December 9, 2016

ASQ Transformation

This is my contribution, such as it is, to the Transformation efforts for ASQ.  I sent this to ASQ leadership and am hoping for a response.  Until then, I will socialize these perspectives to get consensus.  This is a response to the 10 micro-trends affecting Associations.  My hope is that ASQ will take this information and apply it constructively toward their activities.

Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 2:09 PM
wtroy@asq.org; spowell@asq.org; plalonde90@gmail.com; Eric.Hayler@bmwmc.com
Cc: communitydevelopment@asq.org; dblevy@optonline.net; dlbrecken@sbcglobal.net
Subject: ASQ Transformation: Proposed Responses to Association Micro-Trends

Good afternoon Mr. Troy, ASQ Leadership:

In response to the recent communication by Bill Troy of the micro-trends affecting Associations, I reviewed all of the comments carefully, assessed the impacts to ASQ operations,  and proposed constructive approaches to meet these challenges.  Please circulate or redistribute this note as you deem appropriate.

I am communicating these personal perspectives from two decades of experience with ASQ in multiple capacities:

  • ASQ member (currently a Fellow member),
  • ASQ Certificant (currently possess 7 renewable ASQ Certifications),
  • ASQ Member-Leader (currently active as a Regional Director and voting member of Section Affairs Council, along with other roles across multiple ASQ Divisions and member units),
  • ASQ Subject Matter Expert and Communicator (co-author of Quality Press bestseller, Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook, WCQI presenter and reviewer).

I hope that you will take these proposals under advisement and apply them as inputs toward the current ASQ Transformation reviews and solutions.  I believe that it is necessary for ASQ to continue its 70 year legacy as a pioneer of the international Quality movement, and continue to serve as the definitive professional resource for Quality practitioners of all levels within all industries and domains.  Sustaining ASQ while meeting the dynamic professional demands and expectations of current and future ASQ members and applying technological innovations will require careful and deliberate effort and prioritization of all options and opportunities.  Within the Quality domain, ASQ should always compete as a leader from strength as no other organization in the world has our track record, capabilities, or global reach.

I welcome feedback from you or any of the ASQ Transformation participants.  By communicating this response, I also offer myself as a volunteer to participate in and support the ASQ Transformation initiatives, discussions, workshops, studies, and reports.


Daniel Zrymiak

ASQ Member (Year 20), ASQ Fellow 01148728

Below, I share 10 micro-level trends, specific to associations, which directly impact our strategy for change and require us to explore new models.

1. Economic concerns are leading companies to re-examine every cost, cutting out memberships and travel, encouraging staff to access free resources.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
This will trend to a reduced percentage and overall revenue generated from corporate sponsorship of individual membership fees and expenses, shifting financial burdens directly to members.
Recommended ASQ response
Emphasize the financial and career advantages and returns from ASQ membership and involvement.  Career growth and opportunities to extend earnings through teaching and writing should also be emphasized to support individual commitment.
Justification/ Rationale
ASQ has been very beneficial to me personally and professionally, and I view my continued involvement as part of a virtuous cycle that aids and benefits me, my employer, my profession, and my community.
I have a recent example showing how participation in ASQ conferences and recertification programs offers nearly a 10:1 return on investment.  If an individual gets $10 for every $1 committed, the returns will justify the costs and support the argument for individual membership.
From 2014-2016:
-           Synchronized recertification with a promo code, will enable 7 ASQ recertifications for $20 USD; compared to the $763 USD ($109 X 7) for non-members which represents a 97% cost savings
-           3 year WCQI reviewer (restricted to ASQ Senior and Fellow members) with complimentary registration, saving $3785 USD in registration fees (non-member WCQI costs in 2014, 2015, and 2016).
-           The cost recovery and financial returns ($743 + $3785 =  $4528 USD) represents a 9.5:1 return on investment for the $159 annual ASQ fees

2. Organizations are increasingly seeking to build their own in-house training and certification processes. Train-the-Trainer offerings are commonly requested.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
This trend will reduce revenue for ASQ as a provider of corporate training directly to organizations.
Recommended ASQ response
ASQ can adapt and shift to emphasizing knowledge base and infrastructure for corporate resources, offering “Quality as a Service” backed by updated references.
ASQ can use its ITEA team competition initiative to augment training by showcasing examples of Quality methods and practices applied, resulting in savings and improved performance.  This takes training out of the classroom and into practical application.
Justification/ Rationale
ASQ can promote itself as a valuable partner and organizations can outsource their Quality knowledge base and curriculum development to ASQ.  This actually creates consistency of education and enables organizations to use their own talent.

3. Individuals are more frequently moving from job to job, industry to industry and / or organization to organization, resulting in increased career changes and less stability in organizational memberships.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
Organizational memberships will decline in response to individual attrition or relocation.
Recommended ASQ response
Promote the ASQ advantage of Mobility and encourage the adoption of individual ASQ memberships that travel with the individual throughout their career.
Justification/ Rationale
Individual memberships offer more benefits and potential for member value, and can be retained across multiple employers or career transitions.
Organizational memberships can be strategically positioned as a source of future individual ASQ members and leaders.

4. Millennials are not as motivated to join membership organizations as previous generations. As a whole, young professionals do not believe they should have to pay for networking, information, etc.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
Membership does not have the same appeal and will decline over time.
Recommended ASQ response
Emphasize the advantages of networking, particularly to cultivate new mentors and industry experts for informational interviews.  Contrast this to the expensive option of hiring executive coaches, or having the competitive disadvantage of lacking mentorship and context.
Justification/ Rationale
Membership supports interactions and personal connections with experienced professionals, who are more inclined to help mentor or provide informational interviews to those with whom they are already positively acquainted.  These are critical assets to a progressive career, and ASQ is an excellent resource for both capabilities.

5. Individuals are under greater time constraints –working longer hours –and are less likely to be involved in professional organizations or volunteer.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
Reduced participation in ASQ meetings and events, particularly when travel and overnight stays are considered.
Recommended ASQ response
Shift mentality from leadership groups or committees that meet for the sake of meeting to a hierarchy of programs and projects which are specific to a portfolio (i.e. education, certification, membership) or an event (i.e. conference).
Enhance recognitions for individual contributors.  I am already very impressed with the Member Leader engagement by ASQ Community Development, and would support the propagation of this model across all of ASQ.
Justification/ Rationale
Projects imply flexibility and finite commitments.  People are more inclined to volunteer for limited commitments with clear terminations.  Nobody wants to be stuck in a necessary but unappealing role with the inability to find a successor.

6. Growth in associations has been greatest in specialized organizations. For example, while the American Medical Association has drastically lost membership and market share, the number of specialty medical societies has grown.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
Increased specialization will cause membership preferences to shift from large organizations with a general orientation to small, nimble groups with a targeted focus.
Recommended ASQ response
Emphasize the ASQ advantages of having experienced and committed staff and management.  I would especially like to acknowledge particular individuals within ASQ Head Office with whom I have had the pleasure to collaborate for many years, and of whom I have come to regard not just as service providers but cherished acquaintances and personal friends.
Continue to incorporate specialized groups as ASQ Divisions and Member Units, through partnerships and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreements with specialized groups for collaborations.
Justification/ Rationale
ASQ is really a composite aggregation of professional relationships with specific individuals.  The best ASQ advantage comes from the personal interactions with the top performing long-term ASQ resources.  ASQ has a great employee culture which promotes exceptional service and teamwork, and this should be emphasized as a competitive advantage.
ASQ offers the overall Quality mentality and perspective, and can benefit from industry-specific partnerships.  For example, ASQ members interested in IT Service Management can collaborate with ISACA to jointly raise awareness and compliance to Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.

7. The environment is changing… but the association model has generally stayed the same. This leaves many organizations expending greater resources just to maintain membership.

Many associations have been trying to address decreasing membership by increasing their services and broadening their target market –trying to be all things to all people –but inadvertently increasing their cost base.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
ASQ does not get the necessary contributions from members to sustain its overhead and capital investments.
Recommended ASQ response
ASQ should serve all of North America first and yield the full benefit of all Quality practitioners within the proximity of Canada and USA. 
-          Translation of Products and Services into French to get access to a 10 million Francophone community within proximity of ASQ head office.
-          Expansion of Customer Care live agent availability to 5PM Pacific to more effectively serve 40 million residents in Pacific time zone (currently underserved with mid-afternoon ASQ closure)  
Management of expectations to members.  Reinforce that ASQ is an association which must manage costs and commitments and that work is done by real people with full day-jobs and heavy workloads. 
Justification/ Rationale
Overhead is reduced when more local opportunities are captured and yielded, spreading the costs more equitably across individual and organizational members to grow resources locally for future expansion  (The author, Og Mandino, referenced this is his Acres of Diamonds book.).
Trying to be all things to all people is a response to appeasing the well-intentioned but impractical expectations of members who seek to stretch ASQ capabilities.  Evaluate the impact of extended services by people affected and potential for future sustainability.

8. New competitors are responding to the environment…Delivering on the core value propositions of traditional membership associations.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
ASQ will lose members and revenue to competitors
Recommended ASQ response
Compete as a leader from strength by emphasizing the advantages or “Powers” of ASQ:
-          Availability: ASQ is offered to all levels, backgrounds, ages, cultures
-          Prestige: ASQ originated from Pioneers of Quality with 70 year legacy
-          Precision: ASQ experience adapts and customizes to fit members
-          Mobility: ASQ offers comity and acceptance across many locations
-          Rewards: ASQ provides discounts, savings, honoraria, and benefits
Have long-term members provide positive testimonials for publication and review.
Showcase the international organizations and initiatives (i.e. ISO, Baldrige) in which ASQ is a participant and contributor.
Justification/ Rationale
New organizations do not have the ASQ track record or influence.  In comparison they are social clubs that do not have the extensive knowledge base, international acceptance, or networking connections offered by ASQ.

9. Associations are spending extensive resources to be at parity with more modern, tech savvy competition. New platforms are needed to enable traditional value propositions in a digital future -24/7 access to assistance, digital resources with great search functionality, remote networking, etc. just to name a few.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
This will require capital investment to remain relevant and operational, potentially increasing annual membership dues and expenses.
Recommended ASQ response
As a cost of doing business, make the necessary commitments to procure and deploy the technical applications and infrastructure.
Promote this as Innovation, and build support within ASQ for best practices and innovation emotionally by wanting
Justification/ Rationale
Manage expectations by being transparent about how much of the membership revenue is being directed to technology advancement.  ASQ members could be encouraged to have additional sponsorships in a manner similar to the campaign to raise money for ASQ HQ relocation to its current building.

10. Associations are struggling to explore cutting edge topics with the traditional volunteer labor base. Membership lacks the time to attend meetings regularly, much less the extensive time required to create new topics, generate insight and develop content. This means that relevant subject matter, such as Big Data or the Internet of Things, goes unexplored.

Expected impact to ASQ operations
ASQ is missing opportunities to adopt and gain expertise on new topics, perpetuating its eventual obsolescence.
Recommended ASQ response
ASQ should incentivize its thought-leaders to pursue these topics. 
(Disclosure: ASQ has started on this path with excellent work published and presented by “ASQ Fresh Faces”, Dr. Nicole Radziwill and Austin Lin, in these innovative topic areas)
Articles related to these topics should be assigned to the participants of the ASQ Emerging Leaders program as part of their course work, to expand the ASQ Quality Body of Knowledge.
ASQ Scholarships and Publications should be created and targeted to innovative topic areas.  This could be done in collaboration with International Academy for Quality.
Justification/ Rationale
By explicitly recognizing current thought-leaders and promoting this to the new generation of ASQ Leadership, ASQ will have tangible outcomes within 3-5 years.  This should be connected to ASQ’s recognition and education programs (i.e. Fresh Faces, Emerging Leaders, Scholarships) so that membership and the Quality Body of Knowledge advance concurrently.

These trends provide insight into what we are faced with. Understanding them is important, but we can’t stop there. We must develop creative ways to adapt our current business model to address them. Some questions we will have to answer:

1) Do millennials value in-person networking and interactions or are they content with virtual meetings?

Expected impact to ASQ operations
Meetings do not appeal to Millennials, who can get the details virtually.
Recommended ASQ response
Emphasize the social and networking aspects of meetings for Millennials and ASQ members of all ages, and redirect intensive quality presentations and lectures to online podcasts.
Justification/ Rationale
Maximize “face-time” as a way to build relationships and become better acquainted with interactive “ice-breakers” and group brainstorming activities, not sitting quietly in an uncomfortable chair listening to a lecture and watching powerpoint presentations in a windowless room.


2) If professional advancement is the primary concern of younger members, how will we have to adjust our offerings to respond to that need?

Expected impact to ASQ operations
If ASQ is not seen as a necessary component of professional advancement, it will simply be a social club and lose the sense its urgency and necessity to Millennials.
Recommended ASQ response
Emphasize the versatility, resiliency, and holistic preparation offered by ASQ as a way to move from the ranks of the replaceable or outsourceable practitioner to the indispensable quality leader or subject matter expert.
Emphasize the value of ASQ for people who are thrust into a quality role later in their career (i.e. Registered Nurse promoted to be Continual Improvement Manager for the hospital).  ASQ augments the clinical knowledge with specific methods and techniques.
Justification/ Rationale
Career advancement is not necessarily linear, and is often more about responding to changes in work and organizational situations to preserve employment and grow influence during difficult times.

3) How valid is our argument that we have specialized, accessible knowledge now available from competitors on the internet?

Expected impact to ASQ operations
ASQ will no longer be perceived as the definitive source of Quality knowledge, and will have to compete with internet providers offering similar value with lower cost and overhead.
Recommended ASQ response
ASQ should compete as a leader from strength.
ASQ should acknowledge and integrate internet resources, and position itself as a moderator and aggregator of such knowledge. 
Justification/ Rationale
ASQ cannot compete with infinite internet sources, nor should it.  As long as ASQ is the definitive first point of contact, people will default to ASQ as the first option.
ASQ should also emphasize that material on the internet may be suspect or obsolete, and not definitive.  For example, while the ISO standards from 2000 are now freely available online, organizations are better served by purchasing the current 2015 versions from ASQ.