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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.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Alternatives To Boring Meetings In Windowless Rooms

As I reflect on this beautiful Labor Day weekend, I contemplate how we can get the ideal balance in our lives to ensure the optimal mix of work, recreation, service, fulfillment, and wellness.

As I was cooking ribs and chicken breast on the barbecue last night, I found myself enjoying the fresh air of my backyard more profoundly than if I were confined to a restaurant, dependent on others.  I actually find it invigorating and stimulating to select different approaches to preparing and marinating my meat dishes.  For example, I have recently discovered that tenderizing my chicken in advance will greatly improve the texture of the meat, and also permit the lime-based marinade to more effectively infuse into the chicken.  I like to think of this as my personal Design of Experiments laboratory.

If this summertime exhilaration could be captured and replicated throughout the year, life would indeed be delightful.  It is in this context that I find myself wishing for alternatives to the typical indoor meeting.

A year ago, I was at the beautiful Hotel Irvine in Orange County, California, to attend ASQ member leader events.  To the credit of ASQ Community Development, the reception was held outside in the patio, and we were given frequent breaks to enjoy the daylight.  However, my question remains who ASQ has to conduct its sessions and meetings in windowless rooms, shutting out the light and exuberance of the day.

If we are looking to innovate ASQ and professional activities in general, I think that location and experience are very important things to consider.  Since sunlight is a positive stimulant, this also improves the mood, tone, and temper of the event.  One "win" for ASQ was to have the Awards Recognition Reception on Sunday in a conference foyer instead of a dark room requiring artificial light.

I realize that the weather does not always cooperate, so having outdoor events may not be amenable.  However there are indoor locations which have skylights or natural light.  Often these areas have opportune times to meet when they are not particularly crowded.

Option 1: Shopping Mall Food Courts
Although stores will open mid-morning, many malls leave their public areas open to permit walking traffic.  As food courts do not have portable tables, an early riser can have their pick from dozens or hundreds of seats.

Option 2: Historic buildings
Depending on the community, there are architectural masterpieces that sit empty for all but special occasions.  Even the lobbies of such places have abundant spaces and seating.  An example in Vancouver is the Marine Building which was built in the Art Deco style of 1930 and is of such magnificent design as to have been included in the setting of several Hollywood feature films

Option 3: Public attractions
I have attended work functions at natural parks, aquariums, and museums.  In fact, the ASQ gala has been located at NASCAR and Harley-Davidson museums, which provides interesting visual and interactive experiences.

For the meetings themselves, I have found the most satisfaction from attending sessions with lots of participation, elicited contributions, and movement.  Instead of setting up camp at a back table for the duration, ASQ meetings should be fluid with motion, interaction, and dynamic structure.

An ASQ meeting has to be an event, and it has to justify being prioritized over work, family, and other pursuits.  A desire within each attendee must be created.  If people come because they feel compelled or obligated, they will only provide the minimal engagement.  It is much better if there is a genuine excitement and inspirational energy around each meeting, program, or event.

This starts with a desire to extend gratitude and comfort.  Part of that comfort is to create an environment of warm reception, and in turn induce the attendee to be curious about additional programs or events.  Nobody should be left alone to sit in cold silence.

Even if the rooms do not have windows, there are effects which could replicate brightness and cheer.  Serving fresh fruits and juices with sparkling water will provide the effect of a summer patio.  This is much more refreshing than dark, stale coffee or syrup-based soda.   If the sunshine cannot be brought in from outside, it should be evoked from within.