The ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement closed last Wednesday and now that I’m finally back I’m going to cover some of the things I saw and experienced.
My primary responsibility for the conference was as a judge for the International Team Excellence Awards. The ITEA is a competition on improvement and project management that follows criteria very similar to the Malcolm Baldrige process excellence criteria. Teams from companies and organizations all over the world submit and provide presentations on a project where they have been successful in applying the project management principles. Teams are judged less on their final results and more on following the criteria and specifying the who/how/what/why of seamless integration of their projects.
I have been a judge in the preliminary rounds in Jacksonville, Boulder, and Charlotte the last three years and this was my first opportunity to attend the Finals held at the WCQI every year. We as judges digest a lot of information from the presentations and ask a lot of questions, but then rate the presentations according to how well they met or exceeded each item in the criteria (which is lengthy). Teams with top scores win prizes and recognition on the ASQ website – here are some of the winning presentations from the past.
This is a really neat process, and it would be great for more teams to enter the competition. If nothing else, the project management framework and criteria are phenomenal and are applicable to any improvement project. Even if teams didn’t enter the competition the framework should be a tool kept readily available for other internal projects.
I had the pleasure of grabbing drinks with Lean consultant/author and ASQ WCQI keynote speaker Karen Martin on Monday evening at Shula’s Restaurant downtown. She is the author of The Outstanding Organization and would be heading to Utah early Tuesday morning to accept the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award for her book. (In Lean circles, this is the equivalent of winning the home run title.) She and I have been “Twitter buddies” for a while and this was the first time we had the chance to meet in person.
We talked for a couple hours about how TOO has made a difference for her readers and for her as she’s won the Shingo Award, but we also talked about some other projects she has on the horizon which include additional books. She also gave some fantastic advice on how to approach the activities of consulting as a whole and talked about the podcasts we’ve both recorded with Mark Graban (hers is here, mine is here). We are also looking at doing a blog co-post on our experiences as owners of Audi automobiles – we both have some interesting things to share.
Swag giveaways at conferences can be great or run-of-the-mill – conference trade show booth operators and marketing gurus, take note. This year at the conference we had the standard giveaways of company pens/fliers/business cards and Post-It Notes, maybe some 30-day trials of software here and there. We even had booths giving away cash prizes and iPads to one lucky winner. I’m part of the Lean Enterprise Division of ASQ and “my” booth was giving away t-shirts…to attendees who were already members of the division. Not much of a recruitment tool.
However, the biggest buzz and attention were around the unique giveaways. My favorites were the stress ball bulldozers from the ASQ Design & Construction Division.
I get that ASQ trade show booth operators don’t really lend themselves to marketing buzz and excitement – it’s hard to find “fun” in food/cosmetics/pharmaceuticals that don’t involve illegal activities or actionable passion in auditing – but this is where investment in outside marketing might make a significant impression.
Besides, how else am I going to collect great swag to give away to subscribers next year? (Yes, I’m giving away some squeezy bulldozers next time around.)
ASQ has started a subgroup for young members called Young Quality Professionals. I had the chance to meet with a handful of YQP’s organizers Monday evening for a drink and discussion.
There is a BIG talent and membership vacuum with ASQ right now – less than 10% of the ASQ membership is younger than 30 years old (so I’ve been told) while membership demographics are heavily skewed toward those who are approaching retirement age. Once those aging members leave the organization, ASQ membership will drop significantly. Because the skew exists today, very little attention is being paid to the new quality professionals and a tiny percentage of ASQ activities are designed to actively engage the younger segments.
If ASQ continues to operate as it does today, the membership bottom will fall out in the next 5-10 years and great conferences like this will not have as much clout. Most importantly, a collective global focus and critical mass will dissipate, and ASQ will struggle.
It’s a good thing that ASQ recognizes this upcoming problem and is making strides to fix this by creating YQP, but what is clear is that YQP doesn’t have a strategy. We youngsters (I’m 33 but including myself anyway) are not much different from generations older than us, we just receive information differently. Technology has changed how we communicate and operate. That being said, YQP can’t consist of one guy writing blog posts into a vacuum of no audience, and simply creating a social media presence. YQP requires a strategy that takes into account the needs/desires of the younger demographic AND connects them with the resources that satisfy those needs.
I have been asked to help ASQ and YQP on developing this strategy so that the mission and results of YQP are clearly defined and can be used as a recruiting tool.
This is a critical time for ASQ’s future – the drive and desire are there to make differences, but the know-how and organization is missing. I’m confident our efforts will be successful, but we must act quickly.
I was only able to see one full keynote presentation while I was in Indianapolis. It was the final speaker, Sally Hogshead, but her event was great.
The purpose of her talk was to understand how the world sees all of us – how we are able to fascinate our network based on our personality types. She had participants complete a personality survey before her talk and identify the archetype and triggers of our personality – passion, power, trust, mystique, prestige, alarm, and rebellion.
She showed the data of the ASQ conference attendees (how many of us fall into which archetype) versus the rest of the population who has taken her survey and we as a whole were significantly skewed toward trust, passion and prestige. I, on the other hand, lean toward mystique and rebellion. That sounds about right – I have intense focus on showing others how to change for the better, but I also don’t give away all my secrets.
Before attending Sally’s talk I had the chance to record an interview with the ASQ Quality for Life group. They share videos of individuals who tell their stories of how quality has been useful in their professional and personal lives. I, of course, talked about how Lean and continuous improvement can be applied in sports. I will share that video when it goes live in the coming months.
Next year’s WCQI will be held in Dallas – I hope I’m able to attend again!