In his January post in his blog A View From The Q, ASQ CEO Bill Troy asks, “Have you met someone whose teachings on quality influenced you or inspired you? What were these lessons?”
While I certainly have many individuals whose contributions to the field of quality in my eyes have given me new ways of looking at the world, there are but just a few I’ve had the pleasure of actually meeting in person. I haven’t been in the quality profession for 20, 30, or 40 years nor did I start my quality journey in the green fields of any quality movement. I also have not had many great opportunities to be in the presence of those who are early pioneers, as I have been to just two ASQ World Conferences (so far).
That all being said, two individuals really stand out as being quality inspirations I’ve gotten to meet.
First, I have been a fan of Mark Graban’s work on Lean Blog for years, even before we had gotten to cross paths. Prior to meeting him, he featured Lean blog posts that further reinforced how quality applications can work in more industries than just traditional manufacturing, including healthcare AND sports. That gave me the confidence to continue to dig more into how sports can better utilize quality, because a) I’m not the first person to see those linkages because Mark was writing about it before I had gotten the figurative ball rolling myself, and b) it showed that I wasn’t all that crazy to imagine that linkage.
Second, and speaking of Mark Graban…I shared a guest post with him about a quality influence that taught me a different question to ask that helps foster inclusion and ownership of improvement ideas. Mark Fougerousse was an outside consultant at a company that employed me a few years back and his collaborative, even-mannered, but strategically-focused attitude is one I try my best to emulate in my work. He taught me about the power of asking “What do you think?” with colleagues and team members to gain insights, share reasoning, and generate confidence in trying experiments out instead of simply asking for someone else’s answer.
Both Mark Graban and Mark Fougerousse I count as the most inspirational and motivational quality influences I’ve met. However, besides them I have gotten to meet other “rock stars” of the quality profession.
Two authors of the Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook (from ASQ Quality Press) – Govind Ramu and Dan Zrymiak – I met at last year’s ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Dallas. Both are significant to me because Dan (also an ASQ Influential Voice) has become a bit of a mentor to me and has provided great career advice, while I had a previous interaction with Govind as I had provided a series of corrections to the authors for the CSSGB Handbook’s 1st edition and defended him on the interwebs when purchasers of the Handbook were venting about the errors on message boards. (We’re all human, folks.)
I also have had the pleasure of meeting other ASQ Influential Voices such as Dan, Jennifer Stepniowski, Scott Rutherford, and Anshuman Tiwari. Karen Martin is another rock star in the Lean world, as a consultant and speaker and author of two Shingo Award-winning books. All of them help reinforce the value of quality in new and exciting ways every day.
I’m not one to get star struck, but it’s really great to meet the people whose work inspires you and learn how down-to-earth and collaborative they really are. We all face the same challenges in driving improvements in quality, and it’s not difficult to see what common ground we share.
I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.