Raising the voice… Great American Teach-In #worldqualitymonth

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Today is the Great American Teach-In here in Hillsborough County.  SERVE, the county school district’s volunteer arm, presents the Teach-In each year to show students the importance of a good education.  In the spirit of World Quality Month, I decided to “raise my voice” and talk to the 2nd graders at Hunter’s Green Elementary about what it is I do and why I love it.

Let me just say that it’s amazing how much energy and enthusiam kids have! I asked them what they thought “quality” means and was received with some confused glares. You could see that they were really thinking about it and trying to put what they knew it was into words.  Finally, one girl identified it as “good”… <insert big smile>.

Fortunately, I decided to bring some LEGOs with me to discuss the topic.  We pulled down the map and talked about where LEGOs are made (Billund, Denmark) and how they are made. We talked about how the LEGOs would get from Denmark to Tampa, FL. The kids were totally engaged and you could just tell they thought it was pretty cool… they were floored that 1,000 LEGOs are made every second and by how long it takes for “stuff” to to get places.  Did you know that LEGO is the #1 tire manufacturer in the world?

Now, when I asked them how they would feel if they got a LEGO kit and found pieces missing, they used words like “bad” and “angry”.  Quality is good… poor quality is bad.  They got it! But, I wanted to incorporate an international trade component because that part of it is what makes my job with Pro QC so cool.  To do that, I used an activity that I picked up from my macro economics professor way back.  The activity builds value through trading… it gets students thinking about how free trade creates choices and lets us be more demanding for quality when there are more options.  Let me just say that 2nd graders are far more appreciative of “stuff” than the community college crowd! I left there feeling like a superstar having let them keep the traded items. And, when it was all over, they were more comfortable talking about what quality is and why it’s important… win! 🙂

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed reading the ASQ Influential Voices responses this month regarding World Quality Month and have really felt the love within the industry.  The quote Paul Borawski references from an old IBM sumes up my sentiments exactly:  “Here’s to National Quality Month and Eleven More Just Like It!”

Sidenote: I can hardly believe one year has passed since I joined ASQ’s Influential Voices program. I feel fortunate to be included among so many other passionate quality professionals.  I have no doubt that we have raised the voice of quality and will continue to do so!

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