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World Quality Month… Recognize


It’s November… Leaves are changing colors with the season everywhere other than where I’m at in Florida, retail stores are preparing for Christmas, I can almost smell the Thanksgiving spread, and it’s World Quality Month once again!

I posted something to the Pro QC blog this time that I think is worth reposting.  Last year, I observed World Quality Month with “30 days of quality” that I’ll say I honestly completed about 70-80% of.  But, I didn’t want to do the same thing again. Instead, I took a weekly approach and made some solid suggestions. It’s a more organizational approach, but it can certainly be applied on an individual level as well.

Week 1 – Spread awareness.

  • If you work in quality, tell your friends, family and co-workers more about what you do and why you do it.  Ask them what they think quality is and open a discussion about its importance.
  • Host a special team meeting (celebration) at work and recognize World Quality Month. Talk about what the organization has done throughout the year to support quality and what future goals/objectives include.
  • If you are unable to host a special meeting for World Quality Month, add it to the agenda of a regularly scheduled meeting and encourage employees to submit quality improvement suggestions or learn more at links such as those provided at the end of this post.
  • Send out an organization-wide email reinforcing the importance of quality and including additional references such as those listed below and other training opportunities that may be available.

For week one, I’ve personally shared all I can with friends and family both online and offline (I’m sure they love me that much more now), I’ll be helping out with our local ASQ Section’s World Quality Month picnic on Saturday, and I did score on the free 6 month membership opportunity ASQ is offering to member friends and colleagues… Thank you Tony, you’re going to love it! 

Week 2 – Look inward.

  • Brainstorm ideas for improving quality within the organization. Get everyone involved.  If you gave everyone an index card and asked them to write suggestions for improvement, imagine what the value of that information could turn into when you consider the potential cost savings and team support.
  • Perform an internal systems evaluation/audit to identify areas of improvement.  Evaluate and plan for corrective action.  Communicate support.

Week 3 – Use the tools.

  • Take the opportunity to incorporate a new quality tool into your regular mix.  You’ll likely see an ongoing issue in a new way.
  • Setup training for staff that may not usually use quality tools and show them how they can be incorporated into the the efficiency of their work and personal lives.
  • Purchase a copy of the Quality Toolbox for all managers.

Week 4 – Keep it going.

  • Quality isn’t something we should only recognize for one month during the year. Continuous improvement is, in fact, the core of what quality means.
  • Continue with regular training of all staff in various quality principles and keep everyone in the organization informed regarding quality initiatives and progress.
  • Setup a World Quality Month planning committee to organize events for next year!

I also found and referenced some additional resources that are worth sharing… The quizzes are particularly fun!


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The importance of focus and a clear vision…


‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” ~Ben Franklin

This is a quote I regurgitate often, and it seems to be somewhat of a theme in the latest View from the Q post as well.

ASQ’s new CEO, Bill Troy, is asking about having a clear vision, and he uses three examples and takeaways from the European Organization for Quality’s 58th Annual Congress this past June.  

Within the functions of management, planning is first.  Strategic planning starts with identifying a vision and mission for the organization, with the ultimate goal to make sure that all subsequent actions are consistent and communicated effectively to all stakeholders.  In my management class, sometimes we’ll look up a company we all know and check out their vision and mission statements. Students can quickly pick up on whether or not it’s just marketing content, or if it’s something really consistent with their experiences as a consumer.  Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to identify those that don’t match-up.

Troy uses the examples of Ikea and Volvo in his post and indicates he was “moved by the power and clarity that vision can bring.” I too have felt this.  In that respect, I have to identify one company that I believe truly exemplifies their vision and mission… Enter Subaru:

  • We will strive to create advanced technology on an ongoing basis and provide consumers with distinctive products with the highest level of quality and customer satisfaction.
  • We will aim to continuously promote harmony between people, society and the environment while contributing to the prosperity of society.
  • We will look to the future with a global perspective and aim to foster a vibrant, progressive company.

“The principles of good corporate citizenship have always been an integral part of the Subaru business in the United States. It is evident in how we relate to our employees, our customers, and our communities. But, we believe in the principle of Kaizen, or continuous improvement, too.”  Tomomi Nakamura, Chairman and CEO Subaru of America, Inc.

I have experience both as a consumer of several Subaru vehicles, and I also have the pleasure of working with them as a client of Pro QC.  As someone passionate about marketing, I also follow their campaigns and other performance indicators as well.  It’s all clear and consistent with the vision and mission.

ASQ recently shared a quote on Facebook regarding the proof of the pudding is still in the eating…

  • 95% of Subaru vehicles sold in the last 10 years are still on the road today.
  • Subaru represents one of the highest repurchase-loyalty ratings in the U.S. market. 
  • For the fourth consecutive year (2010-2013), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has recognized Subaru as the only manufacturer with a Top Safety Pick winner for all models.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has recognized Subaru with more 2014 Top Safety Picks than any other brand.
  • American Customer Satisfaction Index Ratings are not so shabby, as comparatively listed here. (I could also make a reference to Troy’s experience with Noriaki Kano’s presentation regarding Deming if you look at the top 5 in the index.)
  • The zero landfill plants… Bill Troy mentions visiting the Volvo manufacturing facility, but Subaru sure does impress as well.

How do they do it?  Why Subaru? 

To tie this back to the Volvo mission Troy references as the “clearest organization vision statement he had ever come across,” I see it as more of a marketing positioning strategy.  I have doubts as a consumer that it’s even possible, and I wonder how other consumer (stakeholder) concerns are affected by this.  Granted, I did not do further research beyond the ASQ post, and I have nothing against Volvo. 

It states simply, “by 2020, nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.”  Think about that for a minute. They are saying that by the year 2020 (not that long away) you cannot be killed or seriously injured if you are in a new Volvo, no matter the circumstances of the collision.

Per ASQ, “A clear vision helps in aligning everyone towards the same future state or objective, providing a basis for goal congruence.” Considering this definition, is Volvo a victim of Levitt’s marketing myopia?

Troy closes out his post asking about ASQ.  In regards to whether or not ASQ has the right focus and whether it’s communicated well or not, I’d say we’re moving in the right direction.  My takeaway from the recent World Conference, in addition to my 15 years as a member say that it certainly does.

ASQ’s Vision

By making quality a global priority, an organizational imperative, and a personal ethic, ASQ becomes the community for everyone who seeks quality concepts, technology, or tools to improve themselves and their world.

ASQ’s Mission

To increase the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world.

If you’re interested in Pro QC’s mission, we recently went through the strategic planning process as well.  I wrote a blog post about it, of course. 

“The Pro QC Global Team enables our customers to project their interests in quality and conformance. Anywhere. Anytime.”

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Blogging about blogging… Meta


So, I’m giddy yesterday as I checked the mail and discovered the latest issue of Quality Progress had arrived. I may be well into adulthood, but I still snapped a pic of my article and texted it to my mom.  Hehe.

Anyway, I’m glad ASQ chose blogging as a feature topic for the month.  What better way to encourage “raising the voice” in the industry? There’s something intriguing in that it’s Independence Day too.

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” Benjamin Franklin

Based on QP’s reference to there being 6.7 million people writing on blog sites and 12 million blogging via social networks, speech is indeed flowing.

But, back to blogging and my article about blogging… While the other contributors do not appear to write for their employers per se, I do feel very fortunate to say this is part of what I get to do for Pro QC.  I can even remember writing the email a few years ago suggesting that we create a blog and post stuff about quality.  We’ve had really positive feedback since, and I do feel like we’re adding value.

Writing about quality for both ijenn and Pro QC has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know other bloggers in the industry and learning from their insights as well.

From this particular issue of Quality Progress, I enjoyed the perspectives and highly recommend these blogs:

Jimena Calfa – Let’s talk about Quality

I’m totally impressed with the mnemonic device Jimena included in her article and must share.

Be yourself, discover what your passion is and let it flow on your blog.

Lean your blog. Keep it simple, fresh, professional and without waste.

Overcome any bad and negative comments or critics.  Think of them as great opportunities for improvement.

Get focused on a specific audience.

Grow a quality community.

Interact with your readers.

Network: Let the world know about you and your blog.

Get moving and keep improving.

Mark Graban – Lean Blog (Lean in hospitals, business, and our world) 

Right on that “writing must be a passion.”  Love that he’s blogged nearly every weekday for the last nine years… I’m sure he too understands the power of the blinking cursor, both on the easy to write days and those that just “blink.”

John Hunter – Curious Cat Management (Management improvement) 

True, and I’d add that the real skill is being able to do that well…  “Blogging allows you to provide evidence that you have something to say worth listening to.”

Daniel Zrymiak – AQualitEvolution 

There’s a voice to raise because of people out there using “this communication channel to present viewpoints and opinions on the pertinent quality issues of the day.” I agree with Daniel here that blogging has “refined my approach and allowed me to target my interests and communicate more precisely.”

I’m looking forward to joining a few of these guys on the 23rd for an ASQ hosted Hangout. 🙂

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Engineers as leaders?


engineer-wantedI was just reading through the latest View from the Q post and thinking about the various content I had incorporated into Pro QC’s communications during Engineers Week not long ago… The Discover Engineering site is worth mentioning. Even my recent involvement with local education STEM initiatives has played a role in recent observations of this issue of engineers as leaders.

So, do engineers make good leaders? Surprisingly, only 9% of those surveyed as cited by ASQ think so.

I hear (actually see) what the ASQ post is saying, but the data doesn’t connect with me.  I feel like we can’t just clump “engineer” into one category of person that wouldn’t necessarily make a good leader.  Certainly, the extreme version of someone with engineer tendencies wouldn’t fit the bill.  But, couldn’t the same be true of other professions?  If 69% of engineers voted themselves as likely to be good leaders then maybe that’s the more valid data.  Maybe these folks are confident in their analytical and thinking skills, but also feel they can connect with, inspire and motivate others with their personality.  They would almost be like a super human…

Doesn’t the ability of an engineer to lead also depend so heavily on the situation as well?  I would seek out that perfect hybrid of engineer/manager if I wanted to succeed with a team at a technology company.  But, maybe an engineer in charge at the local credit union or restaurant might not be the best idea.  Imagine a distinguished engineer running for President.  If anyone would be capable of staying on top of the country’s problems, it would be an engineer over a lawyer or career politician for sure.  An engineer would have every process broken down and improved for ultimate efficiency in no time.  Money would be bleeding from our pockets all thanks to analytical problem solving skills.

I am fortunate to know a lot of engineers across a wide variety of industries.  I couldn’t say any one of them would make a good or bad leader based on the engineering status alone.  But, the attributes associated certainly do add value to leadership success.

“Engineers create the future.”  ~Ken Jurgensmeyer 



Play well… Creating a culture of quality


Paul Borawski is talking about creating a culture of quality this month, and I’m left wondering how I “feel” in this kind of environment.  It’s an interesting question…

This morning, I was going through my regular stream of news when I came across a LEGO video celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary.  LEGO actually means “play well” in Danish, which is something I love to share with students when I’m going over their LEGO assignment.  I ask them to really think about LEGO and what makes them so special.  I want them to be able to piece together everything we talk about and realize that a company like LEGO is doing it right… Like Steve Jobs and the cabinet story, Christiansen knew that “every detail mattered,” and from the start instilled this kind of thinking throughout the organization as it grew.  Quality is embedded in the fabric of LEGO, no doubt.  When we look at other success stories, like Apple (<3), we see the same thing.  I actually did watch all seventeen minutes of the LEGO video, and I heard “quality” referred to over six times!

While I may not work for Apple or LEGO, I am fortunate enough to say I work for two employers that have succeeded in creating a culture of quality.  If I were asked how it feels, I’d say it’s meaningful.  From day one, I’ve felt like my voice mattered.  With the case of Pro QC, it’s a team environment where we all work together very well for the benefit of the organization.  We believe in and care about the company.  It sounds like a marketing tagline or something, but it’s true.  I feel heard.  I feel respected.

Despite the economic downturn and such, I’ve felt very supportive of my employers and believe the mission and strategies we’re implementing are the best for the organization.  I feel a part of that.

Associating my employers with quality makes me feel proud.  I like talking about what I do… I love it.

I have no doubt that recruiting and retaining dedicated and passionate talent is the key to creating and maintaining a culture of quality.  And, I have no doubt that management plays a significant part here to generate genuine support.  Quality is something that just “feels” good, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

Play well!



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