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My Top 10 World Quality Takeaways – #WCQI16

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FullSizeRender (2)ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement has once again come and gone, this year celebrating 70 years of quality in Milwaukee, the association’s current headquarters.

I think this is my 7th WCQI, or at least that’s how many badges I’ve retained.  This year, as ASQ reflected on seven decades, I considered my own journey. I was inspired to see a local quality superstar, Ken Stephens, acknowledged for over 60 WCQIs. I have a long way to go!

The first few years of attending WCQI, I did so to gain more knowledge about quality because it was the industry I worked in. I also thought networking among the community would be good for both my personal and professional endeavors.

As the years went on, I continued to get inspired to be one of the people you notice walking around the show either presenting or participating as an obvious part of the member-driven association leadership. When a good friend of mine asked me to consider a position as our local section’s Education Chair a few years ago, I saw the value of ASQ and my experience at WCQI go up significantly.

You miss a lot at WCQI as just a passive observer.  You’d be misled to believe the key value of the show includes what you learn from the sessions. Underneath is a close community of like-minded individuals that participate and make ASQ what it is. Participation is mandatory here.

My top 10 takeaways from this year’s WCQI include:

  1. It is such an honor to return again as a speaker at this event. For real. I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive about my time slot coinciding with a local tour, but I was relieved to see a good number of people attend. Connecting personal wellness and quality tools was personal. It was cathartic.
  2. There is never enough time to spend with everyone you want to at this annual event! Throughout the year, I connect with so many seemingly wonderful quality professionals that I look forward to spending time with. But, it goes by so quickly. When I do see a new face with a name I recognize, it’s always a joyful feeling and a welcome personal introduction.
  3. Hospitality suites must be managed carefully. I have yet to perfect attendance here.
  4. Exhibitor life is not nearly as fun as that of an attendee. I’ll just say it like it is.  Setting up a booth, hanging out in the booth and taking down the booth can at times seem daunting.  But, I’d be lying if I said talking to people that stop by doesn’t completely recharge me. This year, Pro QC generated some solid leads and added a few auditors to the team. The “<3 Quality” pins I had made were a hit! – I also worked the Social Responsbility Technical Community booth for a couple of hours. With limited resources, we really pulled together something that definitely helped spread the word. We collected ideas on a flip board that we’ll be following up with via the LinkedIn Group over the weeks to come.
  5. One person, or a small number of people, can really make a difference.  There are only a handful of us leading the SRTC currently, but we worked together to get a few minutes of time at the SAC meeting.  And, I believe we were successful in communicating the SR purpose and educating leadership on how their respective sections can make a difference within their own communities. That’s good stuff right there.
  6. I finally did OK with the ASQ TV taping.  For the past few years, I’ve been asked if I would like to participate in sharing a brief story with ASQ TV. But, this  is the first year where I think I’ve actually represented myself well. Laugh if you will, but that camera turns on and I get stupid. I challenge myself each time they ask because that’s who I am and it’s advice I give to others. So, I tried and tried and think I finally came up with something acceptable this year.  I’m taking props on that one. Personal win.
  7. The Tuesday evening networking event is a must-do. ASQ did such a great job this year getting attendees to and from the Harley Davidson Museum. It was a great environment to follow-up with a few of the people I had met earlier.  Dancing is always fun too, although my karaoke version of Son of a Preacher Man on the first evening did leave something to be desired.
  8. Milwaukee was a blast! Sure, it was chilly for a Florida girl… But, it is a beautiful city with a pretty good selection of local brew and a complementary local culture to match. I checked out the Wicked Hop and Bryant’s as local dives. Both were awesome!
  9. This is my first year volunteering with the Education Division. I recently stepped down from the local section and have gotten more involved here.  I’m so thankful for the new connections I’ve made, and I can’t wait for the Quality Education Conference & Workshop (QECW) coming up in November! I’m excited to be working with them on the conference and with social media in general. Check out our Twitter page for pics and posts from WCQI. Fun group! Great mission!
  10. Turkeys mating. Thanks for ruing the breast Dubner!  

Counting down to next year…

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What I learned about quality in Italy

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RP1030937ome has always been on my “list” of places to see .  When the very word once meant civilization itself, it’s something probably worth checking out.

Now, when you ask someone about Italian made products, it’s likely they are going to say they’re high quality.  I think of Prada, Ferrari, Italian suits, etc.  I’ve worked with a few Pro QC clients there over the years as well.  It’s true that nothing gets done in August, and it can be very frustrating if you’re not the one on vacation.

I’m sad to say that my perception of the actual quality of “stuff” during my travels there was not impressive.  My best example would be the poorly designed shower that would be considered dysfunctional to anyone else in the world.  I even noticed the news people are still wearing these prehistoric microphones and often read off the actual newspaper.  QVC was there, but it was nothing like our star studded performances.  Oh, we sat for hours in a closed-up train from Naples to Rome with no air conditioning.  Just stale, musty air for hours and not one person says a word.  Lucky for us, it clicked back on a few moments before we arrived.  There was a moment where I wasn’t sure if I’d make it out of there or not.  Nothing ever seemed to work right.  All of the cars and scooters had dents and dings… I couldn’t see the love.  By the number of tourists I saw, revenue shouldn’t be the problem here.

Disclaimer: I’m only referring to the current cultural conditions.  Ironically, at the same time I’m making this observation, I’m touring some of the most amazing sites of human ability that I will probably ever see.  Whoever built St. Peter’s isn’t at all in the same blood line of whoever designed those showers.

I realized very quickly that Italians do have a quality of “life” thing going on that is really very impressive.  While there, I heard that the average Italian consumes one bottle of wine per day and lives to the age of 80.  It was uncommon to see someone not smoking.  People were eating carbohydrate rich dinners at midnight… and, all of this seems just crazy to most of us. But, it’s true.  The cultural experience was so much more social than ours and definitely less stressed out overall.  They look happy.

The trip was amazing and absolutely met my expectations.  Since my return, I’ve tried to maintain a small part of that mentality. But, I do wonder if quality of life has to exist at the cost of reduced quality of stuff?

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Asian factories flock to Miami Beach

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Good times were to be had last week in Miami as we participated in the 2nd Global Sources Electronics & Components show in the area!  It was actually my first time to Miami, although it is only a few hours away from Tampa.  Also, a death in the family resulted in our VP having to stay in IL.  My friend and colleague Jeffrey Moellering was scheduled last minute. He actually got some great photos of our adventures there.

I admit I struggled to get the booth together after catching a 6am flight.  Having no directions or vision of how the end product would look, I did finally ask for some union assistance.  With a two-hour limit at $100 per hour, it took a guy 20 minutes to throw it together and tell me it would be fine without certain parts obviously left over.  Having taken it down now, I don’t think getting it back to together myself will be an issue.  I learned something new that day.

A surprise visit from the owner and Managing Director of Pro QC, Ed Sanchez, was a welcome event!  He stopped by the booth on Tuesday and was able to spend some time with us over dinner.  It was like old times with me, Ed and Jeffrey all out to dinner chatting it up.  We strolled Lincoln Road and sampled some German beer and local fare.  I’ve worked with Pro QC for going on 14 years now and have enjoyed every moment!  Working with such knowledgeable, cool people certainly adds to my commitment.

The show itself was a lot of fun.  There were literally hundreds of Asian factories represented, selling everything from cable to baby clothes and everything in between.  I had fun talking to entrepreneurs looking for opportunities in various markets and talking about the importance of quality in that process.

It was a great show… It was a great trip!

 

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Adventures in China…

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About 12 years ago, I felt really fortunate to be able to venture over to Taipei to visit Pro QC’s headquarters.  With an undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities, I couldn’t think of anything more awesome.

A few months ago, I proposed a trip to our offices in China.  I was getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of social media content development and participation (turns out there’s a good reason for that… people don’t have “free” access to these sites there and more people don’t know about Facebook than do).  Either way, I proposed taking a nine day whirlwind tour to get video and other content and also educate our team there on how they can help.  My idea was approved.

I’m writing all kinds of stuff about the trip on the Pro QC blog and such, but I do have some personal observations as well.

Shanghai…

So, I had no idea how much land would be necessary  to house ~25 million people…  it’s massive… it’s vertical.  The first thing you notice leaving the airport are all the “green” billboards in English.  I didn’t note there was a great deal of smog or anything, but they obviously realize they have a major PR problem on their hands. I also heard that production facilities have been moved further outside the major city centers.  Pro QC had arranged for a driver that was pretty great about introducing me to all the sights on the way in.

I had so much fun at the Yuyuan Bazaar and Yu Gardens.  It was such a cheesy thing to have done, but I’d do it again if given the opportunity.  The Gardens were exactly how I had imagined… a natural, yet well maintained, space for peaceful enjoyment would look.  The carp… weeping willow looking trees, jade stones that were 1000s of years old… it was magnificent!

I’d have to say the highlight of Shanghai was definitely the night out with our Managing Director and a few others.  Dinner was awesome (Lost Heaven) and we ended up at this little Beatles themed bar called Abbey Road where there was a band doing covers ranging from Nirvana to Zeppelin.

Ningbo…

I won’t say the bus ride from Shanghai to Ningbo was the best experience, but I can’t say the same experience would be any better here in the U.S. (with the exception of the bathroom accommodation situation that I’m not even going to discuss).  I’m just not a good bus rider… I get motion sickness, the smell bothers me and I just hate sitting that close to people in any kind of hot environment.  If I take away the “princess perspective”, for little to nothing, I travelled three hours to quite an industrialized and historic city of ~10 million.  The views along the way were spectacular.  It’s amazing to see how much food is being grown… even though you realize how many people there are.

I’m going to own up to requesting a check-out of the first hotel I stayed at here.  I guess I’m kind of a hotel snob too, although I did prepare myself that a work trip wasn’t going to be what we would necessarily book for a personal vacation.  My general OCD to have things new and shiny sometimes affects me more than I’d like.  In my defense, there was some shady business going on there… Fast forward to the Crowne Plaza in the city center and I’m livin’ large.  There’s amazing shopping in the square right across the street (Tianyi Square), and the hotel itself was sweet!

I had an opportunity to go through a factory in Ningbo, and that was pretty awesome… although, the no air conditioning thing did test my limits.  I had gone through one in Taipei and several here in the U.S.  It’s just interesting to see the relationship of resources to region… also, there’s serious variability when it comes to productivity.  As with all of the office visits, meeting up with our team was really fun!  I’ve worked with many of those guys for nearly 13 years!

Shenzhen (Shekou)…

This was my favorite city… I guess it’s just kind of cool how the government took this little fishing village ~30 years ago and decided to make it an experiment in capitalism (special economic zone).  It’s super high-tech and brand new… They even “moved” the sea back to make room for luxury high-rise residences.  The view of Hong Kong from the sea walk is breathtaking!  We strolled along the water one evening and saw people of all ages doing slow dancing in unison or tai chi… children were playing… it was peaceful.

Ah, I did get to go on another factory tour and saw Foxconn on the way.  I’ve talked so much about Foxconn in my classes that it was pretty cool to see an operation that employs and houses nearly 600,000 people (yes, I did see the “nets”).  The factory I toured was making little Betty Boop figurines… I don’t think people ever consider how much labor and general resources goes into production of even something that simple.  It’s crazy! (I’m hoping my video will do a good job… I need to figure out editing first).

Hong Kong…

My expectation of riding a ferry was that I would stand outside in a romantic scene that included wind in my hair.  Instead, I pulled all of my luggage up three flights of stairs to a huge yacht looking boat.  It was a bus on water… and, that thing moved!  The ride took ~45 minutes and included some amazing scenes of the HK port (largest in the world).  Holy crap, so much stuff moves in and out of there (mostly out).

I only had a night in Hong Kong, but I’ll say that it’s one crazy cool city… like New York on crack times 10.  You get off the ferry and are greeted with a series of escalators (not stairs like in the mainland), a mall, taxis standing by to assist… It’s a mega concrete jungle surrounded by mountains and beautiful coastlines.  I really, really wanted to go see the Big Buddha , but I didn’t want to deal with the sky lift ride that late… I went shopping instead and did actually get quite a bit of work done once I could finally access social media sites!  Next time, I want to check out the Temple Street Night Market and the Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastery.

In general, China is a seemingly well run machine.  City centers are comparable to that of the nicest cities here in the U.S. (some nicer)… when you leave the city centers, it’s exactly how you would imagine it to be in areas with a great deal of industrialization going on while still dealing with the obvious issues of developing as a major player in the world economy.  It’s obvious they are master investors in infrastructure and seem to create an odd form of harmonious chaos for the people.  People naturally have a larger sense of culture and history, but are able to incorporate innovation and change without having to compromise.  It’s really very interesting…

Oh, I was a bit worried about communication with the crew while I was away… but, Luke figured out FaceTime would work on the iPhone with airplane mode and WiFi. Internet was widely available in the hotels, which made things super nice.  I still found myself trying to pull up FaceBook and Twitter, but it just wasn’t going to happen without a special setup.  And… there were lots of Starbucks and KFCs in the downtown areas.  I did eat at KFC once for lunch and can say it was different, but good.  In fact, all of the food (with maybe the exception of the squid and fish heads) was that way.

Overall, China was an amazing adventure!  I met so many wonderful people, saw crazy cool stuff and ate things I never thought I would, eventually using chopsticks like a boss… highly recommended!

Check out the pictures…

 

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Good Times…World Conference on Quality & Improvement #WCQI11 #ASQ

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Oh boy, the last couple of days have been a whirlwind adventure… although, most things turn out quite adventurous for me anyway!

I left Tampa before dawn on Sunday in what I would consider the worst lightning storm ever!  I almost didn’t want to leave for the airport, but I’m just that dedicated to quality… lol!

I enjoy travel, so having an opportunity to come out to Pittsburgh and talk about quality has been an awesome experience! Before the conference stuff started, I had some time on Sunday to check out the Warhol Museum and eat a famous Primati Brothers sandwich.  The Warhol Museum was amazing… the sandwich, not so much.  The place was packed though, so what do I know?

As for the conference, I checked out the exhibition area several times.  I liked that there weren’t so many exhibitors that it was overwhelming.  At tradeshows like CES, it’s almost impossible to see everything you want to and talk to people.  At WCQI11, I had an opportunity to talk with representatives from the various divisions and even see MasterControl, the company that has recently included a few of my articles in their newsletter. I couldn’t resist getting several books from the Quality Press booth… And, I also scored a ton of SRO’s Pathways to Social Responsibility 2011 booklets for use as an assignment in next semester’s management class (MAN1021). Oh, and I’m thankful for the Welcome Reception that evening because I was starving after pecking at the Primati sandwich!

I don’t even know where to start with what I’ve accomplished today (Saturday)…

* I attended the keynote this morning and heard Adm. Thad Allen, USCG (Ret.) talk about his responsbilities and lessons learned  regarding his leadership roles during incidents such as Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  I love his perspective… “My shareholders are the people of the United States of America.” How many times have we gotten the problems wrong and thus answered the wrong questions?  I enjoyed his presentation!

* Based on the recommendation of an exhibitor, I checked out the Strategy Planning & Lean Tools session.  They had a cool little magic box thing that I wanted to learn how to use.  And, I did really enjoy the hands-on activity, but I would have liked to have had more time to really go over the material.  The speaker, J.D. Marhevko,, did provide a website available to anyone that has webinars and other useful information regarding the subject. I think the X-Matrix worksheet she went over would be a great in-class activity at HCC! I could see it in practical application at Pro QC too.  Oh, I won an ASQ calculator in addition to all that knowledge… cool!

* I sat in on the afternoon speaker, which was Brian Joiner.  I love hearing people talk about sustainability and social responsibility.  And, this guy had a plan!  “The tide has turned”… I hope so Brian! I haven’t talked about externalities since my MBA economics class (one of my favorite classes, so not a negative thing). I do love what Brian did with Madison, WI though… very inspiring!

* I participated in a video interview regarding my participation as an Influential Voice… that was fun! I’m totally waiting to see this footage… lol

* I attended a fabulous special reception that honored key influencers in the industry… I was totally humbled to be recognized as an Influential Voice! There are so many key players, many of them volunteers, that put their hearts and souls into making ASQ what it is.  That’s pretty special!  Oh, and I did get a pic with Paul Borawski, ASQ’s CEO and fellow blogger, which was a nice way to wrap-up the evening and close-out the conference. It’s been real…

Tomorrow, the conference will go on but I’ll be heading back to sunny (hot) Florida.  I’ll be following the #WCQ11 tweets though and will catch up via YouTube and the other Influential Voices. 🙂

Side Note: Pittsburgh, PA is a pretty cool city! Downtown is bustling and there are all kinds of neat places to eat and shop. Oh, and the people are all really nice and should be very proud of living in such a nationally recognized “green” hotspot.

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