Why Manage Better?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Future of Quality and thoughts from young minds (not mine!)

We all make our living through quality and should be interested in what the future for Quality looks like. Well, we are lucky. ASQ is doing this for us as they have done for last several years. Paul Borawski, CEO of ASQ and someone working closely on the report has raised a very interesting question. He argues that the future of quality perhaps is critical to the youth of today but the people working the Futures study are all well beyond being categorised as youth. Is there something that we will miss? What do the youth think about quality and its future?

I hate to admit, but I also don’t quality as young by Pual’s definition of 35 years.  But I am not that far off so I can probably answer his question. I also speak to people in quality and many are younger. I spoke to a few for this response. So, I am well prepared, which is not usually the case.

What do professionals under the age of 35 see as the future of quality?
    • Firstly, they want products and services that just work.  No surprise. As long as human kind makes products and delivers services there will be other humans who will want these products and services to work. Or they won’t pay. 
    • Secondly, they want more features. As I discussed more on this I was surprised, more features don’t mean more features necessarily. It means simpler features in most cases. Example: An iPad actually has more features but makes its simpler to do things. The ‘Senior’ phone on market is another interesting feature phone. It’s simpler.
    • Thirdly, they want lower prices. Again no surprises.

What do young people in quality think about the future of quality? This is more of a worry for us (oldies) than to the youth. I interview a lot of people to try and fill positions I have and more often than not I am appalled at the quality of candidates who wish to make a career in Quality. To me this is very strong lead indicator for where our profession is headed.
I know I am a magnet for poor quality, but I don’t want to believe that only the candidates coming to me are causal and shallow on their quality knowledge. 
I do sometimes, land good candidates. And it is a delight to meet them and interact and they resurrect my confidence that the future of quality may well be in competent hands.  Here are some of the themes I hear from them:
    • Quality should and will be on the CEOs desk. I have met some high quality young professionals who want to make a future in quality and they want to interact with the CEO.  Otherwise they will find another profession!
    • Quality should be tied to company strategy for us to make a difference.  The good candidates I meet are very keen to work with companies where they see quality is a company strategy and not just a Six Sigma program.

I was also intrigues by Paul’s lament that the youth today doesn’t even know who Deming and Juran were. Well, I would blame the current generation of quality professionals. How many of us know about Deming and Juran and an even more depressing question is how many of us take the trouble to talk about them when we conduct training sessions.  How will the youth know, if we don’t teach?
What can we do about the future of quality today to make it better tomorrow? I have written about it earlier and will repeat:
    • Don’t tolerate poor quality…raise your voice
    • If you want the youth to be interested in quality, be a role model.

Is it that easy? Maybe not.  But we have to start sometime and the best time is NOW.

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