|ASQ Student Branch at Ferris State University in Grand Rapids, MI sponsored event: West Michigan's Most Influential Quality Professionals. Left to Right: Brian Horstman, Shaun Jones, Brian Maas, Jim VanWieren, Mike Tappy, Andrea Ward, Jim Anderson, and Paul Prunty. |
Quick, simple, and agile. Nothing should be so etched in stone that it cannot be changed. Think about the long-term implications of today’s decisions. What will happen if conditions change? Is your solution one that will stand the test of time or will you eventually have to go back to the drawing board? Can better, more long-lasting decisions be made? Quality professionals should consider the big picture and long-term implications of their decisions.
Bend, don’t break! When faced with pressures to change, quality professionals must find ways to keep up with the change while remaining true to their principles. I recall a major product launch where a “rush to market” approach taken by top management caused an entire team of quality professionals to compromise their principles. Several very important quality-related tollgates in the product development process were skipped. These quality professionals were forced to bend to the point of breaking. And break they did; they compromised their principles. When the product reached the customer for assembly in the field, various components did not fit together.
Haste makes waste. In the example above, hurrying and hastily-made decisions caused the company to spend millions of dollars for product redesign and retrofit. The pressures to hurry can sometimes be great. Quality professionals need to be agile and willing to bend when faced with these pressures to change; important principles, however, should not be compromised. Quality professionals need to stress that “hurry-up can wait” and “slow can sometimes be fast.” We see examples of this every day where we don’t have time to do it right the first time but we always find the time to do it again.
It’s all relative. I left one industry for a job in a completely different industry a few years back and the hiring manager warned me about the fast-paced nature of his industry. Nothing could be further from the truth from my perspective. In the make-to-order industry, I came from we dealt with thousands and thousands of pieces in various stages of production. You could literally stand in one spot in any of our facilities and watch production flow all around you. In this new, one-off production environment, however, you can watch a job sitting on a machine for hours or on the shop floor, sometimes for days, waiting to be processed further. This is hardly a fast-paced environment from my perspective and far from the fast pace environment in Paul Borawski’s consumer electronic product example.
It can be difficult to recall all the positive things you did over the last year to increase your value to your organization. Personally, I do a horrible job of keeping track of the many positive things I do to increase my value to the organization. Like most quality practitioners, I don’t spend enough time making the case for “me.” In general, we are humble servants who would rather focus our attention on how “we as a team” made a difference and how “what we did” adds value. We seldom take enough credit for our own accomplishments. We don’t bang our own drum enough with regard to our own personal contributions and, consequently, we often are shorted when it comes to raises and advancement.
Rather Underemployed than Unemployed
There are times when we must be content with what we have and even settle for less. Being underemployed is far better than the alternative: being unemployed. The 2012 Salary Survey seems to support the fact that we quality professionals, on average, earned less last year than in previous years. It’s currently a buyers market; that is, there seems to be more unemployed and/or underemployed quality professionals out there than in previous years and personnel managers are able to hire a lot of professionals for relatively little money. In these difficult times, when it seems we must accept lesser employment or otherwise be unemployed, we may be overlooking our options. Many of us absolutely do have other options.
Give Yourself a Raise
One such option is to give yourself a raise. Unless you are self-employed, your employer has control over the paycheck you earn at your 9 to 5 job. However, you have control over your free time and how it is spent. You can sit on your couch after work and wish your organization would recognize your contribution one day and give you a raise or you can use this time to give yourself a raise. As quality professionals, we have other options. We can teach a course in quality at our local community college. We can hold an occasional seminar on our favorite quality tool. These and other means of generating income are great ways we quality professionals can give ourselves a raise. Do we ask for a raise from our employer when money is tight and our case may be weak or do we look at creative ways of giving ourselves a raise?
How My Students Define Quality
Week 2 of this semester I asked my MGMT 370 Quality/Operations Management students to take a stab at defining quality. Seven groups with 5 students each put their heads together to craft their own definition of quality. Students were allowed to reference other definitions but if their definition turned out to be even loosely based on someone else’s they were required to credit the source.Below are my student’s submissions. Some liberty was taken with regard to editing their statements, but not much. Any resemblance to someone else’s definition of quality is purely happenstance.
How My ASQ Student Branch Members Define QualityI challenged our ASQ student branch members at Ferris State University – Grand Rapids to take a stab at defining Quality. Find our student branch on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/asqrsofsu/.
My Single Declarative Definition of Quality
Like beauty, quality is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe more accurately, the “definition of quality” is in the eye of the beholder. Most of us, in my opinion, recognize quality when we experience it. We know what “Wows!” us. Below is my single, declarative definition of quality.