3 Lessons from ASQ’s 2016 World Conference on Quality & Improvement

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Courtesy of Intelex Technologies Inc.

Intelex had the pleasure of attending ASQ’s 2016 World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI) #WCQI2016 in Milwaukee from May 16 to 18.  The annual conference is ASQ’s major event for Quality professionals around the world to network, learn about the latest trends and technology, and develop their skills by attending presentations on numerous topics. From Intelex’s product demonstration to the closing keynote address, this year’s event  continued the tradition of sharing new knowledge and insights with quality professionals from around the world.

Lesson 1: Keep the focus on the customer

Intelex walked the audience through some of the challenges associated with integrating a Quality Management System in their business especially when transitioning to a new standard such as ISO 9001:2015.  From providing financial justification to empowering the workforce to focusing on value add activities, we touched on a number of topics that resonated with the audience.  The goal was to stress the importance of changing behavior to focus in on the customer.  To help everyone visualize this paradigm, we asked the audience to imagine that their customers were standing over their shoulder on a day-to-day basis observing the decisions being made and actions being taken as part of their normal operations. We then asked whether these customers standing over their shoulders would be cheering them or second-guessing what they were seeing from their suppliers.  This mindset is important because, between non-stop meetings, strategy discussions, operational challenges, and delivering projects for customers, it is easy to lose sight of this perspective.

Having widely adopted software that changes employee behavior is important to prevent poor decisions. -Tweet This!

We also talked about the importance of developing strategies to help customers compete in today’s global marketplace.  Today’s global competitive environment requires that companies continually find ways to innovate, reduce costs, improve operational efficiency, and improve organizational culture all while exceeding customer expectations and delivering memorable and positive customer experiences that go beyond a single sales transaction.  Today, customers expect and demand more from the suppliers of the products and services that they purchase.

The new ISO 9001:2015 standard helps organizations improve efficiency through improvements made in the standard such as the harmonization of clauses with other ISO standards, introduction of risk based thinking which replaces the historical concept of preventive actions, and leaves it up to the business to decide whether a quality manual needs to be created and maintained.   These changes to the ISO standards demonstrate to organizations that ISO is shifting towards development and implementation of standards that have a meaningful business impact.  These standards are no longer just about creating documentation as historically believed.  The newer ISO standards focus on helping organizations become efficient, agile, and productive entities that can focus more on innovation rather than wasteful administrative activities.  The shift to harmonize clauses across multiple standards also helps organizations to move closer towards an Integrated Management System approach.  In this case, tools that are commonly used across standards can be standardized to help streamline organizational activities and reduced costs for certification and maintenance of multiple management systems.

We polled the room and learned that over 50% of the attendees have already started to work on certification to ISO 9001:2015 ahead of the September 2018 deadline.  With their new paradigm, if their customers  were watching them work, they’d be proud of the commitment to quality they’d witnessed.

Lesson 2: Innovation is ramping up in the Environmental, Health, Safety, and Quality space

We provided attendees with the opportunity to experience firsthand what the Intelex software looks like as we demoed the Integrated ISO 9001 application, a comprehensive QMS application designed to help customers adhere to the requirements of ISO 9001:2015. We also showcased our new industry leading Document Control solution that was launched on March 31, 2016.  In one case, we even ended the demonstration early because it was exactly what the prospect was looking for and started to discuss strategy around how to introduce Intelex to their organization and meet their Quality Champions for a face-to-face discussion.

Meeting our peers was an opportunity for us to observe the latest and greatest in technology offerings.  First, we learned more about Taproot, one of the leading providers of a proprietary root cause analysis tool and methodology in the industry.  In speaking with their team, we learned about their passion for solving complex problems and how traditional tools don’t always work. It was also a great to see all of the activities relating to the International Team Excellence Awards offered by ASQ as we saw some of the work being done in the industry to solve some tough quality problems using a variety of tools like fishbone analysis, 5 why, SIPOC, Six Sigma, and others. Congratulations to Jabil Circuit for winning the ASQ International Team Excellence Awards for the work done on their project!  Well done.

Lesson 3: The 5 Obsessions of Innovators

The purpose of Josh Linkner’s closing keynote address was to instill the confidence in the audience that they can approach problem solving with a new paradigm.  This was achieved by providing his framework that he called the 5 Obsessions of Innovators  to help everyone think differently about how to leverage innovation and creativity to thrive and succeed in both their personal and professional lives.

The 5 Obsessions of Innovators that he shared with the audience to help them achieve “Where’s Waldo” type awareness and heighten their creative abilities included:

  1. Get Curious: Always pause and ask questions to develop heightened awareness of curiosity in the day-to-day to find sources of inspiration to innovate.
  2. Crave What’s Next: Start with a blank page and put your best practices aside to focus on discovering and implementing “next practices”.
  3. Defy Tradition:Don’t be complacent and salute the past.  We so commonly hear that “but that’s how we’ve always done it.”  Well, that doesn’t mean that is how we should continue to do what we’ve done in the past.  Some examples of doing things differently are Target’s new pill bottle design and doughnuts transformed into cronuts!  Who knew these cool products would become so successful.
  4. Get Scrappy:The only way you’re going to learn is to get your hands dirty.  We’ll never have enough resources so we need to discover ways to optimize and amplify what’s available so we can do the impossible!  We need to stop whining and complaining and tap into our ingenuity, innovation, and creativity to make up for any deficiencies.
  5. Adapt Fast:Organizations need to be nimble and flexible to be able to respond quickly to changing market conditions, new technologies, changes in legislation, and other factors.  Consider the billboard wars between Audi and BMW.  Because both Audi and BMW were able to adapt fast, they were able to get the majority of consumers’ mind share during this time while shutting out other automakers in California..

Well that’s it from the Intelex team that represented Quality at this year’s ASQ World Conference on Quality & Improvement!  We’re looking forward to ASQ’s 2017 World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thanks again for a great event!  Signing off from the Intelex team!

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