ASQ Influential Voices Contribution: More Than Meets the Eye

In his October blog post titled “Going Beyond the Traditional Quality Function,” Paul Borawski, CEO of ASQ, recalled a meeting he attended with a progressive business coalition. Those meeting attendees must not have been your traditional quality professionals because Borawski seemed surprised at how often quality-related topics came up in the group’s dialogue. Traditional quality skills and abilities, such as “workflow, systems, processes, metrics, cycle time reduction, supplier management, and more” came up repeatedly. This prompted Borawski to wonder “how well understood and embraced are the contributions of the quality professional beyond what is traditionally thought of as the quality function?” Borawski indicated he hopes the use of quality is widespread but he fears that it is not.

Good news, bad news.

The good and bad news here is the fact that tools and techniques of the quality trade are no longer the sole domain of the traditional quality professional. Look at any job site for the skills required of Industrial, Mechanical, or Manufacturing Engineering positions, for instance, and you will find many of the same skills and abilities required of those professionals as those traditionally held in reserve for quality professionals. Quality tools and techniques are so well-defined and widely known thanks to courses and workshops dedicated to specific tools and techniques that most any student or workshop attendee can amply utilize that tool.

More good news.

In my assessment, it still takes the quality professional with his or her comprehensive understanding of systems, processes, and their interactions to know how best to apply the variety of quality tools and techniques required to achieve total quality. Where Borawski hopes the use of quality is widespread but fears it is not, my hope is quality is thoughtfully applied by quality professional and NOT applied as the program of the month by lay-professional.

More than meets the eye.

Borawski welcomes our insights, experience, and thoughts on how to increase the value of quality in organizations beyond what is traditionally thought of as the quality function. My contention has always been there is more to the quality profession and its professionals than meets the eye; it’s more than the traditional quality tools and techniques. The quality profession is a lifestyle. A true quality professional lives this lifestyle. Practicing the quality trade is only part of what I call the total quality professional (TQP). The total quality professional also teaches, writes, consults, mentors, and contributes to the Society. This is how quality professionals go beyond what is traditionally thought of as the quality function. How well is this understood and embraced by our own colleagues?

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