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Monday, December 13, 2010

My Excellent Adventure into the Mecca of Quality

American Society for Quality (ASQ) Healthcare Division Chairman Dr. Joe Fortuna (an enthusiastic REC supporter, it should be noted) invited me (no, emphatically, repeatedly implored me) to come and participate in the 2010 December weekend Strategic Planning Retreat of ASQ's Healthcare Division (HCD) Leadership.

You just can't say "no" to that (I was honored and flattered). So, above, here I am on final approach over Lake Michigan into snow-covered MKE. Below, downtown Milwaukee, the ASQ headquarters building.

Above, "River Walk," right outside HQ and the adjacent hotel. Yeah, it was cold. And got progressively colder across the weekend. By the time I flew out last night, the wind chill was 5 degrees F, with 40+ MPH wind gusts. My plane fishtailed down the runway and then seemed to just jump right up off the ground after only several hundred yards.

"...uh, yes, thanks, I would like a drink. What Scotch do you have? Dewars? That'll be fine. Rocks. Make it a double..."

Below, a wall of ASQ history.

Above, in the foyer just outside the main conference room, a Deming Red Bead display.

Mecca for us QC/QA/QI types. I, in particular, am hardcore Deming. In addition to internalizing his acclaimed work "Out of the Crisis," I even own and have read "Some Theory of Sampling" (not that I fully grasp all of it).

My wife and I have been loyal ASQ members for more than two decades. We live and breathe this stuff.
(BTW, you can click on any of the photos to see the original size shot).

We worked hard the whole time. A packed agenda (all focused on how the ASQ HCD can add tangible value and consequently grow the membership for the Division and ASQ more broadly). On Saturday we went straight through from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a "working lunch" amid the proceedings. Dr. Joe was an active and forceful (and genial) taskmaster.

Everyone I met was utterly impressive, too. Lots of talent in that assemblage. Pretty cool weekend for this lowly REC grunt.


We had a presentation regarding ASQ's strategic plan, part of which involves the organization's "re-branding" effort. We are to henceforth regard ourselves as "ASQ: The Global Voice of Quality." No more reference to the "American Society for Quality" long the descriptive phrase allusive of the ASQ acronym. It's now an explicity international effort.

ASQ CEO Paul Borawski, who presented to us on the current and upcoming ASQ strategic direction, blogs about ASQ's new path on his "View from the Q" blog.

Here's Paul speaking to the future of "quality" in 2009:


We also had a nice presentation on the "Socially Responsible Organization" of which ASQ is an integral part.
"The SRO* is a new international movement to share insights and expertise on, and examples of, the evolving area of social responsibility, and to help define what it means to be a socially responsible organization.

"The SRO* aims to explain the business case for social responsibility and the role of quality to achieve results..."

"...ASQ was awarded the administration of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Social Responsibility by the American National Standards Institute. The U.S. TAG is the U.S. member of an international working group chartered with developing an international standard on social responsibility. ASQ’s involvement is a direct extension of its existing leadership role in standards development."

"The social responsibility guidelines will be released in mid- to late 2010 as ISO 26000. The ISO 26000 guidelines will cover seven core areas:

  • organizational governance
  • human rights
  • labor practices
  • fair operating practices
  • environment
  • consumer issues
  • contribution to the community and society..."
I signed up to participate. We'll see what ensues.


This was a very interesting demo presentation of a web app built by ASQ wherein clinical providers can sign up, enter data, and receive continually updating dashboard status feedback regarding their readiness for both ARRA / HITECH Meaningful Use and Baldrige criteria. This was to have been presented to ONC brass in DC the week following our conference, and, as soon as I learn of the upshot, I will report on it.