It has been a while since I explored the world of those committed to improving “quality.” My own work at the U.S. Department of Labor was focused on this for nearly 15 years. The quality improvement movement grew from the need to rebuild shattered economies and industrial capacity after the second World War. But the brilliant pioneers of the quality improvement movement, Deming, Juran, Feigenbaum, Scholtes, and others, all saw that improving manufacturing processes to improve results, was only the tip of the iceberg.
The real goal is a combination of continuous improvement to organizational processes, and the relentless inquiry-exploration-observation-adaptation necessary to influence outcomes and coherence in the most complex systems and challenges. This is a form of “both…and…” thinking and doing, that requires leadership awareness, shared commitment, distributed cognition and accountability, and the fearless journey through uncertainty.
For many years I worked within ASQ as a member-leader. I have seen the “global state of quality” rise and fall in both government and industry. Today, as ASQ turns the page to new executive leadership, it is my hope that we may see renewal and new directions not only in the movement for organizational improvement, but in ASQ’s own processes and outcomes, as the global champion of change.