ASQ WCQI 2017 Conference Reflections
It has been four hectic but fun days at the World Conference in Quality Improvement at Charlotte NC Apr 30 to May 03. I’ve attended this national conference in 1991, 93, 94, 97, 2004, 2008, and 2014. It is certainly a big difference from 1991 where I presented a paper on TQM training in Milwaukee. The current event was supported by advanced technology and social media.
First, the keynote speakers. On the first morning, the ballroom filled to capacity with over 2000 were treated to a lively innovation talk by Jeremy Gutsche, Innovation Expert. It brought a fresh look at innovation by talking about creating an Origami scorpion by a NASA employee who broke out of the box. In 2014, the conference started in a similar way by having an artist demonstrating innovation thinking and creativity.
Geoff Colvin, an editor with Fortune magazine, delivered the second keynote on Tuesday morning. It was an eye opener with focus on asking ‘what humans can do better than robots’ rather than ‘what robots can’t do’. Humans like to interact with other humans in areas where we need empathy and compassion – all these beyond robots with or without AI.
Celeste Headlee, a journalist with NPR, PBS and CNN, provided several gems on effective communication. Her emphasis was on listening to others and not always touting one’s past successes. The speakers gave us a perspective that balances technical focus with critical social skills.
I have the privilege to serve as moderator in four presentations besides attending several others. Some of these attracted over 300 attendees. I was impressed with new perspectives on classical techniques such as the 5-Why root cause approach. Another was an excellent presentation on ways to increase human capability and performance. It emphasized leadership skills to foster a mindset of quality and safety. Another was a lean six sigma program instituted in a technical college. The result was significant waste reduction and cost avoidance in many areas including mail delivery across campus buildings. I enjoyed introducing the speakers and listening to feedback and questions from the audience.
I networked with new friends, speakers and colleagues I worked with many years ago. One attained the Fellow grade, and another is a Crosby medal winner. I plan to attend the next WCQI at Seattle either as a technical proposal reviewer, moderator or a presenter.
About the author:
HonSung Yong is an ASQ senior member since 1990. His first appointment as a quality engineer at Novatel mobile communications inspired him to earn CQE and CQA certifications in 1988. Yong is an Ontario registered engineer in industrial and manufacturing engineering. He holds BEng and MSc degrees in engineering and completed doctoral studies in quality management at Virginia Tech. He practised quality engineering in diverse industries including fiber optics, steel fabrication, medical device, and transit safety and reliability. He taught quality as senior lecturer at the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, SAIT and the University of Calgary.