I welcome the opportunity to respond to the Probing the Limits column, "Wake Up, ASQ!" (Quality, August 2003, p. 18). By speaking to Mr. Dalgleish in advance, perhaps he could have gained an understanding of the changes underway at the American Society for Quality (ASQ). Be assured, we are not asleep. ASQ is awake, vital and strong.
While ASQ membership has been declining, member retention has been stable, as has member satisfaction. Decline in membership stems from a decline in new members. This suggests waning interest in quality, which should alarm anyone who understands quality and understands the full potential yet unrealized. ASQ doesn't see these trends as something to defend, but rather as the need for the involvement and support of everyone who understands quality, and a concentrated effort to look forward, not back. These are complex and dynamic times for society, the economy and quality. While Mr. Dalgleish correctly asserts the timelessness of the knowledge provided by Dr. Deming and Dr. Juran, this knowledge must evolve and be adapted to the times.
Many of the suggestions Mr. Dalgleish makes are well underway. Any efforts to bring objective stakeholder views to the forefront will help and are welcomed. Feedback is always a gift and we look forward to Mr. Dalgleish's effort to turn what he hears into advice for ASQ. We invite him to share his views in person, and we welcome the opportunity to explore the implications of what he learns.
Here are some of the major initiatives underway:
We're devising a new member model that will provide a continuum of member benefits and a variety of choices for the level of involvement and commitment each member wishes to pursue.
We have launched an initiative to build awareness of the strategic and operational benefits of quality, and the value of those who practice quality concepts, as essential to organizational and community success.
By demonstrating the economic wisdom of embracing quality, we will provide organizational decision makers the rationale to be true champions for quality.
We are reorganizing to bring all of our resources into focus on specific sectors such as manufacturing, service, health care and education. Changing to a market-focused orientation will mean members have better, faster access to tools and knowledge targeted to their needs.
We're convinced these and other actions will strengthen our members professionally and make ASQ a community of choice for anyone who practices quality concepts.
Our strategy emphasizes continuity and smooth transitions rather than periodic lurches, and it depends on widespread ongoing dialogue with many people rather than discrete-time input from a handful of "experts." We are currently crossing the country to engage large numbers of people in these strategic dialogues. We value input from our members and potential members.
We are committed to adapting the quality fundamentals to changing conditions, preparing quality practitioners to function in tomorrow's work world with the best tools and knowledge available, and ensuring quality stays on the business and community agenda. To that end, we are open to new opportunities for helping our customers achieve solutions that work, create value and improve performance.
Kenneth E. Case
American Society for Quality