MILWAUKEE—Quality must deliver bottom-line results.

According to the findings of the American Society for Quality’s (ASQ) third Futures Study, “Living in the Future,” bottom-line results are one of the seven key forces that are most likely to shape quality in the foreseeable future. The association considers these forces important because they provide insight as to what challenges lie ahead for quality professionals.

  • Quality must deliver bottom-line results. The language of finance, economics and business must become firsthand so as to demonstrate quality’s true impact and investment value.
  • Management systems increasingly will absorb the quality function. The role of the quality professional will be difficult to de-fine as “quality” is further decentralized and becomes an integral part of good management. The role of the quality professional is shifting from doing quality for employees to coaching employees to do it for themselves.
  • Quality will be everyone’s job. The opportunity to develop practices and understanding of the future work force can be initiated by introducing continuous improvement and other quality processes in the educational system.
  • The economic case for a broader application of quality will need to be proven. Economists must be engaged to link the cost of quality to benefits in order for quality methods to be applied to large-scale social and environmental problems.
  • Global demand for products and services will create a global work force. As large corporations move employees from country to country as projects, profits or productivity necessitates, these global citizens are joined by virtual employees who telecommute in what the association calls a global knowledge community.
  • Declining trust and confidence in business leaders and organizations. Consumers will become increasingly aware of, and responsive to, the perceived ethical conduct of the organizations with which they do business. Ethical aspects of a growing number of issues and decisions will be more important and become more visible.
  • Rising customer expectations. Consumers who have become accustomed to speed, efficiency and exceptional customer service when conducting business via the Internet will demand the same in retail transactions. Government, public service and charitable entities also will be measured against these Internet-driven benchmarks.