ORLANDO-The 2007 ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement, “Fueling Innovation Through People and Quality,” April 30 to May 2, offered attendees a chance to learn from experts and other quality professionals.

Adam Kahane, founding partner of Generon Consulting, spoke during the first session about “Creating Breakthrough Innovation in Complex Contexts.”

In the early 1990s, Kahane was working for Royal Dutch/Shell in London, and thought he would retire as an oil executive. This was disrupted when the company sent him-the youngest and most junior member of the staff-to South Africa to facilitate the country’s transition to democracy. His life changed dramatically, as he fell in love with the country and the people, including one particular person: the project manager. “You can really only do this with one or two projects,” Kahane joked.

Kahane has worked in more than 50 countries, and explained problem-solving techniques that could be applied to a range of situations, whether it was a peace project in Guatemala or a Fortune 500 company.

Other key speakers included Dan Korem and Jim Carroll. Korem, president of Korem & Associates, provided a session on “The Art of Profiling: Treating People Right the First Time and Delivering Results.” Video clips gave attendees a chance to profile and determine if someone was more like General Schwarzkopf or Mister Rogers, for example. Auditors and those between 19 and 26 years old will be happy to know that they often have the best track record when first profiling, Korem says.

The second day’s sessions began with Carroll, an international futurist, trends and innovation expert, describing our rapidly changing world. For example, his son described 35-millimeter film as something from “the olden days,” which illustrates how quickly our world is changing, and how product life cycles are evolving.

This era of rapid change offers opportunities for growth, as well as for error. Therefore, Carroll predicts that quality experts will become more niche-oriented to combat this changing world.