The COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019 and most of 2020 was unprecedented, and like all organizations ASQ was forced to take necessary precautions and make difficult decisions. Sadly this included the cancellation of the World Conference on Quality Improvement (WCQI), which had been scheduled for May 4-6 in Columbus, Ohio. WCQI is ASQ’s premier conference; it hosts more than 100 exhibitors and 3,000 attendees from around the world. However, ASQ was not deterred and was able to quickly organize and host a WCQI Virtual event that took place on May 6, 2020. This special event was exclusively for ASQ members and provided free of charge.

But WCQI is much more than conference sessions and keynotes. Missing this year was the chance to visit with the many exhibitors, the countless in-person networking opportunities, the Team Excellence Award competition, and the special local attractions. Fortunately ASQ, in conjunction with its geographic sections and technical/industry divisions, will be offering many opportunities for the global quality community to attend conferences this fall. Two of the more prominent conferences are: ASQ’S Quality 4.0 Summit as well as the Inspection Division Conference in Salt Lake City on October 1-2. Both will provide attendees the opportunity to make up for what was missed this spring.

ASQ’s stance on protecting its members and customers was made early and definitively. On April 1, ASQ announced that it was suspending all face-to-face meetings and events through August 31. The decision impacted most of its 241 sections, some division events, and many of its business related meetings. However, ASQ is still committed to fulfilling its mission, “to increase the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world,” therefore its virtual offerings went into high gear.

ASQ’s most prominent virtual offering are webinars. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of webinars; nearly all of ASQ’s technical/industry divisions host webinars in order to continually provide their members with relevant information. Some of the geographic sections are hosting webinars to replace their traditional face-to-face dinner meetings.

Though ASQ has used social media channels for years, usage has increased during this pandemic. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are probably the most common channels being used but the society’s new myASQ community has also seen increased use. 

Despite the current circumstances, there is still a need to provide quality-related training courses, especially certification exam preparatory courses. The ASQ Learning Products team was quickly able to redirect its time and resources in order to make the necessary adjustments needed to quickly replace many of its spring classroom training offerings with virtual courses. Fortunately ASQ’s courses, particularly the new Certified Quality Inspector (CQI) and Certified Quality Technician (CQT) exam preparatory courses, were designed in a modular format which allowed the typical eight hours of instruction to be compartmentalized into multiple two-hour or three-hour segments.

Hopefully COVID-19 will soon be history but until then it has been refreshing to know that, despite the challenges we face during this long period of social distancing, ASQ has the technology and wherewithal to continue to connect in a virtual world. Stay safe.