Recently I had the honor of being invited to speak at a local ASQ conference. While there, I was informed that over forty percent of the attendees were not ASQ members so it was not surprising that I shared a lunch table with several attendees who were interested in knowing what ASQ’s purpose is. I was able to explain that ASQ’s purpose is to empower individuals and communities of the world to achieve excellence through quality. While ASQ’s purpose can be summed up in one sentence, how it goes about fulfilling it requires a novel to explain. ASQ is a highly intricate organization with numerous boards, councils, committees and over 250 member units, each of which is autonomous. It would take far more room than this column allows to expound upon all the offerings provided.

ASQ’s Strategic Planning Committee in conjunction with the ASQ Board of Directors develops an annual plan that outlines, at a high level, how it will go about fulfilling its mission. This annual plan filters down to each member unit which then develops a tactical plan for their local community or industry that aligns and supports ASQ’s overall strategic plan. To execute on a global scale, ASQ has geographic member units (sections) located throughout the world. No two ASQ section or ASQ division (technical member units) are the same; each delivers the services that are unique to their community.

Empowering individuals and communities to achieve excellence through quality is primarily accomplished by focusing on five key areas: Networking, Improvement, Communication, Education and Recognition, commonly referred to as NICER. While networking is most commonly achieved via the traditional monthly dinner meeting and quality related conferences, the best way to expand one’s professional network is through volunteer service because it provides the chance to work on both short and long-term committees, project teams, councils, etc., with quality professionals in one’s local community and/or industry.

Improvement is at the very core of what quality professionals and organizations strive for each and every day. ASQ provides the resources needed to assist any professional seeking information from the basic quality tools to the most highly complex problem-solving methodologies.

Communication to ASQ members and the larger global quality community is provided almost daily via email, newsletters, magazines, journals, websites, social media, etc. ASQ members can tailor the amount of information they wish to receive so that they get information when they want it.

Education abounds within ASQ and it is further supported by ASQ’s well-known certification program. Besides conferences, course offerings encompassing the entire quality body of knowledge are available to individuals and organizations in a variety of formats. ASQ also is famously known for its eighteen quality-related professional certifications, especially the Certified Quality Engineer and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt certifications.

In addition to the 250+ ASQ member units, ASQ has nearly fifty boards, councils and committees that help execute its mission. Besides the previously mentioned Strategic Planning Committee, there are a number of administrative related committees needed to support the society, such as the By-Laws and Ethics Committee. To support its NICER initiatives, ASQ has four councils and committees that support quality related conferences, nine committees supporting publications and journals, and seven committees supporting U.S. and ISO standards development!

Recognition, both for the global quality community and within ASQ, is achieved through the Distinguished Service Medal Committee, the ASQ Awards Council, the Society Examining Committee and the Performance Excellence Program Committee. In addition, many ASQ sections and ASQ divisions provide recognition to their own members via awards and scholarships.

ASQ is a professional society comprised of individual and organizational memberships that is here to empower individuals and communities of the world to achieve excellence through quality. It has been highly successful in fulfilling its purpose for over 75 years. Regardless of one’s specific quality related needs they are sure to find the resources they seek somewhere within ASQ’s global quality community.