Volume 8 | Issue 2 | Year 2005

What is quality? While nearly everyone knows it when they see it, few could provide a ready definition. To some, it’s an intangible process. But, quality can be measured and adhered to. Quality is based on customers’ perceptions of a product’s design and how well the design matches the original specifications. It’s the ability of a product and service to satisfy stated or implied needs. It’s achieved by conforming to established requirements within an organization. It’s the systematic pursuit of performance excellence. It’s also reachable through adhering to ISO, Six Sigma and Baldrige Award principles and standards. It’s listening to the voice of the customer.

The American Society for Quality (ASQ), headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., has been the world’s leading authority on quality since its founding in 1946. With nearly 100,000 individual and organizational members, the professional association advances learning, quality improvement, and knowledge exchange to improve business results, and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. As champion of the quality movement, ASQ offers technologies, concepts, tools, and training to quality professionals, quality practitioners, and everyday consumers, encouraging all to Make Good GreatTM.

Changing Role of Quality
By the end of the 1970s, the notion of managing for quality was defined in strictly industrial terms as meeting technical specifications in products and services. In organizational terms, there was often a quality department whose responsibility was to make sure these specifications were met using Statistical Process Control, Total Quality Management or some other quality initiative popular at the time. Later the ISO 9000 and Six Sigma quality movements were developed (more about these systems can be accessed at www.asq.org).

However, at about the same time some farsighted individuals discovered that quality had a wide ripple effect; it connected to every process and person in the organization and made them better. They realized that achieving quality was more than a matter of techniques, statistical control, and testing machines. It was also attainable through leading, inspiring, integrating efforts, and managing for profitability and growth. It is the path towards overall improvement.

The ‘Changing Faces’ of Quality
As quality has increasingly become everyone’s job, fewer and fewer people have the word “quality” on their business cards. Today, although manufacturing remains a large membership group, ASQ has made bold initiatives in spreading quality imperatives to the areas of education, healthcare and the services sector.

“All ASQ products and services are created, and peer reviewed, by subject matter and by experts drawn from both industry practitioners and academia,” explains Market Development Manager Paul Malek. “We offer consistency and continuity in our courses, conferences, training, and e-learning offerings, and are the most recognized and respected knowledge provider in the quality and business excellence areas worldwide.”

For more than 50 years, ASQ has provided quality improvement and learning opportunities to individuals in more than 100 countries and has more than 10,000 members who live outside the United States. In addition, ASQ has a network of country councilors who lead and provide assistance in their country and holds certification exams around the globe. ASQ provides 12 globally recognized certifications by independent bodies.

“The certifications help a company meet quality-related requirements to achieve strategic sourcing advantages,” Malek says. “They motivate and recognize employees, which improves productivity and customer satisfaction.”

Changing the World
A world of improvement is available through ASQ, providing information, contacts, and opportunities to make things better in the workplace, in communities, and in people’s lives. ASQ makes its officers and member experts available to inform and advise the U.S. Congress, government agencies, state legislatures, and other groups and individuals on quality-related topics.

ASQ has been the sole administrator of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award since 1991 and is a founding partner of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a prominent quarterly economic indicator.

Today, companies of all types use quality as a strategic touchstone and organizing principle. A recent ASQ survey indicated that more than 80 percent of all executives recognize total quality leadership as a systematic way of creating an effective corporate mind-set. Today’s highly competitive worldwide marketplace and advances in information technology have created greater customer demand for quality than ever before.

The Vision Statement adhered to by the American Society for Quality sums it up best: “By making quality a global priority, an organizational imperative, and a personal ethic, ASQ becomes the community for everyone who seeks technology, concepts, or tools to improve themselves and their world.”

The American Society for Quality (www.asq.org) is the world’s leading authority on quality. With more than 100,000 individual and organizational members, the professional association advances learning, quality improvement, and knowledge exchange to improve business results, and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. For more information, please contact Dan Vnuk at the ASQ News Bureau, 800-248-1946, ext. 7407, or dvnuk@asq.org.

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