Friday, November 4, 2016

ASQ Raleigh Members Volunteer at Food Bank

ASQ Raleigh Members Prepare to Sort Eggs

Since 2005, members of ASQ Raleigh have volunteered on Saturday mornings once a month to support the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina.

Members meet at 9 AM for sign in and Food Bank staff instruction. Jobs are completed assembly line style to prepare food for distribution from a central warehouse to smaller facilities.

The distribution of fruits and vegetables are an important Food Bank initiative. These foods are received in bulk and sorted into family-sized containers by volunteers. ASQ Raleigh members have processed eggs, grape tomatoes, potatoes and beans.

For each Food Bank event, 8-12 members sign up on ASQ Raleigh's Eventbrite post committing to work on a specific Saturday morning. Other social and employer groups from the  Raleigh-Durham area as well as individual volunteers gather on the loading dock and are given instructions. The Food Bank staff is well prepared for the volunteers, and massive amounts of food are handled in the short 3-hour shift. At the end of the work shift, Food Bank staff calculate the work completed in terms of meals. Volunteers leave feeling good for their contribution in helping the area's hungry population.

Volunteers Listen to Instructions from Food Bank Staff

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina was established in 1980. The food warehouses where ASQ Members volunteer support sister agencies and smaller distribution centers in a network covering 34 North Carolina counties to disburse food as quickly and efficiently as possible. In the 2014-2015 fiscal year 57.2 million pounds of food and non-food supplies were distributed.

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused massive flooding in North Carolina. Many people had to leave their homes. At the time of this writing, many homes are still uninhabitable. The food needs of Eastern North Carolina are greater than usual because of the devastation from this natural disaster. Donated groceries are sorted into family boxes for flood victims. Extra sessions at the Food Bank are helping. In 2 hours, 9 volunteers and staff packed the equivalent of 3368 meals.

Click here for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina website

This article was written for posting on ASQ's Social Responsibility Technical Committee's LinkedIn page.





Saturday, October 29, 2016

Book Review: Eat to Cheat Dementia



Eat to Cheat Dementia by Ngaire Hobbins explains the effect of diet and exercise on dementia. Dementia is the abnormal decline in thinking processes. Alzheimer's disease is a common type of dementia.

Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters form a chemical communication pathway between nerve cells. The brain's system of neurotransmitters is unique and manufactured in the brain. The required components of amino acids (proteins), vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids must be available for assembly. Thus the influence of diet on the brain is critical.

Muscles
Muscles play an important part in supplying the brain with fuel. When we sleep or between meals, the brain still requires fuel to run the body. Muscles serve as a reservoir for this fuel (proteins). As we age, the condition of our muscles becomes critical. Bouncing back and resuming exercise after illness becomes even more important.

Blood Flow
The bloodstream carries nutrients and waste materials throughout the body. Any blood flow restriction can affect brain health. Some factors are: high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure. Dietary substances like alcohol and caffeine also affect blood flow.


This book offers advice and explanations for those wishing to stack the deck against a dementia diagnosis as well as those seeking a better lifestyle with that diagnosis. In her own words, Ngaire Hobbins provides an easy read from "scientific gobbledygook." This book has a wealth of helpful information and I highly recommend it.

Eat To Cheat Dementia: What you eat helps avoid it or live better with it

Friday, April 8, 2016

Voice of the Customer

ASQ's Quality Mission

The customer is the driving force of organizations. Your customer may be a manufacturing plant half way around the world or a department down the hall. Nevertheless, without customers to require goods or services, organizations would not exist.

The Voice of the Customer or VOC is the customer’s requirements for goods or services. It is their description of what they need. It is of huge importance. The VOC should be used by the quality professional to establish quality parameters within which to produce the goods or services.




Use face-to-face meetings to gather VOC standards

The best way to gather Voice of the Customer standards is through face-to-face meetings followed up by written and verified specifications. In my experience, the earlier the quality professional is involved in communication with the customer, the better. A relationship is built so an exchange of quality data can flow back and forth. This foundation of trust and professionalism creates a basis for quality improvement and superior products and services.

Part of this article appeared in ASQ's April Roundtable discussion.
 
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Monday, February 29, 2016

Use Baldrige Performance Excellence Program to Meet ISO 9001:2015 Challenges


Terry Burns Of Burns & Associates of Richmond, Virginia recently presented "What's all the fuss about ISO 9001:2015?" to ASQ Raleigh.


Mr. Burns made a case for using the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program for meeting the new ISO 9001:2015 requirements. The Baldrige Excellence Builder is available in a free download here.

The Baldrige documents can offer direction in understanding the new standard by offering explanations of similar clauses.

ISO certified organizations have 3 years to transition to the new 2015 standard. Some of the changes are:

  • New Annex SL Format

  • 10 Clauses (from 8)

  • More easily lines up with other standards

  • "Risk-based" language replaces "preventative action"

  • Inclusion of Planning to achieve quality objectives

  • New Quality System Management model (Leadership is center)

  • Services added to Products (before it was implied)

  • Quality Manual no longer required (with some exceptions)

  • Audit top management to insure hands on involvement - drive quality management to top levels

  • Process focused



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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Quality Improvement Blog: 5 Most Read Articles of 2015


In order of popularity, the most read articles of 2015 (with links) are:

  1. Ways I Use Lean Thinking at Home

  2. 7 Practical Ways I Use Internet Technology at Home

  3. Communication from 3 Sources Encourages Studies in STEM Subjects

  4. Managing the Quality of Internet-linked Products

  5. How Company Culture Relates to Quality

I look forward to writing more articles on the subject of Quality Improvement. ASQ's Influential Voices program is changing, and they will not be assigning monthly article topics. I'll draw inspiration for future articles from local chapter activities and workplace situations. Thanks for reading my articles.

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Credits: Graphics produced by the author using Adobe Illustrator
© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Defeat Barriers to a Successful Quality Culture



Once upon a time there was a small metal shop producing parts for the automotive industry. Although a quality system was in place, employee turnover was high and profitability was down. Management blamed employees; employees blamed management. What approach could best address cultural barriers between management and employees to strengthen a culture of quality?

For December's ASQ Influential Voices guest post, Luciana Paulise has written Facing Cultural Barriers by Leaders to Strengthen a Culture of Quality about the case described above. Ms. Paulise explains cultural changes made to turn plant performance around, and details can be found at the link above. Below I'll summarize.

4 Helpful Changes to Improve Quality Culture:


1 - Unite middle managers with common goals to promote cooperation and a healthy company.

2 - Train corporate leaders to understand process variation and to correctly identify problems.

3 - Train leaders to make conclusions based on data instead of hunches or previous experiences.

4 - Center on understanding and respecting people to create a workplace that promotes cooperation to reach goals.

The 2 minute ASQ video below describes the role of a culture of quality in business success.



In August, Influential Voices wrote about company cultures and how they affect quality. My article, How Company Culture Relates to Quality, can be found here.

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Credits: Graphics produced by the author using Adobe Illustrator
© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Corporate Communication: 5 Keys to Success



For November's Influential Voices blog topic, Dr. Suresh Gettala of ASQ India, has written Talking To the C-Suite About Quality. He offers 5 helpful approaches in communication with the C-Suite. They are summarized below. Please refer to the full article (link above) for details.



C-Suite is a term for the corporate leaders in an organization.
 The "C" refers to Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial
 Officer, Chief Executive Officer, etc.

1. Link short term changes to long term success.




2. Explain with numbers.


3. Show financial impact.


4. Tell a story with examples.


5. Seek to improve quality company-wide (not just products and services).


As with any presentation, a quality discussion with the C-Suite should be tailored for that audience. Using the 5 tips above will help ensure successful communication.


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Credits: Graphics produced by the author using Adobe Illustrator
© 2016 All Rights Reserved
Photographs obtained from iStock by Getty Images 
The author's iStock portfolio can be viewed here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Improving the Future of Quality with Early College High Schools



North Carolina (U.S.) has increased high school graduation rates and achievement with early college high schools. These high schools are offered by local school districts and coordinated with institutions of higher learning as an alternative to the local high school. Students typically attend the school for 5 years rather than 4. Along with completing high school classes, students enroll in college classes at no cost to them. Upon graduation, they receive a high school diploma as well as an Associates degree (or college credit).

Early college high school programs are customized to fit the host campus. Franklin County Early College High School in Louisburg, North Carolina, is located next to the Franklin Campus of Vance-Granville Community College. This allows students to earn an Associates of Arts and Sciences. Wake Early College of Health and Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina, partners with Wake Technical Community College and WakeMed Health and Hospitals. Students can earn a degree, diploma, or certificate in a health or sciences field.
Wake STEM* Early College is located on the North Carolina State University campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, and emphasizes a strong STEM-based education. Students can earn up to 2 years of college credit. The 4-minute video below has interviews that cover the demographics and features of the program.



In 2010 there were 70 early college high schools in North Carolina. Students that would be first generation college students are given admission preference.

North Carolina New Schools is a nonprofit that supports the early college program as well as other innovative high school programs designed to improve high school graduation rates and academic success. In 2014 they were awarded a $20 million Federal Grant to ramp up efforts towards early college programs.

The 5-minute video below features a Caldwell County Early College High School graduate's story. In 2012 Amelia Hawkins received a full scholarship to Princeton University.


Edwin Garro, ASQ Fellow, has written about a High School Quality and Productivity Technical degree program in Costa Rica. The program was developed to address a shortage of quality technicians in FDA regulated industries. His article, A Day with the Future of Quality, can be found here.

*Acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

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Credits: Graphics produced by the author using Adobe Illustrator
             © 2015 All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 12, 2015

Financial Facts about Boomer Power


The 50+ demographic will increase by 16 million in the next decade


I had the chance to hear Dr. Janice Wassel speak on gerontology. Gerontology is the study of the biology, psychology, social, and cognitive aspects of aging. (Wikipedia page here) Geriatrics, in contrast, is the area of medicine that treats disease in aging adults.

Boomers purchase 40% of technology products

What is Boomer Power? It's the impact of older adults (ages 50+) on the economy. Here are some facts:
  • 25% of the U.S. population is over 50
  • That 25% purchases 40% of technology products
  • Americans live 30 years longer than in the 1900s
  • In 2010, 78% of adults age 65 and older reported good to excellent health
  • Also in 2010, 70% of adults age 85 and older reported good to excellent health
Boomers own 63% of U.S. financial assets

This 2015 blog article by Mark Bradbury has colorful graphics to illustrate 7 Incredible Facts About Boomers' Spending Power:
  1. Adults ages 50 and older are the largest U.S. age demographic
  2. That demographic will increase by 16 million in the next 10 years
  3. That demographic owns 63% of U.S. financial assets
  4. That demographic is 51% more likely to own financial investments than ages 18-49
  5. That demographic spends $3.2 trillion annually
  6. That demographic accounts for 50% of all consumer expenditures
  7. Americans are living 3 decades longer than a century ago (listed above but worth repeating)
Americans ages 50+ spend $3.2 trillion a year


The longevity economy is Dr. Wassel's term for the economic power of older adults. The older adult demographic has significant economic power and continues to contribute to society. They are a varied demographic in terms of health, fitness, and activities.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

What is Sustainability?

Is your business sustainable?

Last month, I wrote about company culture (article is here). Potential customers and employees are interested in both company culture and sustainable practices to determine organization character.

In the early 1900s, the California sardine industry was booming. Cannery Row factories lined up along Monterey Bay, fish were brought in without limits, processed and canned, and waste dumped into the bay. You can see the problem here. Unrestricted fishing and pollution led to environmental and economic disaster. The waters that supported the sardines were too polluted and damaged to continue. That situation is the opposite of sustainability. Sustainability includes restraint on harvests to manage resources and reduction and/or repurposing of waste materials.

Sustainable practices are those that allow continued use of resources. Sustainability applies to many situations outside of the industrial context. Individuals can pursue sustainable goals as well as institutions.

Sustainability includes familiar concepts that we may practice daily. Reducing landfill waste is a sustainable practice because landfill space is limited. That practice involves other sustainable concepts like recycling, repurposing, and composting. Below is an informal list of sustainable concepts:

  • energy savings
  •  recycling
  •  repurposing
  •  conserve resources 
  •  water conservation
  •  solar energy
  •  rainwater collection
  •  decrease carbon footprint
  •  purchase carbon offsets
  •  growing your own food
  •  reduce landfill waste
  •  composting
  •  support businesses and individuals with sustainable agendas
  •  use green construction
3 Pillars of Sustainability

Sustainability can be described as 3 pillars: environment, economy, and social.

Environment:
  • climate protection
  • resources protection
  • biodiversity
  • organic farming
  • decrease use of natural resources
Economy:
  • using local produce in season to avoid resource use and pollution involved with distance transportation 
Social:
  • equality between men and women 
  • education and training opportunities
  • fighting poverty
  • prosperity for humanity


As professionals in the Quality industry, our roles are important in sustainability. We maintain and improve quality standards to sustain a customer base. By applying Lean Thinking, we reduce waste to sustain company resources. As company employees and individuals we can use our influence to improve sustainability in all aspects of our lives.

Below is a 4-minute Explainity video on the 3 Pillar Model of sustainability.


This month's guest post on A View from the Q is Does Mission Matter? by ASQ Fellow and incoming ASQ board chair, Pat LaLonde.

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Credits: Graphics produced by the author using Adobe Illustrator
             © 2015 All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 31, 2015

How Company Culture Relates to Quality


Today's media highlights shifts in company culture to attract and keep talented workers. Flexible schedules, liberal parental leave, fun activities, free food, community involvement, and environmentally friendly corporate agendas promote a company culture favored by employees. What is company culture and how does it relate to quality?

Culture of an Organization


Company culture is the "character" of a company. Company culture includes:
  • methods of getting things done
  • philosophy of work habits and work behavior
  • goals to make the company successful
  • values and their importance while conducting business
  • working conditions
Some aspects of company culture are intangible. Attitudes, morals, and assumptions held by employees are difficult to determine and quantify, but important in shaping company culture.


Company culture is projected from top management down. Successful company culture is driven by management practices that carry this culture throughout all rungs of the organization. To keep the culture positive and relevant, however, employees should be involved in discussions about changes to and maintaining company culture.

Company Culture Affects People and People Drive Quality

A Culture Supporting Quality


Quality of the product or service and effectiveness of quality systems is improved in:
  •  a culture where employees understand quality and it's effect on company success
  •  a culture where employees can freely make suggestions and report problems
  •  a culture where employees are happy and this happiness is passed on to customer contacts
  •  a culture enhancing creativity which can help quality problem-solving
  •  a culture cultivating teamwork as a powerful tool in quality improvement

The "happiness" aspect of culture is especially powerful in businesses that have direct customer contact. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing business, relates employee happiness to customer satisfaction. In the video below, employees discuss their company culture.



The Culture of Quality has been a popular topic at ASQ over the years. Jennifer Calloway, a quality culture expert, is interviewed in the ASQ TV video below. More ASQ videos on the subject can be found here. (The 46 minute webinar referred to in the video can be found here. )



Company culture is fluid and subject to shift. Management must be vigilant to nurture and protect a positive culture and thereby drive good quality.

ASQ Influential Voice blogger James Lawther has written What Not to Do in Creating a Performance Culture. This article can be found here.


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Credits: Photos courtesy of iStockphoto, Infographic produced by the author using Adobe Illustrator © 2015 All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 27, 2015

7 Practical Ways I Use Internet Technology at Home

My Sidekick at the Home Computer

In the past year, I've advised my college-bound twins on administrative tasks related to university and scholarship applications. It will come as no surprise that most forms related to beginning a college education are submitted on websites. No paperwork! Several times I have exclaimed, "How did I ever graduate and obtain my first post-college position using only mail and phone?" Technology is wondrous since I remember how things were done before the internet revolution.

In Manu Vora's article, he discusses the use of Google Hangouts on Air to conduct meetings and conferences with a wider online audience. Below I'll elaborate a bit on my use of technology to share information and to further my professional development.

Sharing Information


Blogging


Sharing an enjoyment of gardening and nature is easy on a blog. My blogging career started with writing about garden and nature topics. (Link to Garden Lady Blog) After my ASQ certification, I started this blog to share certification test tips. Quality: Improvements in Work and Life has expanded to include book reviews, research techniques, social media tips, and, of course, ASQ Influential Voices topics. Writing a blog is easy with free template-style programs like Blogger and WordPress. I use the Adobe Creative Suite to edit and optimize images for my blogs using Photoshop. Adobe Illustrator allows me to produce and optimize graphics to enhance blog articles.


Social Media


Advances in internet technology make sharing information on social media easy. Using a computer, tablet, or phone I can upload photos and short messages on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Facebook. I announce meeting and course information on social media for my local ASQ chapter (ASQ Raleigh). Readers of these posts can forward them to their readers by retweeting, liking, or pinning. This generates publicity for the events.


Google Drive


By setting up a folder in Google Drive, my sons and I organized scholarship information. Any of us could create a document for a scholarship. Individually we added comments as more was learned about the programs. This saved a lot of duplication of work as we filtered through qualifications of around 30 different programs. We also tracked application progress and deadline dates. This same collaboration can be used by any project team.

Handheld GPS

Geocaching


Years ago my family joined a hobby that uses a global positioning system (GPS) to find hidden containers. Geocaching uses satellite technology to hide and locate hidden containers. To input location information into the GPS, I use a GSAK spreadsheet database and a point of interest downloader. This gives me longitude and latitude locations for hundreds of geocaches as well as hints and descriptions. Once a cache is found, an online log is completed. These logs as well as geocaching forums bring together a worldwide community of "cachers." The technology has advanced beyond my Garmin handheld GPS to mobile phone apps. As a member of Geocaching.com, I have a member webpage that tracks my total finds. My family is up to 1944 finds and 96 hides. Although I'm short on time to geocache these days, I still maintain caches for others to find and hope to return to the sport that encourages exploring outdoors.

Professional Development


Internet technology has made professional development more accessible. I'll describe a few programs using new technology that I've used.


ASQ Website

ASQ videos and some eBooks are offered free with membership. I find the ASQ Standards Channel series on ISO 9001:2015 invaluable. ASQ TV is great to watch also, and an episode on Cost of Quality can be seen here.

Wake Tech Campus in North Raleigh, NC

College Education

Not only has the college application process gone online, but college courses themselves are online.  I completed a web technology certificate that was completely on the internet. Textbooks, assignments, and credits were the same as seated classes, but I had the flexibility of not traveling to campus. Blackboard and Moodle are two platforms used in online education.

Continuing Education

Ed2Go offers 6-week online courses in a variety of topics. The courses are inexpensive ($70 US) and have a flexible timeline of assignments and tests. There is no college credit, but I completed classes in Photography, JavaScript, Six Sigma, and Web Content that were very useful.


Using technology to share information and further professional development allows growth as never before. Furthermore, each application links me to a community of people interested in the same goals and sharing of information. I would love to take a peak at the future (10 years from now) and see how the newest technology is applied in everyday life. It will be amazing!


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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ways I use Lean Thinking at Home



5S and Work Areas

5S, an aspect of Lean Thinking, is a system to arrange work areas as efficiently as possible. If every task whether a chore or hobby requires a search for necessary tools to get started, the likelihood of completing the task decreases. So throughout my home I organize work and hobby areas to make tasks easy to start and complete.

To maximize efficiency with gardening chores, I have a workstation with bug spray, sunscreen, and garden tools at 3 different locations. One is in a small greenhouse at the vegetable garden, one is in the garage, and the other is on the backyard deck. Wherever I am in my yard, a workstation stocked with tools is nearby. This saves time because I can begin gardening tasks without searching for tools. Looking 30 minutes for a favorite pair of gardening gloves is a reminder to keep my work areas organized.

Greenhouse Work Area

Indoors, each bathroom cabinet has cleaning supplies. This saves time and energy when I'm ready to clean. Otherwise wasted time and wasted movement is spent gathering cleaning supplies.

My office is arranged so things can be reached with little disruption to ongoing work. Files, notebooks, notepads, pens, and calendar are all in easy reach. Similarly, I have organized areas for photography, scrapbooking, and other hobbies.

Every 4 - 6 weeks, I reorganize work areas using the 5S system.  5S represents sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. So I replace supplies that are worn out or empty, dispose of items that I don't use, and tidy up the areas. I also make sure the more frequently used tools are convenient to reach and easy to find.

Backyard Work Area


Waste of Motion

Lean Thinking is all about reducing waste, and Shigeo Shingo classified 7 wastes. Waste of Motion is one I try to avoid at home. Many activities in the home can be standardized to reduce waste of motion. I collect a batch of bills and then pay them. Paying each bill as it arrives in the mail would involve opening the envelope, sorting the paperwork, logging into a website to make a payment or writing a check, recording the check or debit in the checkbook, and filing paperwork.  Processing a batch of bills at one time saves duplication of motion. Along the same lines, I let several cups and bowls accumulate on the counter before I open the dishwasher and load these items. Errands can be organized in a route rather than individual spontaneous trips. This saves gasoline and time, as well as reducing waste of motion.


Lean Thinking is using common sense to perform tasks in the most efficient manner. Before it was called "Lean Thinking" people were practicing it to get things done efficiently. Later, it was further defined to apply to workplaces. So go full circle with Lean: do it at work and do it at home, and you will be more productive for it!

In 2014, I wrote about the basics of Lean Thinking. You can access that post by clicking here.

Sunil Kaushik has written about using Lean Principles to minimize travel expenses to Egypt. Mr. Kaushik, an ASQ Influential Blogger, definitely has expertise in traveling cheap. The article can be found by clicking here.

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