2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Influential Voices: The Future of Quality

A fascinating blog post on the Future of Quality by Edwin Garro reminded me of a meme I saw on Facebook. It is a quote by Dr. Temple Grandin, “We’re focusing so much on academics that we’ve taken out things like art, sewing, cooking, woodworking, and other things that introduce kids to careers.” While the program that Edwin describes sounds amazing, I can’t help but wonder if these kids have also had the opportunity to learn what is essentially life skills while attending school. In a conversation on my friend’s post on Facebook, many of those who commented noted that they didn’t have the chance to take these things, but they are not the kids that Dr. Grandin is talking about. My kids are. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend some time talking to my son’s shop teacher. He was new to our school district, and he noted that in some districts, as they closed their drafting programs, they were also closing their shops. This is not a great trend. Our middle school offers ALL of these classes – my son even took some of the things he made in sewing to the county fair this past summer. I consider myself lucky that we have access to good schools in our area without needing to go to private schools. I believe the future of quality MUST start with a strong foundation in education. What do you think?

Does Mission Matter – Influential Voices

The title of Pat La Londe’s View from the Q guest post is one that really resonated with me. One of the things that I’ve had the privilege of doing as part of my job is to train coworkers on our customer satisfaction surveys. As part of the discussion, I brought them to our Mission, Vision and Values, and showed them the connection to what we were doing. This simple step made a big difference. There is no way you’re going to be able to get where you’re trying to go if you don’t know why you’re going there.

A number of years ago, I was on the board of a small non-profit that had never taken the time before to do any strategic planning, or understanding why the organization existed. That board really struggled to find direction. While strategic planning was not a cure all, having a mission and vision made a difference in our ability to move the organization forward. It helped us to focus our energies on the areas that were most important to our business and over time, turned the organization around.

Mission does matter. How do you make your organization’s mission work for you?

Modern Technology – Influential Voices

In July, Manu Vora guest posted on the A View from the Q blog on using Google Hangouts. Rather than focusing on a specific technology, I’d like to discuss how changes in technology have literally changed our lives. I remember about 10 years ago when I had an allergic reaction to some bug bites while I was on a business trip. I used the cell phone I was traveling with to call and find out where I could get into an urgent care clinic. I can’t imagine dealing with that if I had first had to find a pay phone. Now, I no longer have a traditional home phone, and even my kids have cell phones. Today, technology is everywhere, from conference calls to MOOCs, or Massively Open Online Courses. We can not only have a conversation, we can share our knowledge across the internet, most typically for free. I’ve had the chance to take a course through EdX that was very well put together. And it was free.

When I was in college the first time, I took a class through distance learning. It involved receiving packets in the mail with assignments, and showing up on campus to take a final. As an adult learner, I completed a Bachelor of Science in Technology Management through Herzing University Online, and we had team conference calls, and could watch lectures online. By the time I enrolled for my MBA at Green Mountain College, technology was more fully integrated in the learning experience, and we had sharing tools integrated into our online platform that we could choose to use, or not, depending on the team and how we wanted to learn together.

As technology continues to evolve, with both free and paid platforms for knowledge sharing, we will have many new opportunities to connect and learn from each other. I look forward to seeing what the future brings. How do you use technology to connect with others and to learn?

Influential Voices: Travel on a Dime

I was excited to read Sunil Kaushik’s guest post on Lean Travel on the A View from the Q blog. A number of years ago, my friend Dani and I did an After 5 at WCQI called The Lean Lady Travels the Globe. We had a lot of fun researching the best travel deals and recommendations, including tips for packing (roll or fold?), plus we had really awesome flight attendants (Andres and Ryan) to ensure that the participants had a smooth landing.

That presentation was done before airbnb (founded in 2008) and couchsurfing had started to make the kind of impact they have today. Now, we’ve also got Uber and Lyft to give us rides (I got free transportation to/from WCQI this year through Uber referrals – and I had a carload of folks on the way there). We’ve got Groupon and Living Social and others, plus Yipit to aggregate all of the deals on restaurants, travel, and goods.

My number one go to tip is to unpack immediately, repack as you go, and only bring what you need. I consider this to be a challenge – almost a game. Note – this doesn’t work well when you pack things that no longer fit you. Next week, I will be couchsurfing with my son while he attends cooking school in Eden Prairie. We really hit the jackpot – the place we are staying is a few blocks from the cooking school, and is much less expensive (we’re making them dinner and may help them with boxes since they are moving) than airbnb ($40/night) and a hotel (starts at $110 a night). My son wants to do fun things while we are there, so I will buy some groupons through MyPoints, so I get points for my purchases (and they have 25% off three local deals for the next three days), so we will be all set. My last step was to reserve a cub in my company’s office in Arden Hills, so that I have a place to work, rather than taking 4 days of vacation. I’m excited to enjoy our adventure together, and taste the results of his cooking!

p.s. full disclosure – the airbnb and Groupon links are referral links. You get a bonus with the airbnb referral. If you’d like a referral to Uber (you get a bonus) or MyPoints, let me know – referrals make a huge difference for travel!

Influential Voices: The Future of Quality

In May, Laurel Nelson-Rowe guest posted on the View from the Q blog about the Future of Quality. If you haven’t had a chance to read the report yet, you can find it here.

On topic I found to be of particular interest is the one on understanding our customers. I’ve always been one to answer surveys and provide feedback. I participate in a program where I scan my purchases for data gathering purposes. While this information is used in aggregate, the folks who get this data may feel they know me, but do they? I’ve been known to change my mind on a dime. And in today’s information overload environment, folks can get easily bored.

I used to work in retail, and I prided myself on being knowledgeable enough about our products that my customers considered me to be a subject matter expert. And, if customers had questions about related products, I knew where to send them. I asked a lot of questions, so that I could make recommendations (“vests may be too hot for the groomsmen at an outdoor wedding in the summer”) and helped them design a look that matched their vision of what their wedding would look like. Can mass customization replace a personal touch? I’m not sure.

What are your thoughts on this new era of customer understanding? What other topics in the study caught your eye?

Influential Voices: One More Opportunity to Network at WCQI

I’m excited to share one more recommendation for networking at conferences – participate in the “extracurricular” activities. This year at the ASQ World Conference, there is a great opportunity to participate in a project with Hands on Nashville to to improve the facilities of Smithson-Craighead Academy. This school is primarily attended by low income children in the community. The bus ride, and the event itself is a great way to meet some of the others attending the conference even before it starts! To register, go to http://asq.org/wcqi/2015/community-service-project.aspx and click the link. I hope to see you at the conference!

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