Forces of Change – What really shapes the future of quality?

As I pondered about the latest View from the Q blog on , I boiled it down to one quote from the . The quote being “We have two choices, the first to be swept away by the sea of change coming our way, the second to navigate that sea to our advantage.”

As quality professionals we are used to being the navigators, but how do we successfully show our colleagues that it’s actually safer to lead the way rather than wait for someone to come rescue us? As young professionals, I find many of us are also restless with the status quo, we question why do we have to do things the way they have aways been done. We’ve grown up in a world that’s been flipped on it’s head in so many ways. We don’t expect to work at one place of employment for 25 plus years. We probably don’t have a pension or the health insurance our parents had. We like to keep busy, and really can’t imagine life as a retiree.

That being said, I don’t think many of the forces of change really come as a surprise to the next generation of leaders.

Growing up, many of the people I talk to in the young quality professional community became increasingly aware of the global impact of the decisions we make. We listened to the news about sweat shops or poor working conditions across the globe for the sake of a name brand label on our clothes. Companies had a responsibility to use their knowledge to be more socially aware of their impact and the footprint they leave.

For my generation and generations after me, we place a lot of value in the feedback of others on a product or service. Yes, we use the internet to research items before making a purchase, but we also want to hear testimonials from those we know and trust. We use social media to highlight the positive and negative experiences.

We anticipate a short shelf life of products and things have become increasingly disposible – for better or worse. We get a new cell phone every two years or less, and we fully buy a technology product with the knowledge that we will purchase a replacement in the near future. This is in direct contrast to our parents and grandparents who bought things for the long haul – and had products which lived up to their expectations.

I don’t necessarily buy into that the workforce of the future will create virtually non existant unemployement. Unless those jobs that are created are $10/hour jobs. How can we sustain a middle class workforce? Will the middle class cease to exist? I definitelyam interested in reading more about ASQ’s position on this topic as part of the comprehensive futures study which will be published in September 2011.

One doesn’t need a crystal ball to know that the aging population will have a huge impact on the future of quality. The infrastructure in our healthcare system just isn’t in place to address this, so I think this needs to be addressed. It will affect the way we do business and how we do business on many different levels.

In closing, the research that ASQ has provided as a glimpse into the forces that are shaping the future of quality is one that we need to take notice of. While it may not be surprising to many of us, the key factor is whether we are going to navigate the change or wait for the change to overtake us. I prefer the former.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

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