Friday, October 5, 2007

ASQ's Ideas to Action Gathering

I had the pleasure of attending the ASQ Ideas to Action Gathering (ITAG) in Orlando in April and in Milwaukee in September. Additionally I was part of the ITAG design team for both the Spring and Fall events. I want to focus this discussion on the Sep event.

The ITAG is an ASQ Member Leader activity focused on improving member value through the development of ideas then identifying opportunities to put these ideas into action.

As part of the design team I also had the opportunity to facilitate one of the break-out sessions. My session dealt with Member can we get members more involved in our Member Unit (Sections, Divisions, Forums, etc.) activities. Many great ideas came from this breakout session. I would like to share just one of those ideas. At this break out session the discussions were all center around the question of what can member leaders do to engage the members in the planned activities, how can member units get members more involved as leaders and what do members want from their member unit. The resounding answer to each question was to 'JUST ASK'. If we do not ask what they want or if they will help with a task we will never get them involved.

In the movie Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe Jackson is regularly heard by Ray Kinsella saying "If you build it, they will come". This worked out in the movie - fiction! In reality, this does not happen. We present programs at the member units of ASQ and do not get the response / attendance we hope to achieve. We build it and they don't come. My thought is, if we build it and they want it, they may come. Some of the factors that must be considered during the design phase are:
  • what do they want
  • when do they want it
  • where do they want it
  • what will they pay for it
If we fail to consider all these factors, we will build an unsuccessful event. So we need to answer these questions and the only way to answer these questions is to ask the members. In my opinion, surveys alone will not succeed in providing this informtion We must ask our members directly. Pick up the phone and call them on a sampling basis prior to beginning the planning process. Get real feedback. Then begin providing what they want. By the way, this concept applies to almost anything, not just an ASQ member unit.

A few days after the ITAG I had the good fortune of providing leadership training to a group of member leaders from one of the ASQ Region 3 sections. An attendee of this session was quite impressed by the Just Ask concept and wrote the following for his section's newsletter which is reprinted below by permission from Cliff Wolff:

After attending the Membership Leader Training session given by David Levy, I was motivated to write something that would get some of the ASQ people to "Just Ask". He is very knowledgeable and a great motivator.

Looking Out and Looking In

Looking out for yourself is a good thing, because if you don't, to depend upon or expect others to do the deed you may experience a degree of disappointment.

Looking out for yourself in a proper manner requires "Looking In" toward yourself from a comfortable and controllable distance.

Do you ask yourself: "What is ASQ doing for me"? Well, their training courses improve my job performance and therefore improves my paycheck and the networking is priceless. All of this is the "Looking Out" for yourself part.

What are you doing for ASQ? The ASQ is no stronger than the sum of it's parts, and you and I are parts of the ASQ. Collectively, we can build an indestructible pyramid of greatness - for ourselves, our community and the world. (even for the universe, by extension)

Wow, how can I help? "JUST ASK" as David Levy, ASQ Region 3 Director advised us during the Membership Leader Training session held at the Residence Inn in Plainview on Friday, 9-28-07.

It was a great learning experience and sharing ideas with the pro's. All part of the Six Sigma tool for "continual improvement" of self and our organization.

Thank you, David and I'm sure I speak for all our ASQ family members.

Please, "JUST ASK" Get answers to your questions and offer to assist in some small or large manner, where you are comfortable with taking and giving back.

It is a win - win situation for all. Remember, come see us and "JUST ASK".

Further on the colleague, Aimee Siegler, ASQ Director at Large, writes a column for the ASQ Weekly called Making the Connection. By permission from Aimee, I am posting her latest column here as I feel her thoughts will add further value to this discussion:

Making the Connection
by Aimee Siegler

On September 23-25, 160 of your member leaders got together for the Ideas to Action Gathering in Milwaukee to talk about Extreme Member Value.

ASQ President Mike Nichols explained that the Gathering is unique in that we are not expecting a clear, intended outcome. The objective is to integrate the concept of Extreme Member Value into the sections, divisions, and activities such as the World Conference.

Prior to this meeting, member leaders were surveyed for their definition of Extreme Member Value. Five themes emerged:

  • Excitement and Engagement
  • Exceeding Expectations
  • Return on Investment
  • Indispensable Resources
  • Responsiveness

These themes were used to develop the program agenda. It included five breakout sessions where we shared our thoughts on shaping different areas that affect member value. We then worked together to create the story of ASQ’s future.

I will share one specific example from the Membership Committee as to how the Gathering information will be used. Once our feedback has been analyzed, it will be
integrated into a membership three-year plan that aligns with the Society’s
strategic goals. Ideas requiring more research will also be reviewed.

For me, the highlights of the event were:

  • The energy and enthusiasm I felt throughout the weekend.
  • The opportunity to see old friends and make new ones.
  • A spontaneous Women in Quality networking session at the end of the event.

I look forward to seeing the data after staff analysis and the opportunity to turn
the new ideas into actions.