Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Future of Quality

In a video blog (vblog) on A View from the Q, Paul Borawski posed several questions related to the recently completed Futures Study which addresses the future of Quality from the perspective of business and organizational leaders world-wide. Two (2) questions were asked of me:

  1. How do I see the forces playing themselves out in my work and my organization?

  2. When I think about these forces, what are the most pressing questions for which I want answers?

The 8 forces as described in the 2011 study are:

  • Global responsibility

  • Consumer awareness

  • Globalization

  • The increasing rate of change

  • Work force of the future

  • Aging population

  • 21st century quality

  • Innovation

If you've ever been a part of ASQ's World Cafe pertaining to the Future's Studies you know that a review of all the forces in a short time is next to impossible. Hence, I would like to address only 2 of the forces and focus on Paul's first query. The forces I will address are Work force of the future and Aging population as I am currently relating closely to both of these issues.

First I want to state that I am approaching 50...yes, 2011 is a big milestone year for me.

I've been quite fortunate over the past 15 years in that (1) I am technically savvy and (2) I've worked with organizations that embrace technology as a means to do business. That said, I've been in a position to set up a home office and work from that office on a regular basis. Not being in the brick and mortar that represents the Organization has never inhibited the work from being completed effectively, efficiently and timely. The overall benefit to the organization is that time has no bearing on when and how I accomplish my tasks. Being a task oriented person, I've realized that being in a given location for a predetermined period of time does not guarantee efficient use of that time.

My vision of the Work force of the future is one that is fluid and can complete the required work regardless of location, time, etc. In many businesses this may mean being within the brick and mortar but that is not essential to all parts of the company. Telecommuting opportunities must increase, especially with the increased costs of commuting. Furthermore, we've seen over the past 20 years that the 'company man' or 'life employee' is a thing of the past. I believe that more and more, we will see an increase in outsourcing of service functions within and organization including Sales, Customer Service, Accounting, HR, and even the Quality function just to name a few. Why employ average employees when we can outsource such services to talent beyond our organizations means?

With regard to the aging population, I currently work for a company that is about 35 years old. The average tenure of our production force is about 28 years. These employees may not be chronologially old yet but they are getting there and a younger crew is not following behind. As the US becomes a service oriented nation who is going to move into the remaining production environments?

I work with a gentleman named Ed. He is 76 years old and has worked here for 18 years. This is his retirement job. He sold his own business and came to work here in his 50's. What keeps him going, working 30 hours a week. Shear joy of working. Does his age have any bearing on his ability to perform. I say no. He is still teaching me about this business (I've been here for a little over a year now).

As the average age of the US and the world population increases and the size of the younger population decreases how will organizations keep up with the demand for qualified work-force. Again, I believe that the outsourcing of many functions will be the wave of the future.

On the subject of out sourcing I caution that we must consider local / domestic out sourcing before going off shore, regardless of where we are located.

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