Thursday, April 9, 2015

Conference Pros and Cons

Today I read the ASQ's A View from the Q blog on conferences and felt compelled to share...

Several years ago I was working for an organization that talked a good talk on Quality but did not always walk that talk.  After two years with this company my immediate supervisor was replaced by an engineer who had no direct experience leading a Quality department.  He truly talked the talk but never really understood or believed in what our mission was.  In my opinion he derailed our drive toward ISO 9001 registration single-handedly.  Then he proceeded to tear the team apart.  Okay, this was intended to paint a picture for a single event...

Shortly after the new supervisor joined the organization I was scheduled to attend the ASQs World Conference on Quality and Improvement.  My attendance was approved by my prior supervisor and the VP / GM of our division had approved my ASQ activities including financial support when needed, so the new supervisor accepted my time away.  Upon my return he asked one simple question, "What did you learn that you can teach us right now?".  My answer was, "Nothing".  Then I went on to explain that at a conference you get a flavor of topics and tools to explore in more depth for implementation at a future date.  This response was unacceptable to him so he told me that the company would no longer support my ASQ activity.  I was floored!  He just does not understand, nor could I persuade him to reconsider and listen to reason.  The whole event made me question if I really belonged with that team.

My position on conferences is quite simple.  For many people they are a means to become introduced to new topics and tools which may be further explored after the conference ends.  They are also the best way to network with many like-minded professionals from around the world.  I've developed quite a network of professional connections / friends over the past 15 years of conference attendance. 

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