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Preparing for the Future

Summary: In this collection, four authors share their viewpoints on the implications of the results of the 2011 ASQ Future Study.

The American Society for Quality’s 2011 futures study presented eight forces of change. Harry S. Hertz sees three overarching factors operating on the future: the complexity of economic and social systems, the necessity of corporations developing agility to deal with this complexity, and a global demand for ethics and social responsibility. These factors will likely have the most impact on innovation, work systems, and the core competencies of organizations. Possible outcomes of these factors are an increase in the use of distance education for subject learning and its separation from traditional higher education, the development of home manufacturing, and the integration of regional enterprise collaboration into enterprise management and quality.

According to Robert E. Cole, Toyota, long a company almost synonymous with quality that stumbled significantly in 2010 and 2011, can provide a number of lessons. When adopting new goals, such as Toyota’s 15 percent market share goal, it is important to align them with existing quality commitments. A company’s response to a public quality failure will inform the public’s opinion of the company’s brand value. Executives of multinational corporations must have both local and global information. Even where a problem is caused by user error, design can and should attempt to reduce it. Superior quality cannot be taken for granted, and it requires constantly renewed commitment to maintain.

Joal Teitelbaum finds that the initial results of the 2011 American Society for Quality futures study raise questions about the implications for the quality industry, organizations pursuing excellence, and professionals in the quality field. For quality professionals, quality will continue moving from a conscious pursuit to a state of mind. For organizations, no matter what their mission, customer focus will become even more important. For quality as a whole, the key will be structured information that can be translated directly into quality improvement.

Finally, Kostas N. Dervitsiotis looks to the industrial age, when leaders operated as if future conditions would be similar to past conditions. Technological and political developments at the turn of the 21st century have induced rapid change. Increased interactivity leads to uncertainty that makes strategic planning more difficult. A constant stream of new products and services leads to an increase in obsolescence and requires constant innovation. Successful innovation requires the ability to sense emerging opportunities, the ability to implement the innovation, and the ability to balance multiple factors. Sustaining innovation requires high quality organizational design.

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  • Topics: Global Quality
  • Keywords: Automotive industry, Change, Collaboration, Continuing education, Core competencies, Customer focus, Economics, Future Outlook, Globalization, Goals, Innovation, Manufacturing, Quality improvement (QI), Quality profession, Innovation, Sustainability
  • Author: Hertz, Harry S.; Cole, Robert E.; Teitelbaum, Joal; Dervitsiotis, Kostas N.
  • Journal: Journal for Quality and Participation