Monday, July 29, 2013

How I use Social Media (LinkedIn and Facebook mainly)?

We cannot imagine our lives without Facebook and LinkedIn today. For many of us Twitter is also on this list. Which ones do I use? I use Facebook more for personal and LinkedIn more for professional life. I have linked my LinkedIn updates to Twitter and don’t really use Twitter directly. I also use Feedly and Flipboard to get and share news on my phone as I travel (not when I am driving).
I have used Klout and about.me but am not convinced of their utility yet. There are several new networking websites each year.  But it does appear for now that Facebook and LinkedIn are here to stay. Google+ is quickly gaining on Facebook and its integration with Blogger helps. Twitter has limited use for a discussion. It is more amenable to witty one-liners!
Which social networks do quality professionals use? Having interacted with a lot of quality professionals off line and online, I am certain that quality professionals are less likely to network online compared to several other professionals. Quality groups on LinkedIn are not as populated as some others and members are not as active. I don’t have much scientific data to back this but some quick checks did show I was right.
Why do I use LinkedIn actively? How actively? I have the LinkedIn app on my Android phone and browse news on it on my way to work and back. I use Feedly for this as well. I am able to quickly share what I like and I must confess that I enjoy when people like and respond to my updates. That’s engagement. I also use the app to accept or invite people to my network. I am able to wish other professionals on a job change or a birthday. This is already much more than what I thought a mobile app for LinkedIn could do.
Remaining active on LinkedIn satisfies my need to reach out and also to help those who reach out. The web version of LinkedIn features a full blown discussion forum. I often update or start a discussion in these forums and am never disappointed with the response.
I manage two groups on LinkedIn myself. The first one is called QualityNet. This was setup in 2008 (if I remember correctly) when one had to apply to LinkedIn for permission to setup a group. One had to design a logo and write a justification. Life is easier now. This group has 7167 members as of today and all are grown organically. The other group I setup and manage is the ASQ India group. This is a members only group used more for announcements and reaching out to members.

I have also used and still often use ASQ Communities. The new redesign is refreshing and appears more user-friendly than ever before. However, in my view it is going to be increasingly difficult to maintain traffic and engagement on proprietary or membership based networks. ASQ is still primarily American (something I have been fighting for seven years now) and it continues to insist on an American pricing model. This keeps away a vast majority of quality professionals from the developing world. By comparison LinkedIn is free (atleast for most features) and Quality professionals are likely to engage there more than on ASQ websites.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Transparency in Quality Results – Learn from GoodGuide.com

Transparency is a vague virtue. It might not even be a virtue. What could be being transparent for the supplier could quite easily be inadequate information for the consumer. This is something we all face in our personal lives as well. But let’s not get there. J

In his most recent post, Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ, talks about sharing quality results with customers. Paul has quoted Influential Voices blogger John Priebe who has blogged about releasing quality metrics to the public. Do we agree with John? Of course we do. It is the right thing to do. But, as is often the case what is right for consumers is not necessarily acceptable to organizations.

Transparency of quality results is an intriguing question. In several supplier/vendor relationships it is mandatory to share quality results. Most notable is the QS 9000 (TS 16949) standard for automotive component suppliers. However, sharing information with consumers is something new and unusual. I have known of companies where departments don’t share their quality results with downstream departments. They would probably faint at John’s suggestion.

Let’s look at how information is currently shared.

The JD Power customer survey for quality of cars does a good job of sharing. If you are thinking of buying a new car, it would help to study JD Power reports. But when you finally buy your car, the manufacturer is not going to tell you how many times was the assembly line stopped during the assembling of this car, or what were the quality results at each inspection levels, or even tougher – quality results of supplier.

Does anyone do this? No.

But there is one example that comes to mind. In his book Ecological Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, has talked extensively about GoodGuide – a group that uses life cycle assessment to assess the damage a product is causing to the environment during it’s production. Across cateogories such as personal care, food, household, baby care, apparel, pet food, and more – the website digs deep into research and gives you a rating you can use to buy or not to buy.

The GoodGuide website describes itself as – Led by Professor Dara O'Rourke of UC Berkeley, GoodGuide's science team – chemists, toxicologists, nutritionists, sociologists, and lifecycle analysis experts – rates products and companies on their health, environmental and social performance.  GoodGuide's 0 to 10 rating system helps consumers quickly evaluate and compare products. Our mission is to help you shop your values wherever you shop.”

Interesting isn’t it. Now imagine a research on process quality results of products that we consume.

Unfortunately, unlike GoodGuide, it will be very difficult to assess internal quality results from research conducted on finished goods. It will be upto companies to share these results.

Will it matter to me if a Home Loan lender releases the % of timeliness and accuracy at each stage of loan processing? Or will it help to know how much rework was carried out on the shiny new phone you are holding?

Think of it, some Airlines do publish on-time departure % when it suits them. Indigo Airlines in India has gained some rapid market share by just focusing on timely departures. They offer no frills but you get where you are going, on time.

Returning to Paul’s question – am I in favor of companies releasing quality results? I don’t think it will happen till there is legislation around it. However, companies that are doing well will release and that should a good outcome for consumers. Just don’t buy from companies that don’t publish such data. Not yet, in the future.