Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Making ASQ Truly Global

In his recent post on A View from the Q, Bill Troy, the new ASQ CEO, has raised a very key issue. That of engaging members and volunteers in member based organizations such as ASQ.  This is an issue which bothers ASQ a lot. Like many member based organizations ASQ has its challenges in growing memberships. As Chair of the Bangalore ASQ team I face this challenge on a regular basis.

Let’s examine this situation. Most of my analysis is based on volunteering for ASQ in India.

Why do members join ASQ?
  • Members join mostly for the discounted certification fee when you become a paid member.
  • Members want events where knowledge is shared – something they can take back to their companies and implement
  • Members want networking for mentoring and career opportunities
  • Members want to be part of something bigger and global and derive pride from the same
  • Members want to rise up in the recognition ladder – become a Fellow, win ASQ awards etc.

Why do members not renew their membership? (Again, this is truer for India)
  • Members don’t see VFM – value for money once they are certified
  • Knowledge sharing isn’t enough and is often generic
  • Members don’t get career leads and get frustrated
  • While ASQ has improved its online connect with members they still don’t feel they are part of something big and global (ASQ is still seen as American)
  • ASQ’s recognition program is not very rewarding for non-Americans.

In addition to the above when I speak with senior quality professionals and members of other professional bodies (such as PMI) there are some more factors that emerge.
  • ASQ has very limited presence in Asia – this is where the action is
  • ASQ has very limited influence with large tech companies
  • ASQ hasn’t launched anything big in years. Can’t only depend on an annual conference and certifications.

I have been involved with ASQ in India since 2006 and been a member since early 2000s. I have worked with members and volunteers for ASQ for over eight years. In this period I have seen good progress. Here are some key pluses:
  • ASQ has opened up to the fact that it has be more global (Self-awareness is step one of improvement)
  • The office in India is now established. It has had some hiccups but seems settled now. The India office was a goal of the informal ASQ group – QualityFirst
  • The local member community model – LMC is now established and even tried globally. Bangalore was a pioneer here
  • More engagement opportunities with Webinar series (notable Dr Manu Vora has helped a lot).

With this background, what do we think could be done to engage more members and volunteers? Here is a wish list:

1. Membership fee linked to Purchasing Power Parity. Almost all members feel ASQ fee are too high at current pricing for India. I have spoken about this for over eight years an at the WCQ in May 2014 I asked Stephen Hacker (Then Chair) and Cecilia Kimerlin (Now Chair) about linking membership fee to PPP – purchasing power parity. I believe we have to bite this bullet now. PMI has reduced second year feel to 50% for select countries. If ASQ reduces fee to 1/4th I am convinced their revenue will remain same with increased membership.

2. ASQ India Conference. ASQ has to make a reasonable splash in India. The Indian Quality community is pretty large and no one is bringing it together. If ASQ does not do so soon, someone else will. Several leading quality professionals globally have Indian roots. They can easily help make the conference a success.

3. More local events.  An assured method of more engagement with members in a city is to have regular events. Two to four hour seminars every alternate month is ideal. Bangalore and Ahmadabad has been doing these events regularly and has benefited from the same.

4, More webinars. With most Indian cities having terrible traffic issues, members find it difficult to travel to events. Webinars are ideal for this. ASQ Delhi office and Dr Manu Vora have done a wonderful job in last six months to collaborate on a webinar series. We are now working to have an ASQ Fellow speaker series. More of this will help in improving engagement.

5. Recognition across ASQ awards, magazines etc. ASQ has surely woken up to the need of recognizing its members globally and not just in Americas. More of this is needed. Ideas include:
  • India specific project contest
  • India specific Quality Progress (or an online version)
  • Invite and honor senior professionals – this attracts potential members
  • Partner with reputed publications and organizations
6.Encourage volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone for ASQ. They give their personal time for little gain. ASQ must find ways to reward and recognize this effort.

7. New products and services: ASQ has to reach out to the new tech community. Blogs like Techcrunch are bigger than ASQ already. Some ideas include:
  • Take MBNQA global
  • Have tech world division to attract Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and the Apps industry
  • Regional conferences


Much of the above may read like one man’s rant. I can however, assure you that all the above is based on my discussions with quality professionals over the last decade or so. ASQ has done many things right in the last five years but much more is required for it to be truly global.