61st EOQ Congress in Bled, Slovenia

The 61st EOQ Congress in Bled, Slovenia was one of the better EOQ conferences of the last couple of years. The main theme: “Success in the Digital Era: Quality as Key Driver” sparked a lot of interest. But not everyone was convinced that Quality Management is really leading in this area.

The keynote speech by Joseph A. Defeo, CEO of the Juran Institute, was inspiring in that respect. He dared to show are weaknesses like: not enough attention and impact on design processes, too complex procedures and tools and a decrease in the impact of quality management at the strategic level of the organization. A clear reality check for a sometimes rather complacent Quality world.

I heard a couple of interesting presentations during the parallel sessions, but two things struck me most. In a session on Small and Medium sized organizations there was a discussion after the presentation of Luis Fonseca. The question was raised if there is a need for an “ISO 9001 light” for small organizations. The speaker, the session manager (Richard Keegan) and ISO TC 176 chair Nigel Croft, said “no”. But one comment was remarkable: Richard Keegan noted that it was important that the “translators” of the standard for the SME should be good. I have some problems with that: selling a book for about 150 € and adding that you will need a translator to understand it, is not quality. It is time that ISO TC 176 made some work of that.

The second point was the very often used word “speed”. The new digital world is clearly a world of continual acceleration. Many speakers pointed out that in future people will have to become ever more flexible and able to cope with ever faster changes, from internet 2.0 to Industry 4.0. One participant pointed out that humans are still analogue 1.0. Maybe we should wonder if we are not running faster than we can follow leading to an ever increasing number of burn-outs.

Finally some criticism: the large number of speakers, all having a very short speaking time, leads to an artificially large number of participants but at the expense of the depth and relevance of presentations.