73rd World Conference for Quality and Improvement, Fort Worth, Texas, 19-21 May 2019

Fort Worth is not well known, but the airport code DFW shows the direct link with the much better known Dallas. Texas has been rather popular lately for ASQ conferences and maybe this was one of the reasons for the clearly lower attendance than usual. In November 2018, so only 6 months ago, ASQ organized it’s 2nd Quality 4.0 Summit in Dallas. If you then see that the WCQI program also was for a large part dedicated to Quality 4.0 and two of the five keynote speakers were the same, then maybe there was just too much overlap between the two conferences.

Moreover, the term Quality 4.0 (just like manufacturing 4.0 for that matter) is getting a bit boring. Pretty much everyone knows by now that technology will have a major impact on quality. The five keynote speakers all talked about leadership in this 4.0 world and each time it was a similar and extremely black and white story. Apparently there are only two possibilities: either you lead this digital storm or you will be eaten by it. I think that in between these extremes there are still a lot of intermediate positions possible: wait a little for instance and see what works and what does not work. There is very little attention to possible negative effects of new technology. They clearly exist and become more visible as the technology gets implemented. For some reason the quality world seems to be afraid of a little controversy or different opinions and that is a pity because from friction comes shine. Having a World Conference with five keynote speakers from the USA is also a bit strange.

At the congress the new tagline of ASQ was presented: “Excellence Through Quality” replacing “The Global Voice of Quality”. Not an improvement in my opinion, because this is a slogan form the seventies (see EFQM) and Excellence is a static end goal, whereas we see that everything keeps changing. We should focus on the journey, not the non existing target.

But of course there were also many good things at the conference. Many interesting parallel sessions, enjoyable networking activities, opportunitries to get to know new people in the quality world. The exhibition hall had a lot to offer with a lot of software on offer, mainly statistical programs and software for managing the quality system. WCQI is without any doubt the best value for money conference on quality management, all the more reason for the organizers to be critical and to to keep up the high standards they are used to.

For Belgium this was a very successful conference, as Sabrina Gérard from Datwyler Sealing Solutions gave a very well received presentation titled “Shaping a Future Oriented and Process Based QMS”. Yours truly gave two presentations and received the E. Jack Lancaster Medal, as can be read in other articles on this website.

For more information on the conference and on possibilities to present, please contact me at  willy@qsconsult.be

Next year we will meet in Columbus, Ohio for the 74nd WCQI.