I take on this year’s World Quality Day theme as my title and look back on what will soon be my third year of membership with CQI. I can firmly say from the perspective of a young quality professional that things have started changing for the better.
When I first joined the CQI my impression of the representation from younger and female members was far weaker than it seems today, both in meeting attendance and CQI publications. I firmly believe the tides are starting to turn with signs of greater respect within the profession for a diversity of people and approaches. But how do we build a quality world beyond our own ecosystem, beyond the realms of the converted quality professional?
There is still work to be done; quality is still rarely a career of choice. I meet so few people that knew about quality management before landing in the profession. Students and graduates are rarely exposed, even within science and engineering fields. I even speak to business graduates, even those with MBAs who gain the lightest touch of quality training, if at all. A paradox compared to the million plus registered ISO 9001 certificates worldwide in 2013 with over forty thousand in the UK alone –according to the 2013 ISO Survey.
I believe it is time to put quality first to deliver a quality world. Quality needs to be part of mainstream education, not only to develop future quality professionals, but so we build a quality world, with individuals capable of considering the customer and developing improvement strategies. I remain inspired by the children and teachers at this year’s Student Quality Circles Convention for their knowledge and passion for quality management techniques, and only hope more children will learn some of these valuable business lessons one day.
Quality knowledge needs to be nurtured and passed on the next generation through sound use of modern technology and crucially mentoring. Quality still needs a revolution and I believe the time is now. Like teaching and the ‘Teach First’ programme, quality management needs greater representation in education, recognition and positive public communication. For this to happen, we as a profession must believe in our brand and our unique selling points.
World Quality Day, like any other special day from Mother’s Day to Pancake Day, or even Jellyfish Day, should not be the sole focus of all our attention. One day is still one day. While World Quality Day is important, the underlying messages of communication and passion for the profession should outlast one day and foster a future, not only for the profession but for the organisations and individuals who benefit from its existence.
We can build a quality world together, but we need to think of the long game. I believe we are already at risk of a skills gap, but we almost risk extinction if we do not adequately inspire the future.
Hannah Murfet is a medical biochemist turned quality professional, and Vice-Chair of the CQI’s Next Generation Network.