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Quality is in the eyes of the beholder, thus, "we know it when we see it.” While there are various definitions for quality, most can agree that it in some way relates to "excellence” and this is where ASQ fits in. ASQ is a global leader in quality; it consists of a community of passionate people who use quality tools, ideas and expertise to make our world better. ASQ’s tagline is "Excellence through Quality” and its mission is to "empower individuals and communities of the world to achieve excellence through quality.”

I have been an ASQ member since 1990 and have served continuously as an ASQ member leader (aka volunteer) for 30-plus years. One of the many benefits of volunteering is the opportunity to observe, up close, how ASQ goes about practicing what it preaches. Like all organizations, ASQ is not perfect, but it is the preeminent source for quality information, education, publications, certifications, conferences, quality related recognition, and much more. ASQ’s dedicated staff and its more than 2,500 member leaders are continually working to expand and improve upon its offerings in order to deliver an exceptional membership experience and, more importantly, add value to the global quality community.

ASQ is able to successfully execute its business plan year-after-year due to an intricate relationship it has developed and honed between its geographic and technical member units. Geographic member leaders work on a local, national, regional and global scale. ASQ sections (aka chapters) are the heart and soul of the society because the member leaders within each section coordinate networking events and educational content, such as monthly dinner meetings, local tours, educational courses, seminars, conferences, and certification exam preparatory programs, newsletter, online content through myASQ (ASQ’s internal social media network), and more. Member leaders that support ASQ’s divisions (aka technical communities) are responsible for developing, maintaining and enhancing ASQ’s technical content and expanding its quality body of knowledge.

"It consists of a community of passionate people who use quality tools, ideas and expertise to make our world better.”

Combined, ASQ sections and divisions total over 250 member units. Each operates autonomously within the confines of ASQ’s overall management system. The independence provided to these member units allow them to innovate, which inherently results in best practices. In order to more quickly share and replicate these best practices with other member units within the society, sections and divisions are encouraged to document them and submit them through an internal awards program. Member units that share information about an established best practice are publicly recognized. Further, member units that go the extra mile and collaborate with another member unit to replicate a best practice not only receive public recognition but are also provided tangible rewards!

The scope of this awards program defines best practices as: "methods, techniques and/or ideas deployed by a member unit that have demonstrated themselves to be innovative and superior to available alternatives because they produce outstanding and unsurpassed results when compared to current means.” Collaboration is defined as "The action of working with another member unit to produce or create something of value.”

Defined criteria for both awards exists and nominations are reviewed by a panel of judges. The Best Practice Award recognizes member units that successfully implement best practices that provide member value, show measurable success, have proven sustainability, and support ASQ’s strategic plan. The Best Practice Award is intended for original and/or innovative idea(s) that a member unit has implemented and demonstrated to be a best practice. Longstanding, common member unit practices, such as hosting dinner meetings and webinars, are not within the award scope, however new and innovative twists on these common practices would be eligible for the award. The Collaborative Award recognizes and rewards member units that collaborate with one another so that best practices have been successfully replicated. This award also requires proof that the replicated best practice provides member value, shows measurable success, have proven sustainability, and support ASQ’s strategic plan.

The Best Practice and Collaborative Award program runs continuously; awards are judged and bestowed each calendar quarter. This ongoing cycle allows for the quick transfer of knowledge and saves the judges from scoring a large quantity of nominations at year’s end. Some examples of winning Best Practice Award applications: how the Columbus Section created a Quality Technician of the Year Award, how the Inspection Division instituted a systemic member leader recognition program that led to member leader retention, and how the Quality Management Division partners with other member units to run webinars.

Replication of best practices amongst member units is more quickly achieved through the sharing of ideas, lessons learned, processes, tools, documents, etc. Collaboration amongst members units to quickly and easily implement proven methods of success will provide benefit to ASQ as a whole. Sharing best practices and encouraging collaboration amongst its member units is one way quality and improvement are promoted within ASQ.