ASQ Logo

Section News and Events

ASQ Learning Institute

The ASQ Learning Institute™ Is Now Live - Learn Skills That Will Help Make Your World Better Quality: The Cause of Good Things in the World Quality techniques from ASQ enable doctors like Dr. Manu Vora, an ASQ Fellow - and the Blind Foundation for India, which he co-founded-to help cure and prevent blindness for approximately 90,000 people in India.

"The quality discipline has helped us manage the foundation from the beginning," said Vora. "By implementing the PDSA model at BFI, we were able to hit the ground running." Using the plan, do, study, act cycle, a basic quality tool, Vora also played a major part in providing vaccinations and vitamin A to tens of thousands of children in India.

With your ASQ membership, you belong to an organization of continuous learning and improvement, making quality the cause of good things in our world.

Primary Benefits:

The ASQ Learning Institute™ will help you to plan, manage, schedule, and track ALL of your professional development needs anywhere in the world while guaranteeing the same high-quality training and instructors you expect from ASQ.


The ASQ Learning Institute™ allows you to create a user profile so you can build your learning plan, track your success, and boost your career-all starting today.


These tools are available to Full, Senior, Honorary, and Fellow members now:

  • ASQ Course (Learning) Catalog - Compiles a list of available training, including instructor-led, online, and document-based training. Allows users to browse and locate catalogs very quickly by subject areas or calendar date.
  • ASQ Learning Institute™ Calendar - Provides a clear view of all the professional development opportunities over an 18-month period. The calendar allows users to view upcoming learning offerings that include all courses, seminars, and conferences in multiple modalities
  • Learning History - Displays the entire history of learning events for a learner-including components assigned and completed. The learning history can be thought of as the learner's "transcript."
  • Competency Assessment - Provides a structured list of knowledge, skills, and abilities that serves as a foundation for users to map the level of competencies needed for various job functions.
  • Career Planner - The Career Planner helps you manage your career by mapping your future career path and assessing the difference between your current abilities and the abilities (called competencies) required for the job to which you ultimately aspire.
  • Learning Plans - This personalized plan provides a detailed description of user activities to help learners achieve their education goals. The learning plan can be thought of as the "to do" list.
Visit the ASQ Learning Institute™ and set up your profile now: ASQ Learning Institute™ - Anywhere, Everywhere. It's All About You.

Back to top

ASQ Certifications

ASQ certification is a formal recognition by ASQ that an individual has demonstrated a proficiency within, and comprehension of, a specific body of knowledge. Nearly 150,000 certifications have been issued to dedicated professionals worldwide.

Invest in your career and your future with an ASQ certification. Gain an advantage over your competition and increase your potential for a higher salary.
Check out ASQ’s website for the certifications that are offered.

ASQ has joined the Lean Certification Alliance, enabling your society the opportunity to offer the certification exam. The Lean Certification program was launched in 2006 by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence and The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence in response to the market need brought forward by their members and constituents.

Back to top

Keystone Alliance for Performance Excellence

The Keystone Alliance for Performance Excellence (KAPE) is a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation that helps all types of organizations improve their performance and outcomes, including productivity, workforce engagement, competitiveness, and customer and stakeholder satisfaction.

Visit the website at for current information

Back to top


APICS is the leading professional association for supply chain and operations management and the premier provider of research, education and certification programs that elevate supply chain excellence, innovation and resilience.

Visit the Schuylkill Valley Chapter website at for current information

Back to top

Links to Articles on Corporate Culture

Corporate culture can create many challenges, but can also provide opportunitites for quality. These links point to articles from third party sites, outlining methods to use and improve corporate culture. All links open in a separate browswer tab

How to Create a Continuous Improvement Culture

Getting the Most Out of Your Organization's Core Competencies

Align Competencies to Create the Culture You Need

Fighting Against "The Way We've Always Done It"

Back to top

Gantt Chart

Also Called: milestones chart, project bar chart, activity chart.


A Gantt chart is a bar chart that shows the tasks of a project, when each must take place and how long each will take. As the project progresses, bars are shaded to show which tasks have been completed. People assigned to each task also can be represented.

When to Use Gantt Charts

  • When scheduling and monitoring tasks within a project.
  • When communicating plans or status of a project.
  • When the steps of the project or process, their sequence and their duration are known.
  • When it’s not necessary to show which tasks depend on completion of previous tasks.

Gantt Chart Basic Procedure


  1. Identify tasks:
  2. Identify the tasks needed to complete the project.
    Identify key milestones in the project by brainstorming a list, or by drawing a flowchart, storyboard or arrow diagram for the project.
    Identify the time required for each task.
    Identify the sequence: Which tasks must be finished before a following task can begin, and which can happen simultaneously? Which tasks must be completed before each milestone?
  3. Draw a horizontal time axis along the top or bottom of a page. Mark it off in an appropriate scale for the length of the tasks (days or weeks).
  4. Down the left side of the page, write each task and milestone of the project in order. For events that happen at a point in time (such as a presentation), draw a diamond under the time the event must happen. For activities that occur over a period of time (such as developing a plan or holding a series of interviews), draw a bar that spans the appropriate times on the timeline: Align the left end of the bar with the time the activity begins, and align the right end with the time the activity concludes. Draw just the outlines of the bars and diamonds; don’t fill them in.
  5. Check that every task of the project is on the chart.

Using the Chart

  1. As events and activities take place, fill in the diamonds and bars to show completion. For tasks in progress, estimate how far along you are and fill in that much of the bar.
  2. Place a vertical marker to show where you are on the timeline. If the chart is posted on the wall, for example, an easy way to show the current time is with a heavy dark string hung vertically across the chart with two thumbtacks.

Gantt Chart Example

The figure below shows a Gantt chart used to plan a benchmarking study. Twelve weeks are indicated on the timeline. There are two milestone events, presentations of plans for the project and for the new process developed in the study. The rest of the tasks are activities that stretch over periods of time.

Gantt Chart Example

Gantt Chart Example

The chart shows the status at Thursday of the sixth week. The team has finished seven tasks through identifying key practices, measures and documentation.

This is a hectic time on the project, with three time-consuming activities that must happen simultaneously:

  • The team estimates it is one-fourth finished with identifying benchmark partners and scheduling visits; one-fourth of that bar is filled.
  • Team members have not yet begun to identify the current state.
  • They are halfway through collecting public data, which puts them slightly ahead of schedule for that task.

They are behind schedule for the first two of these tasks and ahead of schedule for the third. Perhaps they need to reallocate their workforce to be able to cover the three activities simultaneously.

There is a fourth activity that could be happening now (develop benchmark questions), but it is not urgent yet. Eventually the team will have to allocate resources to cover it too, before visits can begin.

Gantt Chart Considerations

  • Sometimes Gantt charts are drawn with additional columns showing details such as the amount of time the task is expected to take, resources or skill level needed or person responsible.
  • Beware of identifying reviews or approvals as events unless they really will take place at a specific time, such as a meeting. Reviews and approvals often can take days or weeks.
  • The process of constructing the Gantt chart forces group members to think clearly about what must be done to accomplish their goal. Keeping the chart updated as the project proceeds helps manage the project and head off schedule problems.
  • It can be useful to indicate the critical points on the chart with bold or colored outlines of the bars.
  • Computer software can simplify constructing and updating a Gantt chart.

Excerpted from Nancy R. Tague’s The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition, ASQ Quality Press, 2004, pages 271-274.

Back to top      Return to Tips

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) Tips & Tricks

By Ron Atkinson, ASQ past president

FMEA is a step-by-step approach for identifying all possible failures in a design, a manufacturing or assembly process, or a product or service. Keep in mind the following tips to make sure you and your organization succeed when applying FMEA.

  • Give initial FMEA training on an object that is common to the students and not part of their work processes. That way they can concentrate on the concepts. Move on to actual work processes when the concepts are understood.
  • The logical sequence is to do Design FMEA training followed by Process FMEA training. It is actually easier to grasp the concepts by doing the Process FMEA first and then transfer the concepts to the Design FMEA.
  • Failure is the inability of the item or activity being studied to perform its intended function. This can happen even if the part or process does not 'break.'
  • FMEA evaluates potential failures. An FMEA does not mean that the failure has occurred in the past or will occur in the future; it means that it could occur.
  • The cause of the failure is often given as the potential failure mode. This creates a problem and results in confusion when identifying the cause.  Example: People see a tire without air and state that the failure mode is a nail in the tire. The tire losing air pressure slowly is the potential failure mode and a nail in the tire is the cause.
  • Better definition of the requirements of the design or process make the rest of the FMEA easier.

For more hot topics and resources on quality in manufacturing, visit the ASQ Knowledge Center

These tips first appeared in the ASQ Automotive Division's Automotive Excellence summer 2008 newsletter.

Back to top      Return to Tips

Quality professionals must cultivate success in their ‘organizational gardens’

--Excerpt from Quality Progress, November 2008—

Quality professionals are constantly confronting practical questions that are always specific to the organizations they serve: How do we grow our quality efforts? How can I keep my organization’s approach to quality vibrant? How do I keep the leadership focused on quality? Should we be changing the focus of our quality program? How do I transplant a successful quality endeavor from one part of the organization into another?

Many quality professionals understand that the answers to these questions require the ability to envision their organizations as living entities, existing within their understanding of systems theory. This requires quality professionals to function along the lines of organizational gardeners who cultivate their organizations so they can produce beauty on many levels.

A basic approach

Regardless of whether an individual is an organizational gardener in a manufacturing, healthcare, service, government, education or not-for-profit setting, the task of tending to an organization can be difficult because it’s easy to lose sight of four basic gardening principles:

Start with the premise that everything changes and that no action you or your organization takes will ever be permanent. Your task is to study your organization as it exists right now, to think about how it can be improved, and then to perform the necessary pruning, spraying, transplanting and other actions.
Each organization is a complex system of interconnected parts that exists within an even larger ecosystem of social, economic and political conditions. The term "unintended consequences" is just another way of saying we didn’t think things through from a systems perspective before we implemented change.
Just because you own a set of garden tools does not mean you are a gardener. It is important to have a variety of tools and even more important to know when to use them and when not to use them. Don’t spray the herbicide on everything in sight just because you have it.

Most quality professionals have experienced a time when their organization went overboard with a particular tool and attempted to apply it in an uncritical manner. This causes cynicism about quality simply responding to the fad of the month.
Organizational gardening requires a lot of hard work and the mastery of a complex body of knowledge (BoK). This mastery only comes through a process known as praxis, in which we use our understanding of theory to inform our practice and use our practical experiences to reflect on and refine our understanding of theory.

Alter your perception

We sometimes get in a rut when it comes to how we approach organizational issues and the perspective from which we understand organizational gardening. Research into how the mind functions suggests our perceptions about quality and our preferences for approaches might be influenced by our brain preference, leading us to ask whether we are left-brained or right-brained gardeners.

For the purposes of helping quality professionals think about getting dirty as organizational gardeners, it could be useful to look at quality methods simultaneously from two dimensions. One dimension would organize principles and methods according to whether they establish and promote order or whether they engender change, as Whitehead might suggest. The other dimension considers whether the principles and methods are linear and orderly (the left-brain preference) or relational in terms of complex systems (the right-brain preference). Figure 1 provides a matrix of the BoK from this perspective.

Org Gardening BOK>/p>

The greatest challenge for the quality practitioner as organizational gardener might be facilitating the movement from one quadrant to another when the needs of the organization require a change in thinking and action. While the detailed, day-to-day digging in the organizational dirt in the conformance quadrant is essential, it is equally important at times to move over to the assessment quadrant and evaluate the relative beauty of the garden and decide what to uproot, trim or fertilize next.

When it comes to promoting change, quality professionals show a marked preference for working in the orderly change quadrant. Remember, the orderly introduction of change (improvement) needs to be balanced by the work in the conformance and assessment quadrants. So where does the right-brained, relational approach to promote change fit in?

Ethical dilemma

When quality professionals are dealing with macro-level quality issues in their organizations while functioning as organizational gardeners, there are some ethical considerations to ponder.

When working within a system, there is no neutrality. Quality practitioners cannot park themselves in a safe, neutral part of the system. That’s because they are part of the system. From Whitehead’s perspective, every action we take is either going to promote greater order or promote change.

Don’t be afraid to dig in

There is no shortage of quality practitioners who can conduct an audit, lead a group through a Six Sigma process improvement routine or plot control charts, even though these specific areas require expert skill and knowledge. Today’s challenge goes back to the issues that prompted Philip Crosby to establish the Quality College, that motivated Joseph Juran to establish the Juran Center, and that called Deming to teach countless workshops at George Washington University.

All three of these quality leaders were trying to help everyone see quality from a systems perspective and impart a breadth of understanding that could enable us to nurture and grow quality in organizations for the betterment of society. The garden is calling, and it won’t wait. You probably have some organizational gardening of your own to do. Dig in.

Back to top      Return to Tips

Scatter Diagram

The scatter diagram graphs pairs of numerical data, with one variable on each axis, to look for a relationship between them. If the variables are correlated, the points will fall along a line or curve. The better the correlation, the tighter the points will hug the line.

When to Use a Scatter Diagram:

  • When you have paired numerical data.
  • When your dependent variable may have multiple values for each value of your independent variable.
  • When trying to determine whether the two variables are related, such as…
    • When trying to identify potential root causes of problems.
    • After brainstorming causes and effects using a fishbone diagram, to determine objectively whether a particular cause and effect are related.
    • When determining whether two effects that appear to be related both occur with the same cause.
    • When testing for autocorrelation before constructing a control chart.

Read more about Scatter Diagram on the ASQ website in the Quality Tools section. It’s an excerpt from Nancy R. Tague’s The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition, ASQ Quality Press, 2004, pages 471-474.

Back to top      Return to Tips

Spaghetti Map

In this month’s article, “Tackle Waste, Inefficiency, and Variation in Healthcare Using the Spaghetti Map,” Anantha Kollengode describes the tool as, “a simple Lean Six Sigma visual tool that provides a powerful overview of a process. It helps in mapping the flow of people and material, delivering care or service in an organization.”

The spaghetti map is a simple Lean Six Sigma visual tool that provides a powerful overview of a process. It helps in mapping the flow of people and material, delivering care or service in an organization. The pathways taken by people working in the process and the use of supplies when drawn on a paper often resembles cooked spaghetti, hence the name. The spaghetti map helps in quantifying the distances traveled, in addition to helping to surface the bottlenecks, poor layout, workarounds and inefficiencies in the process.

You can find the complete article at:

Back to top      Return to Tips

QFD – Under One Roof

Quality function deployment (QFD) is a great tool for designing a business based on the voice of the customer. Many quality tools are multifaceted. Here is how QFD and its house of quality can be used to better schedule and scope audits.

One of the guiding principles of quality is cross functionality. This principle is embedded in many current quality management standards. For instance, ANSI/ISO/ASQ Q9001-2000 says the following:

“The application of a system of processes within an organization, together with the identification and interactions of these processes, and their management, can be referred to as the ‘process approach.’

“An advantage of the process approach is the ongoing control that it provides over the linkage between the individual processes within the system of processes, as well as over their combination and interaction.”

How do you audit interaction? In Figure 1’s example, the columns are the general departments at most companies (or they could be specific processes). The roof becomes all the interactions between any two departments.

QFD House

There are eight departments in this example, making the number of two-way interactions 28 (8C2). With eight departments, the roof would be made up of 28 interactions. Is it necessary to audit all 28 interactions? Probably not. You can always do a Pareto chart and audit the six vital few interactions. Which six? Probably by consensus we can agree on four or five interactions of the six vital few.

Not only do we have four bad (–) interactions, we also have four good (+) ones. You can audit for objective evidence of the bad interactions to begin a process of determining root cause and implementing effective corrective action. We can audit the positive interactions to collect “what we do well” information (the appreciative inquiry method).

For example, you can audit the bad interaction between the engineering and production departments to objectively shed light on the problem. You can audit how the engineering department produces and delivers standards to the production department. You can audit the production department on how useful it finds the engineering department’s standards. A revealing exercise is to see if the supplier output is equal to the customer input, as illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2

As a positive example, you can audit the interaction between the HR and production departments to identify something you want to continue and perhaps replicate. You can audit HR on how it hires production workers. Perhaps you would find that HR goes to observe the actual work environment. You can audit how the production department’s new hires perform. Per-haps you would discover that HR receives feedback one month later on how a new hire is working out.

Auditing interactions would require you to expand the scope of audits to include more than one department or process. Auditing several departments or processes might sound impossible with time and budget constraints. But remember, scope down audits of suppliers to a specific commodity in the main process you are auditing. If nothing else, make sure all your audits cover at least two departments or two processes. You must begin auditing the way the business actually operates—a system of processes, including interactions.

Another use of the roof is to determine how to build cross functional teams, perhaps to tackle a Six Sigma project. If you know there is a weak relationship between two functions, why not put representatives from these areas on the same team with a single purpose? I have seen a weak relationship become strong through a team building process. Moreover, this strong team relationship might have a spillover effect on day-to-day business operations.

Whether forming cross functional teams or auditing process interactions, you will provide value added information for management review of the effectiveness of the quality system. Using the house of quality for cross functionality and interactions makes sense.

After all, aren’t your departments and processes under one roof?

RONALD L. SEDLOCK is the principal consultant and trainer at the quality Catalyst in Melrose, FL. He earned a bachelor’s degree in science from Cleveland University. Sedlock is a senior member of ASQ and past chair of ASQ sections 1313 Boulder, CO and of 1506 Jacksonville-Northeastern Florida.

Back to top      Return to Tips

Root Cause Analysis—Not Always an Answer

One of the more useful and popular methods used by quality professionals is root cause analysis (RCA). But, there are instances in which RCA isn’t the best choice.

One such situation is when working to reduce the chance and cost of recalls and especially product liability lawsuits, according to Randall Goodden, chair of ASQ’s Product Safety and Liability Prevention Interest Group for the past 12 years (the group was established in 1981).

Goodden says RCA and failure mode and effects analysis, which is in the same category, help design engineers not only determine why a product might not last as long as intended, but also predict what could fail.

“In those cases, you’re looking more at product reliability. But, preventing hazards that will ultimately lead to recalls and possible lawsuits requires a different type of analysis,” Goodden explains. “This analysis is much more in-depth than RCA and includes all the ways the product is likely to be used, as well as misused," and how anyone who comes into contact with the product could be injured.

Another point Goodden makes about RCA and FMEA is that they’re commonly conducted by design engineers on their own designs. But, the unfortunate fact, according to Goodden, is that the majority of products that are being recalled involve issues related to design defects.

“Prevention of design defects requires an independent analysis of what would lead to faulty designs,” says Goodden. “Product safety teams should be made up of a small group of specially trained people, such as safety and quality engineers, who have a very in-depth view as to how a product will be used and who will use it. They must analyze the proposed design on behalf of the entire company and become specialists in this area.”

Goodden believes product safety teams should be comprised of these independent positions, as opposed to manufacturing or engineering personnel, that are likely to face timeframe pressures.

What tools are available to product safety teams? In addition to software packages that perform hazard analyses and risk assessments, Goodden says these teams can use data from previous products, including customer feedback, warranty returns, and customer returns from the field.

Brainstorming sessions and checklists that feature previous problems with a product are also quite helpful. Most importantly, however, Goodden says product safety team members need to have special training in how to recognize potential hazards.

“RCA and FMEA help determine whether a product will be reliable and do what it is intended to do, and lead to satisfied customers,” concludes Goodden. “Hazard analysis and risk assessment by a product safety team will go beyond just ensuring the product will be reliable and live up to the customer's expectations, by reducing the chance and cost of recalls that could then lead to product liability lawsuits.”

Goodden is principle of Randall Goodden International and Goodden Enterprises LLC and the author of Lawsuit! Reducing the Risk of Product Liability for Manufacturers (Wiley, 2009).
For those interested in learning more about this topic, contact Randall Goodden at

Back to top      Return to Tips

events1 events2 events3 events4 events5 events6 events7 events8 events9 events10 events11 events12 events13 events14 events15 events16 events17 events18 events19 events20 events21
Back to Top