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Wisdom from our Wisest | Sagesse de nos plus sages

Eric Hosking & Samira Kazemi

Eric Hosking & Samira KazemiBy Eric Hosking, Section Treasurer, Membership Chair, ASQ CQE, CSSBB and CQA and Samira Kazemi, Program Committee Member


Last month, we introduced Rosaire Ratelle, a long-time ASQ member and one of the fathers of modern quality in Quebec. This month, we spoke to Brenda Fisk, also a long-time ASQ member. She has chosen to be active in the senior ranks of ASQ, not only in Canada but also in the central organization in Milwaukee. Here is what she had to say:


Brenda Fisk

Brenda Fisk

Brenda is a results-driven, project manager, delivering business transformation initiatives across multinational, financial services companies.  She has worked for large financial institutions including CIBC, TD Canada Trust, the Royal Bank and American Express.  She has expertise with full life cycle software project management — project charter development, change request documentation, test plan creation, and reporting.

In addition, she is a collaborative leader with a talent for cultivating high-performance teams, facilitating business and technical training programs, and partnering with executive leadership to drive corporate-wide success.  She is quick to adapt to new technologies and shifting priorities in ever-changing environments.

Complimenting her work résumé is her long-time involvement in ASQ as a Leadership team member in the Toronto Section.  Her many roles included Section Chair and also a number of key roles in American Society for Quality (ASQ), the world leader in quality.

What is the definition of Quality in your industry? 

Quality is meeting customer requirements.  In software, it is important to have a complete set of requirements or in manufacturing terms, specifications.  The requirements for a report, for example, may describe the layout, sheet size, number of fields, point and font in each field and the data that is displayed in the field as well the frequency of printing or issuing the report.

I have observed confusion between Quality Assurance and Quality Control.

The Quality Control element of testing is put forward as an element of Quality Assurance.  I think of the silly Lucille Ball episode at the chocolate coated candy factory.  The Quality Assurance aspect would be the recipe for making the chocolates and include such specifications as how much chocolate, tempered for how long, put into what size molds, etc.  The Quality Control aspect is the inspection process after the chocolates are made.  Does the amount of chocolate on each piece meet the specifications in the recipe?

In software, “quality assurance” is often used to describe the testing processes, not the process of “how to develop the software”.

Quality Assurance should be described in the software world as “the planned and systematic set of all actions and activities needed to provide adequate confidence that the product conforms to its requirements and the organization’s quality management system”.

Quality Control is “the planned and systematic set of all actions and activities needed to monitor and measure software projects, processes and products to ensure that a specific cause has not introduced unwanted variation into those projects, processes or products”. [1]

Often in today’s society, the name used for the “inspection team for software” is Quality Assurance when it should be correctly termed the Quality Control Department, in my viewpoint, based on the definitions above.

How did you get into Quality and how did your profession in Quality evolve over these many years in your industry?

I got into quality by accident.  I was working for Canada Permanent as a procedure analyst and a business analyst.  In that role, I was asked to test the software for some of the projects they were developing.  At the time, I was not aware of the definitions I mentioned above and simply executed the steps in the business process to see if the software worked as expected.  I did document what I found and that was the beginning of my career.

When I moved to CIBC, I was hired as a “quality assurance” person and asked to participate in the test one of the banking systems.  My manager wanted to find out two things: did I know how to test and, were the documented test cases well enough documented that they could be used to automate the testing process.  Within an hour, he had the results.  I knew how to test and the test cases were not well enough defined for a non-banking person to adequately execute the test and not ready to be automated.

Once that was established, my manager asked me to visit other software development projects and ensure they were executing the documented testing process as it had been prescribed.  If projects were not using the process, I then offered them a training course in “how to do software testing” and from there, my career continued to expand.

In the various companies mentioned above, I developed processes for requirement gathering, change control, defect and risk management through the software development life cycle.  It doesn’t matter whether the development process is Agile or Waterfall or anything else; there are processes that should be followed.

Did you always stay in the same industry? 

The largest part of my career has been in the financial industry and while not always in the same company, my roles have always been in software development processes. 

What made you successful in your Quality role?

Tenacity.  As I worked in various organizations, I would come to understand what was lacking in the software development life cycle and work with the project managers to introduce the processes that were missing to make the life cycle more vibrant thus improving the quality for the customers.

How long have you been with ASQ and what kept you as a member for such a long time? 

Since 1986.

My boss at CIBC invited me to an ASQ meeting where I was introduced to the world of “quality”.  I had not thought about it before and realized that I had a lot to learn in many industries to understand how quality was defined and what process was in place to ensure that quality was delivered to the customer.  I attended every ASQ meeting the Toronto Section put on and learned a lot from the many industry leaders who presented their company’s approach to providing quality products.

While the Toronto Section Chair, I invited my Periodontist to present to the group.  After his presentation, many of the engineers in the room came to me to thank me for inviting him and said that they had never realized that other industries used the same engineering terms as they did.  For example, to build a bridge on land requires the engineer to understand the stress that will be put upon it.  In dentistry, building a bridge in someone’s mouth requires much of the same kind of understanding.  Many terms in dentistry are the same as those in engineering.  Amazing!

ASQ afforded me a window into the world outside my own allowing me to see how other industries were dealing with their quality issues, and how I could benefit.

How has ASQ membership helped or played a role in your career advancement and how have you benefited from being a member?

I have benefitted from having opportunities to take on several leadership roles in an international organization such as ASQ.

I was asked to be secretary for the Toronto Section for several years and I then became the treasurer.  It appeared that the accounts had lost $2,000.00. The error was that by using an Excel spreadsheet, rather than an accounting software, the previous treasurer had forgotten to take the retained earnings into the accounting process for the year-end annual statement.  The funds were not lost, just not correctly accounted for in the spreadsheet.  The lesson here is one needs to use the right tools for the job.  I believe this is true in all industries in all situations.

From there I became the Section Chair and I attended a training conference hosted by ASQ Headquarters.  The point of the training was for the Section Chair to learn about the policies and procedures that were standardised for the organization and take them back to train the rest of the Section leadership team.  I set about sharing my learning with the team.

In 1999 I took on the volunteer role as Deputy Regional Director (DRD) for Southwestern Ontario, overseeing the Sections in Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and Toronto.   Again, the primary role for a DRD was to be a resource to the sections and provide section leadership training where necessary.

In 2003 I became Regional Director for Canada, and responsible as a training resource to the 14 Canadian Sections.  I was also a volunteer leader on the ASQ Board of Directors as one of the 15 Regional Directors.  There were representatives from the 22 Technical Committees so the Board of Directors was a large group of extremely knowledgeable people from very diverse backgrounds.

From this vantage point, I helped ASQ recognize that it was more than just a US based organization and that some things needed to be addressed from each regions’ perspective.  For example, I helped them understand that the annual salary survey needed to address the issue from a “different country” perspective.  While collecting data from quality professionals in the US and Canada, the reporting of that data has to be in the currencies for those countries; not have the Canadian data converted to US currency.  That was a major breakthrough.

Another major breakthrough involved the ASQ Acronym.  If you ask a person what ASQ stands for while in Canada and the explanation becomes “The American Society for Quality,  people ask…where is the “Canadian Society for Quality”?  If Canada were to become that, we would have to develop a whole new society and the leadership teams across Canada did not want to do that at that time.

The benefits of belonging to ASQ made sense and the ASQ brand was well recognized internationally, outside North America.  Canadians still needed a way to feel part of a Canadian group.  Therefore, a name change was recommended that would clarify things.  For example, people understand “Ford Canada”, “IBM Canada” and so on.  The thinking at the time, was why not introduce the idea of “ASQ County 1”, “ASQ Country 2” etc.  While Regional Director for Region 4, I as able to work with ASQ’s Board of Directors to change the name of “ASQ, Region 4” to “ASQ Canada”; another major success.

What would you suggest that could work / serve members better?

The Society is made up of volunteer leadership with a core of headquarters staff to support the leadership teams around the world.  The volunteer leaders make the society as vibrant as we can and when necessary, recommends changes to ASQ policies and procedures to keep everything running smoothly.  It is up to us!  Actively participate and do what needs to be done to keep the society going.

Another one of the things that changed while I was Regional Director, was the year-end for the organization.  It had been July1st to June 30th each year.  However, that meant that the annual financial statements needed to be submitted during a time when many people in North America take summer vacations.  Under this model, it was difficult for Section leadership to have audited financial statements to submit within the 60 days after year-end.  To reduce the number of late submissions, the year-end was moved to a calendar year.  This has proven most successful as there are far fewer late financial report submissions, making the Headquarter Year-End Audit process run smoothly. 

You have worked at very high levels in ASQ organization.  How did you come to work in that organization?

ASQ is a Society; a volunteer leadership organization that has a core of headquarter staff to support the leadership teams throughout the country. The Society has Sections that are geographically based such as the Montreal Section, Toronto, Ottawa, and other Sections in Canada.  The Society also has Technical or Industry specific Communities such as the “Automotive”, “Food Drugs and Cosmetics”, “Statistics”.  There are 22 Technical Communities

A member can belong to a geographic “Section” as well as belonging to as many of the Technical Communities as the person is interested in.  There are volunteer leadership roles for everyone. As a volunteer leader, I simply had the pleasure of working in many roles.

After diligently working in the Toronto Section from 1996 onwards in many executive roles, I became the Deputy Regional Director for Southwestern Ontario, Member of the Section Management Program Committee, and then the Canadian Director in 2002. 

These latter roles automatically added me to the ASQ Board of Directors.  With this exposure, I was able to take on other roles vital to the overall functioning of ASQ.  I became the Section Affairs Council Chair, Financial Reporting Review Process Committee Chair and Software Division (Technical Community) Treasurer.

We have seen a very powerful evolution in ASQ HQ in recent years with a profound impact on what is expected of Sections.  Could you explain briefly the drivers for this evolution?

Several drivers played a role.  ASQ is a legal, not-for-profit entity incorporated in Wisconsin, in 1948.  As such there are regulations that need to be adhered to for legal and taxation laws, in order to remain a Not for Profit Society.  ASQ realized that it was losing oversight of what geographical and technical communities were doing and needed to regain that control.  For example, all the money managed by geographical or technical communities in fact comes under the jurisdiction of ASQ.  Some communities were treating these funds as their own and investing monies to generate revenues. This is clearly outside the Geographic and Technical Community mandates.

ASQ’s external auditors recognized that the Geographical and Technical communities were not following some of the Headquarter policies and procedures to ensure its “Not for Profit Status”.  Therefore, steps and actions were put into place to help the Geographic and Technical communities protect the ASQ’s Not for Profit status.  Some processes seem to be against what the geographic and technical groups would like; however, these steps were introduced to maintain the Not For Profit Status.  They are not intended to punish or prevent the geographic or technical groups from doing what they do best – provide value added to their members by providing education, training, certification, conferences and newsletters addressing quality initiative around the world in all industries.

Competitive pressures have a strong influence also.  Automation of the Certification exams through a 3rd party provider was a response to PMI offering of the same thing.  The benefit to the members is that the results of the certification process are available sooner than having a centrally proctored exam process

Is there likely to be a slow down in this phenomenal rate of evolution? 

The world is changing fast and ASQ has to either keep up or get out of the way.  ASQ is choosing to keep up and is trying hard to be a step ahead of the game.  It is for these reasons the society continues to evolve.  Wouldn’t you want your society to do that?

What would you say to any aspiring Senior ASQ candidate?

Go for it! Put up your hand and participate!

A word of caution though.  If you are considering applying for ASQ fellowship or being a candidate for one of the ASQ medals— document everything.  One of my difficulties was that I didn’t have enough documented evidence to support all the things I’ve done over the years.  I did not retain all the records for sufficient audit evidence to be able to apply for these prestigious awards and recognitions.  However, that didn’t stop me from being a very active and effective volunteer leader.  Don’t worry about any position.  There are lots of policies and procedures to help you fulfil any role to which you may aspire!   Just go for it and have fun.  I did!

[1] Westfall, Linda.  2016. The Certified Software Quality Engineer Handbook, Second Edition. ASQ, Quality Press, Milwaukee, WI, 53203 USA.

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Eric Hosking & Samira Kazemi

Eric Hosking & Samira KazemiBy Eric Hosking, Section Treasurer, Membership Chair, ASQ CQE, CSSBB and CQA and Samira Kazemi, Program Committee Member


Last month in this column we featured Ruth Stanley, ASQ Canada’s former Regional Director. This month we are featuring one of our very longest serving members, Rosaire Ratelle. April 1st saw Rosaire celebrate 46 years with the ASQ. Like Marcel Charbonneau featured two months ago, Rosiare was instrumental in the development and evolution of the Quality institutions in Quebec.  This is his story:


Rosaire Ratelle, B. Eng., ASQ CQE

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Wisdom from our Wisest | Sagesse de nos plus sages

Eric Hosking & Samira Kazemi

Eric Hosking & Samira KazemiBy Eric Hosking, Section Treasurer, Membership Chair, ASQ CQE, CSSBB and CQA and Samira Kazemi, Program Committee Member


Last month, in this column we featured Marcel Charbonneau, a very long time member of the ASQ. This month we are changing speed a bit. Some of our members are not necessarily long time members of the ASQ, but they are long time practitioners of Quality. They also come with a myriad of talents that have helped them have very successful careers inside and outside the Quality domain. Samira and Eric had the pleasure of interviewing Ruth Stanley, the ASQ’s former Regional Director for Canada and Greenland region. She described her career in Quality and her career as a leader. This is what we learned.


Ruth Stanley

Ruth Stanley has Ruth Stanley has 30 plus years in Quality working as a public servant in a number of branches of the Canadian Federal Government. While there she worked with ISO standards: 9001 for quality systems; 14000 for environmental standards; 17025 for laboratory information systems and 31000 for risk management.

Ruth became a member of ASQ in 2014 in the Ottawa Section. In 2017 she took the lead on organizing the first ASQ Canadian National Quality Conference which was hosted by the Ottawa Section. Following that she served as the ASQ Regional Director for Canada Greenland Region in 2019 and 2020, then stepping down to be Deputy Regional Director in 2021.  From those positions, she was deeply involved in both the 2020 and 2021 ASQ Canadian National Quality Conferences hosted by Toronto Section and Montreal Section respectively.

Now retired from the Federal Government, she is far from retirement. She is an author, presenter, blogger and now founder of Boann Consulting.

Impressed by Ruth’s resume, Samira had a number of questions for Ruth:

What was the definition of Quality in your industry?
I’m in the Pharmaceutical industry and in my Quality role, the main focus has been mostly on complying with  the requirements of national / foreign regulations. It is always interesting to me to know what Quality is in other industries, regulated or non-regulated. I was in the government industry where Quality was actually referred to as excellence. Quality meant acting with integrity and impartiality in providing the best value to Canadians while acting in accordance with statutes and regulations.

How did you get into Quality and how did your profession in Quality evolve over these many years in your industry?
My role changed over the years. My first role was as a Pensions Officer. I audited financial institutions that reported to the government.  Quality meant compliance with the Income Tax Act. I was assessing pension plans and RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan), RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund) and other financial instruments managed by those institutions.

As an Internal Auditor, I assessed the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of Revenue Canada internal processes. These were the Revenue Canada internal indicators of Quality at the time. Over the course of my time with the government, the tools of quality that we used changed.  As a Planner/ Policy Officer, I followed the PDCA cycle to plan improvement activities, measure execution, assess achievements and update plans, following Treasury Board guidelines.

We introduced other tools along the way. We began with process mapping and triage for risk levels, then used a balanced scorecard and key outputs, then we moved to outcome-based key indicators with Canadians as the focus and a Baldridge-inspired excellence framework with elements of ISO standards. Later we changed our focus to risk-based thinking. Lean thinking, along with the move to value-stream mapping and a customer focus, was just getting going in 2016 when I left.

Did you always stay in the same industry?
More or less. I was with the government for a large part of my career, but in the different branches I dealt with different industries. I then devoted myself to service through ASQ and now I am in consulting. I have also authored a published book and I am working on my second book.

What made you successful in your Quality role?
I am a natural connector – ideas, things and people. I was able to distill large amounts of information into bite-sized pieces.  I could facilitate and pull information out of people that they didn’t know they knew.

How long have you been with the ASQ and what kept you as a member for such a long time?
Since 2014, almost 8 years. I came to it late in my career. I was still learning about leadership outside the government and deepening my knowledge of quality methods and other very interesting topics. The ASQ gave me a chance to serve in a different way. I am very pleased with the friendships and contacts that I have made along the way.

How has ASQ membership helped or played a role in your career advancement and how have you benefited from being a member?
I really grew as a person and a leader/mentor and I got to try things that I would never have done in the government. The support I got from other people, encouraged me to become a writer, blogger and presenter.

What do you suggest could work / serve members better?
The real magic in ASQ Sections is the support that we give each other as members. Mentoring or twinning is something that the Sections should do more of.  This is more personal than a webinar or a workshop.  It could be an ongoing relationship, a sounding board for new members. This is something that I would have benefited from in my career.

You have worked with ASQ HQ.  What are your impressions of that organization?
Staff are very dedicated and work hard. They are not on the ground, so they need our insights on current needs. They cannot be everywhere at once.

What would you say to any aspiring Regional Director candidate?
As a Regional Director, I was a therapist, problem fixer and sometimes an enforcer, but I would encourage an aspiring candidate to:

  • Stay open to new ideas. Don’t get into a rut. Always push forward with something new.
  • Don’t try to know everything or do it all yourself. You have a team. Listen to them and cherish them.
  • Build others up. Let them try something. Provide opportunities for everyone to push themselves and practice. learning is never “one and done”.
  • Be kind but don’t be afraid to “put the skunk out on the porch.” Sometimes it is necessary to address something uncomfortable
  • If you don’t measure up to your own ideals, be kind to yourself. You are going to mess up sometimes.  You are still human.

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Eric Hosking 2021By Eric Hosking, Section Treasurer, Membership Chair, ASQ CQE, CSSBB and CQA


Did you know that we have a number of ASQ Montreal Section members who have been with the section for more than 40 years. Four decades! What do you think they can tell us about the evolution of Quality in Quebec? What do you think they can tell us about being successful in the quality profession? What was their quality path and why have they chosen to be with the ASQ for so long?

We asked Marcel Charbonneau, who joined the ASQ 49 years ago, and he provided this fascinating story:


Marcel Charbonneau, T.P., ASQ CQA
ASQ #00008263, Senior Member


I started in 1968 as a chemistry laboratory technician at Canadian Arsenals Ltd where I showed myself to be very versatile; I worked in the laboratories of non-destructive & destructive testing and QA metrology. My employer encouraged us to pursue studies by reimbursing the costs following successful completion of the courses.

The Human Resources department informed me of a program in quality CQ / QA, the COSE (Centre d’Organisation Scientifique de l’Entreprise). After 4 years of evening classes I completed the quality engineering analyst program, a program of more than 1900 hours.

In subsequent years I attended and participated in more than 300 hours of training through courses and seminars on management, quality improvement, new revisions of ISO 9000 standards and auditor training with ETI – ASQC Milwaukee and Canadian universities. During this training I had world renowned professors: Joseph M. Juran, W. Edwards Deming, Frank M. Gryna.

The COSE program, in French, was developed by Mr. Denys A. Pilon who was my teacher in quality management, mentor and friend. This program and the exams were based on the program of ETI – ASQC and the CQE certificate of ASQC. ASQC Montreal Section supported this program.

There were no such programs at that time in CEGEPs or universities. A committee made up of Denys A. Pilon, Pierre Caillibot, Philippe Lecompte, Michel Rhéaume and Jean-Pierre Amiel participated in the creation of the certificate in quality management at l’École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). Following its inauguration in 1982, ÉTS continued the work and several of our members were invited as lecturers.


Mr. Denys A. Pilon, B.Sc., CQE, Senior and Fellow ASQC, Member of the International Academy of Quality and several years of experience in the industry in quality, consultant and trainer in quality management, helped me discover the ASQC. I joined him as a member of ASQC Montreal Section 0401 in 1973.

In order to be able to bring together Francophones working in the field of quality, we obtained accreditation from ASQC Milwaukee for the formation of the Section Québécoise 0404 of the ASQC in May 1974. Since that time, I have always been involved as a volunteer. I have held all the executive positions: secretary, treasurer, 2 terms as section chair, newsletter editor, and I was responsible for the program of activities, etc.

Section 0404 held 18 conferences during the 37 years of its existence, organized with partners such as COSE, AQQ (Association Québécoise de la Qualité), ASQ Montreal section 0401, SRE (Site Reliability Engineering), OTPQ (Ordre des Techniciens Professionnels du Québec), BCM (Le Bureau de Commerce de Montréal), MQQ (Mouvement Québécois de la Qualité), ÉTS, Club Maillage Qualité de Lanaudière and l’Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ).

I was co-president with David Tozer, from ASQ Montreal Section 0401, in 1986 for the bilingual colloquium: “DESTINATION QUALITY”, during Quality month. As a volunteer, I participated in at least 20 other conferences.

During those years, mainly though the ASQ and our conferences, I met several people with very interesting experiences from various backgrounds who made me realize that each organization is not unique, that is to say that whether quality management is for the military, food, telecom or pharmaceutical products, etc., we all live the same realities. Giving customers what they asked for: i.e. designing and producing it in a committed organization with competent staff.

Networking also allowed me to climb the internal corporate ladder and apply elsewhere to better fulfill myself. It is my observation that a member of the ASQ must maximize their status by getting involved in their section, even the smallest tasks will allow a member to know the organization and to assert his or her skills.

In 1982-83 I teamed up with other quality professionals who founded the AQQ (Association Québécoise de la Qualité) which became the MQQ (Mouvement Québécois de la Qualité). We needed to have a 100% Quebec and French-speaking group to better communicate and teach quality management in all Quebec companies.

Since Section 0404 had members with ASQ certifications, we offered courses, in French, to prepare for the ASQ exams. We used the references recommended by the ASQ for the CQA, CQT, CQE, CSSGB, CSSBB and CMQ/OE.

I obtained a CQA in 1992 and with my experience I also gave training.

Other colloquium souvenirs


My involvement in the various functions and my continuous training have allowed me to climb the ladder in my organizations.

I have held various positions: technical officer in the technical manufacturing department; technical officer in the QA (Quality Assurance) department and QA supervisor in a manufacturing company (Canadian Arsenals Ltd). In January 1980 I was promoted to manager of the QA department. The company worked with the DND 1016, MIL-I-45208 and AQAP-4 standard: “Company Inspection System”. My department included 40 people and a supervisor in each sector: QA, QC and labs.
During my last year at Canadian Arsenals Ltd, I worked on making QA system documentation compliant to DND 1015, MIL-Q-9858a and AQAP-1 (early military quality system standards).

At the end of 1987, I joined the Canada Post Corporation Montreal division as a quality manager, as part of the corporate team. With a small team we had to audit the mail sorting processes: manual and mechanical, PCB installation inspection, cause and effect analysis and CA (Corrective Action) of the different processes.

At the beginning of 1990, I got a dream job with a team of professionals to participate in the realization of gigantic projects of the SEBJ (Societé d’Énergie de la Baie James) phase 2, as a QA Representative with responsibility for supervision, evaluation and audit of subcontractors and equipment suppliers. The contracts required Canadian standard Z299.1; .2 or .3-1985. Companies have since moved away from these standards, with the arrival in Canada in 1991, of ISO 9001 or 9002-1987 standards.

At the end of my SEBJ contract I worked as an advisor, auditor and quality trainer at Multiqualité Inc, Warnock Hersey, Accademia Qualitas and STAT-A-MATRIX.

The last 13 years of my career were spent at QMI division of CSA as Head of Sales and Training, supervising a team, drafting service offers, meeting clients, presenting QMI services at business fairs and giving training on the ISO 9001 standard and auditor courses. As a Chief Auditor, ISO QMS, I carried out more than 800 monitoring and recording audits in chemical, paper, mechanical welding, machining and electromechanical manufacturing companies.

I volunteered as an assessor 2007 and 2008 and chief assessor 2009 at the Grand Prix Québécois de la Qualité organized by the MQQ and the Government of Quebec.

I was able to succeed thanks to my continuous training. If I had to do it again, I would go into industrial engineering by specializing in quality management.


We need to come together and get involved by joining an association.

As a member of the ASQ, I was able to benefit from a vast network both for training and their certifications and from recognition by my peers, which is an asset with American customers or suppliers.

Members must be involved when participating in activities. During speaker events for example, I observe that they should ask more questions and voice their opinions in order to better understand and even challenge the speaker.

New members, by participating in their association, will be able to improve their network of contacts which may lead them elsewhere to new and exciting opportunities.

After all my years with the ASQ and my section, I can say that my involvement has allowed me to benefit, to succeed and to evolve. As you have read, I left my first employer after almost 20 years and it was my best decision.

Much remains to be done to improve quality. I believe that the teaching network of technical CEGEPs and universities must include the notion of quality management. It’s everyone’s business, not just one particular group. Everyone is concerned: designer, expert, manager, specialized worker, etc. and they must know the tools for measurement, improvement and communication. These concepts must be integrated into the management of regular work in the same way as productivity, performance, safety and the environment.

It seems Utopian to think that the system will change, but all our little gestures count and can advance the cause that is close to our hearts and that is why I am still a member of my Montreal section of the ASQ.

In 2012, I had the honour of receiving tributes and thanks from the ASQ Section Montréal francophone 0404 for my exceptional contribution to the section and to the promotion of quality in French in Quebec.

I am very proud to have joined an association where I was able to develop professionally and make friends with people dedicated to a great cause. Since my retirement in 2008, I have continued my participation in activities, and I continue to support voluntarily, following the merger of the two Montreal sections.

I stay in contact with professionals, I stay informed on topics related to quality and I allow myself to voice my opinions based on my experience.

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Turning Data into Useful Information

Dr David TozerBy Dr. David Tozer, Ph.D., ASQ CQE and SSBB, Education & Audit Chair.

Over the years I have seen many presentations where people collect data to perform evaluations and then try to draw conclusions from the data.  In many cases it is difficult to draw conclusions from the data collected.  A common reason for this difficulty is the data were collected by an experiment or evaluation that did not use designed experiment methodology to guide how to collect data.

For almost 100 years, we have been teaching Design of Experiments (DOE) to students.  These methods are more efficient and effective, from an economic perspective, than other methods.  In some industries, designed experiments are used regularly.  Examples include agriculture, chemical and pharmaceutical safety and efficacy testing (pre-clinical and clinical trials).  In other parts of industry, designed experiments are uncommon.  Many of us are involved in doing experiments or evaluations.  I think it would be useful to use a scientific method to perform experiments or evaluations.

Scientific work is based on having standards.  I am not referring to ISO standards, but the physical standards that are the basis for commerce, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and medicine.  Standards reduce bias and allow us to use a common language to describe the world.  These physical standards include the degree (temperature), ampere, kilogram, metre, second and mole.  In the case of biological and social systems, we often do not have well-defined physical standards when performing experiments or evaluations.  In these circumstances we designate a sample from the population as a control to serve as the standard.  Controls receive a reference treatment and can include placebos (sugar pill), untreated subjects or a current treatment.

Designed experiments can be used in almost all industries and get useful results. The simplest experiment that could be used by many organizations is described in the following example. 

An activity that is done in almost all industries is training.  Another thing that is common to many industries: the money spent on training does not seem to yield the expected results in increased productivity or effectiveness. 

So, to assess training effectiveness the following process could be used:

1) Before training begins:

  • Training methods are developed and documented;
  • Important performance metrics are identified;
  • People being sent on training are evaluated to access current performance, the control, and data collected on the current performance. 

2) The people are then trained in the required skill using the developed methods. 

3) After training is completed, the trained people are evaluated for their performance of the required skill, the treatment effect. 

4) The difference in performance between the control and the treatment is assessed to see if there is a training effect.

In more technical terms, this set up is a single factor (training) repeated measures (repeated on the same people) two level experiment (control and treatment). 

The analysis of the results requires the use of the first statistical test discovered in the early 1900s.  It too is the simplest possible statistical test.

We also need to make sure the environment and selection of trainees is done in as uniform a manner as possible.  It is important to ensure the environment, in which any experiment or evaluation is done, is understood and documented.  All results are conditional on the environment the data were collected in.  In the case of the training example the results are conditional on the training methods.

An important take away from this short discussion is the idea of a control as a reference standard.  It is not the same as a physical standard, but it is a standard nonetheless.  Standards in the form of controls should form the basis for evaluations and experiments in many business situations.

As mentioned earlier, the example demonstrates the simplest designed experiment possible.  The real world is a lot more complicated.  For more complicated systems, more complicated designs need to be used.  Many economical methods have been developed over the years to handle complicated situations.  The methods can be used for evaluation, screening and optimization.  Some designs look for relative changes and may not, at first glance, appear to have a standard or control.  It is always a useful exercise to determined what the actual control is when doing an experiment or evaluation.

By performing designed experiments, data collected during the evaluation are turned into information about the effectiveness of an intervention.  By using information, we can make better informed decisions.

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