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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quality and Social Networking



Quality and Social Networking
Paul Borawski asks an interesting question about the use of Social Networking by Quality Managers [see: http://asq.org/blog/2013/07/which-social-networks-do-quality-professionals-use/ ] 
I have to tell you that every time I hear the term “social network” I think of West Side Story and the song Gee Officer Krupke  that includes the line:  “Hey, I got a social disease…”  I don’t know if Stephen Sondheim appreciated that he was writing for the ages, but I think he pretty much nailed it with the line “It’s not I'm antisocial, I'm only anti-work”. 
Social networking, in all its manifestations is more about anti-Quality and about pro-Quality.  It’s about wasting time, and letting your ego get ahead of the thinking part of your brain.  It has more to do with addiction and self pleasure (dare I say the “M” word?) than about constructive activity. 
Is there anything really productive about Facebook or Linked-in?  Not very much.  Lots of pictures, lots of writing, lots of trivia and fun, and lots of minutes and hours consumed.  No wonder so many companies and organizations block access.
But the social network programs are part of our world now and some of it, used sparingly, can actually verge to the edge of being productive. 
Take Twitter for example.  Whatawastatime.  Pretty much a total self amusement for narcissists who think that folks should care about what they ate for dinner.  But in certain situations Twitter can be a powerful notice provider when there is a crisis.  For the Quality team, 140 characters is pretty much all you need to let folks know to look in the manual for a notice of document change, or to check the office white board for a procedure notice.  Yes, you can do that all by sending a group email but it is easier to send with Twitter and a lot easier to receive, provided that reading Tweets is reserved for when you are NOT doing critical activities. 
And how about Blogs? Again, pretty marginal.  For some, 700 words is about what they need to put together a cohesive cogent argument.  Blogs can be a structure to substitute for self-published manuscripts.  Readers need to be really careful and really selective because of the absence of a professional or peer reviewer of editor, but occasionally the information can be, if not useful, at least interesting.  For me, I have always been a diary writer; I think better when my hands are busy.  So for me, my blog is as much personal as it is public.  But I do understand that some folks see blogs as strong manifestation of self-absorption. 
As a provider of education courses, I personally find You Tube as a powerful tool for sharing video information with course participants, and there are tons of really good examples on You Tube of video procedures.   In the “olden days” creating video meant going to a studio and paying a whole wack of money to put together a series of teaching clips.  Today you can do the same thing for free and in less time, making it possible to provide regular video updates.  If there is a downside to the  ease of use is the temptation to generate clips that are too casual.  Take the time to create work with polish. 
Where will we be as time goes by?  Who knows.  Over the short term probably we will see more of the same.  But with the internet the one thing that is certain is that there will be change and innovation and new ways to while away the time.
PS:  Our Vancouver conference on Medical Laboratory Quality is shaping up really well.  Vancouver is a great place to be in October.  I look forward to meeting your there.  For more information, visit  [http://polqm.ca/conference_2013/conference_2013/conference_home.html ]

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