Thursday, April 7, 2011

Communicating Quality - the conference

So we had our Communicating Quality Seminar today, and I have to say (patting myself on my own back), it   was a brilliant conference.  The audience was a little small, but the conference to which it was attached was the annual meeting for  Microbiology laboratorians
There were some non-microbiology types, one in particular was my friend Luc, a Quality guy and MMLQR reader who I first met  through the Certification Course a couple years ago 

But back to the conference.  There were four speakers each speaking on a different aspect of communicating Quality throughout an organization.  One (me) presented  an overview.  The next (Robert Michel)  was on creating an mixed media  megacenter of Quality information, a combination of paper and electronics and conference, all linked skillfully to a common message.  Julie Coffey talked about an educational package that she has developed for ISO15189, again an excellent talk on an excellent topic.  And finally Sara Garcha talked on the topic of looking at an an organization’s  culture structure using the well published culture assessment tool, and discussed how organizations can use that information to adopt change that would be condusive to Quality.  
The presentations were well received, and some generated a fair amount of question and conversation.

Each of the presentations was excellent and all the information was valuable.  For me, the personal highlights were  Robert Michel’s recounting the time that he spent attending W. Edwards Deming’s 4-day seminar in 1991 and Sara’s discussion of changing organizational culture.  Julie’s presentation of the work she has done on de-coding 15189 was impressive.  I reinforced that Quality costs can be measured on  TEEM scales (TIME - EFFORT - ENERGY - MONEY).  Of all the approaches to keep the Quality conversation going in the laboratory, there are many effective techniques that score low on all scales, meaning they take little time to generate, are easy to implement, and cost little or nothing to put on. 

Normally I try to do some form of informal survey following a seminar to get a sense of satisfaction.  Generating numerical data is always interesting, even when the numbers are very soft.  This time I did not, in part because I will send out sn electronic survey in a few days.  At this point I have some “key” indicators, the kind that lecturers use.  Nobody walked out.  Nobody fell asleep.  Nobody developed competing cross-talk, and there were some questions and comments following the presentations.  4-5 came up afterwards and congratulated us on a successful  afternoon.  So, those are positive indicators.  

All in all, a success.

I got a number of personal insights.  First and foremost, the idea of a discussion on a very narrow topic of how to talk about Quality in the laboratory was a good idea.  As a meeting organizer, one does a dis-service to shy away from sophisticated topics.

I have permission from all the speakers to post their presentations at  They should be there by Friday. 

 Four happy speakers,  post presentation.

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