Training in the Sharing Economy


Image Credit: Doug Buckley of

Paul Borawski’s August question to the ASQ Influential Voices is personal: Are you continuously improving yourself through training?

The subtext of this question is, of course, to explore the extent to which companies are currently supporting – and encouraging – training about quality-related topics, tools, and techniques as a form of personal development. Budgets have been tight for everyone since the end of 2008, but Paul’s data shows that many organizations are still investing in quality-related training.

Participating in training programs is one way to increase your quality consciousness:

Quality can be defined as “the totality of characteristics of an ENTITY that bears on its ability to satisfy stated and implied needs.” (ISO 9000 para 3.1.5; formerly ISO 8402) Usually, when we’re thinking about quality systems within business organizations, our entities are products and processes and projects. We employ Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), ISO 9000 or ISO 14000, frameworks like the quality criteria from the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA), Six Sigma or lean tools for reducing variation and defects and improving processes, or any number of a wide variety of tools and techniques to ensure quality and embrace continuous improvement.

But we’re never on our own – whatever we pursue or accomplish, we are always individuals in relationship to, and in community with, one another. So in the context of the ISO 9000 definition, how do you define QUALITY if the ENTITY is YOU? The quality of any product, process, relationship, or venture you contribute to will depend upon the QUALITY OF YOU and how you relate to, and align with, the environment in which you are embedded. Improving your awareness of quality standards, your alignment with teams and organizations, and your ability to manage your attention will all increase your quality consciousness.

But training is not the only way to enhance your quality consciousness. In addition to learning things on your own, you’re always learning from the people around you, and there are undoubtedly people in your immediate environment who have useful things to share – information and talents that you might not even be aware of.

Last month, Fast Company inquired whether the “Sharing Economy” — iconized by companies like car-sharing ZipCar and not-a-taxi service Lyftwill destroy brands. But I think there’s also a renaissance approaching the training industry (and beyond it, education in general) based on these newly blossoming values.

So – can your organization buy less training and instead, share your talents more – more often – internally?

What untapped gifts are lurking around your company?

One comment

  • Wow. It’s like you and I are on the same wavelength. This is something I’ve been thinking about. Here are some thoughts:
    1. QUALITY OF YOU (you meaning “we”…who’s on first?) – My life is made up of my career, relationships, interests/hobbies, health, assets, and knowledge (the knowledge part kind of fits in with the rest, since it’s just a map of information in my brain that relates to all the other stuff). I’m actually working on designing a system that encompasses all these things and provides a way to measure and manage the whole “system” which is “me”. This fits in well with the Quantified Self movement, and I think Quality practitioners are going to be superstars pretty soon, because this stuff is going to be more popular, and more people will come to us for help with it.

    2. Untapped gifts in the company – I have a couple ideas on this – the company needs to make it clear to the employees that there is room for them to share information on what their gifts are. For example, maybe a poster that says, “we’re looking for tech-savvy or mobile-savvy people to give ideas on solving a problem for a six sigma project. Contact…”, or even to create quizzes and surveys that draw out of people what they’re good at outside of their job description. That might also naturally come from a coaching process, but not all supervisors/managers understand how their employees are able to think outside of the box that they work within. I call finding those “untapped gifts” finding “geniuses” lurking out there, ready to pounce on idea creation & problem solving.

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