Newsletter of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) Innovation Division – Issue #1, July 2015


A bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan. (Image Credit: Nicole Radziwill)


Our first newsletter is a milestone for the Innovation Division of ASQ. A special thanks goes to Nicole Radziwill, our newsletter editor, for bringing this together.

Another milestone for the Division was achieved at this year’s World Conference. We were recognized as the Division with the highest percentage of certified members! That speaks to the very high knowledge and competence level we have in the division.

Please note that our Innovation Division Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia will soon be upon us. Jane Keathley has been working hard with Kevin Groth and Sarah Rosebruck in the Blue Ridge Section (1108) finalizing the program.

The Conference starts on September 19th with a reception on the Friday evening, with concurrent sessions on Saturday, and a half day workshop on Sunday. You can register online. With the Early Bird Special of only $199 this is truly an outstanding value. 

As we hit the 600 mark for membership (and move towards our first thousand) we are gradually building the infrastructure we need to operate as an effective division, and to give you as a member what you need in terms of knowledge about the exciting and growing field of Innovation. We rely so much on the officers in our core innovation team, and with 2016 approaching fast please let me know if you are interested in being a core team member. Ian Meggarrey is our Chair Elect, and as he takes on the role of chair in 2016 we will need to fill his role of managing the division website. There are many other opportunities if you are interested in joining the core innovation team.

Wishing you success in our World of Innovation.

Peter Merrill
Chair, ASQ Innovation Division


+ Attend the 2015 ASQ Innovation Division Conference in Charlottesville, VA (September 18-20, 2015)
+ What is the PAR Innovation Award? Find out how you can get involved
+ Become a Guest Blogger for Quality & Innovation
+ Contribute an Article or Announcement for the Next Newsletter
+ Join the Division!


+ Dr. Deming on Joy of Work, Innovation, and Leadership (by Tanmay Vora, @tnvora on Twitter)
+ The Innovation Think Tank Executive Summary
+ Why is Innovation “Quality for Tomorrow”?
+ Book Review: The Innovation Book by Max McKeown


+ On the Web
+ On Twitter
+ On YouTube

Attend the 2015 ASQ Innovation Division Conference in Charlottesville, VA (September 18-20, 2015)

Want to get together with other people passionate about quality and innovation? In 2015 the ASQ Innovation Division hosts its third annual conference, following an inaugural meeting in Sacramento in 2013, and a very successful 2nd meeting in Toronto in September 2014 that brought approximately 80 attendees together for talks and networking. We look forward to an even more dynamic and inspiring time together at the end of this summer in Virginia! Topics will include innovation culture, managing innovation, innovation in processes, statistics and innovation, how to innovate in established organizations, and the pathway from quality to innovation. See the complete flyer here: 2015 3rd ASQ IC Flyer


Although the call for presentations is now closed, the registration form for the conference is available at

What is the PAR Innovation Award? Find Out!

Did you know that your Section, Division, or LCM can be recognized for its innovative initiatives? The ASQ Performance Award and Recognition (PAR) Program includes an Innovation Award for member units who use new information and knowledge in ways that benefit their members. Introduced in 2014, the award is intended to encourage increased member value through innovations, expand innovation process expertise, and share innovation efforts with other member units.

Applications are developed by the member unit and describe the unit’s problem or opportunity and how it was identified, how new information was used to come up potential solutions, how the solutions were narrowed down to a final selection, how that solution was developed and then how it was deployed. The applications are submitted to a judges’ panel for review and scoring. Each submitting unit receives a feedback report from the judges, and awards are based on the judges’ assessments. The applications are then shared with other members by posting on the ASQ website.
Seven member units were recognized in the 2014 cycle of the award:
Silver Innovation Award – Portland Section 0607
Bronze Innovation Award – Greater Fort Worth Section 1416
Honorable Mentions:
  • Reliability Division
  • Merrimack Valley Section 0102
  • Orange Empire Section 0701
  • Akron-Canton Section 0810
  • Greater Atlanta Section 1502
Applying for an Innovation Award is a great way to stimulate innovative thinking in your member unit, learn more about the innovation process, and share your ‘lessons learned’ with others in ASQ. What is your member unit doing that is outside-the-box, unusual, or revolutionary??? Consider applying for the PAR Innovation Award!
Contributed by Jane Keathley

Contribute an Article or Announcement for the Next Newsletter

This is only the first Newsletter for the ASQ Innovation Division! We plan to provide our members with regular quarterly updates about Division news, business, and opportunities, and we’ll need your help to make this a useful and dynamic resource. Please send anything you’d like to share with the membership by email to Nicole Radziwill ( Thank you for your interest and involvement!

Become a Guest Blogger for Quality & Innovation

Do you occasionally write about topics and issues that span the domains of quality improvement and innovation? If so, consider submitting a short article to Nicole Radziwill ( who contributes to ASQ’s Influential Voices program at

Dr. Deming on Joy of Work, Innovation and Leadership

Having worked in Quality management role for a long time, I could not have afforded to miss insights from Dr. W. Edwards Deming whose thinking was way ahead of time. Dr. Deming is remembered for transforming Japan into a formidable business competitor through his management and leadership practices, especially Deming’s 14 principles.

In 1994, at the age of 92, Dr. Deming gave his last interview to IndustryWeek magazine which I read with great interest.

In part 1 of his interview, Deming says,

The source of innovation is freedom. All we have—new knowledge, invention—comes from freedom. Somebody responsible only to himself has the heaviest responsibility.

3M is a 100 years old company that thrives on innovation. 3M’s William McKnight first instituted a policy known as 15% rule – that engineers can use 15% of their time on whatever projects or initiatives they like. Later, Google also had a similar policy. McKnight used to tell his managers,

“If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.”

This is even more crucial when an organization grows and if you want good people, you cannot manage them traditionally. They would want to do things in their own way. Providing a conducive space for performance is one of the primary responsibilities of a leader.

In the same interview, Dr. Deming also touched upon a topic businesses are still struggling with – how can leaders enable joy at work? He suggested,

The alternative is joy on the job. To have it, people must understand what their jobs are, how their work fits in, how they could contribute. Why am I doing this? Whom do I depend on? Who depends on me? Very few people have the privilege to understand those things. Management does not tell them. The boss does not tell them. He does not know what his job is. How could he know? When people understand what their jobs are, then they may take joy in their work. Otherwise, I think they cannot.

If we keep all the glorification of leaders aside, the two fundamental tasks of a leader are to get great talent (good people who care) and then help them succeed by providing clarity, reiterating the vision, mentoring and serving to their needs with a focus on achieving business outcomes.

After reading insights by Deming in this interview, I was only wondering about the depth of Dr. Deming’s passion about better business and better leadership that kept him engaged even at 93!

Tanmay Vora (@tnvora on Twitter) – Reprinted with permission from author

Innovation Think Tank Executive Summary

Two years ago, as the seeds for the ASQ Innovation Division were being planted, the ASQ Board of Directors commissioned a panel to establish the foundations for exploring innovation from the perspective of quality and improvement. If you’re a member of the Innovation Division and haven’t yet explored this resource, you should! It provides an excellent basis for framing your understanding of innovation, both from the philosophical and practical perspectives. Some of the key points are:

  • Whereas the discipline of quality emphasizes articulating and meeting customer requirements, innovation is captured in the white space of sensing and responding to unspoken or anticipated unmet needs in effective ways. (This can also involve creating needs where none previously existed.)
  • “Willingness to fail” (which can also be considered a willingness to engage in a process of continuous learning) — and the willingness to be less than comfortable throughout the process — must be part of the culture.
  • Innovation can be considered at the system, product, or process levels. At the system level, organizational structure or business models may be the subject of the revitalization efforts.
  • Innovation (and the knowledge exchange that supports it) must be measured. Risk management (including considering the opportunity costs of not taking risks) is also essential. 
  • The innovation process, by its nature, is natively ambidextrous — that is, both the creation and execution phases must be attended to equally.

ASQ Members can access the 2013 White Paper entitled “Innovation is Quality for Tomorrow” at

Contributed by Nicole Radziwill

Why is Innovation “Quality for Tomorrow”?

In December 2014, I went to an event hosted by Joyce Krech of the Shenandoah Valley Business Development Center (SBDC), a fantastic organization that helps to connect people in western Virginia to build new ventures, create new value, and promote local and regional economic development. I shared a little bit of the story of the ASQ Innovation Division with everyone, and learned how each person is addressing innovation in their own domain of expertise.

When Meghan Williamson presented her story about how innovation is happening right now in our local area, she reminded everyone of the result from the ASQ Innovation Think Tank a couple years ago, which has become a tagline for our innovation group at ASQ:

Innovation is Quality for Tomorrow.

When it was my time to speak, I clarified what this means to me in terms of my favorite definition of quality – the one that comes from ISO 9000 (para 3.1.5). Keep in mind that “entity” can be a project, a product, a process, or even a person:

Quality is the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear upon its ability to satisfy stated and implied needs.

How is innovation related to quality? I used this definition to provide a more specific description of our position that quality is innovation for tomorrow:

Innovation is the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear upon its ability to satisfy unmet, emerging, anticipated, and/or unanticipated needs.

Innovation is not so much our ability to create something new. More realistically, it is our ability to create new value by meeting needs. Which also implies that WE ARE ALL INNOVATORS. We all have the capacity and capability to create value, to meet needs, and to anticipate and tap into emerging needs. Why? Because each of us has a unique perspective, shaped by unique experiences and dispositions, with the unique talent for understanding some very important slice of humanity.

We are all innovators. Let’s collectively imagine the needs of tomorrow, and figure out how to satisfy them!

Nicole Radziwill (@nicoleradziwill on Twitter) – Reprinted with permission from author

Book Review: The Innovation Book by Max McKeown

The Innovation Book. 2014. Max McKeown. Harlow, UK: Pearson International. 258 pages.

According to Peter Merrill, founding leader of ASQ’s newly developing Innovation Division, innovation can be considered “quality for tomorrow”. We can maintain high quality in our products, processes, and organizations, and embark on continuous improvement efforts to maintain our competitive edge. But if we fail to acknowledge or embrace those forces that will keep us relevant in the future, we will not maintain our success. As a result, learning how to become conscious innovators (both as individuals and organizations) is a priority for many quality managers.

Management consultant Max McKeown, who practices in the UK, has produced an excellent guidebook for stimulating innovation both personally and in organizations. His academic background is evident in his well-structured arguments, yet he maintains an informal tone throughout that is reminiscent of the style of Tom Peters (though not nearly as irreverent). His book has six sections: Your Creative Self, Leading Innovators, Creating Innovation, Winning With Innovation, Innovator’s Turning Points, and The Innovator’s Toolkit. The first section focuses on tools for developing and enhancing creativity, while the second specifically addresses leadership challenges that are encountered while actively managing for innovation. The third and fourth sections frame these creative processes in terms of context of use, that is, that great ideas only become innovations when they are made useful. The fifth section is short, but reassuring: McKeown points out several examples of how very imperfect ideas still launched waves of innovation that were both notable and profound.

The clear strength of this book, however, is the sixth and final section – which provides an overview of 24 research-supported models for generating ideas, developing sound strategies, and engaging the social and organizational networks that support innovation. He covers older and more well known approaches like Altshuller’s TRIZ, which incorporating newer approaches like Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas. It is an effective blend of the established and the novel, subtly and effectively demonstrating how even our perspectives on innovation can be innovated! In short, this is a useful guidebook that is certain to catalyze ideas on how to improve both your personal innovative capacity and your ability to lead an innovative organization.

Review by Dr. Nicole Radziwill  (originally appeared in Quality Management Journal, July 2015)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s