After a year of participating in ASQ’s Voices of Quality Program, it seems it’s about time for me to hang up my hat.

Yes, they did graciously offer to let me renew, but, truth be told, I just don’t have a lot of energy for the program, and it looks like ASQ has brought up a new batch of folks who are rarin’ to go. I’m happy for them.

By now you probably know how this goes; Paul Borawski, the Executive Director of ASQ, makes a blog post, we offer our commentary, and then Paul uses that for input into future work. This month the overall subject was three-fold — World Quality Month, “Forty Under 40”, and ASQ’s newest membership benefit.

I’ll start with the dessert first – ASQ’s new membership benefit is, Ironically enough, the ability to give away a six-month membership to a colleague who is thinking about membership but hasn’t taken the plunge.

So let me say, I think membership in professional associations is a good thing. I also put my money where my mouth is.

I am a regular, dues-paying member of yes, the American Society for Quality (ASQ), the American Society for Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and the Association for Software Testing (AST), where I sit on the board of directors. I am also an expired member of the Agile Alliance. Don’t get me wrong – the AA is great, but three at a time is plenty for me, and when I decided to join ASJA, with it’s $160/year price tag, I decided to drop something else.

I pay those memberships out-of-pocket, and have for years; I just renewed my ASQ membership. If you’d like to see if ASQ is right for you, drop me an email — I have a membership to give away! (If you do join, please, please, find a local chapter and some software or industry-appropriate people to hang out with. It might make a huge difference in the quality of your experience; it certainly did for me.)

So there’s the dessert.

The Rest of the Stuff

World Quality Month is moving from October to November, in order to comply with World Quality Day, which is in November.

I had no idea those were even things, or, if they are things, who gets to decide them. I actually suspect that it’s kind of like “Love Day” on the Simpsons; invented and moved around by the inventors.

In that, I am less than excited.

I do tend to agree with Mr. Borawski that getting more people talking about quality more publicly is probably a good thing — I just keep getting this nagging feeling, at the back of my neck, that ideas have consequences. When we try to compress some very complex subjects into a single word “quality” – we tend to miss things. And those things can come back later to bite us. (Within the quality movement, we have some people who think quality is fitness for use; others might say it is conformance to process. Still others might say quality is value to some person. That’s kind of a big deal.)

Finally, ASQ has created the “Forty Under Forty” project, which seems to me to be next year’s batch of “Influential Voices” for ASQ.

I could be critical of the idea, but instead, allow me to tell you what I like about it: The project shows that ASQ is serious about seeking out new and divergent opinions within it’s membership, and giving those members a platform to talk about quality, in some depth, with some nuance, for an extended period of time.

It turns out that, in my own way, I’ve been making a similar request for more divergent discussion throughout this year of being an influential voice.

And it’s happening.

That’s good.

I was pleased to participate in the 2010-2011 program. Now it’s time for a new batch.

This is going to be fun.