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You are not alone: 5 debriefing tips for Quality professionals after the World Quality Week 2022

How to keep the enthusiasm alive after the World Quality Week #WQW22 and take best practices for quality improvement with you in your daily work!

Last week you could not miss it: as part of World Quality Week there was a flurry of creativity coming out of the Quality community globally: from podcasts, celebratory breakfasts, rap songs, adorable movies featuring Quality professional's children, enthusiastic webinars (GUILTY :-)), ... The theme of this year is "Quality conscience: doing the right thing" which is of course a theme that resonates with a lot of Quality professionals who are motivated by continual improvement.

To avoid a kind of "World Quality Week" hangover, I share with you 5 debriefing tips to remember once the party balloons have deflated, and you need to go back to your regular meeting schedule and inbox.

Tip #1 - Congratulate yourself and create a short recap for your boss!

Although the whole point of World Quality Week is to involve your whole organization, chances are real that you did most of the work and preparations for these celebrations. Do not just assume that people will have noticed this: make a small (internal) list for yourself of your successes in communicating about Quality, involving colleagues, ... and write down what can be done better next year (PDCA people!)

Make also sure to share a short recap to your boss so he/she is aware of all this effort and what the action points are for next year. I know that you now think that you will remember it, but time goes fast and before you know it you are again disappointed that you have to cram the extra World Quality Week preparations into your busy schedules at the last moment without sufficient support.

Tip #2 - Remember: you are not alone as the "Quality conscience" of your organization

The whole point of this year's #WQW22 theme was to explain to your organization what the importance of shared responsibility is: do not fall into the trap in being the sole "guardian angel" of compliance and quality conscience in your organization. This is not only going to take too much of your time and energy but mostly it is a risk for lack of organizational improvement, mistakes, non-continuity and non-compliance. This is an essential reason why the concept of an explicit "management representative" was phased out in the ISO9001:2015 version and it is really important. The best you can do is to keep regular (light) trainings and awareness sessions alive, even when it is not World Quality Week and to "teach your colleagues how to fish" instead of doing all the fishing alone.

"Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend." – Zenna Schaffer

Tip #3 - Be realistic, pick from the plate of Quality Tools

If you are now overstimulated by the overwhelming list of Quality Tools and possibilities to implement in your organization: breathe and be realistic. You will not have time to read all the books or implement all the tools: go back to your risk/opportunities analysis (if you don't have one, better call me ;-) and review it with your priorities and new insights in mind, while keeping it realistic. This will give you peace of mind.

Tip #4 - Be aware of the facts and figures: there is a long way to go and that is not abnormal

When talking to Quality professionals in organizations, it is always recognizable how worried they are: about getting support, about their workload, about the future integration of Sustainability and Quality (check out my (me of course about that), how they "accidentally" tumbled into Quality... However be aware that you are not alone : Academic research shows that 37% of quality practitioners never studied quality management and 50% never studied quality engineering as a course at a university. One in four quality professionals had even less than 20h of training! This means that a lot of Quality professionals are learning it "the hard way" on the job and we should help each other to grow as a profession to share best practices, not only worry about it individually. I also rolled into the Quality world as a PhD in Biotechnology, and looking back I wish I did not have to learn it alone the hard way in the beginning (from reading books, handling complaints and arguing with external auditors who enjoyed my scientific optimism in quality matters :-) )

Reference: Antony, J & Sony, M 2021, 'An Empirical Study Into Qualifications and Skills of Quality Management Practitioners in Contemporary Organizations: Results From a Global Survey and Agenda for Future Research', IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.

Tip #5 - Get help and put timings/budget to a real plan for your own personal development!

Lastly, knowing that you are not alone with your daily struggles can help you a lot in keeping the enthusiasm for your Quality job alive: join a Quality network in your country (don't postpone it until you magically will have more time), select a training for your own development, get inspiration and external best practices from other organizations to improve. Important: make sure that these actions/projects are part of your KPI's for next year, so that you also can show off the progress that you make in your personal development.

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