[ASQ Chair's Year End Report] Ugly Sweaters, Pandemics and the Future of Member Value
Austin Lin
2 Posts
Dear ASQers,

Around this time last year I was wearing an ugly holiday sweater at an eponymously themed holiday gathering in Milwaukee. We were there to share the challenges ahead for Volunteer ASQers and Full Time ASQers alike as 2020 approached.

My sweater was a little too tight in all the wrong places, but I breathed as best as I could and walked to the front of the room. I was in between business trips so the only holiday sweater I could find was whatever was available on the sale rack at a shopping mall near my hotel.

The sweater was from the US television sitcom Friends, which had just recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary. In loud red letters stitched across the waist, it said, “How YOU Doin’?” quoting from the show’s pizza loving roommate, Joey Tribbiani.

So, how you doin’?

In December of 2019, I was doin’ pretty well. Well, at least marginally okay.

I was excited to be starting my role as the Chair of the ASQ Board of Directors. I was excited at the level of talent of existing and new member leaders taking roles in 2020, and no one yet knew what a “coronavirus” was. There was a lot of work to be done to get ASQ back on a solid financial footing, to build more transparency, to ensure the Society was putting its effort behind the top priorities that could connect our action plans to delivering valuable member experiences.

With our member leaders across the Board of Directors, across our Global and Technical Communities, and with a talented professional support staff on standby in Milwaukee, we were ready for whatever 2020 was going to challenge us with.

What actually happened in 2020 challenged me and the entire Society and I am endlessly amazed at what we were able to put in place and how we overcame a pandemic-driven year that turned the world upside down.

None of what happened could have been made a reality without all of you working tirelessly, virtual call after virtual call, on weekends, in between the already blurred lines of work and home as COVID-19 forced ASQ to rethink and reinvigorate what was possible as a Society.

Below I have summarized our key deliverables for 2020--the results from standing teams formed to specifically address these areas:
  • Financial Transparency
  • ASQ Culture and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Member Value Acceleration
  • KPI Leadership Accountability
  • ASQ CEO Search Committee
But before we get into the details of these teams’ hard work in 2020, I wanted to start with, “Thank You.”

Thank you all for still believing in a world of non-profit membership societies because your passion for the profession inspires you to inspire others.

Thank you for giving up so much time that you already don’t have, to choose to still be a member and support our 75 year old Society because we believe in a world of continuous improvement.

Thank you for supporting quality through excellence, not because you have to, but because you feel a calling to do so, because you believe that a world so upended by change can be made so much better by professionals who lead and enact positive change for a living.

It has been an absolute honor for this once upon a time chemical engineer who got volun-told to take over a process quality control system for a little battery factory in suburban Georgia to fall headlong into a profession that became personally so defining and inspiring.

It has been an huge privilege to serve alongside you all.

So here's my new year's aspiration for us as one ASQ for 2021. When we gather together this time next December, after another year of challenging, rewarding collaboration and cooperation and someone asks us, “How You Doin’?” we’ll just dust off our ugly holiday sweaters, pause and smile.

"Great." we’ll say.

"We’re doing great."

Austin S. Lin
San Francisco, California
Chair, ASQ Board of Directors (2020)


= = =

// Financial Transparency Team
Team Lead: Steve Schuelka
Mark Moyer
Eric Hayler
Robert Uphoff
Jim Kittridge

Team Goal: To remove bureaucratic layers between Board decisions and impact to membership and provide a clear line of sight between financial decisions made at the board level and the delivery of member value.

Objective Create and sustain an ASQ-wide fiduciary stewardship and transparency program as measured by:

Result 1 Establishing a set of metrics that monitor ASQ’s fiscal health
Status: Final set of metrics agreed upon by team Glossary to accompany metrics ready for expanded communication for improved member self-service understanding and interpretation of the metrics.

Result 2 Create a process for tracking and project managing a balanced budget for the Society
Status: Proposal complete. We will be implementing a regular process so the Board, GCC, and TCC can specifically monitor budget status and link Society-level budget decisions to how we prioritize our focus areas.

Result 3 Launch a communications plan [to gauge and monitor the state of transparency]
Status: Communications process to get a test drive in 2021 with the goal of making financial metrics easy to find and easy to understand. This will include financial metrics that span ASQ’s daily operations in Milwaukee to visibility of financial health between sections and divisions.

Result 4 Establish a fiscal transparency metric that is surveyed to Volunteer ASQers and Full Time ASQers on a regular basis
Status: Survey completed for baseline study. Goal is to have a meta-metric that quantifies the level of financial transparency in ASQ (perceived or otherwise) This metric will be tied to the evaluation of Board, Chair and CEO performance (more on this below on our KPIs).

// ASQ Culture and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team
Team Lead: Therese Steiner
Andrea Kozek
Awilda Knopes
Carol Ann Wolfgang
Jessica Coulon
Kurt Meyer
Linda Andrade-Gonzalez
Madhu Nayak
Ondina Castillo
Rajesh Tyagi
Zubin Clark

Team Goal: To make this statement true for all ASQers: “ASQ is a place I want to be.”

The ASQ Culture team was challenged to create an environment where all ASQers, be it our Volunteer ASQers and members or our Full Time ASQers, are treated with respect and dignity.

As we unpacked this, we knew we would have to rethink how ASQ looked at complexities ranging from diversity, equity and inclusion, to psychological safety in the workplace and at all ASQ sanctioned events from section meetings to World Conference.

The team prepared an excellent summary of their main focus area for 2020 which I have attached here:
ASQ DiversityInclusion EOY Report 2020.docx.

Their tremendous year-long work includes the new diversity, equity and inclusion member toolkit for leaders to reference as guidance for ASQ activities, as well as preliminary baselines for ASQ member demographics.

A note on DEI:
Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are not about quotas or political correctness.

We know there are capable and talented quality professionals and professionals-to-be in the Society and out in the broader profession.

Our goal is to ensure everyone gets the best access and opportunities that the majority of us in ASQ are privy to. Not everyone had the same mentors, scholarships, and networks that many of us were privileged to have as a part of our careers. By maintaining high standards and introducing even more people to take on those standards, we’re building a stronger, impactful profession.

Objective Make ASQ a psychologically safe and inclusive environment for all ASQers as measured by:

Result 1 Establish a set of metrics that monitor ASQ’s cultural health as defined by psychological safety, particularly at ASQ events (online and in-person).

Result 2 Establish a set of metrics that monitor ASQ’s diversity, equity, and inclusion Leveraged existing data to conduct an ASQ-wide survey on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as exposed gaps where we’re not measuring at all today.

Result 3 Establish a metrics communications plan to provide regular progress against the metrics defined in Results 1 and 2, meant to be fully transparent to ASQ members, employees, and external partners.

  • Preliminary communications will be included in the diversity, equity, and inclusion member toolkit that will continue to be rolled out in 2021.

  • These same DEI metrics will be used to evaluate the performance of the Chair, the Board of Directors, and the ASQ CEO.

// Member Value Acceleration Team
Marianne Di Pierro
Tim Parrent
Michael Merry
Michelle St.George-Coyle

Objective Identify the key sources of valuable experiences and measurably deliver them to ASQ members as measured by:

Result 1 - Health Metrics Established metrics that measure effectiveness of member value.
Status: In progress pending results from workshop outcomes (See Result 2)

Result 2 - User Journeys Defined working set of top five critical user journeys that are relevant to all individual members, regardless of geographic community or division. The top five journeys are not meant to be complete or exhaustive, but will serve as a best estimate.
Status: Conducted a user journey workshop in November to establish preliminary user journeys as case studies. Team will reconvene in 2021 to continue developing these.

Result 3 - Best Practices Documents (Stretch for Q1-2021) Draft a process by which sections and divisions can share best practices such as hosting events, improving member retention, attracting emerging leaders. Practices will be categorized by target community.
Status: Planned in Q2 2021.

// KPI Leadership Accountability Team
Team Lead: Sue Peiffer
Polly LeBarron
Linda Andrade Gonzales

Team Goal: To establish a member-public report card of performance for the ASQ Chair, the ASQ Board of Directors, and ASQ CEO.


  • Key criteria were developed using the Baldrige Award criteria such as promoting ethical behavior and creating sustainable organizations.

  • KPI scorecards complete for Board of Directors and for Chair. Baseline surveys were conducted to get early results for both and will be summarized in Q1 2021. KPI scorecard for ASQ CEO in final draft form and will go into effect in Q1 2021.

// ASQ CEO Search Committee
Committee Members:
Austin S. Lin
Benito Flores
Patricia La Londe
Gideon Roth

When ASQ CEO Bill Troy resigned in 2019 to take the next steps in his career, the ASQ Board had an opportunity to not just hire a replacement, but re-envision how an ASQ CEO role could be defined to lead the Society in its next phase of cultural and organizational growth, maintain leadership in key corporate functionalities, and create an infrastructure that could best execute the strategy and vision of ASQ and its members.

The role attracted interest from the quality and association management community and we had eight individuals who took the preliminary step of formally submitting themselves to the process.

From there, we conducted a short answer screening process to arrive at the final three candidates. All three went through a metric-driven interview process, reducing the pool to two finalists.

Both finalists each went through two rounds of further interviews, ranging from strategy and deployment to financial acumen, customer service, and leadership. After an initial conflict of interest screening, combined with the interview results, we arrived at a candidate for recommendation to the ASQ Financial Audit Committee.

The candidate is currently undergoing review by the independent Financial Audit Committee and will be presented for formal ASQ Board of Director approval in January 2021.

1 Replies
It was such a proud moment to work for such purpose and value-driven committee with passionate ,like-minded and passionate professionals across the globe! Special thanks to Therese Steiner‍ to spearhead this project and team.