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A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Friday, March 25, 2016

ASQ Society Membership

I was very delighted to read the recent View From The Q post by ASQ Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Shontra Powell.  Having had the pleasure to become personally acquainted, I will refer to the author as Shontra.

Before I comment on the well-researched and thought-provoking viewpoints expressed by Shontra, I wanted to first share some of my own analysis.  The ASQ Community Development team, through its Friday Fast Facts email publication, provides a link to Growth and Retention numbers for ASQ Sections in North America.

As there is a PAR Performance Award granted to ASQ Sections (in Good Standing) who demonstrate year over year success with membership growth and retention, I wanted to review the performance of sections in Region 4 (ASQ Canada), and compare that with other geographic regions.

My discovery was that in Canada, and across North America, ASQ is in a period of decline and diminished retention rates.  The current overall North America outcomes have a membership of approximately 60,000 members, with an annual growth rate of -4%, and a retention rate of 68% (based on the averages of totals for Sections). 

A review of the various ASQ sections identified a particular trend: Higher retention rates correlated with higher net growth rates.  This is logical, since sections with fewer members to replace can maintain and surpass their existing levels with fewer new members. 

Assuming that member growth is constant, the attribute which is within our control and which can determine overall membership levels is member retention.

According to this data, ASQ cannot hope to meet its growth targets until member retention is at or surpasses 80%. 

Among the insights within Shontra's post, the following would be constructive and beneficial toward the increased interest and engagement of our existing members, and consequently the basis for their long-term retention:
- Continued personal and professional growth (at member discounts with value and cost recovery)
- Part of connected physical and virtual communities
- Instant enhancements of knowledge through 24/7 portals and continuous information channels
- Breakthrough equity (I referred to this member value as "Loyalty Capital") which measures the worth of information and content.

I agree with Shontra, and the current numbers support that changes should be embraced.  In reality, the graphs will not be linear; demographic shifts and industrial changes will cause abrupt chasms to appear over the next 15-20 years as Baby Boomers leave the workforce.  If these changes are resisted or obstructed, the outcome will be the continued decline of our Society, until it must either be removed or absorbed into a more viable professional organization as one of its components.

If we do retain our membership, we will also retain the legacies and contributions of our Pioneers of Quality.  Member retention is essential to the preservation of our continuity and commitment to Quality. 

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep

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