by Christopher Paris

In an age where more and more companies are questioning the validity of QMS auditing practices, challenging auditor performance and wary of registrar accreditation, the American Society for Quality (ASQ) has elected to hold its next auditing conference in a casino. Worse yet, they are using “gambling” themes in their marketing of the event.

Someone should lose their job over this one.

The event is being held at the Peppermill Resort and Casino, which is enough of a faux pas to warrant a slap on someone’s wrist. Staging an event in such an overt vacation spot only solidifies the image of auditors as lazy, golf-obsessed, ivory tower dullards who are far removed from the practical world of ISO 9001 implementation and the end users of their services. Everyone knows they schedule these things in places where old, white guys can write off a visit to Disney World or the hotel bar as a business trip. It’s also done to artificially boost attendance.

Having speaker Alan J. Sayle give the keynote in which he “considers various technological, business and global changes … and their effects on present day business” brings the event to humorously ironic levels as yet unforeseen by the famously un-self-aware ASQ. Holding “business” events in casinos smacks of the 1950’s, not the 21st century. According to the press release, Mr. Sayle … considers this is the time for a no-nonsense review of audit personnel, performance, and achievements.”

No nonsense. But plenty of liquor, poker, half-naked girls … and all within driving distance to the country’s most famous legal brothels.

Or what about fellow speaker Jeff Fossum’s planned talk entitled “Changing Audit Perceptions — Can we trust ourselves with Quality?” More importantly, can we trust auditors around free booze?

But what plunges the event into full-fledged self-parody is ASQ’s clumsy attempt to use the “gambling” motif in its marketing, citing the theme as “Place Your Bets on a Conference and Celebration to Remember”:

In keeping with the celebration and “casino” atmosphere, there are gaming analogies (focus areas) that we can reference that enable us, to improve our approach and execution to audits, based on our solid legacy and influential future.

Overlooking the painfully bad grammar and punctuation, somewhere the guy who used to push the button for the laugh track to M.A.S.H. just noticed his finger was twitching reflexively.

The conference’s web page (link here, but likely to change after the event), includes groan-inducing gambling clichés like “Track Your Winnings – Evaluate Your Losses: Play to win! If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” and “Put your cards on the table:Learn the tools and techniques for playing the best hand for your situation without jeopardizing the integrity of products and deliverables.”

Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Because nothing sells “integrity” like a casino.

Interestingly, the call for sponsors on ASQ’s page (here, also likely to change) is devoid of any “gambling” lingo whatsoever. Apparently asking for corporate money doesn’t mix with the smell of stale beer, cigarettes and despair, but selling the event to the public does. Who falls for this?

People already view management system audits as a “roll of the dice” rather than an objective, systematic assessment. Intentionally linking the profession with gambling isn’t helping. So long as auditors remain so incredibly oblivious to what their customers and the public think of them, they can hold a conference in the core of the Moon while they recite Byron and cure cancer, and no one will take them seriously.


Christopher Paris is founder and VP Operations for Oxebridge, a Senior Member of ASQ, a former member of the US TAG to TC 176, and not a very good poker player.

About Christopher Paris

Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.


Traditional Tri-System