BNP Media’s Quality Magazine is ostensibly a competitor to ASQ’s Quality Progress, but the two companies share some activities, and at least one ASQ member is on Quality Magazine‘s “Executive Committee.” ASQ is also listed as a “partner” for Quality Magazine. The magazine runs a recurring article on “ASQ’s Influence,” and was the first to break the news that ASQ had officially dropped the word “American” from its name as of this year, something ASQ didn’t do much, if any, reporting on itself.

Now comes the latest issue of Quality Mag (Feb 2019), which features a piece listing the “Quality Leadership 100,” a listing of 100 companies that someone — we’re not sure who — has deemed the top 100 companies related to quality. Coming in at number 38 on that list is, of course, ASQ.

So what criteria did BNP Media use to come up with this list? According to the article itself, there was a dataset that was consulted for each entrant:

The Quality Leadership 100 recognizes companies that have accepted this challenge and been successful in their efforts. This annual survey for Quality ranks companies on the following factors: continuous improvement and internal quality programs; contribution of quality to profitability and shareholder value; average number of hours that employees receive quality training; scrap and rework as a percentage of sales; warranty costs as a percentage of sales; and registration to various standards such as ISO 9001.

This defines six criteria, as published in the article:

  1. A formal continuous improvement and internal quality program
  2. A means of ensuring contribution of quality to profitability and shareholder value
  3. A formal requirement for an average number of hours of “quality training” received by ASQ staffers (not members)
  4. Measurements for scrap and rework as a percentage of sales
  5. Measurement of warranty costs as a percentage of sales
  6. Any certification to any standard such as ISO 9001

So, the question is: how many of those criteria does ASQ have, to earn them a ranking in this elite list?

Answer: none.

ASQ has not implemented an internal continuous improvement program, nor any internal quality program. It has, by the admission of its members in online public disputes, not ensure profitability and shareholder value because (a) ASQ has no shareholders, and (b) recently had to forcibly take Section funds from the members because it allegedly couldn’t afford to pay its building payment.

ASQ has no minimum training requirements for staff, and routinely ignores incidents of harassment, defamation and even potential legal lapses, without responding to those with re-training or sensitivity classes. ASQ has even refused to enforce its own code of ethics when confronted by behavior by its staff that, in any other company, would have gotten them fired, including harassment, defamation and violations of internal rules.

Since ASQ is not a manufacturer, it does not measure “scrap” nor “warranty costs.” And, of course, ASQ is not ISO 9001 certified, nor has it ever been, nor has it been certified to any other type of standard.

So I wrote to the article’s author, Michelle Bangert, to see how ASQ’s listing came to be. And, naturally, I got the usual cryptic answer, similar to a child trying to explain why their hand in the cookie jar doesn’t mean they were stealing cookies:

We recently changed our survey platform so we received responses from a broader range of applicants. We will take your note into consideration for next year as we filter through the results.

So, that means that despite Ms. Bangert having literally written the criteria in the article, and having telling her readers that criteria were used to “rank” the 100 companies listed, in private she was forced to admit that they the results instead were based on the “survey platform” and the fact that they got more applicants. That, of course, doesn’t answer the question at all. The criteria should exist whether or not they used SurveyMonkey or some other platform, and should be consistent whether they had 100 entries or 100,000.

In fact, it’s likely the criteria wasn’t a factor at all, and BNP is just rewarding the usual suspects: its partners, advertisers, trade show attendees and other pals.

ASQ isn’t the only dubious entry in the list. A handful of ISO consultants appear, one who can’t even be confirmed to exist at all, and therefore likely meets none of the criteria either. A sampling of some of the entrants foudn that they, too, did not have any QMS certifications.

So BNP Media joins the incestuous little gang of self-promoters intending on back-slapping each other all the way to the bank. The one thing that all these organizations — from ISO to ASQ to BNP Media to Quality Digest — have in common? They are all first and foremost publishing companies.

So long as you understand that, the rest becomes clear.

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    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 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.