I just received my ASQWire email today. The email includes a summary of what’s going on at the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and is sent to members. One of the stories caught my eye and I thought it had a fascinating title, “Have you calculated your ASQ membership worth?” It encouraged me to visit the Value Assessment page to complete the calculation, and I was interested because as a Six Sigma and business professional I have often questioned the value that ASQ provides. Many (and I agree) contend that ASQ is more focused on the business of Quality, than the quality of business.

After a good five minutes trying to figure out my membership number and password, I was finally signed in and looking forward to determining the value of my $119 per year membership.

The first page gave a short introduction on how their assessment worked. It presented the following example:

“For example, let’s say you recently learned how to create control charts at your local section meeting. When you used this new learning to create a control chart at your work, you were able to save your company $2,000 over the next five years. The annual, sustainable dollar value would be $400 ($2,000 divided by 5 years) which you received as an ASQ member.”

Needless to say, I was under-whelmed at the significance of such a calculation example, but I was willing to persevere and give the tool a fair shake to determine the value of my membership dollars.

The next screen presented a list of benefits that ASQ believes members receive. They included:

  • Access to My ASQ (members-only Web site)
  • Certification
  • Quality Progress magazine
  • ASQ journals and publications
  • Discounts
  • Networking opportunities
  • Conferences, courses, and meetings
  • Sections
  • Forums and Divisions
  • Network/Communities
  • Peer Support/Mentoring
  • Credibility with your customers

And I was asked to put a value to each of them. I wasn’t sure if I should specify an annual benefit or a five year benefit, as presented in the example on the explanation page – there were no instructions. So I assumed a yearly benefit, gave a $25 value to a yearly subscription to Quality Progress magazine and called it done. I would have liked to give a value to something else – anything else – but I don’t use any of the other “benefits.”

So I pressed the ’calculate now’ button and prepared to have my socks knocked off. Why not? ASQ has been working hard to justify the value of their membership for a year now…I believe they call it “The Case for Quality.” It is my opinion that ASQ has the ostensible purpose of defining the “value of Quality,” but their real goal is to justify the cost of ASQ. Why? I’ll go into that on another blog entry, but let’s return to the calculator.

The final results of the calculator were as follows:

Your average membership value is $25.

97 members completed this survey. Their average membership value is $2199.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail the ASQ Market Research Administrator at [email address removed].

A flurry of questions and thoughts came to me as I thought about how I just spent the past 10 minutes:

  • Seriously? The only calculation involved was to average the monetary values I provided on an ASQ-provided benefit list?
  • Only 97 people had completed the calculation, but that’s to be expected since the email was just mailed announcing it.
  • The average membership value is suspiciously close to the example provided ($2000 for learning control charts at a section meeting). I wonder how many ASQ employees completed the assessment first.
  • I can’t believe someone (hopefully only one, and not a team) spent time to conceptualize, design, program, test and market these three web pages.

I guess now I know why my annual ASQ membership value is $25 but I’m charged $120.

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