The Value of ASQ

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.

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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
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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.

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

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Comments 3

  1. Mitter Vedu, MBB

    It seems to me to be rather uncharitable to estimate the value of ASQ membership as being only USD 25 per annum.

    Going thru same tool I got USD 200 being far away from USA.

    The perception of value differs from person to person depending on his evolutionary status in the body of knowledge and experience in the field. A novice will find much greater value in learning fundamentals than a connoiseur who gives more than he receives.

    ASQ has pioneered the quality movement. Is there an alternative with which you can compare for similar benefits?Perhaps your next door association for closer networking and benchmarking!

    However the author has a point in quoting Mikel Harry to support the view that ASQ should orient itself in future from ’the business of quality to the quality of business’.

  2. Gourishankar

    While the ROI approach may appear immature , there is no arguing the fact that ASQ is a global name and a pioneer in propagating quality management concepts . A couple of years ago, when I had persistent problems with late deliveries of QP , the customer service people would promptly mail me another one each time I complained.

    Compare this with iSixSigma – with similar complaints about iSixSigma magazine , I was told to wait for one more month and then get back if I had still not received it . For instance – I haven’t seen iSixSigma magazine since June ( having paid full subscription ) . I have stopped registering complaints!!

    Having said that , I agree ASQ needs to “up” its levels in certain areas . BY the way , I am yet to participate in the “Value Assessment “.

    Gourishankar , CQMgr., BB
    Chennai , India

  3. Michael Cyger

    Hi Mitter,

    I appreciate your comments and the time you took to respond to my blog entry about ASQ.

    Here are a few additional thoughts that I wanted to share:

    * ASQ did a great deal for the quality movement, and many people are very appreciative — including myself. At some point in time every organization must realize that it’s not what you did a few years ago (or even a few days ago), members are most concerned with what ASQ is doing today and what they have planned for tomorrow.

    * You are correct in that the perception of value differs from person to person. My value is no more valid than your value. However, I believe ASQ needs to provide value to every member, from novice to expert, worthy of the cost of membership.

    * I believe charity should go to those are less fortunate and in need financial help. Just because a business files taxes as a not-for-profit doesn’t mean that they can be any less efficient in their processes. Business is business.

    Best regards,


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