You’ve heard of “perfect storms”–that unique combination of events that leads to unexpected outcomes. In the 80’s, I had my own perfect storm. That was the era when Total Quality Management (TQM) was sweeping the country–some would say sweeping the world itself. The founder of the movement was Dr. W. Edwards Deming. When he first proposed the concept of continuous improvement, American firms ho-hummed it. So, he took it to Japan. The Japanese were willing to listen–they had nothing to lose. They needed something to restore their war-ravaged economy. TQM, a process-oriented approach, transformed Japanese products from the shoddy to the superior. Not surprisingly, Dr. Deming is revered there. Once the high-quality of Japanese products became legendary, American firms re-discovered Dr. Deming and began applying his techniques to American manufacturing.
TQM made me realize I had to start offering training programs that touched upon the elements of the movement. Up until then, I had mostly been providing seminars on communications-related topics. But I knew that, to stay in business, I had to broaden my knowledge and broaden the the types of courses I could offer clients. I began to do some reading and writing about TQM. One of my training books about TQM led to an invitation to conduct workshops for secretaries. That was the first storm-condition. The second was the publication of an article explaining how secretaries could apply TQM principles to their work. The third storm-condition was my decision to write a small book called The Quality Secretary, which expanded upon the article. (Mr. Deming’s secretary, Cecelia Killian, was one of the featured interviewees.) The fourth was my invitation to Dr. Susan Fenner, head of education for Professional Secretaries International (now called the International Association of Administrative Professionals). She wrote the foreword to the book. The fifth condition was an invitation from IAAP to speak at their international conference. (Several of the book interviewees served on a panel to discuss TQM. )
Here’s the really perfect part of that storm. The conference, the publication of the book, the publication of the article (which appeared the same month the conference was held) and the contacts I made during this whole process led to invitations to speak to secretaries in two wonderful parts of the world–Brazil and Singapore. Not only were all my expenses paid, including first-class airfar, but I even earned a considerable speaker’s fee!
I don’t know if the elements in your world are aligning themselves to create a similar storm for you. But…I do know this: If you are not listening to metaphorical weather reports, you will not be able to take advantage of the storm that may be brewing.
Marlene Caroselli, Ed.D., is a teacher-turned corporate trainer-turned author. She is the author of 60+ books, including the ebook Jesus, Jonas and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate, available at BookLocker and Amazon.
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