2019 State of the Blog

I started this blog as an exercise in deliberate practice, as well as reflective. In order to grow it is important to engage in critical reflection, which requires a process of mutual learning, a consciously organised process of deliberative and distributed reflection. Which is what I strive to do in my blog posts.

At the end of last year, I evaluated my blog goals through an ACORN exercise, as well as updating a SWOT. These stand up pretty well, even in a year of changes where I took on member leader responsibilities as the chair of the ASQ’s Team and Workplace Excellence Forum and took a new job.

I met my posting goal, which was 1.5 posts a week, with 81 posts and 33.5k words.

The top 5 posts of 2019 are:

  1. FDA signals – no such thing as a planned deviation: Written in 2018 this post directs a lot of traffic to the blog from search engines, and has the largest geographic spread. Key message here continues to be all temporary changes, all planned departures, need to go through a change control system of appropriate rigor based on the risk involved.
  2. Risk Based Data Integrity Assessment: Data Integrity and Risk Management are two of my favorite topics and in this post I combine the two and provide a fairly usable tool. I wrote this post while at the ASQ’s Audit Conference, where I presented on data integrity.
  3. Lessons Learned as a Developing Leader: I am very gratified that this piece of introspection was viewed as many times as it was. Three months into my current job and this post, and the followup, are a good roadmap.
  4. Decision Quality: How we make decisions, deal with subjectivity and uncertainty and problem-solve are all big concerns for our organizations. This post serves as a good anchor for my thought and practice, as well as the direction of future endeavors.
  5. Driving for Mature Quality Organizations – FDA recent perspective: Building a quality culture, driving maturity in our organizations are critical. The FDA is spot-on, and companies really need to be coming to grips and dealing with this systematically.

Looking ahead to 2020 for the blog, I am going to take a bit of direction from Luigi Sille who set the following goals for himself:

  1. Build up my expertise
  2. Grow my network
  3. Continuously improve every single day

For building expertise, I want to continue to focus on building tools and methods to: deal with subjectivity and uncertainty around decision making and risk management; proactively build a culture of quality and excellence, especially dealing with aspects of data integrity; and, find connections between the larger organizational/leadership/operational bodies of work and adapt them to the quality profession.

This blog is a large part of growing my network and I want to get to 2 blog posts a week consistently. I’ll continue to work with the ASQ as chair of the Team and Workplace Excellence Forum, including holding at least 2 events (including an unconference!). I am also trying to pull together a group of speakers to bring data integrity and quality culture as a stream to ASQ BosCon. I’ll speak at least 2 ASQ Conferences. I’ll also deepen some ties with the PDA, including speaking at one conference.

As I continuously work to improve, I will bring the topics I’m learning and implementing back to this blog.

Top 5 Posts by Views in 2019 (first half)

With June almost over a look at the five top views for 2019. Not all of these were written in 2019, but I find it interesting what folks keep ending up at my blog to read.

  1. FDA signals – no such thing as a planned deviation: Since I wrote this has been a constant source of hits, mostly driven by search engines. I always feel like I should do a follow-up, but not sure what to say beyond – don’t do planned deviations, temporary changes belong in the change control system.
  2. Empathy and Feedback as part of Quality Culture: The continued popularity of this post since I wrote it in March has driven a lot of the things I am writing lately.
  3. Effective Change Management: Change management and change control are part of my core skill set and I’m gratified that this post gets a lot of hits. I wonder if I should build it into some sort of expanded master class, but I keep feeling I already have.
  4. Review of Audit Trails: Data Integrity is so critical these days. I should write more on the subject.
  5. Risk Management is about reducing uncertainty: This post really captures a lot of the stuff I am thinking about and driving action on at work.

Thinking back to my SWOT, and the ACORN test I did at the end of 2018, I feel fairly good about the first six months. I certainly wish I found time to blog more often, but that seems doable. And like most bloggers, I still am looking for ways to increase engagement with my posts and to spark conversations.

Conducting an ACORN test on my mission statement

Here is my first draft at a mission statement developed after reviewing my SWOT and doing a quick brainstorming exercise asking myself some what, why and how questions:

The mission of my blog is to encourage a thoughtful life as a quality professional. I want to ask and explore questions related to building a quality culture and utilizing system thinking to spark a dialogue with my peers. I am to become a leader in quality both internal to my own company and externally to the wider profession.

An acorn

The ACORN test is a check on a mission or project charter goal to determine if it well defined. I am drawing from The Quality Toolbox, but this is a tool you can find all over the internet.

QuestionThoughts
AAccomplishment. Does the goal describe results rather than behaviors? The goal here is to write. Secondary to that I want to spark a dialogue and also be invited to conferences and other speaking opportunities.

The mission statement as is could use some tightening here.
CControl. Does the team’s actions determine whether not the goal is accomplished? If the way the mission is articulated primarily depends on others outside the team, consider rewriting it.
I am a team of one. Everything within my mission statement is in my own power. I can write, and publish and share. Publicizing my posts is within my control.
OOnly Objective. If this and only this was accomplished would it be enough?

O is sometimes also phrased as “Overall Objective” — Make sure that the mission truly captures the organization’s reason for being. Avoid writing a mission that is simply a subgoal of that overall purpose.
My only goal is thinking aloud. I am not trying to sell anything, nor am I concerned about finding a job (I work in pharmaceutical quality in Boston, getting a new job involves going to Kendall square and waving a resume around)
RReconciliation. Will accomplishing this goal prevent another group within the organization from accomplishing its goal? Does anyone else have this goal?
Various units should be working in harmony to achieve the overall organization mission.
As an individual, I do not need to worry about other groups. However it is important for my mission statement for this blog not to interfere or conflict with any of my other goals.

This mission statement is aligned to my personal and professional goals. In fact it helps further several of them.
NNumbers. Can this goal be measured?Blogging has several measurements built in – views, visitors, likes, shares and comments.

I can also measure other things like invitations to speaking opportunities, questions directed to me, and others.

An overall mission statement must pass all give parts of the ACORN test in order to be well defined. In my case I pass but need some tightening in accomplishment.