Spreading the word about quality infrastructure

Get the message out

Those responsible for quality infrastructure institutions, such as heads of metrology institutes, standardisation institutes and accreditation bodies, face the challenge of disseminating their services beyond the circle of technical experts. They often try to bring the subject closer to their audience with expert lectures full of technical jargon, abbreviations and numbers.

It is not surprising that the audience often hardly understands anything and does not engage further with the topic.

This is regrettable as questions of product quality and safety and protection of the environment and the consumers are of general interest. Suppose the knowledge about the quality infrastructure remains limited to the circle of experts. In this case, it will be difficult for a wider audience of users to open up to the related services. Conversely, suppose the importance of quality infrastructure is widely disseminated and recognised. In that case, a quality culture will develop that contributes to the wellbeing of individuals, enterprises and the society as a whole.

Quality infrastructure institutions have established dedicated communication areas and are continuously improving their public relation efforts

More recently, there have been encouraging developments in communication about quality infrastructure. Many quality infrastructure institutions have established dedicated communication areas and are continuously improving their public relation efforts. In Latin America, for example, we have seen exciting ways of creative information dissemination.

Communicative creativity

One example is the character of SúperAcredita, who, as an ambassador of the National Accreditation Body of Colombia (ONAC) and protector of trust in quality, informs about the accreditation process in a practical way.

The use of the comic character of a Superwoman in short cartoon videos intends to appeal primarily to younger consumers.

As part of a cooperation agreement with Mesopartner, ONAC offers various articles from this QI4D blog translated into Spanish. ONAC provides a monthly webinar on a selected blog post on the platform “Conversations with Ulrich“. With this new format, we can significantly expand the audience.

Starting with simple means

In Myanmar, until recently before the military coup, a Mesopartner consultant commissioned by the PTB, helped the Department of Research and Innovation, which is hosting the fundamental quality infrastructure institutions, to design and publish a quarterly newsletter. A news feed informs about the latest activities, achievements and plans in quality infrastructure and announces important upcoming events. The growing number of recipients includes various quality infrastructure institutions, other government agencies, enterprise managers and owners and development organisations.

Fifth Pilar of Quality Infrastructure

The Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) sees quality promotion as the “latest concept” in the development of quality infrastructure. For CROSQ’s CEO, Mr Deryck Omar, “the sustained marketing and communication of Quality Infrastructure is a driver of trade and economic prosperity for the region to reach all stakeholders, including the media of history. This includes vital aspects of marketing such as public relations, advertising, digital marketing, awareness-raising, and some degree of face-to-face selling of QI-related products and services.” [1]

The premise behind the quality promotion is to drive the development of a quality culture in the region through these efforts, which help raise awareness of QI and sell the services offered in the main pillars of standards, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment. Quality culture has been defined as “a culture of quality awareness and continuous improvement”. [2]

The quality promotion also includes elements of knowledge management, data management and information technology development. These additional moving parts help develop strategies that facilitate communication and knowledge sharing between QI bodies and the users of their services.

What good examples of creative information transfer on quality infrastructure do you know?

Please share your experiences as a comment below this blog post.

Reference

[1] CROSQ 2020, Quality Promotions, October 19, https://website.crosq.org/quality-promotions/

Feature photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

This entry was posted in Quality Infrastructure by Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke

Dr Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke is a global expert in the field of international economic development cooperation. With more than 25 years of consulting experience, he is active in all phases of a project and program development (preparation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation) and collaborates with various implementing organizations and development banks (German Development Cooperation - GIZ and PTB -, Inter-American Development Bank, European Union and United Nations). He has consulting experience in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr.Harmes-Liedtke is an experienced trainer and process consultant. He works with groups and teams to reflect on their situation and to then formulate change projects to improve their reality. He enables dialogue, facilitates and designs workshops, processes, and sense-making processes. He is certified in facilitation, mediation, and communication techniques which allow him to deal with sensitive, diverse, and even conflict situations. He supports systemic economic development in various roles: • As an expert and trainer in international trade, national quality policies, industrial policy, clusters, and global value chains • As a process consultant in designing and leading diagnostic processes that result in change, adaptation, and improvement • As a facilitator of dialogue, workshops, training, and sense-making processes • As a transdisciplinary researcher in the field of systemic economic development Born 1965, Ph.D. in political science and economics (Bremen 1999), MA in economics (Diplom-Volkswirt) (Hamburg 1991). German nationality.

6 thoughts on “Spreading the word about quality infrastructure

  1. Well – this is to me an extremely important element in having a well-functioning and useful NQI established, and I am fully on line with Mr. Omar, CROSQ, seeing the establishment of a Quality Culture on all levels of society as an equally important pillar in that process. As mentioned in one of my previous comments, I wonder why you (almost) leave out the role of the CABs in the process, and especially when it comes to making awareness of – and assist in the understanding of the impact and importance of – the NQI? They are the institutions in direct contact with the “end-users” of the NQI services, in contrast to NMIs, SBs and ABs which mostly function on a “higher” (and to many unfortunately more theoretical and abstract level in relation to the end-users). But sometimes even the CABs (e.g. test laboratories) may need to improve the understanding of the NQI (and QI in general) themselves, and something I always recommend strongly (and support wherever I can) is the formation of informal interest-groups among stakeholders sharing the same problems/challenges. Here people can get together, sharing experiences, assisting each other in a common understanding of the issues (e.g. by inviting resource persons to meetings etc.), giving feed-back to institutions or authorities on behalf of their community etc. – and building a quality culture 🙂

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  2. It is important that the outcome of the communications is measured. Communication is used to build relationships and the relationship building brings the intended quality results. I recommend using SLO ” A social license to operate (SLO) refers to the perceptions of local stakeholders that (a project, a company, or an industry) or quality infrastructure that operates in a given area or region is socially acceptable…..” to measure social acceptance of the quality infrastructure. It is a sustainability concept to measure how well society has accepted your business that provides a product or service.

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    • Hmmm…measuring outcome of communications! That was new to me 🙂
      I assume both positive and negative outcome has to be measured – AND evaluated?
      Ensuring, that it will result in the right relationships – whatever that is?
      I think there is a tendency to measure more and more in our daily life (you can hardly make a tel. call to an institution, go to your doctor or buy a simple meal without having to respond to surveys afterwards). And what are the results of all these measurments used for?
      The old saing “trust is good, but control is better” is unfortunately rapidly growing – where I would rather see some trust build on people (and businesses) taking responsibility.
      That leads me to the interesting introduction of the SLO (…sorry, but I also missed that one during my recent busy years trying to implement NQIs and sustainability). The first response to the googeling of the concept made me immediately suspicious as it was uploaded by some investment advisors focusing on “wealth management” and similar profit optimization “tools” – BUT luckily it was also stated that the SLO concept is closely related to the “Triple Bottom Line (TBL)” principles, and especially the “People” element (out of the three Ps – Profit, People, Planet).
      That can make sense, if the responsibility not to “over-optimize” the Profit P too much on expense of the other Ps (like e.g. the “green-washing” spoiling the Planet P).
      Still, it is an interesting thought if the social responsibility (however that is going to be “licensed”?) could add to building up a sound quality culture, where the NQI tools could be responsibly brougth into action for all stakeholders in society 😉
      Maybe you could provide us with some good references for the understanding of the SLO concept?
      Thank you 🙂

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  3. NQI is a relevant and necesary element in the countries, supporting competitiveness and consumers protection. I´d like to share our experience in Guatemala since the NQS legal establishment in 2005. As a whole framework we decided to promote activities with National Congress and Journeys, Seminars in diferent regions in the country, with positive results. With the pandemic last year we move to Webinars and the design the TOUR ON LINE DE LA CALIDAD 2020 and the FIRST VIRTUAL EXPO CALIDAD where companies and organizations presented their products and services. This year we will continue withe this modality. Those actions are include in the recently National Quality Police 2019-2032 approved by the President of Guatemala.

    Saludos Ulrich!

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  4. Thanks Ulrich,
    I agree, effective communication about all aspects of QI is long overdue. This point resonates especially: “They often try to bring the subject closer to their audience with expert lectures full of technical jargon, abbreviations and numbers. It is not surprising that the audience often hardly understands anything and does not engage further with the topic”.
    I would be keen to hear more from Saira on implementing an SLO approach.
    Regards to all,
    Pam

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  5. In addition to considering all comments in this blog, which are very valuable and interesting, we must also consider that when we are talking about communications on quality infrastructure, there are more and more people interested in understanding this topic and learning about it. This necessarily leads us to map the audiences and stakeholders.

    In this sense, the topics presented in this article by Dr. Ulrich: creativity, starting with simple meanings and integrating communications, advertising, and public relations as essential elements to promote QI, are aspects on which there is increasing interest from the various actors of the international quality infrastructure.

    A few days ago, was held the first 2021 meeting of the IAF (International Accreditation Forum) and ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) Communications and Marketing Committees and there was shared several accreditation bodies and regional accreditation cooperation experiences on communications. All of them shared their initiatives, plans and actions to make this activity, a pillar of QI, more and more recognized, not only by conformity assessors, but also by employers, academia, and consumers.

    From this meeting were identified some elements that are transversal to the efforts that are continuously invested in this purpose: 1) any effort in communications and promotion, no matter how small, is helpful and adds to the total corporate strategy of any organization, especially in issues such as these, which are a bit foreign and complex for some audiences; 2) it is increasingly necessary to be inclusive with new audiences and publics, especially in the digital ecosystem, where openness and access to information is immediate; 3) it is undoubtedly necessary to work on a language, if possible, softer, closer, for those audiences that are not immersed in the field of quality; 4) and finally, that networking, along with creativity and using new resources, is the number one ingredient to have greater coverage and capture the attention of audiences.

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