ASQ: Pricing the social services out of the quality game?

I think ASQ is awesome. I think it is amazing that there is an organization that wants to spread the word about quality. I am a member. I liked them on Facebook. I have bought about $500 worth of quality books from them in the past couple of years. I would love to go to some ASQ trainings. I live (in Chicago) just a short drive away from the ASQ world headquarters in Milwaukee.

But I'm thinking I won't. Let's look at the ASQ training price list for the courses I would like to take this summer.

  • Quality 101, 2 days ($1495 non-member/ $1295 member)
  • Lean for Service, 2 days ($1095/ $995)
  • The Case for Quality: Taking it to Management, 1 day  ($895/ $795)
  • Online Quality Fundamentals for Service, 4 hours ($369/ $269)

Here is my experience with social service agencies. Want to take a day to go to a free seminar across town? "Great. Go for it."

Want to go across town for a $100 half-day event. "Maybe, we'll need to check the training budget."

Want to go to the state capital for a two-day event for $400. "This is really a bad year for that kind of thing." Social service agencies just don't send their staff to receive training for $600 a day. Even if there is no cost for travel involved.

So what is it about ASQ. Are they money hungry? ASQ is a nonprofit organization, meaning that they file a form 990 with the IRS every year. makes these available online, so I took a peek at their filing for the calendar year 2011. They made 9.6 million dollars in training revenue that year, 4.3 million more in certifications and 10 million dollars in membership fees. At the end of 2011, they had about 6 million in cash on hand and another 4.5 million dollars in other savings. Total unrestricted net assets were $23 million.

Their CEO, Paul Borawski, made $425,000 in base salary in 2011, plus another 50K in other compensation. They paid a number of independent contractors quite handsomely for handling some training for them. Grace Duffy, number two on their list, made 235K in instructor fees. Does she get a cut of the door?

I am not saying that ASQ is gouging with their fees. I am saying they are expensive and doing well financially. Quality grew up in industries like aerospace that can afford $1200 seminars. The social service industry is simply not going to pony up that kind of money to get in the quality game. ASQ could become the training leader for our sectors of care if it wants. They have the products. But right now, we are missing out on the ASQ goodies.  Can we do it without them? I can only hope.




ASQ: Pricing the social services out of the quality game? — 1 Comment

  1. I should add that I did go to a ASQ event this summer: Lean for Service. It was led by Mike Kelly and was quite good. I learned a lot. But we still need to think hard about how to take this kind of training to the social services in a way that social service agencies can afford it.

Leave a Reply