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Paul Naysmith

Quality Insider

Quality in the Year 2022

Strategic planning forecasts from a wannabe futurologist

Published: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 11:12

In the business world we certainly like to toss around choice words to express our ideas. I don’t think I’ve ever used the term “strategic planning” in my home or personal life. I can well imagine my wife’s stare of death (inherited from her two teacher parents) if I ever suggested that we “strategically plan our future.” I’d get the stare not for suggesting we plan but for using meaningless business-speak just to say, “Can we talk about what we want to do later in life?”


When I run into strategic planning, it’s usually attached to a decimal number of years. Perhaps you have 5-, 10-, or 15-year plans where you work. When we plan on serving new customers with new products in 10 years time, we can work back from that point and determine the steps needed to achieve these plans.

But being a systems thinker, I sometimes have the niggling thought that customers and the world around us will also be different in 5, 10, or 15 years, and I know that this will be outside my control. I often wonder what the world of quality will look like in 10 years. Will it be different, the same, or worse than it is today? Since I very much like the idea of being tagged a “futurologist,” here is my take on the state of quality in 2022.

Apple tries electronic voodoo

On Halloween eve in 2022, Apple conducts a séance to contact Steve Jobs from the other side, hoping for assistance in launching its latest product: an electronic device so intelligent that humanity is no longer the cleverest thing on earth.

During the 10 years since Mr. Jobs’ passing, consumers have become heartbroken, and Apple has floundered in the marketplace. The company has gone through 10 CEOs; increasingly desperate, the Apple board has resorted to black magic in an attempt to regain consumer trust. The board consults a voodoo high priestess, who burns herbs, falls into a trance, and intones, “Only Jobs do that job.”

When the device is turned on at the launch, a message states, “New version available—click OK to upgrade.” Upon upgrade, the super-intelligent machine declares that the word “genius” as applied to help staff at Apple retail stores greatly exaggerates their actual intellects. The geniuses say they prefer the previous version.

Four months later, Apple’s competitors release a similar product, which starts a protracted legal case over patents, and an actual war breaks out.

Meanwhile, although humanity benefits from the improved logic of these devices, they cannot replace creativity. So the machines take over most of the logic chores, and company employees are paid to be creative at work. Innovation after innovation spread across the globe.

Colds and cancer cured; prescription prices skyrocket

After the cure for cancer and the common cold are found in 2017, the resulting treatments become the most expensive drugs in history. This forces the baby-boomer generation to work longer just to afford its medical bills. Realizing that there is an impending skills gap during the late 2020s as this generation begins to retire (the Retirement Act of 2021 has made it illegal to work beyond 80 years of age), the government decides to change its policy on immigration. Consequently, all borders are opened up without restrictions.

Back to the future—in 140 characters

A rejection of social networking websites becomes the norm due to over-advertising and corporate manipulation of companies like Face-Tube and TwitterGoogle. During the 2010s networking websites create a counter-culture where communities reject technology and actually meet face to face. However, spoken communication at these communal events is limited to 140 characters.

Charlie the Chart Reader is created

Scientific thinking is taught to kindergarten students. Statisticians, disappointed with the lack of chart analysis in the curriculum, create a super-brand of SPC for young students. It’s a pink penguin called “Charlie the Chart Reader,” which eventually becomes a wildly popular character on children’s TV networks.

A cost-effective recession

3-D printers are proclaimed the cause of the worst recession of super-industrial powers—called “the BRICS”—ever recorded. With the improvement of design software and the very low cost of 3-D printers, it becomes more cost-effective to print a five-axis milling machine with built-in optical measurement, just to manufacture a single letter opener, than it is to walk to the store to buy one.

Quality cults and scams

Deming’s four-day seminar is declared a cult, which subsequently creates such a media furor that the issue is discussed during a special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Represented nations debate whether the seminar is a threat to their national policies on short-termism.

A management guru who released a book the year before is exposed as a fraud after an eagle-eyed reader notices that the author’s breakthrough concept, called the “sword technique,” is actually a repackaged 5-why approach.

ISO 9001:2020 is published

The ISO 9001:2020 revision is released in the spring of 2022, only two years late. This is an improvement of 18 months compared to the previous three revisions. This 2020 revision now has a revised model for quality where continuous improvement is integrated into the business and doesn’t hang out to the side. The continuous improvement cycle retains its PDCA, but due to a corporate sponsorship deal with a soft drinks company, it is now known as Pepsi-Do-Cola-Again. This is also the first time that ISO gives away the standard for free on its website, and nonprofit organizations can benefit.

The 80 ISO-member countries that now contribute to the standard still can’t agree to discuss merging other standards for safety or environmental systems.

Quality punks become historical curiosities

The Quality Punk movement of the 2010s starts to fade away, much like the neon color of the socks of the movement’s main proponent. Historians compare the Quality Punk period to the Enlightenment movement of the 19th century.

Corporate accountability inches forward

After two high-profile catastrophes in 2018 and 2020, legislation regulates all companies to maintain 100-percent transparency. A new management school of business ethics honors the first graduating class of 2022, all proud recipients of an MBA in “doing business the right way.”

And my most radical prediction for 2022: Management finally attunes its ears to the voice of the customer.

Honestly, I don’t know what the future will bring, and I doubt my ideas warrant my joining the ranks of futurologists. However, I can confidently predict that our future will be full of the repeat mistakes and failures from our past. So when it comes time for your next strategic planning session, perhaps you could consider focusing less on the desired outcomes and more on the process of creating outcomes. I know in my 10-year plan, I will allow for the flexibility of change outside of my control.


About The Author

Paul Naysmith’s picture

Paul Naysmith

Paul Naysmith is the author of Business Management Tips From an Improvement Ninja and Business Management Tips From a Quality Punk. He’s also a Fellow and Chartered Quality Professional with the UK’s Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), and an honorary member of the South African Quality Institute (SAQI). Connect with him at www.paulnaysmith.com, or follow him on twitter @PNaysmith.

Those who have read Paul’s columns might be wondering why they haven’t heard from him in a while. After his stint working in the United States, he moved back to his homeland of Scotland, where he quickly found a new career in the medical-device industry; became a dad to his first child, Florence; and decided to restore a classic car back to its roadworthy glory. With the help of his current employer, he’s also started the first-of-its-kind quality apprenticeship scheme, which he hopes will become a pipeline for future improvement ninjas and quality punks.


Super funny!

Great article. Supper funny. I think you have crystral ball.


Thank you, Dirk