WMU News

Creating quality experiences for customers

March 1, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Participants at an upcoming Western Michigan University workshop will learn from a pair of quality experts how to both identify what customers want and create a culture that provides it.

Slated for 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, "The Quality Experience" will feature WMU faculty members Drs. Larry Mallak and David M. Lyth, experts in quality management and organizational culture. Organized by WMU's Office of Business Development Services in the Haworth College of Business, the workshop will be held at Eaton Corp. in Augusta, Mich. The cost to participants is $95, which includes lunch. For more information or to register, call (269) 387-2714 or e-mail <patricia.guenther@wmich.edu>.

In addition to the Haworth College of Business, workshop sponsors include WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Eaton Corp., the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce, the Southwest Michigan Quality Council and the Battle Creek Chamber of Commerce.

The workshop is based on a 1999 book, "The Experience Economy." In that publication, authors Joseph Pine and James Gilmore argue that consumers are becoming more complex and now demand not just goods or services, but experiences--richly textured commercial events.

"Every business, department or nonprofit organization has customers, whether internal or external," says Mallak, an associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering. "If you or your employees are not creating a quality experience for every customer, every time, this workshop will help lay the foundation for a culture shift. We'll guide participants through the process of defining and implementing quality, and we'll provide a roadmap for building quality into an organization so that it becomes a permanent part of the culture."

Mallak and Lyth will tell participants how to define quality for their organizations, ensure employees understand customer expectations, diagnose whether their cultures support quality, implement targeted changes, and respond quickly to changing marketplace demands.

While on sabbatical from his faculty post at WMU, Mallak is working with a Southwest Michigan hospital and several other organizations to define and execute quality initiatives. An expert in organizational culture, he has worked with the U.S. Department of Energy, Westinghouse and the U.S. Army, among other organizations. A former management engineering consultant for a national health care network, Mallak studies and consults in the areas of organizational analysis, culture management and change, and employee surveying. He is co-founder and co-director of WMU's Engineering Management Research Laboratory.

A certified quality engineer, Lyth has taught thousands of students and executives how to manage quality processes and make decisions that support a quality culture. In addition to his work as a professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering at WMU, he frequently aids area companies in achieving ISO-9000 certification and improving the quality of their product or service. Lyth has industry experience as a quality control manager and engineer, and he is an active researcher. He is co-founder and co-director of WMU's Engineering Management Research Laboratory.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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