quality

Quality in 3 Words: EXCELLENCE IN BEING

(Image Credit: Doug Buckley of http://hyperactive.to)

I stumbled across a LinkedIn discussion in the “Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma & Lean” group yesterday that, though posted 8 months ago, has just started to get revived traffic. The question was simple: What is Quality? The poster, though, specified that you’d have to answer the question in three words. (Turns out this was a problem for many people who posted paragraph-long descriptions.)

Describing quality in three words (or less) provides a pretty good exercise in critical thinking. After all, Juran did it (explaining that quality is “fitness for use”) and so did Crosby, sort of (“quality is free”).

Here are some of the submissions that actually (or almost) honored the three-word requirement:

  • Customer Satisfaction, Sustainability & Reliability
  • One word: Survival
  • Forever Satisfied Customer
  • Defined by Customer
  • Perceived by Customer
  • Exceeding Customer Expectations
  • Fitness for Use
  • Delivering Customers Expectations
  • Accurate Consistent Results
  • Perception of Value

But I’m not happy with any of these definitions. Just because customers are satisfied doesn’t mean they’re being satisfied by quality (think Wal-mart). “Survival” doesn’t imply quality at all (think of any elderly person you know who can’t walk, communicate or take care of themselves). “Perception of value” is nice, but it doesn’t really compel us to strive for excellence.

I was surprised by how many of the submissions included the word “customer”. But I don’t think you need a customer to define quality. I can easily assess quality without purchasing – or desiring to own – anything at all!

My “Quality in 3 Words” would have to be the EXCELLENCE OF BEING. As I mentioned in “Quality vs. Excellence” a while back, quality can result from adhering to standards or satisfying customers, but the fuel that drives quality is the pursuit of excellence – and this must be a value within each one of us.

5 replies »

  1. So aptly put up!
    Quality ceratinly begins with the self – it is you who must DEMAND what you expect .
    And in the same, vein, Quality may as well end with you – how farou are satisfied with what you have.
    In both cases, it is matter of your own level – and standard – of satisafaction that will drive the quality in every thing you do. This would then include transmitting your expectations – and requirements – to those who come in your contact.
    Again, if your vibes of (dis)satisfactions are strong enough, the reaction of – quality chain – can be set in the motion.
    Then, it is just a matter of time that the reaction becomes autogenous.

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