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The Wii Fit and Quality Considerations

wiifitThis week, Forbes published an article called “The Truth About Wii Fit and Weight Loss”, noting that even though the Wii Fit is now in over 1.5 million households, it still isn’t delivering the health benefits that were envisioned. Why? Because people just aren’t using the Wii Fit enough to realize the weight loss benefits that the device could be used to deliver.

“What Nintendo did is they tapped into that desire people have to be healthier… Everyone wants to work out, but nobody really wants to put the effort into it.”

If Juran’s definition of quality is “fitness for use” (no pun intended), then the Wii Fit certainly meets this criteria: it meets its own performance and functional specifications. If we use the ISO 8402 definition, that quality is the totality of characteristics of the Wii Fit that bear upon its ability to satisfy stated and implied needs, it can still be considered a quality product. The ability to satisfy the stated need of fitness and weight loss is certain – the realization of this potential depends on the active participation of the consumer. Similarly, the ability to satisfy the implied emotional needs may occur whether or not the product is actually ever used!

Could the Wii Fit be a high quality product even though its buyers won’t necessarily lose weight or become more svelte? Yes. The interaction of the user with the product through proper use can unleash the potential benefits that a product offers, but does not impact the objective quality of the product.

What is Quality?

What is quality? There are a myriad of ways to define quality, which is one reason why the study or pursuit of quality can feel so nebulous at times. For example, quality can be considered:

  • Zero defects (Crosby)
  • Conformance to requirements (Crosby)
  • Fitness for use (Juran)
  • Best for customer conditions (Feigenbaum)

Hunt (1992) provides an overview of the defintions of quality. This considers the definitions above a little more thematically:

  • Transcendent (you know it when you see it)
  • Product-based (defect-free, or presence of required/positive attributes)
  • User-based (customer defines needs)
  • Manufacturing-based (conformance)
  • Value-based (“best for customer conditions”)

Despite the range of definitions, the goals underlying the pursuit of quality and continuous improvement are the same: achieving conformity, reducing variation, eliminating waste and rework, eliminating non-value-adding activity, preventing human error, preventing defects, improving productivity, and increasing efficiency and effectiveness (Okes & Westcott, 2000).

Only one definition seems to capture all of the others, though. ISO 8402 defines quality as “the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated and implied needs.” An entity can be any technology – a product, a process, or a system. “Characteristics” covers both the attributes of that technology and the processes that produced it. “Stated and implied” needs acknowledges that customers will have needs, but other stakeholders can have needs too (you, your boss, your shareholders, your company). If “you know quality when you see it,” that means that something is meeting your stated and implied needs – your spoken and unspoken specifications. Even if you can’t define what you mean by quality, when quality is achieved, your implied needs will be met.

As much as the ISO 8402 definition of quality really appeals to me, there is still one framework for understanding quality that’s even more comprehensive and elegant! It’s Mitra’s Model.


Hunt, V.D. (1992) Quality in America: How to Implement a Competitive Quality Program. Mc-Graw Hill.

Okes, D. & Westcott, R. (2000). The Certified Quality Manager Handbook. Milwaukee: Quality Press.