The Definition of Quality is Totally Situational

Totally

Situational. In this recent Blog Post, ASQ CEO Paul Borawski asks:

What do you use as the best, most inclusive, and illuminating definition of quality? Test your definition against a variety of questions. Does your definition cover the difference between cassette tapes and CDs? Does it cover an explanation between a low-cost vehicle and a luxury vehicle? Could you use your definition in explaining quality to the CEO of your company? Does your definition embrace what benefit quality brings to humanity if fully realized?

Uh oh.

This Is A Trap

A Trap that we – you and I – need to be prepared for nonetheless. For it springs eternal.

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Think of it – your response to Paul’s question – as your 2nd Elevator Speech.

Have it at the ready.

Have it be Situationally Appropriately.

Have it be Robust/Flexible – for proper use and perhaps tolerant of a little misuse – just in case your situation calling for its use is off the charts or way outside the Control Limits.

Have it meet the needs of a wide variety of Interested Observers/ Stakeholders. You know, those who give a hoot.

What Does Your Trap, er Opportunity, Look Like?

Who is involved? Where does it occur?

As you envision – yes envision – your response to certain situations – is dictated by the situation’s certainties – or those old assumptions about the certainties.

Assumptions. Hmm.

Assumptions.

Which can be tested. Ahh.

What is Quality?

Emphasis on the “IS” word.

IS depends. IS depends on the Individual and their organization.

IS might be expressed in terms of what they need with a little of what they want.

Sometimes it is expressed mostly as what they want and little or none of what they need.

Watch out. As always it depends.

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To each his own. And to her own.

It’s tough, but not impossible to predict.

To determine “the hook” for use with the person you are communicating with. Not for evil purposes; although watch out for that too. Almost anything that can be really good can also be used for bad. But for clarifying purposes to better match solution to need. The real need.

Even in answering the simple question: what is quality?

1 Floor Elevator Ride Answer

There it is.

Q: What is Quality? What’s your definition Guy?

A: Meeting the requirements effectively and efficiently. Hitting the requirements totally, and no more, at the lowest possible cost. Those requirements may include being safe, producing something of value, creating wins-wins for all stakeholders.

I respectfully answer the question and wait for cues and clues as to my next move, if I decide to move at all. For it’s a trap I tell you. Be careful.

10 Floor Elevator Ride Answer

Or it might go like this with a little more time.

Q: What is Quality? What’s your definition Guy?

A: Meeting the requirements of any situation both effectively and efficiently. Hitting the customers requirements totally, and no more than that unless by design, and doing that at the lowest possible cost. Those requirements comes from all of the stakeholders, and may include being safe, producing something of real differentiated value only where needed, and creating wins-wins for each and every stakeholder. And if the stakeholders requirements are in conflict, balancing that out with who wins – and planning ahead on how to mitigate any fall out in other processes that still make the intended improvement the right thing to do.

Again, I respectfully answer the question posed, and wait for any cues and clues as to what my next move might possibly be; if I decide to move at all.

Oh course, you have to have a follow up questions or statement to make, to be polite, such as someone from Chicago might shift the conversation using  “how ’bout those Cubs.”

It depends on the value returns to you and your enterprise for answering the questions and the follow on conversation it might lead to.

Sometimes Socratically, sometimes not.

20 Floor Plus Elevator Ride Answer

You have to wonder what the asker is thinking when they open themselves up to an answer on this long a ride. It could go down like this…

Q: What is Quality? What’s your definition Guy?

A: Meeting the requirements of any situation both effectively and efficiently, and meeting the corporate hurdle rates for returns on investments. That means hitting volume and revenue targets at below the cost projections while  hitting the customers’ requirements totally, and doing no more than that – unless by design and plan – and doing all of that at the lowest possible costs and risks. Those requirements comes from all of the stakeholders, and that’s a complex set of categories besides the individuals and groups. Those requirements may include a product that meets the needs at a financial value proposition and using a set of processes that are safe, with an engaged workforce that feels economically secure, and happy to be producing something of real differentiated value – and sold only where really needed, and creating wins-wins for each and every stakeholder and value for all.

Elevator Speech 4

I respectfully answer the question and wait for cues and clues as to my next move, if I decide to move at all, yada, yada.

And then there are times.

Times that present opportunities and/or problems of real win-win value.

That it is time to be consultative.

Whatever that means in your book. Serving in that capacity.

40 Floor Elevator Ride Answer

Sometimes the Speech isn’t a Speech. Sometimes.

Sometimes it is a Socratic Dialogue, steered cautiously, by you.

Q: What is Quality? What’s your definition Guy?

A:  Meeting the requirements of any situation both effectively and efficiently, and meeting the corporate hurdle rates for returns on investments in doing so. What’s your situation and what are your perceived needs? And, before we start, how much time do we have?

Sometimes you just need to be ready to pounce. With stealth. With collaboration.

And begin the journey together.

As it should be.

And that takes preparation, unless you are otherwise gifted and not in need of any forethought and practice.

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What’s in your Elevator Speech in answer to the question, “how do you define quality?”

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