the return of "what is quality?"

The Return of “What Is Quality?”

In Quality Management by Frances DonnellyLeave a Comment

the return of "what is quality?"

The benefit of box office sequels are obvious: another chance to grow the popularity of a favorite character; a chance at building a classic series or cult-following; and a chance to make more money! So when we see the return of the “what is quality?” question, is that how we view it?

Do we see another opportunity to expand the value of the franchise or to introduce fresh minds to the wonders, mysteries and misunderstandings about a subject that has not found it’s biggest audience… yet. Most often the topic of “What Is Quality?” is raised or introduced in a form that can be accepted and understood for just a particular audience or a particular purpose.

Looking carefully, we will see that the entirety of the topic is rarely fully explored or discussed. The result is a set of single scenario dialogues that range from dictionary definitions to functional descriptions. It is kind of like watching your favorite 30-minute television show – one theme, one punch line. The script is truthful and interesting but limited in depth of conversation; lacking context to a greater perspective; and missing the complexity and clarity that a full-length feature film or series of films can reveal over time.

The Quality Script Must Grow From TV Segment Size to Movie Series…

In my mind what all of this proves is that the concept of quality actually continues to elude our grasp, even in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century. The challenge seems to lie in the broad range of functions, activities and things to which we want to apply the single term quality. Consider this statement:

“Raul Maguire runs a quality department”

Is Raul responsible for the quality department in his organization?


Does the department that Raul runs perform to requirements?

I suggest that today we need to raise the level of conversation from a hazy, lazy, short segmented approach on the definition of quality to a more precise, expansive discussion of the function of quality to serve the needs of our customers, our organizations and our communities.

So “What Is Quality?”

In my mind there are really two parts to quality:

  • Quality as a journey – how to get there.
  • Quality as a destination – what “there” actually means.

This ongoing behavior of trying to create a single definition that will equally apply to the activity of getting as it does to arriving at the destination just creates confusion. In this confusion we create an environment where there is less commitment to invest in the complete quality function. After all, it is very hard to invest in something if we cannot see the benefits. We cannot fully embrace the benefits in things we do not fully appreciate, enjoy and understand. We cannot become cult-fans of messages we do not deeply buy into.

Do you understand the broader quality conversation?

How do you demonstrate this?

Read more in Part 2 of this series.

Leave a Comment