Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ASQ Influential Voices: Who Defines Quality?

In his blog this month, ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski writes about the varying facets of quality, and whether it's really possible for us to agree on all encompassing definition.

It's a great question - my answer is yes and I'll tell you why.  One of my past responsibilities as the head of a quality program, was to meet with every new hire and discuss the importance of quality.  My first question to them was always, "how do you define quality"?  As you'd imagine, I'd hear things like: durability, error-free, usability, effectiveness, superior functionality, simplicity, continuous improvement, reliability, great customer service, process consistency... etc.  My response back was yes, yes, yes!  These are all correct, because quality is always defined by the customer.

It doesn't matter whether we're in the business of producing goods, delivering services, or creating experiences.  Our success depends on how well we understand our customers and more specifically, knowing how they define a "quality" product or service.  Then it's up to us to deliver that level of quality time after time.

Some may ask, doesn't this imply that quality is a moving target?  Yes - that's exactly the point.  Standards change over time - our world is moving at a lightning pace - customer expectations and requirements can even change overnight (whether we're ready or not).  In order to keep up, we must stay in continuous dialogue with our customers... gathering feedback, understanding their requirements, and even working to anticipate future needs.

To me... "Quality is about creating products and processes that meet requirements, create value, and satisfy customers."

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