……the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.”an improvement in product quality”synonyms:standard, grade, class, classification, caliber, status, condition, character, nature, constitution, make-up, form, rank, worth, value, level”
The definition of Quality according to the English Oxford Dictionaries
Quality has become more and more important for organizations and companies nowadays. This is a result of several factors which include globalization, a more competitive environment, a more enlightened and demanding customer and increase in technology, amongst other things. The importance of Quality cannot be underestimated and any organization which does not pay attention is shooting itself in the foot!
What is Quality
I hear you ask…..
Although everyone understands what is meant by the term, the perceptions on Quality are different for different people. Therefore, in trying to define Quality we just have to quote people that have made significant contributions to the quality revolution.
Introducing three Quality gurus:
1. W. Edwards Deming
William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 – December 20, 1993) was an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. His teachings affected a quality revolution for American manufacturers and consumers.
His influential work in Japan instructing top executives and engineers in quality management was a driving force behind that nation’s economic rise. Dr Deming contributed directly to Japan’s phenomenal export-led growth and its current technological leadership in automobiles, shipbuilding and electronics. Deming offered 14 key principles to managers for transforming business effectiveness. He popularized the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycle now also popularly known as the Deming Cycle.
His definition-Good quality means a predictable degree of uniformity and dependability with a quality standard suited to the customer.
2. Joseph Juran
Joseph Moses Juran (December 24, 1904 – February 28, 2008) was also an American engineer and a management consultant. Juran is widely credited for adding the human dimension to quality management. He pushed for the education and training of managers as he believed human relations problems and resistance to change were the root cause of quality issues. Juran was one of the first to write about the cost of poor quality. He believed that Quality does not happen by accident and created a trilogy for managing Quality based on Quality Planning, Quality Control and Quality Improvement. He also fathered the idea of applying the Pareto principle to reducing defects. The 80-20 rule states that 80% of the problems come from 20% of the causes. Like Deming, he also contributed to the rise of Japan’s economy post World War II, with his focus on training of management.
His definition- Quality is fitness for use.
3. Phillip Crosby
Unlike the other two who had an engineering background, Philip Crosby, (June 18, 1926 – August 18, 2001) was a businessman and author who contributed to management theory and quality management practices. Crosby’s work and influence were largely based in America. In 1979, Crosby published his book, Quality Is Free, which became very popular as it offered solutions to the crisis in North America at the time. As Deming and Juran worked with the Japanese and quality of Japanese products with significant improvements in quality, American products failed to compete. Crosby’s response to the quality crisis was the principle of “doing it right the first time” (DIRFT). He believed that an organization that establishes good quality management principles will enjoy returns that more than pay for the cost of the quality system. In the end, it is less expensive to do it right the first time than to pay for rework and repairs.
His definition-Quality is conformance to requirements.
The underlying philosophy of all definitions is the same – consistency of conformance and performance, and keeping the customer in mind. It does not matter what industry you are in and whether you provide a service or finished products.
1. Consistency of conformance and performance-This can be described as being able to meet defined performance and product characteristics and specifications every time. There must be no significant difference between different products of the same kind.
2. Customer satisfaction– The product must be able to meet the requirements for which the customer wants it. It is no secret that quality influences buying decisions. However, customer perceptions of quality will vary. When buying a car, for example, one person values speed and yet another person values safety. That is why it is important for the organization to know their customer and what is important for them.
The journey to improving the quality of your organization starts with a single step.
1. First determine what are the important specifications of your product, what are the important attributes of the service you provide. In other words, what is it that you “claim” to provide and is it what you really provide?
2. Who is your customer and what do they expect from you. What is important to them, what do they value? The only way you can find out is to engage the customer at every opportunity you get.
These are the fundamentals of quality, they are universal and can be applied to any organisation, big or small, in whatever industry you can think of. Please feel free to discuss how this can be applied to your particular industry or organization. Hoping to hear from you soon!
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