The Principles of Quality

The Principles of Quality cover

What is Quality?


EVERYONE'S  FUTURE

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ESSAYS ON QUALITY

What Is Quality?

Quality as a Tool for Success

The Necessary Steps Before Personal Improvement Can Occur

The Difference Between Personal Development and Personal Improvement

Quality is so Easy, Why Settle for Less?

Quality is an Attitude

Increase Your Success by Increasing Quality

Responses from
readers:


"I am truly blown away."
      D.D.

"If you're looking for immediate results, try applying the principles presented in this book."
      L.M.

"This book has inspired me to raise the bar in all areas of my life, and with your simple and realistic approach, I know that I can!"
      M.Y.

Definition of Quality

When you talk about quality in regard to a product or activity, you are talking about how good it is. But that doesn't help much, because then you have to define "good." So let's take a different approach, and find a common factor of everything human that we can use to discuss quality.

We will ignore natural phenomena, and look only at human actions. We have no control over lightning and sunsets and mountains and hurricanes, so no matter how good or bad, pretty or ugly they are, there is no point in trying to rate their quality. Is one uncut diamond "better" than another? Nope. They are just rocks. Only when a person picks them up, and starts to look at their potential futures, do they begin to acquire quality.

What did these rocks gain? A purpose. Maybe this is the common factor we need. Actions have purposes. Products have purposes. Natural phenomena do not have purposes, unless a person assigns a purpose to them. Otherwise, they just are.

Every purpose has a value attached to it. The man who stacks up blocks as high as he can before they fall over attaches some value to stacked-up blocks. He might be the only one, but so what? To him, a stack of 52 blocks is more valuable than a 51-block stack.

So try on this definition for size: quality is the degree to which a product or action fulfills its purpose, and that degree of quality has a value. This definition allows for the possibility of "high quality" or "low quality" or anything in between.

The purposes of actions and products can be very complex. Take the action of driving to work. A full statement of that action's purpose might be "to move the car safely over the roads between here and work within a specific maximum time period and using the minimum amount of gas, without breaking laws, and while following the rules of road etiquette." A person can fulfill some parts of that purpose completely, while failing miserably in other parts. How do you measure the quality of that action? How valuable is it?

It doesn't really matter. Quality measurements are essentially arbitrary. They vary from person to person. Different judges at the Olympics assign different scores to the same action. You might think you are doing a good job at work, but your boss disagrees. Or you might think you could be doing your job better, but your boss is very happy with your level of quality. So this definition of quality is not terribly useful.

Nowadays, quality has another definition. Quality is often used to mean "superiority" or "superior." At a minimum, this means "better than average." More often, it means "generally agreed to be significantly better than others in its class."

Here we have a useful definition. It is relatively easy to agree on the class of actions or products one is comparing, and after that, most people will usually be able to agree on which ones in that class are the cream of the crop. If they can't, they can always agree on a new, narrower definition of the class they are comparing, until differences begin to be obvious within the newly-defined class.

For example, in the class of all swimmers, Olympic swimmers are all quality swimmers. But in the class of Olympic swimmers, only a few get medals or come very close, and they are the quality Olympic swimmers. And for a product example, in the class of all cars, all Rolls Royces are quality cars. But in the class of cars costing over $100,000, most Rolls Royces are also-rans. Many other cars in that class are generally agreed to be better cars.

How is Quality Achieved?

First off, quality is created. It doesn't just happen. It almost never happens by accident, and when it does, it cannot be duplicated.

Second, quality is not the starting point. Very few actions are quality actions the first time they are attempted. Very few products are quality products the first time they are created.

Third, quality is not the same as perfection. Perfection is possible, but not necessary to achieve quality. A quality movie or a quality car or a quality accountant might all have minor weaknesses, but still be significantly better than other movies or cars or accountants.

Quality is achieved by taking your starting point, and making it better. In the case of a complex action or product, as most are, this means making all the parts better, bit by bit. A baseball player can work on his batting, throwing, base-stealing, and many other parts of his game I don't even know about. A painter gets better and better at all the actions that result in a great painting, the more he learns and the more he paints.

The most complex action of all is life itself. A person does thousands, maybe millions of different actions every day. The clear conclusion is that to achieve a significantly better life than other people achieve, one has only to make the parts better. Not by wishing or hoping, but by doing the actions a little bit better than before. By producing products a little bit better than before.

Seems simple, doesn't it? Yet not one person in a hundred will actually follow this easy formula in a conscious and intentional way. Maybe not one in a thousand. To begin with, they haven't thought of it this way. They will, sometimes, improve some action, by practice or inspiration or being shown a way to do something better. Such improvements are little more than random, even haphazard. They do not lead to overall higher quality, but rather, slow and inconstant -- and often temporary -- improvement.

Second, even those who understand this theory of overall quality improvement seldom bother to apply it. They are comfortable with the way things are. Why make things better if they are fine the way they are? What's the big deal?

The big deal is that things are NOT fine the way they are! Good businesses fail, good people lose jobs, good families fall apart, good students lose their enthusiasm and drop out. Drivers get into accidents. Computers stop working well. Kids turn to drugs.

All for lack of quality.

The Principles of Quality

Three Major Principles, four Applied Principles, and thirteen Quality Actions, easily learned, easily applied, can completely change the level of overall quality in the world. Yet they won't, until more people understand that what they do affects others. Not just a few others, but hundreds and thousands of others.

Yes, I mean you. Your actions create much greater effects than you have ever considered. Everything you do right and well and with quality, improves others' lives in an ever-expanding sphere. If you brighten a person's day through providing a quality action or product, he will brighten someone else's day, and so on. But if something you do is not up to the quality you could have done, that other person's day is not brightened, and may be dimmed. Whichever effect you create will be passed on to others.

I can't make other people do their jobs better, or raise their kids better, or create a better movie or raise a happier cow that gives sweeter milk. But I can do my job better, and raise my kids better, and keep my garden healthy. I can be a bit more polite, or patient, or strict, as the situation needs, to encourage quality in others. I can use these principles of quality, and I do.

Because I know how powerful they are, and I know they work.

I have a pretty good life, and am pretty happy, but if I didn't know there was a way to achieve higher levels of happiness, and the possibility of an even better life, with more time and money to accomplish more dreams, I would be walking around with a raincloud over my head, like Joe Btfsplk from the old Li'l Abner comics, or as gloomy as Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.

Read the book today, this week, this month, and apply what you read, and keep applying it, and a year from now you will wish you had read it years ago. Anyone Can Improve His or Her Life: The Principles of Quality goes into much greater depth than this little essay can, and makes everything very easy.

Have fun with it. Let me know how it goes for you.

Copyright 2009
Don Dewsnap

All rights reserved worldwide.