Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Quality - What it Means (To Me)

They always produce quality work.

This is a quality product.

The food here is quality.

Feel the quality in this.

That is quality advice.

What does any of this mean?

How about we start with a clothing item.

The high end brand of shirt that attracts a price reflecting its status will be also considered a quality item.

In reality, the way worldwide manufacturing takes place now, it is not impossible that it comes out of the same factory, the same production line and the uses the same material and threads as does the budget store branded item available at a fraction of the price.

The inference from this is that quality is associated with a perception, packaging, an image and a price point.

Is much of what we consider quality really an illusion?

We may refer to someone as being a “quality person”. When we make such a reference, chances are we a talking about someone we see as reflecting ourselves, or someone we aspire to replicate.

But what are the personal traits that represent a quality person.

When looking back at the people I have come across as I travel through this life, my take on quality is those who know what they stand for and stand for it consistently irrespective of the circumstances.

I recall a Team Member who was unrelenting in their personal beliefs about what was right and what was wrong. From time to time, this trait made them, shall we say, challenging.

At a team meeting they could be unrelenting in expressing and sticking to their opinions. On occasions this was to the point of being disruptive however I always admired and valued that they knew what they stood for, were prepared to express and argue it and did so with ruthless consistency.

I regularly (and happily) found myself defending them to my Seniors, arguing their right to an opinion and that any discomfort they caused Leadership/Management was outweighed many times over by their commitment to their beliefs.

They stood for something, consistently and in my opinion, this is the definition of Quality.

The opposite scenario could be likened to the branding or packaging of the high end product. An illusion of sorts.

I have also interacted with people who would talk the talk and in doing so promote their commitment to ethics, honesty, direct communication and their own personal integrity.

However, while they might have believed in these traits, their actions did not always reflect them. This was expressed in various ways including escalating matters to a superior when a simple face to face discussion would have resolved a matter far quicker and more effectively.

It may be holding an opinion in private that was either kept hidden during discussion, or worse still, expressed in the opposite under pressure.

To continue the analogy, when you remove the packaging, there is not much of any significance inside.

We all know what we stand for and what is important to us.

It takes true quality to remain beholden to these beliefs and to do so consistently.

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