Definition Quality - What is your Definition of "Quality"?

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Subject: Re: Q: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Taormnia/Turner/Summerfield
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 15:32:33 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion

From: George Summerfield
Subject: Re: Q: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Taormnia/Turner/Summerfield

Beg to differ, but quality has more than only two aspects. Consider...

Performance: the product's primary operating characteristics( auto acceleration, braking distance, steering, etc).

Features: the "bells and whistles" of a product (auto = CD player, antilock brakes).

Reliability: the proven history of a product (auto) being able to start on cold days and last many years without rusting.

Conformance: the degree to which the product meets preestablished standards.

Durability: the amount of use a product provides before it physically wears out.

Serviceability: speed, courtesy, and competence of repair work.

Aesthetics: how a product looks, feels, sounds, tastes, or smells.

Perceived Quality: subjective assessment of quality resulting from the image that a very good Marketing office has built for the product.

You have to consider what the customer wants and then gear your product to that (form, fit, function). Basic principles of doing business.


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The derivitive thread entry:

>From: Turner Associates
>Subject: RE: Q: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Smith/Taormnia/Turner
>At the risk of once again recycling an old topic:
>The trouble with the word "quality" is that it has two interpretations:
>1) Quality = a perception that something has high value or specification, or
>that it's pretty or shiny or whatever: as in "a Mercedes is a quality car".
>This "quality" may be difficult or impossible to measure. In the context of
>a discussion about ISO 900x, this definition of quality has little utility.
>2) Quality = conformance to (customer) requirement. This is the basis of
>ISO 900X. If the requirement is clearly stated (as it should be, contract
>review etc) then quality according to this definition can be measured quite
>Bob Turner
>PS: while I generally agree with Tom's sentiments on process improvement,
>shouldn't the customer come in somewhere?
>> From: Virtuiso
>> Subject: RE: Q: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Ohri/Smith/Taormnia
>> << Quality is an impossible thing to measure, because it's just
>> an attribute
>> and does not stand by its own. >>
>> Just another compelling reason to remove "quality" from our lexicon and
>> concentrate on business process improvement based on everyone being
>> responsible for their own measurable actions. What a concept.
>> Tom Taormina

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Subject: Re: Q: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Smith/Ohri/Smith
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 16:34:05 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion

From: "Gary V. Smith"
Subject: RE: Q: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Smith/Ohri/Smith

>From: Edith Ohri
>Subject: RE: Q: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Ohri/Smith/Ohri
>> Oh, my! Would that what you say were true. Then I wouldn't have to
>> generate all those quality performance and quality trend reports.
>I said two separate things - that quality can't be measured and that it's
>better to have other quantitative methods rather then financial - which of
>them you find to be wrong? Or maybe the both?!
>Also, sorry, but the non-financial analysis wouldn't save you the need for
>performance reports...

Quality is either subjective or objective. Quality "measured" subjectively is ordinarily perception based and attributive, like comparing Mercedes and Yugos. This is difficult, at best, to quantify because it's virtually dimensionless. However, quality measured objectively relys on hard numbers that can be derived from several sources, like dimensions, visual standards and costs. Actual numerical limits can be established within which acceptable quality levels are specified. And, you are right that quality performance reports are due whether, or not, I'm capturing cost data.

>> May I direct you to the body of knowledge under the heading of cost of (poor)
>> quality.

>I've researched the problem of cost management some nine years ago, and have
>not seen since then any major change happening. If you know of a good article
>with an opposite view to mine, why not sending it over to me, promise to give
>back a review.
>> It includes detailed measurables in conventional spreadsheet format.
>Of course one can take any set of data and present it in nice spreadsheets, the
>question is what all this number crunching mean? Can those figures be
>traced to specific causes? Do they catch the whole quality effect or just an
>accidental facet? Are they consistent and objective? and so forth.

As with any data, the numbers must be properly "mined" for specific information, but that information is there for anyone who wishes to dig it out. When costs of poor quality are broken down into the cost of prevention, appraisal, external and internal failure, then certain trends can be obvious.

In an earlier reply I recommended a good cost of quality software and a source of cost of quality literature. I haven't seen that message on the reflector but it may have been perceived as a commercial endorsement and suppressed. If you'd like those resources then you may e-mail me personally.

Gary V. Smith


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Subject: Re: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Tribaldos/Ohri/Hankwitz
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1999 17:06:01 -0600
From: "Hankwitz, John "

>Subject: Re: Q: ISO Cost Effectiveness /../Billings/Tribaldos/Ohri
>From: Edith Ohri
> This put a whole new meaning to "dumping" merchandise, it
> says in effect that any product goes if it happens to have
> somewhere customers?! Why using then the word QUALITY?
> "specified whatever" would suit better.


Quality is a combination of objective a subjective things.

Price; and

Perception; and

Once basic "objective qualities" have been met, people will always make their purchasing decision based on emotion. (but that's a whole different story)

All product has variation. Believing that only "perfect" product can be considered "quality" is unreasonable.

Take the computer CPU market for instance. The 350 MHz Pentium or G3 CPU in your computer was manufactured using the same process as those rated at 300 MHz, 266 MHz, and so on. When the CPUs come off the end of the line, they are tested to determine how fast they are safely able to operate. (The variation is measured) Once sorted, they are marked and sold at a price appropriate for the market.

The same happens with high quality photographic lenses. About 20 years ago, Schneider would put it's brand name on about 20% of the lenses it made. They charged thousands of dollars for these lenses. The next 20% or so of the lenses were brokered and sold for less than half the price under other brand names. The bottom 60% were scrapped.

In both cases, the customer includes the cost of the product into their "quality" equation. They are more than happy to spend 30% less for a computer that runs at 300 MHz the one that runs at 350 MHz. They are both considered to be high quality products by the customer.

John Hankwitz


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Subject: Re: What is Quality? /Hellmann/Hankwitz
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 15:57:58 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion

From: "Hankwitz, John "

> Subject: Q: What is Quality? /Hellmann
> From: JJH2000
> What is QUALITY?
> How can it be defined?
> Can it be quantified, measured and documented?
> John


Yes, and no.

Quality can be defined to some degree by an individual in a particular place and time. It is next to impossible to fully define it for someone else. Also, it changes form moment to moment because of it's subjective aspects.

The objective aspects of quality are:

Does it conform to the customers design.
Is it easy to service when appropriate.

Features & Benefits:
Do the design features provide the benefits the customer is
looking for and actually needs.

Will it operate and function as expected.

Will it stand up to all conditions of use.

How much does the customer have to pay to get it.

How much will the customer have to pay over it's lifetime.

The subjective aspects are:

Visual, Emotional & Psychological:
Does it's appearance get the customer excited.
How does the customer think others view them while
they use it.
How does the product relate to customer past experiences.
How well does the customer relate to the salesman.
What have the customers friends said about the product.
What experiences has the customer had with the supplier.
and on and on and on.....

Any salesman will tell you the most sales are made on emotion, not
subjective aspects of the product.

That's why most use: Windows rather than Mac OS
VHS rather than Beta
Cassette rather than 8-Track
Internet Explorer rather than Netscape Navigator
Budweiser rather than Leinenkugel

All the latter are far superior to the former in subjective terms, but emotional issues put them in second place. (Like, when was the last time you saw Budweiser actually advertise beer? They now advertise frogs spitting at each other, and it works emotionally for their target market)

John Hankwitz


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Subject: Re: What is Quality? /Hellmann/Billings
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 10:59:50 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion

From: "Billings, Tracy"

What is quality? Well, this is like asking how long a piece of string is!

David Hoyle in his book "ISO 9000 Quality systems Handbook" explains quality as being "a composite of three parameters: quality of design, quality of conformance and quality of use.

Quality of design is the extent to which the design reflects a product or service that satisifies customer needs. All the necessary characteristics need to be designed into the product or service at the outset.

Quality of conformance is the exotent to which the product or service conforms to the design standard. The design has to be faithfully reproduced in the product or service.

Quality of use is the extent by which the suer is able to secure continuity of use from the product or service. Product need to have a low cost of ownership, be safe and reliable, maintainable in use and easy to use."

He also said that in addition to the parameters, there are three dimensions of quality: the business quality dimension, product quality dimension and organization quality dimension.

I see many companies who concentrate solely on prduct quality and forget the rest. But in all seriousness the three are interelated. If you don't have the business and company quality dimensions, then you are not going to get quality.

How can it be defined? Well, I think that I have covered that in the above. But basically defining quality is dependent on the company and how they see quality!

Can it be quantified, measured and documented? Well, this is a very good one. It really depends on what you mean by documented! I am going to concentrate on the first two parts of this question.

Quantifying and measuring quality is all subjective. To be able to say a product or service is a quality prduct or service is all subjective. There is no hard and fast rules and regulations by which you can measure the quality. As a company you need to define what you mean by a quality product/service. For example: if a company decided that they were going to make hairbrushes quickly and cheaply, and then produced the hairbrush quickly and cheaply. The company would be able to say that "we have a quailty hairbrush here!"

If you could clarify what you mean by "documented" I will try and put something in writing on this area!

Hope you find this of use to you.


David Guffey

"Quality" is "meeting or exceeding customer expectations at a price the customer is willing to pay"

When we consider all we try to put into "quality" as demonstrated above, it matters not if we do not meet customer expectations. This applies to products and/or service. If we fail to meet the customer's expectations, that customer is gone.

If we fail to provide value to the customer (i.e., a price the customer is willing to pay), that customer is gone. Conversely, if we provide the price, but our costs exceed this and we cannot generate a profit, WE will be gone.

This is, to me, the most easily understood, readily and universally accepted definition of "Quality" I have ever used. It is certainly customer-focused. Enjoy it and use it to your heart's content.


Fully vaccinated are you?
I liked this one:


From: ISO Standards Discussion
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 15:41:25 -0600
Subject: Re: What is Quality? /../Ganor/Hellmann/Hankwitz

From: "Hankwitz, John "

> Subject: RE: What is Quality? /../Hellmann/Ganor/Hellmann
> From: JJH2000
> >Quality is the extent that a product or service satisfy the
> customer needs.
> First of all, a customer need may include or even mandate
> the lowest price for the offered goods or services. (For
> example, many local municipalities have mandated by law that
> the lowest bidder be awarded construction projects. The
> cheapest vender be awarded the contract for supplies and or
> services. And so on).
> Not necessarily, but invariably, the result is the lowest
> quality.
> The question still stands, "WHAT IS QUALITY?"


Here is where you are having your problem with this. The customer in your example has defined "quality" as that having the lowest price, then you turn around and apply your own personal definition as to what you think quality is. How can you do this? The customer purchased using their criteria, and got exactly what they ordered... price. since there was no criteria or specifications covering reliability, fitness for use, serviceability, or any of the other quality related criteria, what they got was exactly what they wanted, a "quality" product. As JJH2000 stated, "Quality is the extent that a product or service satisfy the customer needs." Since they got the lowest price, their quality needs were fully satisfied.

John Hankwitz


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From: ISO Standards Discussion
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 11:49:43 -0600
Subject: Re: What is Quality? /../Ganor/Hellmann/Kozenko

From: Write9000

> The question still stands, "WHAT IS QUALITY?"

IMHO, a "Kozenko-ism" to further discussion on this thread --

"QUALITY is an intangible subjective aspect (a "state of being" as it were) of a maker's product and/or service that embeds within itself the philosphy and ethics of its maker, due to the imutable universal law of truth (vs. non-truth); it is subjectively detectable but only to the extent of the command of "quality knowledge" resident within the detector. QUALITY bears a natural law resistance to objective expression: such resistance is available to the maker in direct proportion to the extent of "quality knowledge" resident in the detector."

The proliferation of the ISO9000 Series as a "standard" for QUALITY measurement has simply opened the worldwide forum for chipping away at those intangible aspects of any product and/or service that arise from the application of the imutable universal law of truth, so that the intellectuals can attempt to make a science out of something that is, by its very nature, a combination of science and a pure art form.

The "bottom line" on QUALITY as a definable term goes something like this:

No one told Piccasso what a quality painting was -- he inherently knew, and performed to his own system of beliefs. No one told Madam Curie what quality science was. She performed to the cost of her very life. No one told Michelango what a quality Chapel ceiling was (among many other things). He inherently knew, and performed to his own beliefs. We marvel still today at these quality pioneers, and miss their contrbution to QUALITY as defined by Crosby, Peach, Jung, Juran, et als. (That is, until now.)

The frustrations of this list's posters are frequently observed by me when a conflict arises between the postee's own sense of "quality" (which is equally as valid as any that Piccasso, Curie, or Michelango may have had) vs. the corporate brand of "quality" in which the postee is supposed to "shoehorn" his/her own beliefs and practices so that they somehow fit within the somewhat artificial boundaries of corporate barbed-wire fences. This assessment of mine is far from objective -- it is as subjective and artistic as any forum of expression will allow, but in context with this post, it's absolutely perfect.

In the final analysis, "QUALITY" is an art form that expresses the truth as an intrinsic property of the released-to-marketplace product and/or service. And if you apply my definition to any of the other worldwide recognizable quality experts, you would see that it's not only complementary, but it positively augments the intent of any scientific and/or objectivity-based assessment system.

As a corollary, the evolution of the upcoming revisions to the ISO Standards are indeed "catching up" with the notion that "QUALITY" is an expression of some universal display of truth, which indicates that the quality professionals of tomorrow must be capable of functioning in the dual environment enjoyed by those who can function with both artistic and scientific comprehension (i.e. left-right "brainers"), and the delicate balance that must exist there between the two.

I witness the current confusion and consternation concerning the evolution of ISO9000:2000DIS as an outpouring from those individuals who are not so capable of mixing art with science, and I predict that with the ISO9000:2005 revisions, those exact individuals who are today confused, will either have learned to augment their quality understanding by incorporating the interrelationship between an art form and a scientific exposition into their viewpoint, or they'll have other duties and responsibilities more suitable to their narrower understanding of the big picture, outside the direct art and science (combined) of Quality Management.

Commentary invited.

David M. Kozenko


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From: ISO Standards Discussion
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 12:11:54 -0600
Subject: Re: What is Quality? /../Hellmann/Scalies/Hellmann

From: JJH2000

> ISO defines it as satisfying the customer, which is both highly generic
> and, in itself, less unsatisfying than eating rice cakes.

I once found a placard that reads "Rule Number 1: If you don't satisfy the customer, somebody else will." (Actually, I found it in a trash container which is not to impinge on its inherent value nor to imply that trash picking is something I often do.) While this now sits in plain view on my desk, I have never considered it to be an adjunct to the definition of quality. Perhaps it is.

However, something's missing in the defintion of quality as being "...the extend to which the customer is satisfied..." It's like .....well, rice cakes.

My old man was a salesman. He once told me that there are two kinds of salesmen. One kind that sells themselves. The other, sells their product. Satisfying the customer can also take different forms too. A dinner, hockey tickets, a golf outing, a vacation, kickbacks etc. can elicit customer satisfaction. But is this quality?

To begin with, quality is not a "thing" or an entity. Quality is a process. A resolution of the contradiction between producer and customer, and between the physical forces of nature.

Any thoughts?
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