What Does ‘Quality’ Mean to You?

What does ‘quality’ mean to you? I’ve asked this question of co-workers, friends and relatives – usually just out of the blue with no warning about what the heck I’m talking about. The answers I’ve gotten are interesting and varied:

  • High performance, meets expectations.
  • Right – right product, right time, done right.
  • Delivering a product to our customers with zero defects.
  • Good product at a good price.
  • I think my 15 year old daughter summed it up pretty well when she answered: “Quality is something that is made well and will last.”

If you do a Google search for “What is quality?,” you’ll find references to sections of ISO 9000 documents, low defect rates and achieving a process standard deviation of Six Sigma. Some consider quality being the state of achieving what the customer has in their specifications. Many will talk about quality as simply the culture of an organization, and its ability to make improvements. Often the conversation leads to discussions of continuous improvement or becoming Lean.

Merriam-Webster shows quality can be used as either a noun or an adjective, giving it over a dozen definitions. With all this variety and choices for the meaning of quality, it’s hard to put into exact words what it truly means.

Quality is something that is perceived differently by each and every customer. To me, quality is not a department. It’s not inspecting a finished product, method, or stack of statistical tools.  To me, quality is when everyone at Excellerate Manufacturing understands; that everything they do, every day, has an impact on who we are, what we produce, and how Excellerate is perceived as a company.

One of our keys to continued success lies in being able to listen to our customers and understand what is important to them; most importantly, how they define quality.

Tell us what you think. How do you define quality?