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Introduction to Quality

What is quality?

It is something beyond what data or money can give you; it is an internal feeling of self satisfaction that is ‘felt’ when ever a data driven evidence is presented.

Data can be negative or positive, and it governs the self satisfaction feeling of the individual. The important aspect of data is that it need not always be in terms of numbers and documents, it can also be all the physiochemical/psycho/metaphysical reactions and interactions and communications that could be interpreted into a tangible feeling.

Along with data, quality too can be negative or positive. But irrespective of the result, the outcome is always to strive for betterment.

Sometimes quality can be considered as a vicious circle of never ending preposterous and irritating hindrance to a simple task that could be done much faster without the hassles of the so called important documentation that is used as an evidence usually in internal and external audits.

But the truth is far from it.

And that is what makes quality more interesting.

So, to start off with, let me first, tell you the truth:

Quality is Everywhere!

My endeavour here is not to teach you what quality is all about, as it can’t be taught, as it is something which needs to be felt internally by the individual; but to point you in a direction where you might be able to feel what quality is and how it can help you achieve what you want to.

I shall also try to refrain from using as much as I can, numbers and number driven analogies to explain what quality is all about.

My target audiences are all those people who have at some point of their life/career/job have had a brush with quality and also those people who have made quality their career objective.

So, having defined what quality is all about let me now try and define what make us feel the way we feel about not just quality, but how we perceive things around us.

Though this may sound a bit like a leaf out of a psychological or a neurological book, it is very simple and at the same time, very important to understand some of the simple concepts that govern the way we feel about things.
You may call it instinct, or simple human nature, but that is what governs how we react and interact with others, based on these psychological reactions.

Analyzing this a bit further, what most of us want from others is the truth. And that too truth that gives us some “happy” feeling. Most of our life, we are always trying to seek this truth from every intractable entity around and within us.
This quest for truth, only has brought about the various systems across the world. But at the same time, let me also add that though all the systems are in place with the intent of the truth, it is not always with the good outcome of the quest.
Though good and bad itself are debatable, let me pin it down by stating that this is dependant entirely on the situation and cannot be ascertained in a simple manner.

This surely sounds like an unclear definition of truth, good or bad, but that is the fact. Unless we reach the inner self to kindle the fire within, it would be very very difficult to cement these.

At the same time, it has always been the quest of the human to always spread what they believe, know and understand as the “truth”. This quest has led to establishment of various conglomerates and many more systems and each of them trying to out beat the other, to ultimately reach the top of the pyramid and proclaim that they are the best. This and only this nature of the human being has pushed the definition of various terms like quality, truth, good, bad, etc beyond the easy reach of the common man.

It can be depressing to even look in that direction, but as the common saying goes, truth is sometimes quite hurting and that is what is remembered and constitutes the formation of such sayings.

But, looking at the brighter side, this truth gives us the means to move forward and to change for the better.

As there is a lot of talk now going on regarding truth, me first try to explain what this truth can be.

Though defining truth is a very serious task and a task that has no boundaries or limitation, from a concept perspective, "truth is nothing but the presumed reality of the situation, which plays havoc with our senses to push us to either believe or disbelieve the perceived reality, and that which controls the self hypnosis state of the mind and pushes us to act or behave in a certain predictable fashion".

That is the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

What cascades from truth as both inputs and outputs are two things:
1) Trust (believe)
2) Mistrust (Misbelieve)
And these sometimes overshadow the truth and sometimes the basis of the “original” truth.

Well, though this topic seems to lead a bit away from the original intent of defining quality, these actually are the core inputs to the concept or the philosophy of quality.

To pictorially represent this:

Philosophy of Quality

So, quality is a layer between perceptions and the reality triangle. The swinging of the quality magnet would lead to the perception of if it is good quality or bad quality.
But to ensure that all the parameters are considered, what needs to be realized is that the reality triangle can shift and change the focal point of the balance of the Quality Magnet, thus influencing every entity in the picture above.

The Polar Star, Atlantis and the Appendix Effect

Quality is sometimes called the beacon or the polar star for businesses to be successful. This has led to the creation and institutionalization of various frameworks and standards across the globe.

What is mostly forgotten is that the purpose of the polar star is to give an indicative reference of where north could be.

When this is perceived as the reality, then though the company would go in the general direction of the process/framework driven approach, it could still fail to achieve its business goals – thus leading to the Atlantis stage where everyone in the organization (apart from the quality team of course) will get into a mode of disbelief and feed themselves a negative placebo and make quality a mythical thing to achieve.

Others however feel that once the process/framework is achieved, the quality team can be ignored as quality has been institutionalized. This leads to the appendix stage where the quality team is considered as an unwanted entity by the organization and is let go off.

But what is forgotten is that for a machine to function, it requires proper and frequent care and overhaul.

So quality is just not about getting certifications and showcasing evidence that it has been institutionalized. It is much beyond that and an ASSURANCE that if done the right way by the right set of people, it can bring about a continual improvement in the way a business is run.

Perceptions are that state of mind where we look at an object with judgemental intentions. But though the intent is clear, what governs is the “position” from where this perception occurs.
All of us are where we are today based on the projection of our self image, which by itself is governed by various factors, including our ego, and the self induced hypnosis state.
This self image of ours always tries to make a statement of what we are and how we are to be seen or perceived. But what happens here is that simple laws of physics govern the whole concept of perceptions. To explain the laws of physics, the picture below clarifies how this law governs the process of perceptions.

Process of Perceptions

As depicted above, each individual will have their own self image and when they are asked to judge some object, each one of them will look at the object with their own pattern of understanding, which constitutes the journey of perception.
Even if each of them is asked to concentrate on the object, each could come to a decision that would be similar or dissimilar, based on their point of view.
Each of them have a good possibility to miss the moment of truth completely, but even if they don’t miss it, the individual experience of moment of truth would vary based on the self image that they have created for themselves.
It is similar to the structure of a concave mirror, where the focal point would be the centre of the area where the light converges – which is the moment of truth. But for the light to converge at the exact point, the concave mirror is to be perfect, without any abrasions and particular disturbances, which could distort the focal point and thus loose its effectiveness.

This physical property is also the reason why even though there are many models like CMMI, ISO, Prince, etc, (which is used to judge its interpretation and implementation) each model is interpreted from the individual “self image” of the person.
The nature of these models itself is to ensure that this gap in perception is reduced to a great extent.

Thus, truth, perceptions, and the self image play a very important role in determining the flavour and experience of what quality is all about.

So quality should be looking into from a very ‘detached’ manner. Only then would the intended flavour of Quality would flow.

It should be like going to a movie theatre and then enjoying the movie. The Movie is projected on the screen and the same screen can be used to project any kind of the movie. The screen cannot take ownership of the movie and retain the pictures on it as it would defeat the purpose of the screen.

Quality is the screen where the movie is projected.

Quality does not own anything. It is the platform where the facts are projected. The fact should have the quality within it to be appreciated by all.

Again, as in the movie theatre, the screen would not be able to give all the experience of the facts without a good setup of the speakers and a great projector.

The Projector is nothing but the sponsorship and commitment of the management and good project management principles which allows the movie/facts to be in the current form.

The sound systems are all the support organizations which will aid these facts to be more meaningful.
The interpretation of what quality actually is can always be debated and skewed in as many forms as possible – just like the self image of a person as seen by other such self images.

A good quality system is where this skewness is minimum and where the intent meets the purpose.

I shall on request push the same as PDF files for you to print the same for your offline reading.

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