What Is Quality?

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What is Quality?
Hoyer & Hoyer state that quality standards and customer expectations, in various guises, have been in existence for many centuries. However international quality standards, the formal study and implementation of “Quality” are the preserve of the 20th & 21st centuries. Consumers in the last 20-30 years have become finely tuned to the existence, value and need for quality but do they actually know what it is? Hoyer & Hoyer identified 8 quality guru’s and summarise their definition’s of quality. The 8 definitions fall into two categories i.e. Level 1 (measure the attributes against spec’s) and Level 2 (satisfy the customer). Philip Crosby’s definition of quality is from the level 1 category and can be summarized as “conformance to requirements”. Crosby’s keys points to consider are: define quality, turn that definition into measureable attributes and finally measure these attributes. Crosby’s definition lacks clarity when considering if all units that conform to the spec. are of equal quality. Deming does his best to avoid a simple definition but it is clear he believes in a management style and strategy that has quality at its heart. He is from the level 2 side of the house and is best defined in terms of customer satisfaction, multidimensional variables and multiple levels of quality. Armand V. Feigenbaum is consistent in his belief that quality is allied to satisfying the needs and expectations of customers. Feigenbaum’s theory states that quality is dynamic i.e. customers have changing needs & expectations and similar to Deming quality is multidimensional. Feigenbaum’s theory is weak on the process of translating customer’s needs to product or service attributes. Kaoru Ishikawa states that quality is the pursuit of satisfied consumers and as cost is directly related to consumer satisfaction by inference cost is a key facet of quality. He adds that meeting national standards or spec’s is not sufficient as they cannot keep pace with consumer requirements. Ishikawa states that quality must be defined comprehensively within every department of the organisation. J.M. Juran wants his definition of quality to be in both level 1 1

& 2 camps concurrently. Juran acknowledges that experts have tried to define quality but one definition has not been generally accepted. He discusses quality in the realm of product features that meet customer needs and provide satisfaction and also freedom from deficiencies but he eventually settles on “fitness for use” as his definition. I found even the summary of Pirsig’s definition hard to comprehend but then I am but a simple quality engineer. In essence Pirsig says it is impossible to define quality, therefore if you can’t define the subject it is impossible to know if and or when it exists. He goes on to say that his quality embodies excellence, worth, goodness which are all equally hard to define & measure but Pirsig’s central theme is that we all know when we have experienced them. Walter A. Shewhart defines quality in terms of a) the subjective i.e. what does the customer want b) the objective i.e. product attributes independent of what the custom wants c) value for money d) quality standards in terms of measureable product characteristic’s and e) translating the customers requirements into statistically reliable & measureable attributes. Taguchi’s definition states that “quality is the loss a product causes to society (manufacturer and customer) after being shipped, other than losses caused by its intrinsic functions.” Taguchi’s “loss” is restricted to 2 categories a) loss by variability of function, and b) loss caused by harmful side effects. Taguchi says a product or service has good quality if it “performs its intended function without variability, and causes little loss through harmful side effects, including the cost of using it”. Hoyer & Hoyer preferred definition is that of Walter A. Shewhart while they see merit with Taguchi’s concept they believe it will...
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