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The Quality Myth

        posted by , March 14, 2013

Quality is an important consideration for everything your organization does from hiring employees to customer service.

It's natural to think that the quality of your business processes, products and services should be maximized. However, this isn't necessarily true.

Myth: Quality should always be maximized.

Quality should be fit for purpose — it doesn't always have to be as high as possible.

Fit For Purpose

Fit for purpose is a term that's commonly used to describe the right level of quality – not too low and not too high.

It's possible to build products and implement processes that are extremely high quality. However, this doesn't always make sense (due to cost).

Snowboards versus Aircraft Wings

It's technically feasible to construct a snowboard built to last 20 years. However, the board might cost 16x more than a regular snowboard that lasts 2 or 3 seasons.

Building snowboards of maximum quality makes no sense because the costs are prohibitively high. Snowboard styles and technologies change with time. People want to change their snowboard every once in a while.

Aircraft wings are constructed to last 20 years or more with proper maintenance. Aircraft have critical performance and safety requirements that demand high quality. In other words, high quality aircraft wings are fit for purpose.


Organizations must continually balance quality considerations with cost, risk and market forces (e.g. consumer preferences). Fit for purpose quality may be sacrificed to cost considerations.

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The following definitions look at quality from a management, quality assurance, product, marketing, manufacturing and economic point of view.

A list of adjectives commonly used in advertising slogans and copy.

Strategies that fail to adapt to these forces are a recipe for disaster.

Quality is in the eye of the beholder. Fifty common ways to describe a quality customer experience.

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