Quality and Change

“Are quality and change one of the same thing, can you have one without the other or are they inextricably linked?”

What is Quality ?
Quality can refer to
a. a specific characteristic of an object (the qualities of ice – i.e. its properties).
b. the achievement or excellence of an object (good quality ice – i.e. not of inferior grade).
c. the essence of an object (the quality of ice – i.e. “iceness”).
d. the meaning of excellence itself.
The first meaning is technical, the second practical, the third artistic and the fourth metaphysical. All four meanings, and therefore the meaning of quality, are synonymous with good.

What is Change ?
Fundamentally, Change denotes the transition that occurs when something goes from being the same to being different. For example, water in the liquid state is not the same as water in the frozen state. At some point, it experienced a transition and became different. Thus, it changed.

Combining these two definition leads to the logical conclusion that quality and change are 2 different things.

However, quality improvements, what we quality professionals work on day-in and day-out on the shop or office floor, is all about the transition of processes, products and services from the current to an improved future state,are a different story. Quality improvements and change are logically inextricable linked.

Comments 1

  1. QualityColorado

    Regarding the topic "Change" vs. "Quality I have been working in process and quality improvement for more years than I care to admit to. I have experienced successes, as well as a few less-than-fully-successful efforts. In my experiences with Six Sigma, Lean, TQM simple PDCA, etc., it has not been the "technical" side of the effort that is most prone to failure; rather, it is the people side (change management, change leadership). Most articles that discuss the key issues of quality improvement tend to neglect this very important consideration.

    Additionally, most formal quality training (Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, etc) that I have seen gives very little attention to effective change leadership. I highly recommend that all quality and process improvement professional immerse themselves in the better information out there about change management / change leadership.

    Several books by John Kotter about change management are very good ( including "Leading Change", "The Heart of Change" and "The Heart of Change Field Guide").

    Additionally, the Change Management Leadership Center ( has some terrific information, including its highly-informative (and free!) webinar series.

    — QualityColorado

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