Quality defined

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    Jim Parnella

    There are many posts below – individuals trying to define quality in their own words. Here is the definition from the American Society for Quality (ASQ):
    The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear upon its ability to meet given needs.

    Here is the definition from Dr. Juran:
    Quality means customer satisfaction or “fitness for use”.

    Here is the definition from Phil Crosby:
    Quality means conformance to requirements.

    If you think about it carefully, you should conclude that the ASQ definition is superior to the Juran and Crosby definitions.

    Let’s compare the three definitons. Let’s use a McDonalds hamburger as an example. According to Juran, the hamburger is certainly “fit for use” (but some people might not think so). According to Crosby, it conforms to requirements (again, some people might not think so). Even though the hamburger meets the defintions for quality as presented by Juran and Crosby, many people would have trouble calling this particular hamburger a “quality hamburger”. Why is it not a “quality hamburger”? It is not “out of spec”, it just doesn’t have the characteristics that meet the particular needs of some people. Hence, it is not a “quality hamburger” to some people even though it meets the requirements of Juran and Crosby.

    Let’s look at automobiles. Let’s consider a Chevy Cavalier. Some people would not consider this a “quality car” because it is uncomfortable for long trips, accelerates too slowly, etc, etc, etc. This car however meets the quality requirements for Juran (fit for use) and Crosby (conformance to specs). However, since the Chevy Cavailier does not represent “quality” for some people, it cannot be a “quality car” for that particular customer. Reason: the totality of its features and characteristics cannot meet the given needs of a given user.

    We can probably agree that “quality is in the eyes of the beholder”. If so, what better way to define quality than the ASQ definition above?

    P.S. I couldn’t find a quality definition from Deming. Do you know of one? If so, please pass along to me.

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