What is quality?
I hear and read it everywhere — quality assurance, building quality in, finding what the quality is, etc. It’s sometimes interesting to me to come across so many resources and yet very few of them actually define what quality is, or at least present some examples. So what is it then?
1. the quality of something is how good or bad it is
2. a high standard
However, my question usually is: to whom?
When is comes to almost anything you can imagine, people have different needs, desires, expectations, experiences, skill, … So they will also evaluate products with these diverse points of view. What happens then is that one product might be of a high standard to one person and of a low standard to another person. But the product has not changed.
So to me, saying that something is of a high standard does not really make much sense unless we also say who that person is.
I’d also say that one thing, product, or service might be of a high standard to somebody at a certain point in time. It might be completely different in a week when the person perhaps finds out something that she doesn’t like about the product. So not only quality is highly personal, but also dependent on time.
Personally, I try to use the term sparingly because I’m aware of the fact that defining it is tricky and context-dependent. If it’s used in some conversation I’m part of, I sometimes ask what those involved imagine behind quality. However, I don’t really think, or at least I don’t remember it now, that I’ve ever been given a clear answer to the question.