Quality Is ________ ?

I’m in the finishing business for individuals’ and corporations’ metal parts. This means one order could be for a farmer who wants to restore an old rusty water pump to display on the farm, while the next order is components for a $65 million jet aircraft. Our struggle for years has been valuing the farmer just as much as the world wide corporation. Some have said, “Why bother? They are not the same in regards to sales totals,” but that just never felt right. Who says the farmers water pump quality should be any different than the corporations components? However, they obviously have different end uses and goals in mind.

 The answer was revealed to me by Dr. Mark Rutland at the National Institute of Christian Leadership when he taught on the definition of quality and it was simply this… Quality Is Meeting Expectations. This is a game changer. You see, when asking the farmer what are his expectations with the finished water pump, his answer is, “As long as it’s black and looks better than it does now, I’m pleased.” However when asking the world wide corporation what are their expectations with the finished components, the answer is, “Meet the following ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards that are clearly defined.” Two valued customers, yet two vastly different expectations.

In a recent home remodel I learned some cabinet makers think merely in function. If the cabinet holds the dishes without falling off the wall, the cabinet has served its purpose. Other cabinet makers consider it a craft and the finished product should not only hold the dishes but appear as a fine piece of furniture. One objective, two very different views of meeting the quality standard. So the key lies in clarity of the expectation. The larger the project, the greater need for clearly outlining the standards because more is at risk of mismatched expectations. A great statement to include in agreements is, “Here are my expectations in the end,” and list them but also make sure they are in the written agreement.

This is not only true with purchasing agreements. In talking with entrepreneurs and different levels of employees I suspect 98% of employer and employee issues are because of this same misunderstanding of expectations. The owner is upset with the receptionist for letting the phone ring too many times, while all she was instructed is to be cheerful and pleasant with a smile. No one informed her that the quality of her job would also be to make sure the phone is answered within 3 rings, so how can she be held responsible for meeting an undefined expectation?

Quality Is Meeting Expectations but the expectations can’t be hidden, so when in doubt, ask.


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