An imminent quality audit pending at the company I work for made me think a little more than usual about this aspect.
So what is this elusive thing everybody is running for? It seems to be like a beautiful girl everybody wants to have! But I suspect that it is not real love involved here! It looks more like a trophy you want to own and be complimented for, a certificate given to you by an authority that you can display with pride.
For me, as I tend to be a little esoteric, quality is more like a way then a goal. I can compare it with knowledge or wisdom: I don’t know anybody that is wise because he set the wisdom as its goal. But every wise or knowledgeable person I know is so because he lived this way, usually without having this planned.
I must say am not against setting goals! But, I think, the goals have to be simpler, smaller and more comprehensible than such a tremendous task quality assurance is. Like knowledge, quality is an asset that is hard and takes long time to be achieved. Simply, there is no short or easy way to do this! Quality is not a project but an everyday process that runs forever: day by day, every single day.
So what are results of this process, someone may ask? I think that the palpable results usually associated with quality (a qualitative product or service) are only the effects of the quality process. The real results of this process and the cause behind effects are, again, very similar to knowledge. They are stored in our minds, not in books, documents, dashboards, numbers, etc. The people (employees) are like the neurons of a distributed mind holding all this knowledge.Quality is knowledge!