A leadership development resource

from the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc.

Volume VIII

Number 5

On the Horizon This Issue:

"To Get Back on Track, Let's Just Cut Quality!"
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Some of the best free learning available is on podcasts.

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  [Quality]  [Podcasts]  [The Institute Online] 


"To Get Back on Track, Let's Just Cut Quality!"

by Andy Kaufman


Words: 565

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

project management quality keynotes and trainingThe project is slipping. Alternatives are being considered. How often have you heard an executive suggest: "To get back on track, let's just cut quality!"

I only know of one organization that's confessed to that philosophy. Though most don't admit it, some times by our very decisions that's exactly what we're doing. We cut corners, considering additional testing as a luxury we can do without.

Is quality a luxury?

"The most concise definition of quality I've heard: the degree to which the project fulfills requirements."

It cuts to the essence of what quality really is. We often recognize quality when we see it, but it can be a challenge to define what quality actually means.

The most concise definition I've heard: the degree to which the project fulfills requirements.

We could argue if that's a sufficient definition for quality, but for the sake of argument, let's say it is. By that definition, quality is not a luxury for a project: it's fulfilling requirements. If a service provider does not fulfill requirements, they won't be providing that service for long!

Quality vs. Grade

Quality professionals often differentiate between quality and grade. One might suggest that a Lexus LS is higher quality than a Chevrolet Malibu. Yet the difference is more an issue of grade. Chevy is not targeting their Malibu for the same audience that Lexus is with their LS. A hot dog is a different grade than a steak. Yet in each of these examples, quality still matters. A Chevy Malibu manufactured perfectly to its specifications could, at least in theory, be of higher quality than a Lexus that exited the factory with defects.

project management quality keynotes and trainingI'm not sure there's such a thing as a high-quality hot dog, but I digress. :)

With those quality and grade concepts in mind, developing a high-grade product when lower-grade would meet expectations could be considered a luxury. I might prefer to say it's a waste of time, money, and effort. Cutting corners to deliver a high-grade product on time but with defects is short-sighted and will inevitably lead to customer satisfaction and cost issues later on.

Philip Crosby popularized the concept that quality is "conformance to requirements" which is to say we have to set the bar of what quality means in terms that can be measured. Joseph Juran defined quality as "fitness for use" which is a fancy way of saying, "it must be viewed as quality in the eyes of the customer."

I know a guy who sat with his wife at a Chicago restaurant. They opened the bread basket and a cockroach walked out. When they confronted the waiter, he simply replied, "Hey, this is Chicago! You can go to the place next door and you'll get project management quality training and keynotescockroaches in your bread there too!"

Clearly "crawling things in bread" conformed to the restaurant's requirements! Yet it didn't handle the couple's "fitness for use" as they decided to go home!

Quality Lessons Learned

  • Define what quality means up front in a project instead of making a subjective judgment when you're in the heat of battle--struggling with project delays.

  • Get buy-in from the sponsor and stakeholders. If they're aligned with you upfront it will help you later on when problems will inevitably show up.

  • Think of quality as meeting requirements, not being perfect. Make sure your quality efforts align with the necessary grade.

Such steps help us understand that quality is not a luxury--it's delivering what we promised.

To your success,

elearning (e-learning) to help you manage projects from keynote speaker Andy Kaufman

keynote speaker Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman

Speaker, Author, Consultant

President, Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc.

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How to Access Podcasts


You've probably heard people talking about podcasts. Are you actively using them for your personal and team development? Some of the best free learning available these days can be found on podcasts.

People and Projects Podcast--project management podcastIt's easy to take advantage of the learning. If you are currently an iTunes user, just go to the iTunes Store and find a link for podcasts. Select a category according to your interests and then listen to a portion of a couple. iTunes makes it easy to subscribe to podcasts, which means the latest versions will be downloaded automatically each time you load iTunes.

If you're not an iTunes user, you can listen to most podcasts by visiting the podcast website. For example, my People and Projects Podcast is available to listen on the web at: http://www.i-leadonline.com/podcast.

In addition to what I listen to for entertainment, some podcasts I regularly listen to include:

  • Manager Tools. Two guys sharing helpful insights on issues related being a manager. Highly recommended if you manage people.
  • The Project Management Podcast. Helpful insights for project managers.

You can find them both on iTunes (or use a search engine to find them on the web).

Did you know you can get free PDU's by listening to our podcast? Click here to learn more.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by visiting http://bit.ly/ppcast.

Start taking advantage of podcasts for your personal and team development!

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