A thing of beauty is a joy forever” -John Keats.
“Beauty Lies in the eyes of the beholder” -Plato.
Is Beauty and Quality Interlinked? I think so. Towards this, let me start off with some stories. Why is Quality important? – It’s simple – Do you Agree? Without it, you are out of business or out of value! Why Quality is Important?
Why do we test? What happens if we don’t? What are some examples of the challenges faced due to poor quality testing? Big impacts faced by corporations, governments, and end-users as a result of poor testing. On the other hand – what are the benefits of high-quality testing?
If you have strolled through the streets of the Tuscan capital that pull in well over 13 million visitors every year – Florence, you will certainly understand why it is called as a UNESCO world heritage site, or as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Florence was at the center of the renaissance movement and it had one brilliant master amongst them. I’ll name him shortly.
On the cobblestone streets near Palazzo Vecchio, you would see a giant replica of a monumental sculpture of David (Original one is in Galleria Dell ‘Academia). This was built by one of the greatest artisans of all time “Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni”. His other masterpieces include Pieta, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica’s popular murals. All of these are great crafts of pristine quality with the sheer brilliance of genius that is enthralling tourists visiting Italy for six centuries since they were commissioned. All due to Quality, Perfection, Excellence. I had a chance to view some of these masterpieces in quality.
On the other hand, let me give you an example of where ignorance of Quality results in a major disaster. Two decades ago, the Ariane-5 Rocket Launch in 1996 was a disaster. This project was a decade-long, $7 billion investment (worth more than $10.7B in current currency) that was gone under 40 seconds. The target was to launch two 3-ton satellites to orbit, following a series of successful launches earlier. The issue was a software bug caused by a floating-point exception arising due to an incorrect Exception handling of a 64-bit number into a 16-bit handler. This was never tested or properly modeled before the launch. Think about this – lack of attention to details causing a big failure. This major accident (or incident for a better analogy) happened due to lack of attention to details. To quote John Ruskin,
“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort”.
How many of us do the right thing even when no one is watching? Taking a seminal quote from Henry Ford
“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking“.
The quality of your work will stay long after you are gone. Quality in simpler terms is Craftsmanship. To borrow from popular culture, when you take global sobriquets for quality “German Engineering”, “Swiss Watches” and “Japanese Electronic Goods and Cars” for example, all are the popular world over for excellence in quality. Some of them have come up with innovations to take their industries to the next level. Barring a few headline-making deviations, all of them bring so many quality names to mind.
Why would quality matter to people? If you study the resurgence of Apple Inc. post-Steve Jobs’s 2.0 CEO tenure, you will understand all of it is attributed to one term. “Quality”. Quality minded producing high-quality goods. Consumers who love quality buy quality products. It becomes a popular culture as there is a uniform belief that quality of work reflects a person’s character and attribution of one’s capability with the quality of the products they use, endorse and associate with. While this is a debatable topic, people nowadays try to autograph themselves with excellence. This comes with affiliation to quality. Steve Jobs and Apple cashed in on this very fact. They focused on Making Complex things look a lot simple – Using multiple perspectives and analysis with the customers in mind. They did it with the right rigor in doing things right – with a focus on the quality of things unseen. Whilst a thousand music players were already in the marketplace, they made a huge difference with a brilliant iPod. Similar success was repeated with the iPhone.
How did Steve embark on this journey? A couple of his quotes summarizes it – from his biography with Walter Isaacson and the public Internet.
“For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
“I thought my dad’s sense of design was pretty good. He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.”
His attention to detail, experience with his creative aesthetics during his calligraphy session, quality focus in picking up the best team and always thirsty attitude for customer-centric innovation were all having one theme in common – Quality.
Quality is a result of Authenticity, Accuracy, Beauty, Making complex things simpler, Higher Level of Thinking with the end in mind, learning from the Best, Practicing with different types, Attention to details and use of science and technology or aesthetics to make it an impeccable product/service/experience or highest quality. Good companies have thrived because of the quality of service/product they produce. It could be a restaurant, a sweet shop, a boutique tailor or it could be a major brand. Quality is their business plan and without it, they will be out of business.
Based on economic viability, corporates or individuals choose product or service that comes with 1) high quality at a premium or 2) a cheaper one at lesser quality, or 3) a high-value proposition one that gives good value for money with great quality. It will be difficult to see a market hegemony for one of the types to rule the market as there are niche areas. Similar things can be said about job satisfaction and quality of workforce and quality of job satisfaction that get attributed due to so many factors. The quality of thinking also gets impacted by other people’s opinions and “societal influence”. The way one think, behave, dress, the drive gets impacted by the quality of influence. Being unique in terms of value quality or aligned to societal conformance is also a factor of quality.
At the end of the day,
Quality is a mindset and it is everyone’s responsibility. Quality is not the last line of defense before a product or service goes out to the end target. It is the beginning and the end. The quality of One’s work is dependent on Quality of One’s work which gets influenced by Quality of Training. The quality of One’s behavior gets influenced by the Quality of one’s surroundings. The quality of a student’s result is an outcome of Quality of the learning/studies/ tutors and effort. The quality of a craftsman’s output is directly dependent on the quality of one’s practice. The quality of input determines the Quality of Output. Hence Quality is not a silo but everyone’s responsibility.
Some more quotes on Quality highlights the same
”Quality is a habit and not an act”.
“Be a yardstick of QUALITY. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected” – Steve Jobs
“When you’re out of quality you’re out of business.” – Anonymous
Quality is the best business plan.” – John Lasseter
One might say “Quality of a product or service lies in the eyes of the beholder” but we have enough examples to repeat over and over again to highlight how quality products or inventions outlive time immortally. There is enough art, scientific examples out there that surmount as evidence.