On the idea of Quality

On the idea of Quality

[00:00:00] **Aurooba Ahmed:** Well, hello! This is The Daily Five with Aurooba, that's me, where we reflect on creating our best lives a little bit every day. Here we go!

[00:00:15] I've been thinking about quality recently. Good quality, that is. What does it mean? What does it entail? What does it not mean? What does it not entail? Quality is one of those things that we all inherently feel we understand. All of us have an intuitive understanding of it at some level. The danger of such a concept is that when we intuitively understand something, it is a lot more difficult to put into words.

[00:00:44] And sometimes, That makes it a lot harder to measure collectively, if not individually, and sometimes at all. Another danger is that we all assume others understand quality the same way we do, which is almost always untrue. It's why, when I talk about the hues of a sunset with my spouse, he calls one of those shades dark yellow, when I call it amber, and decidedly not orange or yellow.

[00:01:11] It's why I am comfortable buying a $300 computer chair while my brother buys a $1, 500 one. Our idea of quality in that given situation is entirely different, driven both by our differing needs and perspectives. And why the side table beside my bed is nearly $1, 000 while my friend's is just 50. Again, because our idea of quality in that situation is different, and driven by our different needs and perspectives.

[00:01:42] As an aside. I am not at all saying that more expensive things are of a higher quality. That's a correlation, not causation. Many of the highest quality things I own were not, in fact, very expensive. But it's also true that many of the expensive things I own are, in fact, high quality. By my own assessment, anyway.

[00:02:03] But, back to the topic. We think our own idea of quality is steady and unchanging, when in fact that is untrue. Our internal criteria for quality differs from situation to situation, subject to subject, day to day, mood to mood, which is why an intuitive understanding of quality is not in fact good enough to measure something by.

[00:02:25] You need a concrete definition with a specific criteria for a specific situation if you want to really measure quality in a steady way. And you especially have to do this if you expect someone other than yourself to adhere to the same ideas of quality. This is why companies have a phase of development called quality assurance, where they measure a product by a set of specific criteria to ensure it meets the standards of quality that they have collectively decided to adhere to. Sometimes, I think by shortening the term to QA, we've actually done ourselves a disservice because we aren't forced to consistently actually say the word quality. Personally, I think quality is a side effect. I don't like thinking quality is a value or a systemic metric.

[00:03:16] I believe the word quality is too wide, too vague, and far too open to interpretation Even when you have specific criteria, it's why the phase is called quality assurance, you know, because you can assign the idea of quality to anything. If they called it stackability assurance at the Lego company, an executive wouldn't be able to take that term and use it in some other company that manufactured say knives, for example.

[00:03:45] It's a generalized simplified and overused high level concept that in my opinion, and experience is often reduced to meaning nothing in practice, but, you know, as a high level concept, as a personal concept, it definitely is something that is very excellent to think about. And consider and ponder, but when it comes to practicality, I believe you are better off focusing on something far more concrete and tangible.

[00:04:23] Something that is easier to measure, easier to agree on, and clearer to understand. Quality is easy to understand, but not always very clear. If that makes sense. Easy things are not necessarily clear, and clear things are not necessarily easy. Electricity is clear, but it's not actually very easy to understand if you think about it.

[00:04:48] It's a very weird phenomenon. But, anyway, those are my thoughts for today.

[00:04:57] Thanks for listening! Same time tomorrow?