In Dave Beach and my “conversation” described in my April 16 post, the next two questions from him, after “why is manufacturing important”, were “why is product quality important”t, and “how are the chapter concepts in your Good Products, Bad Products book related”.
Product Quality is important for three reasons:
2. The Quality of Life
3. Motivation and Self Image
For the foreseeable future, businesses will continue to compete, probably globally, and hopefully material well-being will rise, at least in poorer nations. It is also probable that businesses in wealthier countries will have continuing problems competing with businesses in poorer countries in the production of lower quality products, Also higher quality products have a marketplace advantage and are both more attractive at the same cost (Toyota automobiles), and offer higher profitability at a higher cost (Apple iPhones),
Technology is hopefully for the purpose of benefiting us humans. It should satisfy our needs, make our lives more interesting, keep us healthier, maintain our environment, and decrease hardship. If it does not do such things, it fails. In a sense, overall product quality can be measured by how much a product improves the quality of life.
It is extremely rewarding to be involved in the production of use of an outstanding product. Organizations producing such products and the people working in them are proud of their role. People associated with them become more involved in their work and more productive. The United States used to be very proud of the label “Made in America”. Wouldn’t it be nice to get there again – to feel that whatever we produced, it was the best in the world?
The Chapters in my book have to do with the performance, cost, and price of industrial products, compatibility of the products with the human user, craftsmanship in the production of them, emotional reaction to them, aesthetic appeal of them, the symbolism and cultural fit of them, and consistency of the products with global constraints (environment, etc.) These factors are related in that they are all essential in the production of them and benefits to the user, and difficult to handle quantitatively. At first glance such things as performance, cost, and price, seem easily measurable, but it is more difficult to do so over the lifetime of products and when the subtleties of perception are included. As one proceeds through the chapters, metrics become more and more difficult to describe the quality of the product and the reaction of the user. Love? Beauty? Elegance? Symbolism? When it comes to global constraints, it becomes simpler to attach numbers to such things as supply of resources, severity of pollution, global warming, and loss of species, but for many (most?) people there seems to be a good bit of resistance to using these numbers and the desire to collectively bury our heads in the sand and hope the problems are not real.
I will delve further into this in a future post.