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Quality, Truths and Fictions
Quality did not begin in ISO (Geneva Switzerland) in 1947. In fact ISO really doesn’t have anything to do with Quality. Actually ISO is a standards publishing house. They don’t write the standards, create the rules or otherwise govern the use of the documents that they sell other than to try and ensure that they are the only source. They are a somewhat democratic body that determines how the standards should be provided and when they should be rewritten (possibly based on revenue estimates) ISO is derived from the Greek isos and means equal. The concept being that a documented standard in Europe should be the same (equal) in all countries.
How many times have you heard “ISO won’t let us …” Also not true, ISO doesn’t require anything or prohibit anything. In fact ISO doesn’t even issue ISO certifications. If you want an ISO certification you have to contact someone else entirely. ISO has never conducted an audit, issued a non-conformance, or prevented anyone from making changes.
We can trace the origin of the term quality back to 45 B.C., the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero created the Latin term qualitas in his introduction to Greek philosophy. The quest to quantify quality began around the same time and continues to this day.
But what does quality really mean. The dictionary lists so many definitions of quality that it’s just confusing. So where to start? A lot of publications, articles, and opinions center around what quality isn’t. Some try and explain what quality means but usually phrase it in terms of the customer or the producer and that is not always the same.
And then there is the “quality is what the customer is willing to pay for, or the agreed upon expectations of a product between a provider and a recipient.
If you type Quality into GOOGLE you will get about 2.5 trillion results. So it would be understandable that no one has come up with a good definition of Quality.