The evolution of the word Quality has been tremendous throughout the history of humankind. It revolutionizes the business and manufacturing industries in the way they thinking and behave. From being considered as a dragging force in the cost-profit equation of the business, Quality is now considered as a value-added opportunity. But what is the story behind these transitions?
The origin of the word Quality can be traced back to the 13th Century, coming from Old French ”qualite” and Latin ”qualitas”, meaning ”of what sort”, which emphasise an object’s nature. So, Quality can be understand as a trait, a feature, or a characteristic of a thing. Since the introduction to English, the word has never stopped evolving, and come along its evolution, it has gained more and more meaning. The term Quality in business is coiled back in the 13th Century in medieval Europe, when guilds are found. The use of quality at that time is basically to set up a standard which needs to be followed in product inspection. Guild is a union of craftsmen which follow the same guideline to make quality products. These products will be inspected individually before they become available in the market. If a product is deemed not good enough, it will be removed or destroyed. There are usually marks or symbols to mark the product which comes from the guild, which represent the craftsmanship of their workers and the reputation of the guild. This is considered the foundation of Quality in business.
Concept of Quality in Business
There are so many ways to define what Quality in Business is. From qualitative to quantitative perspectives, people view it differently. But from a technical point of view, Quality can be defined so many ways. Quality could be explained as “the characteristic of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.” (Quality Glossary, ASQ). From manufacturing perspective, Quality is a fulfillment of requirements that was assigned to. But from customer’s perspective, it is the standard which they set up and require to be appeased, meaning, the performance of the product or service compare to their expectation. One of the most notable quality management author, Phil B. Crossby, in his book “Quality is Free” (1979), he viewed Quality as “conformance for requirements” and it requirements are coming from both producers and customers. To simplify, Quality could be explained as follow:
The meaning of this quantification can be understood as a product or service quality can work better or worse than requirements or expectation. If a product or service achieved a score greater than 1, it indicates that the product or service quality is acceptable. This could be our basis to explore the world of quality although the equation does not tell the whole story on what lies underneath these perceptions. To fully understand the concept of Quality and how it could impact the way we manage its actual impact, it is useful to start looking at the managerial approach to quality from the beginning of time to this day.