Quality has been in my mind a lot this week. One way or another I have seen and heard some great stuff. And I was also frustrated and challenged by the bad things. At the end I felt I had a little bit of clarity. Real quality is three elements. Function, context and time. And it matters above all else.
For example, I spoke at a conference on Enterprise Mobility Management on Thursday. I was pleasantly surprised by the clarity and quality of the early speakers. A few hours later I was listening to the car radio. A discussion about sustainable fashion. The show included the bald statement that good quality can only be found in expensive brands. What rubbish. Why broadcast nonsense like this.
On another car journey I spent a couple of hours chatting to my old boss. I learned everything about leadership to deliver quality from Jeff. We had a great conversation. I was able to reflect on some simple truths about quality that apply in every aspect of business and life.
It just has to do the job. Well. Style never beats substance. In every walk of life that means engineering. A complex professional service needs to be engineered just as much as a Formula 1 car. Engineering is a continuous process. Make your product as good as it can be. Then improve it every day.
Put the right thing in the right place in the right way. Great design flows and links together. The elements feed off each other. As well as each individual piece standing out.
I am watching the US Open Golf from Chambers Bay as I write this. The course is carved out of an old gravel pit on the shores of Puget Sound in Washington. It could look artificial or industrial. Instead Robert Trent Jones has created a natural, wild links. Just enough nurture to make it playable and no more. Awesome.
Quality also reflects and advances its place in history and society. The best is timeless yet of its own time. I have written before about the co-working space I sometimes use in Govan. In its glory days the building was the head office of Fairfield’s. One of the great clyde shipyards. Today the ground floor is a heritage centre which reflects the era when this was the engineering centre of the world. Everything in its own time.
Whatever your business, quality should always be front of mind. Our connected world means everyone is competing against the best in the world. This is a great thing for mankind. Good enough is never enough. Only the best will thrive and we will all benefit.
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Kenny Fraser is the Director of Sunstone Communication and a personal investor in startups.