NLP · Uncategorized

The perception of quality – a double-edged sword?


It was a while, but now I am back with a short blog on the subject of QUALITY.

I accidently heard two persons at a train station arguing if the ticket service delivered by a ticked machine was of good quality. There where different opinions depending on if you where the buyer or the employee helping out..

What is quality and how does one get it?

Quality is an often misused word. You can hear “the quality was bad” or “supplier has no sense of quality”.

I personally do not think that a majority of cases actually are caused by a DELIBERATE action to deliver something bad or to behave in a bad way, so what is it all about?

If I had to define the meaning of the word quality, it would be something like this:

Quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a system or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.

So what am I saying here?

If I want to get something from someone and ask for “good quality” I better be precise in describing what that is, do you agree? Some reflections:

  • How do one know that I get ALL those features and characteristics if I don’t express them in a Correct way and how can I explain them in a Consistent way, so they don’t contradict each other? Very often characteristics can stay on collision course… A product can be user friendly, but perhaps not that secure? Or withstand mechanical force, but not being light weight and cheap?
  • And if I shall give you something that fulfils both stated and implied needs, does that mean that I need to be able to read your mind?

No, of cause not, but the next time you argue that the quality is bad, are you sure it’s the other parties fault all together?

The answer is seldom black or white and I want to argue that a good product in one scenario might be a catastrophe in another. It depends…

The answer is to do some proper systems engineering (at least if you work with complex products or services). But, really, anyone would benefit in thinking on the context, the need, the use case(s) and the end goal required.

Try to put boundaries of your problem space and try to express these needs using correct grammar, a defined consistent vocabulary and try for good sake to avoid contradictions that inevitable will increase the possibility for misunderstanding, confusion and errors.

The hardest part is to be complete in your expression of your need. You can not rely on the recipient being able to read your mind. You have to have the receiver of the information in mind!

A high degree of understanding is dependent on semantics, syntax and something language specialists call pragmatism, or how to use the appropriate language dependent on the context. So, its VERY much up to you as the receiver to send the right signals using a proper way of communication.


I want to end by changing an old phrase:

“You get what you ask for”, to:

“you get what the receiver THINK you ask for”.

That’s a huge difference and perhaps the next time you argue on the lack of quality, you should stop and think on your own role in the game…

PS. The customer at the train station was right. The machine SHOULD give you a ticket when you payed for it and the excuse that “it seems to be broken”, did not solve anything in this case.

To be continued

Next time I think I will continue to discuss language and understanding. Its a fascinating subject!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s