Operations Management – Defining Quality

Everyone wants a product or experience that is “high quality,” but stop and consider what that really means. For instance, if someone is in the market for a new car, a high-quality car might denote one that can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just a few seconds. To someone else (perhaps a new parent), a high-quality car might be one with a great safety rating. Yet still to another, a high-quality car might be the most comfortable, most prestigious, the best on gas mileage, or one that rates favorably on any number of attributes or combination of attributes. When thinking about the different types of automobiles described here, also consider that what might be high-quality to one person might not be viewed as such to another.
Indeed, the definition of the term “quality” is subjective. Note that the American Society for Quality, one of the preeminent organizations that deals with quality management, even lists two definitions for the term in its glossary. Although quality can be subjective, one thing is for certain: every customer wants a quality product or service, and therefore every business wants to deliver that quality. If quality is simply the ability to satisfy needs and/or not be rife with deficiencies, then it is difficult to imagine any product or service that does not need to have quality. Thus, regardless of how one wishes to view quality, it is apparent that operations managers must thoroughly understand how to produce high-quality products or services.

Define quality in your own words. Considering your definition and the materials you reviewed this module, why is quality so important to an organization?
Find an example of a company that has experienced a quality problem and describe the situation and its ramifications. Was the problem ever fixed?

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