Published here September 2013.

Introduction | Demming, Juran and Crosby | Academic Perspectives
Industry Perspectives | LinkedIn Discussion Group Views
What Have We Learned? | Conclusion


Another long-running discussion on LinkedIn[1] has raised questions surrounding the subject of "Quality". The original question was: "Do you think 'Quality' first or 'Project Management' first?" This question is of course ambivalent, as we shall see, but that didn't stop a range of ardent responses from some of the best brains and talent in the business. As a result, collectively, these responses amount to a valuable lesson on the subject. And this is our attempt to capture the most interesting observations.

What is the generally accepted definition of just plain "quality"? According to the Proximity/Merriam-Webster U.S. English Thesaurus, and other similar on-line Thesaurus, quality may be viewed from several perspectives.

As an adjective:

  1. Meritoriously near the standard or model and eminently good of its kind
  2. Of the very top quality

As a noun:

  1. The highest stratum of a society
  2. A usually high level of merit or superiority
  3. A level of excellence or distinction
  4. A degree of excellence
  5. Something that gives especial worth or value
  6. Inherent and distinctive
  7. Rating or positioning in relation to others (as in a social order, community, class, or profession)
  8. A peculiar and essential character, nature, or feature

From these we see that so far as common understanding goes, there are two distinct implications. Most of these definitions give the impression of something being near the top on a scale of "goodness". Only nouns #7 & 8 imply quality as being anywhere on a scale of poor to best. This finding is important because it very much colors our understanding of the topic in relation to project management.


1. Over 260 entries as of 7/28/13.
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