I opened this short series on the Absolutes of Quality with a story about a quality manager who had a brief opportunity to talk to his CEO about the quality situation the organization faced.

His explanation went like this:

“We also have trouble with quality, although they are not quite as dramatic as that other company. However, the cost of error, waste and inefficiency are costing us 15% of our operating costs. Those costs are hidden, but they are there. Making quality happen doesn’t have to cost any more than 2% to 4% of operating cost to pay for a complete, prevention-oriented system. To get there, we need to define quality as ‘conformance to requirements’, not goodness. We need to use prevention to cause quality, and not inspection and rework to deal with the bad stuff. We have to have a culture that encourages every individual to strive for ‘error-free’ performance instead of ‘that’s good enough’. We must measure quality like we measure all things that are really important to management, by calculating the financial cost of quality problems. If we can do that, and if we get management commitment to implementing the things I’ve described, we will avoid the issues that plague our competitor.”

Look closely, and you’ll see the Four Absolutes imbedded in that dialogue.

We’ve covered the Four Absolutes of Quality as originally taught to me by Philip B. Crosby at his “Quality College”. Philip has been gone for years now, but in my continuing career I kept coming back to the wisdom and guidance his Absolutes provided.

A manager who understands and applies the Absolutes will be a notch above managers who don’t understand these concepts. The organization that integrates the Absolutes into its organizational culture will engage employees, develop leaders and satisfy customers. In the end, Quality will improve the bottom line.