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5 perspectives of quality by Garvin

Quality is a quite wide word that has a lot of meanings and for different people often means different things. In this article, I want to focus on approach that quality can be seen from different perspectives

David Garvin in his book Managing Quality described the five perspectives of quality:

  • transcendent - it means that quality is hard to define. It's quite blurred to define. It's like I can’t define it, but I know when I see it.. The examples of this point of view are: "I love this product", "I feel beautiful" (after usage of some cosmetic). It's mainly feelings about something.
  • product-based - from another hand, this perspective is about measured how good is the product. And it's an impartial thing, far away from how the customer feels about this product. It's answer a question: how does the product work? The product based scenario based on some hard data, e.g. how fast it restart, or how much time left between failures, etc. Limitation, in that case, is that the higher quality of the product can't ensure that the people will like the product. This perspective doesn't care about customers individual taste or preference.
  • manufacturing-based - it relates to the production and engineering requirements. When we think about quality from a manufacturing point of view we want to set up the requirements, specifications, and technology inside the company. Improvement there is for example to reduce scratch. Quality, in this case, cares about how manufacturing process looks like. The customer doesn't see this inside work. And he or she wants to reduce production costs by reducing quality from manufacturing perspective. It's quite a dangerous situation.
  • user-based - it's about how product fulfill the customer needs and expectations. It's also quite tricky because customers have a wide spectrum of interests, needs, and expectations. We have to choose if we want to deeply satisfy a few customers or partially satisfy many customers.
  • value-based - quality from value-based perspective is about costs and price. What cost/price will be acceptable in this case.

Garvin in his book said that we can not think about quality from only one perspective. There always are a least few perspectives that we need to carry off on different levels.

The article was written based on:

  • Garvin, David A. Managing Quality: The Strategic and Competitive Edge. New York: Free Press, 1988. Print.
  • Definition of Quality, totalqualitymanagement.wordpress.com, June 2009
  • Bo Bergman and Bengt Klefsjö, Quality: From Customer Needs to Customer Satisfaction. McGraw-Hill, 1994.