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Jul 8, 2024

In this episode, Bill Bellows and Andrew Stotz discuss David Garvin's 8 Dimensions of Quality and how they apply in the Deming world. Bill references this article by Garvin:


0:00:02.4 Andrew Stotz: My name is Andrew Stotz, and I'll be your host as we continue our journey into the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Today, I'm continuing my discussion with Bill Bellows, who has spent 31 years helping people apply Dr. Deming's ideas to become aware of how their thinking is holding them back from their biggest opportunities. This is the Misunderstanding Quality series, episode two, The Eight Dimensions of Quality. Bill, take it away.


0:00:30.4 Bill Bellows: Welcome back, Andrew. Great to see you again. All right, episode two, we're moving right along. So in episode one, which the title I proposed, waiting to see what comes out, the title I proposed was, Quality, Back to the Start. And that was inspired by some lyrics from Coldplay. Anyway, but this is a, it's going back to my start in quality and last time I mentioned discovering Taguchi's work long before I discovered Dr. Deming. In fact, Gipsie Ranney, who is the first president of the Deming Institute, the nonprofit formed by Dr. Deming and his family just before he passed away, and Gipsie became the first president and was on the board when I was on the board for many years. And I spoke with her nearly every day, either driving to work or driving home. And once, she calls me up and she says, "Bill," that was her Tennessee accent, "Bill."


0:01:50.5 BB: She says, "It says on The Deming Institute webpage that you infused Dr. Taguchi's work into Dr. Deming's work," something like that, that I... Something like I infused or introduced or I brought Taguchi's work into Deming's work, and I said, "Yes." I said, "Yeah, that sounds familiar." She says, "Isn't it the other way around?" That I brought Deming's work into Taguchi's work. And I said, "No, Gipsie," I said, "It depends on your starting point. And my starting point was Dr. Taguchi." But I thought it was so cool. She says, "Bill don't you have it? Don't you... " She is like, "Isn't it the other way around?" I said, "No, to me, it was all things Taguchi, then I discovered Dr. Deming." But I was thinking earlier before the podcast, and I walked around putting together how, what I wanna talk about tonight. And I thought, when I discovered Taguchi's work, I looked at everything in terms of an application of Dr. Taguchi's ideas.


0:03:29.7 AS: And one question about Taguchi for those people that don't know him and understand a little bit about him, was he... If I think about where Dr. Deming got at the end of his life, it was about a whole system, the System of Profound Knowledge and a comprehensive way of looking at things. Was Taguchi similar in that way or was he focused in on a couple different areas where he really made his contribution?


0:04:03.9 BB: Narrower than Dr. Deming's work. I mean, if we look at... And thank you for that... If we look at Dr. Deming's work in terms of the System of Profound Knowledge, the elements of systems psychology, variation, theory of knowledge, Taguchi's work is a lot about variation and a lot about systems. And not systems in the sense of Russ Ackoff systems thinking, but variation in the sense of where's the variation coming from looking upstream, what are the causes of that variation that create variation in that product, in that service?


0:04:50.9 BB: And then coupled with that is that, how is that variation impacting elsewhere in the system? So here I am receiving sources of variation. So what I deliver it to you has variation because of what's upstream of me and Taguchi's looking at that coupled with how is that variation impacting you? So those are the systems side, the variation side. Now, is there anything in Deming, in Taguchi's work about psychology and what happens when you're labelling workers and performance appraisals and, no, not at all.


0:05:37.6 AS: Okay, got it.


0:05:38.4 BB: Is there anything in there about theory of knowledge, how do we know that what we know is so? No, but there's a depth of work in variation which compliments very much so what Dr. Deming was doing. So anyway, so no. And so I discovered Taguchi's work, and I mentioned that in the first episode. I discovered his work, became fascinated with it, started looking at his ideas in terms of managing variation to achieve incredible... I mean, improved uniformity to the extent that it's worthwhile to achieve. So we were not striving for the ultimate uniformity, it's just the idea that we can manage the uniformity. And if we... And we'll look at this in more detail later, but for our audience now, if you think of a distribution of the variation in the performance of a product or a service, and you think in terms of... It doesn't have to be a bell-shaped distribution, but you have a distribution and it has an average and it has variation.


0:06:50.4 BB: What Dr. Taguchi's work is about in terms of a very brief, succinct point here in episode two is how might we change the shape of that distribution? How might we make it narrower, if that's a worthwhile adventure? It may be worthwhile to make it wider, not just narrower, but in both cases, we're changing the shape of the distribution and changing the location. So Taguchi's work, Taguchi's Methods, driven by variation comes to me, variation impacts you is how do I change the shape and location of that distribution? So on a regular basis, as I became more fascinated with that, I started thinking about, well, how might I apply Taguchi's ideas to these things that I encountered every day? Well, prior to that before discovering Taguchi's work, when I was a facilitator in problem solving and decision making training, I did the same thing, Andrew.


0:07:52.4 BB: I started looking at, oh, is this a problem? Is this a decision? Is this a situation that needs to be appraised? And so prior to that, what I was thinking about is when I was just a heat transfer analyst working on my Ph.D., I didn't look at how the heat transfer stuff affected all these other aspects of my lives. I didn't think about it when I went into a supermarket, but there was something about the problem solving and decision making that just infatuated me. And I would look at, oh, is Andrew talking about a decision or is Andrew talking about a problem? So I started hearing things. And so when I went into Taguchi's work, it was the same thing. And then shifting into Deming's work, it's the same thing. And I've... There's nothing else that I've studied that I look at things through those lenses. Anyway, so in studying, getting exposed to Taguchi, I mentioned that I had some time away from work, I went out on medical for some reasons and went and bought a book, a bunch of books.


0:09:02.4 BB: And one of the books I bought by David Garvin had come out in 1987, is entitled "The Eight Dimensions of Quality." There's a Harvard Business Review article that I wanna reference in this episode, and I'll put a link to the article. It's a free link. And so when you hear people talk about a quality product or a quality service or quality healthcare. We think in terms of it's quality as things, it's either good quality or bad quality or high quality, or somebody calls it low quality, or we just say it's a quality product. But what does that mean? So what I find is very loosely, we think in terms of categories of quality, good, bad, high, low. What we'll look at in a future episode is what would happen if we thought about quality on a continuum, which I believe Taguchi's work really demonstrates vividly as well as Dr. Deming's work.


0:10:07.4 BB: But even to back up before we talk about the eight dimensions of quality, I wanted to give some background on the word quality. The word quality, and this comes from an article and I'll put a link to this article, I wrote it for the Lean Management Journal a number of years ago, the word quality has Latin roots, beginning as qualitas, T-A-S, coined by the Roman philosopher and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero. He later became an adversary of this bad guy named Mark Antony. You've heard of him. Feared by Antony, this guy was feared by Antony because his power of speech led, you know what it led to, Andrew, his power of speech?


0:10:54.5 AS: What?


0:10:54.6 BB: His beheading.


0:10:55.8 AS: Oh my goodness.


0:10:56.5 BB: So for those of you with great powers of speech, watch out for your Mark Antony. But meanwhile, he introduced fellow Romans to the vocabulary of qualitas, quantitas, quantity, humanitas, humanities, essentia, which is, essence, he also is credited with an extensive list of expressions that translate into English today. Difference, infinity, science, morale. Cicero spoke of qualitas with his peers when focusing on the essential nature, character or property of an object. And this is kind of interesting. I mean, you can count how many apples do we have. And again, he came up with the term quantitas for quantity, but he is also talking about the essence of the apples. That's the quality word. And then 2000 years later when writing "The New Economics", Dr. Deming provided his definition and a little bit different.


0:12:05.3 BB: He says, "The problem anywhere is quality. What is quality?" Says the good doctor, "A product or service possesses quality if it helps somebody, it enjoys a good and sustainable market." And I said in the article, "As with Cicero, Deming saw quality as a property." And then some other background on quality before I talk about Garvin, "long after Cicero and well before Deming, quality as a property was a responsibility of guilds." Guilds. I mean, now we have writers guilds, we have actors guilds, and it's kind of cool that these guilds still exist and they are associations of artisans who control the practice of their craft, each with a revered trademark. So here in Los Angeles, we have writers guilds, actors guilds. They were organized as professional societies, just like unions.


0:13:00.2 BB: And these fraternities were developed, and within these fraternities they created standards for high quality. All right. So what is this quality management stuff from David Garvin? So this article was written 37 years ago and reviewing it for tonight's episode and I thought it fit in really, really well. I was reminded of... First time I read this article, 1989, I knew a lot about... Well, I knew, I was excited about Taguchi as I knew a lot about Taguchi, didn't know a lot about Dr. Deming. So I'm now reviewing it years later with a much deeper, broader Deming perspective than at that time. But I do believe, and I would encourage the listeners to get ahold of the article, look at it, if you wanna go into more depth, there's Garvin's book. And doing some research for tonight, I found out that he passed away in 2017, seven or so years ago.


0:14:04.6 BB: He was, I guess from, most of his career and education he was at the Harvard Business School, very well respected there. And so in the article it talks about, again, this, 1987, that's the era of Total Quality Management. That's the era in which Dr. Deming was attracting 2000 people to go to his seminars. 1987 is two years before Six Sigma Quality, two years before “The Machine That Changed The World.” And in the article, he says, "Part of the problem, of course, is that Japanese and European competition have intensified. Not many companies tried to make quality programs work even as they implemented them." This is back when quality was an era of quality circles. He says, "In my view, most of the principles about quality were narrow in scope. They were designed as purely defensive measures to preempt failures or eliminate defects, eliminate red beads."


0:15:10.3 BB: "What managers need now is an aggressive strategy to gain and hold markets with high quality," there we go again, "as a competitive linchpin." All right. So in the article, he has some interesting explanations of... Highlights. In the book is more depth. He talks about Joseph Juran, "Juran's Quality Handbook". Juran observed that quality could be understood in terms of avoidable and unavoidable costs. Dr. Deming talked about the economics. The New Economics, right? But Juran is looking at avoidable, unavailable costs resulting from defects in product failures. That's very traditional quality today.  The latter associated with prevention, inspection, sampling, sorting, quality control. And so this is what I found fascinating, is 37 years later, this is still the heavy sense of what quality is all about. Avoiding failure, avoiding defects.


0:16:18.3 BB: Then he talks about Total Quality Control coming from Armand Feigenbaum, who was a big name in the '80s. Again Dr. Deming's work kind of created this big quality movement but it wasn't just Dr. Deming people discovered, they discovered Philip Crosby in a Zero Defects advocacy, Feigenbaum, Juran, sometime later. Again, mid '80s, Dr. Taguchi's name started to be heard. All right. And then the reliability. All right. Now I wanna get into the... Oh, here's, this is good. "In 1961, the Martin Corporation, Martin Company was building Pershing missiles for the US Army. The design of the missile was sound, but Martin found that it could maintain high quality only through massive inspection programs."


0:17:13.0 BB: You know what Dr. Deming would say about inspection? It's after the fact. Sorting the good ones from the bad ones after the fact. No prevention there. But Martin found that it could only do it with inspection. And decided to offer... Again, this is 1961, and this is still the solution today, decided to offer workers incentives to lower the defect rate. And in December, 1961, delivered a Pershing missile to Cape Canaveral with zero discrepancies. Buoyed by this success, Martin's general manager in Florida accepted a challenge issued by the Army's missile command to deliver the first Pershing missile one month ahead of schedule. He went even further, he promised that the missile would be perfect. Perfect. You know what that means, Andrew?


0:18:12.3 AS: Tell us.


0:18:12.8 BB: All good, not bad.


0:18:14.9 AS: All good, not bad.


0:18:15.9 BB: He promised missile would be perfect with no hardware problems or document errors, and that all equipment would be fully operational 10 days after delivering. And so what was neat in going back to this is we still have this mindset that quality is about things being good, not bad. What is bad we call that scrap, we call that rework. That's alive and well today.


0:18:45.0 AS: The proclamations are interesting when you listen to what he's saying, when you're quoting that.


0:18:52.4 BB: Yeah, no, and I remember, 'cause again, I read this recently for the first time in 37 years and I'm going through it. And at the time I was thinking, "Wow, wow, wow, this is a really big deal. This is a really big deal." Now I look at it and say, "This is what we're still talking about today, 37 years later." The absence of defects is the essence of quality. All right. But so I would highly recommend the article. Now we get into what he proposes as eight critical dimensions of quality that can serve as a framework for strategic analysis. And I think even in a Deming environment, I think it's... I think what's really cool about this is it provides a broad view of quality that I think Deming's work fits in very well to, Dr. Taguchi's work fits in very well to, and I think covers a lot of what people call quality. So the first dimension he talks about is performance.


0:20:01.4 BB: And he says, "Of course, performance refers to a product's primary operating characteristics." He says, "For an automobile, performance would include traits like acceleration, handling, cruising speed. For a television, sound and picture clarity." He says "A power shovel in the excavation business that excavates 100 cubic yards per hour will outperform one that excavates 10 cubic yards per hour." So the capacity, that could be miles per gallon, carrying capacity, the resolution of the pixels, that's what he calls performance. Okay. Features is the second dimension of quality. Examples include free drinks on an airplane, but not if you're flying a number of airlines they charge you for those drinks, permanent press cycles on a washing machine, automatic tuners on a color television set. A number of people in our audience won't know what those are, bells and whistles. Features are bells and whistles.


0:21:17.2 BB: There was a time people would say the number of cup holders in your automobile, a feature could be intermittent wipers. So these are features. So again, I mean, so performance is kind of cool. What is the capacity, is it 100 horsepower, 200 horsepower, that's performance. Features, bells and whistles. Okay. Fine. Reliability, now we're talking. The dimension represents the probability of a product malfunctioning or failing within a specified period of time. So your car breaking down, are you gonna drive to work every day and one morning you're gonna go out and it's... That's a reliability issue. Okay. That's... When I think about reliability, that's a Taguchi thing, that's a Deming thing.  And looking at time between failures, okay, fine. Reliability comes down to... And if importance for the impact of downtime, if you're looking at engines not working and you're sitting at the gate, that's a reliability issue. The reliability is, it can be repaired, but it's gonna take some time, perhaps. Conformance. All right.


0:22:40.4 AS: Is number four, right?


0:22:42.2 BB: This is number four, a related dimension of quality is conformance or the degree to which a product's design and operating characteristics meet established standards. "This dimension owes to the importance of traditional approaches," it says, "to quality pioneers such as Juran." All products and services involve specifications of some sort. When new designs or models are developed, dimensions are set for parts or purity, these specifications are normally expressed as a target or a center. Now it's starting to sound a little bit like Dr. Taguchi's work, an ideal value, deviance from the center within a specified range. But this approach equates good quality with operating inside the tolerance band. There is little interest in whether the specifications have been met exactly. For the most part, dispersion within specifications is ignored. Ignored. That's balls and strikes, Andrew, balls and strikes.


0:23:51.2 BB: As long as the ball is somewhere in the strike zone, as long as the characteristic is somewhere within requirements, conformance, this gets into what I talk about in terms of the question number one of quality management. Has the requirement been met, the requirement for the performance, the dimension, is it within requirements? And there's only two answers, yes or no. That's conformance. I used to think that the American Society for Quality might be better known as the American Society for the Preservation of Conformance. I find there's a lot of conformance thinking. I'm reminded of, I'm a member of the American Society for Quality as I'm on the Deming Medal Committee, so I have to be a member of ASQ. So I get a daily or every other day newsletter with comments and conformance is a big part of the conversation. Good parts and bad parts, scrap and rework. All right.


0:25:02.3 BB: Conformance is number four. And it's not to say there isn't a place for the conformance, but conformance is then again different from what Dr. Taguchi is talking about. All right. Durability, the measure of a product life. Durability has both economic and technical dimensions. Durability is how long does it work before I throw it away? So reliability is about, I can repair it. Okay. And that's an inconvenience. Durability is like light bulbs. It runs and runs or a refrigerator and someone says, "Well, it’s time for a new one." That's a durability issue. Okay. Durability is the amount of use you get before you haul it off to the junkyard. That's durability. Okay. Serviceability. And back in the '60s, now I'm dating myself, there would be commercials for... I don't know which television brand, but what they talked about is, and these would be commercials. Commercials on television as to "our TV is easy to repair." And I thought, is that a good thing?




0:26:22.4 AS: Is that a foreboding?


0:26:24.4 BB: Yeah. And so... But again, the last couple of days I had to fix the sprinkler system in the backyard. And here in California we have, everybody has a sprinkler system. In the East Coast, people have above ground sprinkler systems. Here, they're all below ground. You don't have to worry about the lines freezing, at least in Los Angeles. And so anyway, one of the valves broke and I thought I was gonna buy a new one and take some of the parts from the new one to put it into the old one. And that didn't quite work. And so meaning to say, serviceability on the design was awful. I couldn't service it.


0:27:11.5 BB: I had to replace the whole damn thing, which was a lot more work than I was expecting. Anyway, however they designed it, serviceability didn't seem to be a consideration in the... That's dimension number six. Again, not to say there's anything wrong with thinking about serviceability. In terms of... Yeah. Okay, I'll leave it with that. Okay, serviceability. Number seven, aesthetics. The final two dimensions of quality are the most subjective, aesthetics, how a product looks, feels, sounds, taste, or smells is clearly a matter of personal judgment. Nevertheless, there seem to be patterns, a rich and full flavor aroma.


0:28:01.0 BB: That's got nothing to do with Dr. Taguchi's work. I mean, you can go off and do market research, find out what is the most appealing flavor, the most appealing taste, the most appealing aroma. And this is what I used to tell students is, and once you understand that or that vivid color that attracts the customer, then you could use Dr. Taguchi's work for, how can I reliably, predictably recreate, week after week, day by day, car by car, that aroma, that flavor, but Taguchi's work is not gonna tell you what it is. And then the last dimension of quality, you ready, Andrew?


0:28:45.8 AS: Give it to me, Bill.


0:28:47.7 BB: Perceived quality. "Consumers do not always have complete information on a product's attributes and direct measure is maybe their only basis. A product's durability can seldom be observed." And so we talk about perceptions of quality. Again, this is 1987, he says, "For this reason, Honda, which makes cars in Marysville, Ohio, and Sony, which builds color TVs have been reluctant to publicize that their products..." Ready? "Are made in America." Because the perception in 1987 is we want them to be made in Japan. And then we could talk about the perception of Cadillac quality, the perception of Jaguar quality.


0:29:35.7 BB: My father's gas station back in the early '70s, it was a block away from the nearby hospital. So a lot of our customers were doctors and they came in in their Cadillacs and Mercedes. And it was just a lot of fun. It was pretty cool. And one doctor against all of his peers' recommendations bought a Jaguar XJ12, V12, 12 cylinders, and they told him again and again, they said, "It'll spend more time in the shop than you driving it." No, no, no, he had to have one, he had to have one. And sure enough, it spent most of the time in the shop, but I got to drive it now and then, which was pretty cool. But that's perceived quality.


0:30:27.5 BB: So I just wanted to, in this episode, throughout those eight dimensions of quality. Again, I encourage our listeners, viewers, I think to get a broader sense of quality before you just look at quality from Dr. Deming's perspective, quality from anyone else's. I think that Garvin has done a really good job covering eight bases, if I can use that term, of quality. And then what I think is neat is to look at which of these tie into Deming's work, which of these tie into Dr. Taguchi's work? And that's what I wanted to cover in this episode.


0:31:01.8 AS: Fantastic. Well, let's just review that for the listeners and the viewers out there, eight dimensions. The first one is performance, the second one is features, the third one is reliability, the fourth one is conformance, the fifth one is durability, the sixth one is serviceability, the seventh one is aesthetics, how it feels and all that, and then the eighth one is perceived quality. Woah, that was...


0:31:29.4 BB: All about... Yeah. And it is reputation. You either have a great reputation or not.


0:31:38.3 AS: All right. Well, Bill, on behalf of everyone at the Deming Institute, I want to thank you again for this discussion. For listeners, remember to go to to continue your journey. And if you wanna keep in touch with Bill, just find him on LinkedIn. This is your host, Andrew Stotz, and I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Deming, "People are entitled to joy in work."