The Psychology of Quality and More

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Quality Maturity

Maturity is a very important concept in situations of improvement and change, because:

  • Many tools and methods are founded on other knowledge, skills and tools. For example, using QFD would be not very effective if the user was not able to collect and and organize customer needs and requirements. If I know that I am at maturity level X then I can look for tools at maturity level X+1. 
  • Maturity implies knowing. At a low level of maturity, I might try something, but when the chips are down and the panic sets in, I will drop the method because I have not yet been fully convinced of its value to me in all situations.

A small 'Catch 22': it takes maturity to realize the importance of maturity.

Philip Crosby was the originator of the concept of maturity in the area of quality, describing his Quality Management Maturity Grid in his seminal work, 'Quality is Free', where people go through five stages of maturity: 

  1. Uncertainty -- 'Quality problems are the fault of the Quality department.'
  2. Awakening -- 'Quality management might actually fix problems properly.'
  3. Enlightenment -- 'Management and quality people are working together to fix problems.'
  4. Wisdom -- 'Quality management integrated in to the way we do things.' 
  5. Certainty -- 'We do not have quality problems because we understand everything.'

The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) in Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) adopted this 5-stage principle in their Capability Maturity Model (CMM) for managing software projects. One of the key things they added was the listing of tools and techniques at each level. Thus, if I am at level 2, I can find tools on which to focus and am warned off tools which would not be appropriate for me at this stage.

HP also adopted the principle for its Quality Maturity System..

See also:

Change Management, Philip Crosby

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