Quality is now something most people can take for granted. The products they buy and services they enjoy perform to high levels of reliability and quality year on year. But it wasn’t always that way! We arrived here through the incremental improvement of our technology and processes over many decades. At better than 6 sigma hardware components now provide us with quality vehicles, phones, computers, food, clothing, services and lives. But we cannot relax!
Quality is not a destination, it is the lifeblood of what we do and achieve, and we are approaching a new and very different era sometimes defined as the ‘Second Industrial Revolution’. This involves the printing and programing of materials as opposed to the smelting, molding, machining and laborious assembly of components into ‘products’. And as this far more evolutionary and eco friendly time now approaches, it also offers the only visible route to global sustainability through the minimization of energy and material use, whilst achieving a near 100% recycling.
Mother nature optimizes nothing, she looks to the survival of ‘The Fortunate’ and achieves this by targeting ‘Good Enough‘ solutions and levels of performance. This model fits well with our anticipated future of rapid change, shortened usage lifetimes, and knowledge creation rates that will make it impossible for any of us to keep up to date with developments. Today Medical Doctors see a knowledge half life of 5 years, Physicists enjoy 13 years, but technologists get only 1 year if they are lucky! This is already manifest in the traffic and activity on The Internet and in The Cloud, with Social Networking/Working, BYOD, and the migration of innovation to the edge of networks. The emergence of AI information systems and distributed manufacturing is also running in parallel.
So, our challenge is now to anticipate, adapt, and change in advance of the technology driven changes to come. For sure, quality and quality systems will be drastically different in another 30 years. Quality taken for granted will have to become quality at speed!