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Rita McGrath cited at The

In the November issue in an article entitled Before you measure quality, define it, Rita McGrath is cited as follows:

…[McGrath] is the co-author of MarketBusters: 40 Strategic Moves that Drive Exceptional Business Growth, and an Associate Professor at the Columbia Business School, specializing in innovation, strategy and corporate growth. McGrath says quality is not being perfect on every dimension of everything and quality for its own sake is not valuable.

More to the point, says McGrath, customer satisfaction doesn’t bear a direct linear relationship to purchasing propensity ? instead, “it’s a curve with a vast ‘zone of indifference’ between poor quality and great quality.” All too many manufacturers get stuck traveling along that zone, she says, providing products that are better than acceptable, but not getting to “wow.”

“When customers are looking for ‘quality’ all too often they are happy enough with good enough; when manufacturers go on a quality kick, it is all too easy to overshoot the needs of customers and invest heavily in quality that adds nothing to the bottom line,” says McGrath.

Thus, says McGrath, rule #1 for investing in quality is to think through how a particular quality investment will do one or both of two things:

Improve a key performance metric that drives your own operational efficiency or productivity; or

Improve a key aspect of your offering that customers will notice and pay more for, either through margins or volume.

With respect to customers, McGrath says you can think of quality in terms of three questions:

Is your performance so poor that customers experience strong negative feelings? In that case, an investment is probably worthwhile.

Is your performance “good enough” because improving it won?t drive customers to buy more? In that case, why bother, unless it saves you time or money.

Is there something you could improve with a quality initiative that would elicit a “wow” reaction from the customer? In this case, it is worth seriously considering.

To read the entire article, go to

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