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  •  Heh (1+ / 0-)
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    I graduated from a land grant university (guess which one :)) with something less than 2.2 if I recall correctly (I also got straight As in grad school courses - but no degree).

    But you're making my point exactly. The quality of graduates is designated by the minimum standard. Their past or future performance might be measured by GPA. Nothing says you can't set your performance goals (write your specs) to push the envelope or do great things - I couldn't graduate from the same program now with less than a 2.5, I believe. But that's disassociated from measuring the quality of what you produce, which is only a measurement of meeting specs.

    A quality program seeks to produce products with fewer or zero defects - so for example if your school runs tutoring or retention or remedial programs, that's a quality program. It seeks to bring students up to spec.

    If you want graduates with better grades, then you need to tighten up your raw material specs, improve your faculty's teaching methods, choose better textbooks - in short, re-design your product and process to produce better performance. But note that the quality and performance programs take place in different areas, using different techniques.

    A quality program doesn't make a "better" product - it makes fewer defective products. For example, Apple didn't create the Mac by installing statistical quality control, quality circles, better test equipment, automated assembly or whatever. It chose a new processor, incorporated innovative ideas, a GUI, and changed the vision for what a personal computer should be. But it still used standardized components (the 68000 processor, memory, logic, drives, screws, QWERTY keyboard, plastic resins, etc) and standardized software that ran on MacOS, regardless of the Mac model.

    I've never heard anyone suggest the Mac would have been more excellent if, for example, Apple had gone with non-standard electronic components - that would have required more man-years of design and massive investment - and much higher cost.

    The IBM-PC succeeded because it used standardized components; Compaq succeeded because it copied IBM's  standards, and Compaq later bought DEC who failed, even though DEC used a non-standard, proprietary microprocessor in their low-end minis (and DEC eventually produced IBM clones too). And DEC made excellent products (but for a market that ceased to exist).

    I can't think of a formal standard that hinders automotive excellence. A Porsche or a Yugo both use standardized steels, nuts and bolts, fuels and lubricants, pedal and steering wheel arrangement, tire sizes, glass, machining, casting and metalforming techniques, etc. It isn't standardization that makes a Yugo suck and a Porsche excellent.

    It's also poor quality control/reliability on Yugos, but a perfect Yugo still isn't a Porsche and never will be, no matter how many Deming seminars Yugo participates in, and no matter what meta-quality standards they achieve, no matter how many inspections or tests Yugo runs. The design sucks - period. Porsche simply has different specs than Yugo. But a Yugo with a functioning engine will beat a Porsche with a blown engine any time (at least in the flat) - that's what quality (or reliability) measures.

    Here's the ASQ definition of quality:

    Quality: A subjective term for which each person has his or her own definition. In technical usage, quality can have two meanings: 1. the characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs. 2. a product or service free of deficiencies.

    (emphasis added)

    Says nothing about excellence (and I think my definition above performs better, but both have equal quality).

    There is no more New Frontier - we have got to make it here - Henley/Frey

    by badger on Mon May 21, 2007 at 11:41:08 PM PDT

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