Monday, December 01, 2008

Achieving Quality

In a previous blog entry, I mentioned how an ideal worker would always strive for quality in whatever he does. How does one go about achieving that?

There are a couple of things that one can do to guarantee outstanding results:

1. Strive to over-achieve
The surest way of guaranteeing quality is to over-exceed it.  If you are working with a client, try to understand clearly what are his expectations. If you fail to do this properly, you will always risk falling short.

Some clients don't exactly know what they want, so getting it right can be difficult. That is why it is extremely important to set a very high standard for yourself. Never compromise, even if you think the client has very low expectations. Always set a very high bar for yourself. Only by overachieving, do you have a margin for error.

2. Pay attention to details
Details make all the difference between a mediocre and a quality piece of work. Pay attention to things that you'd think people won't bother to notice. Even if you feel that your client is not one who would fuss over certain tiny details, never overlook them.

Details always matter subconsciously. For example, even without reading the content of a proposal, the collective effect of proper chapter organization, the right choice of fonts and carefully chose diagrams and images already exudes a feeling of "quality".

Professionalism means never compromising on the little details that make a piece of work stand out. Never cut corners, always assume that your work will be subjected to the scrutiny of an expert or a connoisseur.

3. Leave no stones unturned
Never assume. Explore every possibility, no matter how remote. The consumers of your product will use it in ways that you could never imagine. So strive to consider all the "impossible" scenarios, and tackle them proactively.

For example, a computer programmer will always try to come up with a user-interface that takes the dumbest user into consideration. At the same time he will also provide shortcuts for the power user to easily access his frequently use functions. Nothing impresses a customer more than to find out that the creator has taken the trouble to consider scenarios that are considered highly unlikely.

If you adhere to these few simple principles, you can be assured that the results will stand a good chance of being of "good quality".  Sure, quality requires a lot of hardwork. But it's worth every ounce of your sweat. For what is the purpose of work, if not to produce something of good quality?

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