Why this Book?

ConPriDigm AvatarThe concept of Quality is integrated into the very fabric of our lives — it is rarely recognized until it’s absence is felt.

For example: We recently leased a car from an organization with an exceptional quality reputation. On the day we picked up the car, the general manager decided to move his financial staff into sales positions and vice versa. No training was involved; it was strictly “on the job training.”  The end result was a financial package that was rejected by the bank and had to be re-written and signed by us three times. For this branch of the organization, quality was not integrated as a conscious thought pattern.  Quality IS knowledge; they failed to comprehend the conceptual pattern and connection. Quality IS also many other things, check out the CONTENTS tab on the menu.

Quality has been defined by some, practiced by most, however; its meaning has eluded all but a few.  According to Ann Lamott “We write to expose the unexposed.  If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must.”  That door, for me, is meaning, and quality is the castle — I propose providing a key for opening the door and conducting an inquiry for management in all functions. The meaning of quality has escaped notice due to the noise and confusion of multiple definitions and practices that are purported to be the harbingers of organization sustainability. This book is written for the 15,250,000 men and women that were reported to be employed in management occupations in 2011 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and for anyone seeking the meaning of quality.

This will be an important book for my community because it will provide the seeds for developing principles that drive unbiased practices. I am not talking about the community of quality assurance or quality control leaders; I am talking about all management in all functions. For example…

  • The purchasing manager that changes a supplier for a part that meets specifications but is so highly variable that it shuts the line down.
  • The human resource manager that decides to base an important change in policy on an unrepresentative sample of employees.
  • The operation manager that ships a product to a new customer, who samples all incoming product using statistical methods, and questions why the shipment is rejected.
  • The engineering manager that uses data from random samples drawn by the quality assurance department to design a new line and then discovers that the line won’t produce product in specification.

These are all problems associated with just one field of knowledge that can be prevented with a few simple conceptual patterns that will drive principles not needing practices. Unbiased practices are principles.

Abraham Kaplan in his book, The Conduct of Inquiry, captured the essence of why we need to create conceptual patterns and express them in theory.

“When we are told the color of a substance we have learned little, but when we are told its chemical composition we have learned a very great deal—all the known reactions that depend on that composition. There is chemistry, as it were, for all things,  and our scientific conceptualizations aim at identifying the elements and compounds of this chemistry. We are caught up in a paradox, one which might be called the paradox of conceptualization.  The proper concepts are needed to formulate a good theory, but we need a good theory to arrive at the proper concepts.”

The color of a substance is a concept and a pattern is a composition. We can identify the proper concepts by creating patterns. Patterns contain the elements and compounds of quality theory. The chemistry, DNA, and the subsequent theory of quality presented on these pages can be used to avoid keeping quality open to interpretation by anyone, at anytime, for any purpose. To reveal meaning, managers, in all functions, need to understand that…

Patrick Lou Kelly, MSQA

 

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What’s in a Definition?

LOGO FINALQuality IS…a pattern of allied concepts.

Why seek meaning in conceptual fields of knowledge and those allied concepts, principles and paradigms that describe and control them and then connect them with a theory?

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We communicate with a language and concepts. Initially, we must seek concept definitions on the path to meaning; however, definitions only provide a foundation.  But, what’s in a definition? Not much and certainly not necessarily meaning. I turn to Paul Elbourne, a distinguished professor of semantics at the University of London. Semantics is the study of how meaning in language is created by the use and interrelationships of words, phrases, and sentences. The following excerpt is from the introduction of his book entitled Meaning, A Slim Guide to Semantics.

“Words are traditionally supposed to have meanings.  Indeed it is widely supposed to be possible to define word meanings. Whole books, called dictionaries, are devoted to listing the definitions of words; and philosophers from Socrates (469-399 BC) and Plato (429-347 BC) onwards have devoted obsessive attention to pinning down the meaning of philosophically interesting words like knowledge, truth, justice, and indeed meaning.  It is important for anyone embarking upon the study of semantics to realize, however, that defining the meaning of a word is an enterprise of almost inconceivable complexity.  Despite 2,400 years of trying, it is unclear that anyone has ever come up with even the simplest.  Certainly the definitions in dictionaries are the merest hints, and are sometimes flat out wrong. A definition is just a string of words. It is unsatisfying, therefore, to say that the meaning of a word is a definition, because that would be to say that the meaning of a word is just more words. It would appear that we are not progressing to any explanatorily deeper level.”

The purpose of my book is to make progress toward achieving an explanatorily deeper level of meaning, utilizing word patterns. Word patterns improve our ability to attach meaning to a concept, permitting a higher level of comprehension. The mechanics of a pattern can be used as a model for a related idea or process such as a thought pattern or a combination of words that formulate a descriptive explanation—the focus of this chapter. Word patterns are built upon multiple definitions from multiple dictionaries which are then aggregated to create a pattern with some of the same characteristics as weather, voting, or traffic patterns.

We are affected by patterns on a day-by-day basis. Traffic patterns can affect our ability to get to work on time, or impede emergency vehicles. Weather patterns cause drought, flood and icy conditions. We follow a pattern everyday when we drive to work. Our pattern helps us predict how long it will take us to get to work in a timely manner. If we change our pattern, we impact our original prediction. Voting patterns are used to predict election outcomes; weather patterns can predict hurricanes and tornados; and traffic patterns can predict traffic jams. The analysis of patterns can lead to prediction and the avoidance of potential problems.

Abraham Kaplan put it this way in, The Conduct of Inquiry.

“According to the pattern model something is explained when it is so related to a set of other elements that together they constitute a unified system. We understand something by identifying it as a specific part in an organized system. The perception of a pattern is what gives the “click of relation” spoken of in connection with the norms of coherence for the validation of a theory. The pattern is not constituted by our seeing it, but has its focus in a network of objective relations.”

But, where can we find effective networks of objective relations?  Where can we find a master pattern that is a unified system?  I will reveal all in my next post.