What quality?

One of the first questions that arises when diving into the topic. Whether it is a global organization or a dinner party among friends, quality is always relevant. And like anything that is always current, it also means that you can't rely too much on a single model, perhaps even devised in the past, that can tell the story as it should be comprehensively and in every period.

How cool is that? Finally something that doesn't have to fall under a template or framework. In fact, the difficulty and challenge is really in devising a framework that is agile enough to evolve with the very concept of quality.

With Perspective we have asked this question a thousand times, and always in different ways: the quality of what we do, the quality of a classroom, the quality of an internal process, the quality of content, the quality of the relationship with clients, with participants, with referrers, the quality here, the quality there....

In companies that produce services or make products, there are definitely-at least-three macro aspects to consider when discussing the topic:

- The fundamental quality of what is produced,

- The quality of the experience the user has with the product or service

- and then the quality of the entire INTERNAL part of the organization, which makes it possible to generate the value for the customer, be it in a product or associated with a service.

These three aspects, carried over to the dinner example we mentioned at the beginning, can be traced back to the three types above, respectively,

- To the quality of the food and drink I offer my friends,

- To the quality of the dining experience that my friends have at my home

- and the quality of the whole process that allows the two things above to be able to be fulfilled. Specifically, reasoning out a menu and a "setting" of the rooms, ensuring that the organization and preparation of the food and drinks is smooth, with the right sequence and the right resources put in place, preparing the house so that cleanliness, order, design, small and large extras that make the evening special are guaranteed....

The three qualities should be able to make us say: my friends attended a quality dinner.

Hence the question of questions: but do they, do they feel the same way? Do they have the same parameters to be able to say that they perceived the same quality?


This year, as Perspective, we decided to ask another question, this time from a different perspective (and we always feel strong about perspectives), one that perhaps we had never actually explored in depth.

Of course, we always wondered what was the way to work with quality, to produce quality services, and we always found some system to evaluate internally what we were doing. But.

- What do our customers really think?

- What is their perception and definition of quality?

- Can we align on the concept of quality, or by the nature of the system can the concept of quality of a user perhaps always be different than that of the provider?  

We started from here, and in our 2023 quality control process we emphasized that the definition of the word quality would be given to us by our own customers.

We began a campaign of interviews with loyal and regular customers asking them primarily one question: what do you look for in a quality supplier? Our stakeholders felt very involved and gladly participated in this survey, beginning with us a path of definition and then evaluation that is now in prototype go-live (experimentation for structured testing and continuous improvement) lasting one semester.

How did this process develop?

We collected all the clients' responses and tried to group them into clusters representing about ten thematic areas. These included the classic "innovative content," "innovative mode," "choosing an effective team of trainers," but also less obvious items such as "managing contingencies," "ability to get into the skin of the customer."

Once the responses were clustered, we translated these customer-dictated "criteria" into user stories(terminology borrowed from the agile world to describe conditions, requirements for a product's success) that we explored from the perspective of our three internal organizational units: the sales department, business support, and the designer/trainer team.

A key element that has allowed us to grow a lot from our previous internal quality processes has been precisely recognizing how much a few simple criteria relate the entire organization. Viewed from the customer's perspective, these criteria describe two levels of quality (distinct from the 3 macro areas described earlier):

-a "front-end" level that the customer perceives and can therefore also evaluate directly

-and a "back-end" layer that allows that first layer to be supported/guaranteed. However, the back-end remains disassociated from the quality control of internal processes, which follows another stream of work within our organizational processes; this is because we want to minimize the type of sub-criteria, activities and processes that need to be optimized to an absolute minimum, in order to be able to ensure the achievement of those "user stories" that the customer values and demands.

These user stories have naturally generated, in our quality management meetings, some specific semi-quantitative indicators that we are beginning to monitor, with an evaluation process that follows individual projects in place step by step. This has allowed us to build a dashboard, an overall quality control panel, which integrates constantly evolving data and can present them through flexible filters: by client, by project, by quarter and so on.

The customer perspective of quality thus constitutes our mantra for the year 2023. At the end of the first Perspective Quality Index (PQI) prototype we will return to our customer base to compare their perceptions with our indicators and thus estimate the validity of the evaluation process. We are well aware that the journey is in its infancy and many of our assumptions may be debunked, but the agile and experimental approach puts us in a position to guide the evolution of the process and use the learnings as a baseline for the next phase.


-Practice doesn't make better, practice makes permanent -

Vince Lombardi, American Football coach