Sun's Jonathan Schwartz blogs about how his company came up with a simple measure of quality, based on asking customers the following yes or no question: 'Would you recommend Sun?'
"So what defines quality at Sun? Whatever it takes to get a customer to recommend us - quality's in the eye of the beholder (like the government customer that said they wanted more blinking lights on the bezels of our machines to make it easier to impress parliamentary decision makers - no, I'm not joking, and no, I won't tell you which government). It's easy to measure, easy to understand."
Here's what the American Society for Quality has to say about measuring quality. It makes sense to rally around a simple cry--make the customer happy--but who doesn't at least claim to bow down before the customer these days. The challenge is that companies, governments and communities have thousands or millions of moving parts, both human and machine, and constantly changing conditions. Humans aren't genetically programmed, like ants to fulfill their roles in the workplace. Delivering customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, return on capital employee, profit, market share or whatever metric requires complex orchestration from the top down and bottom up. And, you can't give away the farm to keep customers from bolting to competitors.
I guess for Sun that boiling all the notions of quality and success to the simple "recommendation" is preferable to getting stuck in the intricacies of Six Sigma or TQM. As proof the Sun's quality management scheme is working, Schwartz teased that the company would announce Fortune 10 customer next week.