For years we have lived and worked by the phrase “Quality over Quantity”. Told that we should always strive for quality over quantity. Looking down upon those who run their business based on quantity (over quality). However, the fact is you actually need both, not one or the other. Because quality is only achieved through quantity. But, for us to push our quality to its highest peak, I believe we need to also shift our mindset. We can do this by adopting a mindset that is hyper-focused on quality. We’ll talk about that more below. But first, let’s take a moment to define the differences between quantity and quality.
1. Quantity is a process of repetition. With each iteration we learn, we improve, and we build upon our skills, processes, and experience.
2. Quality is the measure of our success. It is the rate we use to define our expertise, business, and services. It serves as a goal we continuously work towards to better ourselves.
Both ideas are equally important.
As a perfectionist, self-learner, designer, and developer, there have been a number of times over the years when I knew the product I delivered was not to my standards. Of course, if I had more time, budget, information, engagement, or expertise then maybe this wouldn’t have been the case. But each time I delivered a finished product I learned something new. Because each project was a new iteration of my processes built upon from previous projects; a journey from good to great. But still something was missing and I felt trapped by certain projects. Lacking confidence in myself to trust I had the experience needed to deliver results.
This is where the idea of shifting mindset came into play. The mindset of creating better quality is a combination of critical thinking and iteration. If we can allow ourselves to focus our energy on developing more thought-centric processes and then interject those processes into each iteration, our quality will most certainly improve. What exactly do we mean by processes? The way in which you work; the steps you take from start to finish each time you begin a new project. Have you evaluated your processes recently? Do you feel confident that they’re working for you or your team?
As a designer, I’m all too familiar with the feeling that my work is never finished. It’s a blessing and a curse. It means I care about the work but it also means I can fine-tune it to death, never allowing it to see the light of day. This is a mental battle of quantity versus quality. However, it’s also the defining moment when process can make or break a project. By crafting the ideal process I can guarantee the production of higher quality results, lift the stigma from my shoulders, and complete my tasks with consistency and speed. Inevitably achieving higher quantities as well, because I’ve managed to streamline my methods within the process. All of which is made whole by shifting my mindset to be hyper-focused on quality.
From his manifesto The Importance of Proving Our Expertise, Blair Enns writes “We can also reasonably assume that over time, through trial and error, we would happen upon an efficient approach that allows us to deliver at quality and speed with consistency. In almost any of our repeated endeavors, it is the strength of our processes that drives the consistency of our outcomes. If we want to build deep expertise we must take pains to document how we work, to define how we will work in the future and to continuously refine and improve our approach. Working from a defined process leads to the very consistency of quality that a potential client tries to discern late in the buying cycle, when our role is to reassure”.
Through personal trial and error, we have been able to craft a series of questions and steps that enable our website projects to progress more efficiently and therefore generate higher quality deliverables for our clients. We did this by forcing ourselves to ask more direct questions which lead to conversation. We focused our attention on the “why’s” and “how’s” of our clients business, opening the door for them to engage. Secondly, we began to push the boundaries but made sure we didn’t go over. By encouraging clients to understand our position and experience we’re able to lead the direction of the project, without overshadowing their input or disregarding their knowledge of the industry. Interjecting this way of thinking into our processes has enabled us to embrace a mindset of creating better quality. At the end of the day we feel successful in the quality of work we deliver.
Experiment to determine what will allow you to produce sufficient quantity and higher quality. In the same manner that companies develop prototypes, you are creating versions of your quality, knowing that with each version it will increase. Don’t be afraid to take your new process “to market”.
Remember, our processes are shaped by the mindset we create.
Your goal is to adopt a mindset of creating better quality. Continue to refine and improve your processes through iteration. And next time someone offers critique, do not take it personally. Instead, use it as a challenge to experiment more and deliver better quality the next go around. We would love to hear what processes have helped you create better quality?