Is It Insanity?
Or the pursuit of perfection?
Albert Einstein is widely credited as having defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This attribution is refuted by some. For instance, the literature of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous states, “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” While the more specific idea of repeating genuine mistakes and expecting better results would ring true in its logic, the broader definition attributed to Einstein seems to fall short.
After all, a tenet of kinesiology tells us to persist in an activity in order to improve. Eventually, running a distance will condition our body’s capacity to run that distance more efficiently and therefore faster. In the same vein, lifting weights strengthens our muscles. Raising a weight over and over again in the same motion will eventually improve the capacity of those muscles to lift even greater weight.
The same concept can be seen across a host of activities and disciplines—virtually anything that advocates practice. Athletes, businesspersons, and students routinely practice their craft striving for improvement. Ballers shoot jump shots, hitters take batting practice, teams run their plays over and over, all in an attempt to perfect their craft during the game, to make what they are doing second nature or automatic. An application manager or sales representative will practice their pitch to ensure the key points and benefits of a product or application will resonate with potential clients. A student will religiously study the material, committing it to memory for recall during a test, or more importantly, in the real world.
While many students, athletes, and sales reps—all of us, really—may have had occasion to scream in frustration when these activities seem fruitless or difficult, no one discounts the idea of practice or repetition. Granted, the idea of repeating “mistakes” does lead to failure, which would be counted as insanity, making it all that more important that the athlete repeat the proper form of a jump shot, the hitter practice a sound swing, and the student study the correct information. Just envision going in for a heart bypass with a surgeon who hasn’t studied the proper procedures for heart surgery.
As for the sales rep, while it has a lot to do with speaking of the right product for the customer, it also has a lot to do with speaking the customer’s language. As in publishing, it’s about knowing your audience.
Such is the case with the cost of quality. As Associate Editor Ed McMenamin touts in this month’s management article, quality professionals must learn to speak the language of management. He writes, “Cost of quality is often misunderstood, improperly measured, and underutilized. If used to calculate costs incurred by producing bad products and the cost of preventing bad products, the cost of quality can provide transformative information for an organization. Unfortunately, the metric has not infiltrated boardroom thinking and upper-management philosophies in the way Armand Feigenbaum likely imaged when he introduced the core ideas.”
So check out “A Fresh Look at Cost of Quality” and everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.
Enjoy and thanks for reading!