It has been said that one of the greatest attributes of humankind is the want and need to bring order to and better understand the universe and our place in it. To do this, we have qualified, quantified, and categorized just about everything around us and analyzed and ranked the relationships among just about all things. 

Take for instance the discipline of biology. Every living thing has been divided and subdivided into genus and species and we have been able to record their interactions among each other. We have even been able to use this knowledge to rank all living things, for example, the food chain.

This is even true of less tangible things. Jeremy Bentham, a late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century English philosopher, championed individual and economic freedoms. He believed our decisions were governed by the degree of pain and/or pleasure we derived as a consequence and tried to qualify and quantify these experiences to better inform our decisions, to in essence, bring value to things.

This idea is quite evident in a great many things today, including economics and business, where we have qualified and quantified the strength of entire economies and the individuals and companies within them with market cap valuations, consumer confidence indexes, and gross domestic product.

The idea of categorizing and ranking people to better inform our decision making also is prevalent today. Businesses and the military use hierarchies so that information flows from the bottom to the top as to influence decisions that will subsequently flow back down.

A great example of ranking happened just recently during an evening in May with the NBA Lottery. For those unfamiliar, the lottery is part of the process used to determine the order for the draft, the opportunity for teams to select young talent just entering the league. Like many drafts, the order of selection is determined by a ranked order, a reverse order actually, where the team with the worst record from the preceding season chooses first, and so on.

The NBA adds a little excitement with its lottery. Briefly and according to, “Fourteen ping-pong balls are labeled 1-14 and placed in a machine to be selected at random. Four balls are selected to create a four-digit number. Each team is assigned a different percentage of those four-digit numbers depending on how terrible their record was last season.” As one can imagine, the behind-the-scenes qualifying and quantifying must be quite consuming.

 That being said, it is not hard to see how quantifying, qualifying, and ranking have become a part of what we do. And for us at Quality, it is not just because we cover metrology and the quality industry…Well, it is a little about that. See for yourself with our annual State of the Profession analysis and everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!