Meeting requirements does not grow an organization, meeting discerning demands does. As customers, we must have discerning demands. This is what causes our supplier organizations to grow. So many of us will be able to relate with the growth that our own organizations had, because we had some discerning, demanding customers. These are Premium customers to have, and every supplier is blessed when they have one.
“It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford
Customers who have discerning standards, and demand their standards be met are the reason for learning and growth for their suppliers who (go through the ‘good’) struggle if they are committed to deliver quality. Unless there is something more and better being delivered, it isn’t growth for anyone – neither the individual, nor the supplier, nor the customer. As long as there is something good and better, the ‘more’ makes sense. If the quality isn’t what it could have been, more just means more of the same. This isn’t growth. So what is Quality then?
We’ve heard promotional claims from sales pitches about the quality of products and services that will be offered by a particular supplier – “the world’s best”, “most economical”, “in the shortest possible time”, “easy to work with”, “better than the competition”, “most comfortable”, etc. Of course there’s an asterisk(*) in every case, pointing to the fine print of the T&C (terms & conditions) that apply. In most cases however, we, the consumers (or the customers) convince ourselves to decide to buy those products and services despite some loopholes or risks we may observe in the promises. We take a chance. The suppliers depend on our gullibility to swallow that impossible promise along with the compromises and discounts we may make with our own values or standards. In a sellers’ market, goods are scarce and sellers can keep prices high. And there are enough of us customers in this world.
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” – Ayn Rand
What do we do as consumers when we go through and experience the purchase? We cloak our disappointments in the rationalization we do to let the supplier go scot free, without even them knowing that they fell short. Suppliers couldn’t be happier. We’re lapping up whatever is meted out, maybe happy in the retail therapy it provides us. We compromise our demands for quality.
“I don’t pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages.” – Robert Bosch
There’s always the balance between quality and price to think about. What people may be able to afford, may not be good enough in their opinion. In a buyers’ market, goods are plentiful and buyers can keep prices down. Both, the suppliers or the customers could make compromises in quality, and in their demands. Their wisdom and discernment defines the quality of their compromise at any given point in time.
“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shuts down for ten years.” – Warren Buffett
This compromise is the beginning of the end, as far as economic growth goes, if it isn’t made with discernment. Quality Professionals will jump up to say, “But Quality is meeting the Customers’ Requirements!”. They will not take responsibility for the requirements being laissez-faire or their implied promise not being kept (they are covered by the T&C, you see, even if they started with the best intentions).
“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
So we seem to be faced with the question – Does the replication and scaling up of laissez-faire goods in larger volumes have a positive impact on the economic growth? Or does the discerning refinement of product features and value propositions, and then each scaling up (albeit to a lower scale) have a bigger positive impact on economic growth.
“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” – Henry Ford
My own take is that as we go up the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, our discernment must increase, we must demand of ourselves to be more discerning, whether we are the customer or the supplier. The higher up we are in Maslow’s Hierarchy, the more discerning we must be. We must develop our own discernment to match the responsibility that we take at our position in life.
A mentor once told me that our wealth is defined not by how much money we have, but by how we spend it!!
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Excellent writeup Mukul