Friday, November 15, 2013

Quantity vs. Quality

This argument is ongoing and will never go away.

Ok, the first part of that statement is true.  The second part is not.  It's a balancing act for sure but why would producing a lot of things that are crap be acceptable in any arena?  Ok, cheapo Chinese toys maybe that you pay a nickel for.

We can take this in a million directions but let's just look at a few.  1. Physical fitness.  2. Professional schools and graduation rates. 3. Producing goods.  4. The last one that I want to talk about is networking.

Let's look at physical fitness first.  It's not necessarily what you do but how you do it.  You set a goal, so let's use a half marathon race you want to complete.  You can run a bunch of miles at a greater distance than the race requires and build confidence that you can run that far.  Good job, you can run a lot. Quantity.  But an approach that focuses on quality will yield greater results with less work.  Pace conditioning runs, stretching, strength training, circuit training and other endurance disciplines like cycling will give you a more balanced fitness level.  Less injuries along the way and you'll probably surpass your goal time for the race.  Each workout plays a specific role and all of them support the end result.  Endurance and fitness are an accumulative effect.

Ok, now let's look at schools.  It could be an university, NCOES or whatever.  What's going to benefit the organization or society as a whole; lots of graduates that are unqualified or a smaller number of graduates that actually learned something and are better off?  Standards are set and should be enforced.  I know a lot of folks that have very advanced degrees but have no idea how to convey what they've learned or worse, don't really know anything.  But they graduated.  Therefore, the ROI (return on investment) is pretty much "0".  Our job market is flooded with college graduates that can't find jobs.  Why?  We can point to a lot of things.  But aren't you glad you have that bachelors of arts degree?  The competition is stiffer and we're searching for more things to better qualify ourselves.  In my opinion, when a degree shows nothing more than the individual had the discipline to go a little further and is equated to a HS diploma, we're in a bad spot.  It also means that there are less folks out there doing something tangible.  But that "dumb" guy who joined the Army or went to tech school have jobs and "do" stuff.  Hmmm.

Producing goods is on the chopping block next.  I live this.  There's a lot more to just cutting a part.  But like in doing anything, if you rush through it and skip steps; you're going to end up with some good and some bad.  Why not slow down and make something great every time?  Sure, you're not going to be flying through jobs like crazy.  But as the part or parts flow through follow on processes or when you ship them will not be returned and create repairs or rework.  That first process' efficiency might be great.  But if you create more work for someone else and it doesn't ship on time, does that really help?  Do the hard work up front and pay attention.  Produce quality every time.  Quantity will happen and is a byproduct of quality in this case.

Ok, now networking.  I'm definitely not a professional in this realm by any means.  But here's what I've learned so far.  First, know who you are and what you want.  Second, always be yourself and professional.  Third, find folks that will make you better.  Surround yourself by great people and you'll inherently become better.  And last but not least, keep working to maintain that relationship or network.  What some folks fail to realize is that networking is nothing more than relationship building.  You don't want to build a relationship on a lie do you?  It might work for a while but sooner or later it's gonna get you.  So who do you associate with?  If you find out that they offer nothing to you and you cannot offer anything to them; put them in the "whatever bucket" or drop them.  Great, you have 500+ connections on LinkedIn.  Do you actually know and interact with them?  Probably not.

Now your network is cleaned up, you interact with them on a regular basis and you're learning from them.  Hopefully, they're learning or getting something from you as well.  People help people they like and trust.  It takes time and if you've never shook their hand or met face to face, it's going to take more time.  Do the hard work up front and keep working.  I know who I am and I know what I want.  I also know that how I act carries over to the folks I associate with.  So being professional and personable is very important.

It's all a learning process and failing is a good way to figure out something doesn't work.  It doesn't mean you are a failure or a bad person.  Thomas Edison said something to the effect of "I've never failed.  I've just found a million ways that didn't work."  Making the transition and finding that career is tough.  But every job is a means to an end.  You might have that ultimate goal in mind but you might have to shovel some dirt for a while to get there.

Or like me, you have an idea but not really. You plod along until that initial idea surfaces again and you realize that's what you really want.  In the mean time, you plan your scheme of maneuver and bore others with your words of wisdom and failure hoping it'll help them.  It's amazing how clear things become when you focus on quality vs quantity.

I recommend for anyone wanting to understand how a corporation works and how you can make yourself an important part of it, read the very short book "What the CEO Wants You to Know" by Ram Charan  ~ km

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