Speed and Quality – Quality Will Suffer First


  Jellyfish 4 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul

Perhaps the book I have enjoyed reading the most over the last year is The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman.

We had a client situation come up today where they are really pressing for a free modification, and a good one, for the Tendenci software. But no budget. And a short time line. I so desperately wanted to say "yes!" But that would be bad.

Erving Goffman describes it as:

If the activity of an individual is to embody several ideal standards, and if a good showing is to be made, it is likely then that some of these standards will be sustained in public by the private sacrifice of some of the others. Often, of course, the performer will sacrifice those standards whose loss can be concealed… (pg 44)

In our particular situation we could easily do a quick-fix that might even placate the client. But it would bump back quadrant 2 activities. And fast isn’t always best. Back to Goffman:

So, too, if a service is judged on the basis of speed and quality, quality is likely to fall before speed because poor quality can be concealed but not slow service. (pg 45)

Or to put it another way, slow down, focus on quality, and fade the heat on time lines. It is always better long term to build a rock solid and secure product than it is to placate an impatient modification request. Even if you get beat up a bit in the process.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my job? And that jellyfish picture? Just a random photo from the Houston Aquarium that seemed to hint at hidden qualities. Like hiding quality to achieve speed.