Let’s Clear up The Quality vs. Quantity Debate

The quality vs. quantity debate is something that I think will rage on until the end of time.  Nevertheless it’s a great debate and I’ve been asked about it on numerous occasions.  So much so that I figured it was important enough to dedicate this little article to it.

So what is the answer?  Would we rather have quality or quantity?  Most people would be quick to say quality, and if I had to give a quick answer I would probably agree with them.  However, if you’ve ever seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind” you might remember a scene where Nash and his guys are trying to figure out how to land a pretty girl in a bar.  Nash recalls a theory that he thinks is incomplete.  Here, check it out:

“The best result comes from doing what’s best for the individual and the group.”  That’s the line that should stick out to you.  This line applies perfectly to the quality vs. quantity debate.  How so?  Because the best result in a business, in life, in a diet, in whatever, will come from a combination of quality and quantity.

But start with quality

While I said the answer is clearly both, the starting point at making a product, changing your life, doing whatever you undertake is key.  And that start unequivocally must revolve around quality.  Once quality is achieved, that’s when you can worry about quantity.  If you start off with quantity and disregard quality, then it’s an automatic losing proposition.

Manufacturing example

Let’s use an example in manufacturing.  Let’s say that two companies produce a product.  The product is the exact same from both companies.  Each product has the same amount of demand.  Each product has the exact same user experience.  For all intents and purposes the products are identical with the exception of a few aesthetic details.  So which company sells more product? Simple.  It’s the one that produces more.  This is where quantity kicks into high gear, but again, only after quality is established.

Quality can never disappear or the whole thing gets ruined

Let’s take the same manufacturing example above.  What if both companies have the same product and are producing that product at the exact same speed?  One company decides to ramp up production but does so in a way that takes shortcuts.  They cut a few corners here and there and eventually things break down. The entire manufacturing operation hits a snag.  Machines need to be repaired.  Jobs are lost.  It’s a nightmare.

On the other hand, the other company invests in innovation.  They keep their machines in the best shape possible.  They hire the best staff in the world to ensure the supply chain is never interrupted.  In the long term this company thrives and sells even more product than before.

What’s the lesson here?  Quality must always be maintained.  Which is to say that in order for the tandem of quality and quantity to work in harmony, quality must always be a constant.

In our own lives and businesses

If you want to start a business what’s the best way of doing so?  It’s preparation.  It’s doing all the right things first.  It’s not taking shortcuts.  It’s doing the right research.  It’s hiring the right people.  It’s maximizing your chances at success by doing everything possible.  That’s quality folks.  That’s attention to detail.  That attention to detail must be mastered and it must be utilized to its maximum before the scaling process (quantity) begins.

Think of any great brand in the world and you’ll see quality and quantity’s relationship working beautifully.  When the first Rolex was made do you think the company wanted to scale up right away?  Not a chance.  They took the time and had the patience to produce a superior timepiece before even attempting to make more.

When Amazon first started do you think they even had a glimmer of vision of taking their model and essentially becoming a delivery service for every single product imaginable?  No.  Amazon started off by selling books.  They began by obsessing about custom experience.  They began by learning the book industry inside and out.  Only after mastering books and customer experience did they scale up to become the best online bookseller in the world.  And only after becoming the best online bookseller in the world did they think about repeating the process but for other products besides books.

Remember folks, if you want to get the best results, begin with quality, keep quality a constant, and combine that quality with quantity in the most harmonious way you can.

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