Published here May 2019

Introduction | Never, Never, Never Give Up 
Dispelling the Myths | Completing the Definition | The Takeaway

Robin Hornby holds a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and began his career as a systems engineer with a major computer vendor in the UK. He moved to Canada in 1977, and worked in the telecommunications sector before joining an international IT consulting firm where his interest in project management took shape. In 1997 he set up his own consulting company and enjoyed a variety of senior project engagements, including assignments in several countries overseas. He is the author of Ten Commandments of Project Management and Commercial Project Management. Robin may be reached by Email at and his web site can be found at


This is a 7-minute read that summarizes the author's frustrations with today's approach to quality, and proposes a model that characterizes quality as an intrinsic attribute rather than an add-on.

I was halfway through my career before I woke up to the fact that I didn't know what quality was. Any quality our projects enjoyed was attributable to a good team and perhaps a bit of that rare commodity, common sense. I was in good company — Robert Pirsig, in his 1970's cult classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, concluded that quality cannot be defined. Henry Ford declared quality to be doing it right even when nobody was looking. And Mr. and Mrs. Consumer just recognized quality when they saw it!


The world currently does not seem receptive to quality. Misspellings proliferate even in the established media. Profanity is ubiquitous as it meets no resistance. Grammar is ignored, often to the point of unintelligibility. The skill of objective argument to get to the truth of a matter is in decline. The concept of checking and double-checking to ensure the validity of a fact or statement is derided.

Airline misspels own name on plane - Cathay PaciicThe notion that precedent human endeavor, over previous years or possibly centuries, retains some usefulness in addressing today's problems is discarded. Safe driving is seen as secondary to keeping up with the smartphone! Oh, and jeans are worn with rips not through poverty but in thrall to delusory fashion. This is the backdrop to our cultural malaise and, just as people take their cues from the behavior of leaders, so do projects reflect the culture in which they execute.


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