Quality and Wabi-Sabi

In his podcast, Akimbo, Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

  • The word “Quality” can have one of the three meanings: 1) deluxe-ness, 2) meeting specification or 3) right effort.
  • For the industrial settings, meeting specification with interchangeable parts is crucial for building complex systems. The industrial systems strive for perfection.
  • Quality in the six-sigma context is to minimize the tolerance. For manufacturing, six-sigma is a good thing, and many of us enjoy the fruits of this industrial labor.
  • The industrial systems would like to make everyone an interchangeable cog and compliant in a six-sigma way. For other non-industrial things in life, meeting spec approach is often not a desired to go to work or to live a life.
  • For something else in life, the quality of Wabi-Sabi could be just as valuable as six-sigma from the industrial goods. Wabi-Sabi is deliberately imperfect and natural. Wabi-Sabi tells a story.
  • As we think about our work, are we a cog in a perfecting machine or do we want to meet spec? How can we want embrace Wabi-Sabi and make work that tell stories to those who care? When we seek to be the linchpin rather than just a replaceable cog, how does that impact what we choose to do?
  • Instead of pushing our work to meet spec and to be faster/cheaper, perhaps we should push our work to meet promises. The promise of bringing forth work that might not be perfect, but unique, to those who need us.