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- A. Einstein

 

 

 

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QUALITY AWARENESS


Quality awareness (or its synonym quality consciousness) is most essential topic for realizing quality and quality integration in practical cases. The concept may be defined very simply: having knowledge of quality. However, what is the meaning of this, is not at all any simple thing. Awareness is a profound totality of physical, psychological, and philosophical aspects of sensations, perceptions, ideas, attitudes, and feelings related to an individual or a group having knowledge of the abstract and comprehensive object of quality of a certain item, at any given time, or within a given time span. In time dimension, developing of the knowledge and learning become interesting aspects. It may be recognized different depth-levels of intellectual behaviour in learning that may be categorized e.g. according to Bloom's Taxonomy. Metacognitive readiness and ability to learn learning and to open to question one's own way to think and act are the most sublime achievements in the development of learning. All these phenomena are very essential but also very complex things when developing quality integration in any kind of organization in modern business environments. Explicit knowledge is only a very minor part because most of the knowledge is implicit (or tacit) in this context. There are always also complex connections between consciousness and unconsciousness (subconsciousness). Situation is still more complicated when one is considering possibilities of the collective consciousness and collective unconsciouisness.

Example 1. Values are bases of quality and its development. In fact, values relate strongly to the perception of quality but they are also foundation in creating, producing, and delivering quality items. Only human beings - never organizations - have values based on their appreciations. One may see those values in attitudes, behavior, and actions of people, not in organizational documentation. Very often the term "value" is not used at all in practice although people have always certain values. Thus values are tacit knowledge issues anchored in the subconscious mind. Organizations may have norms or value management activities. How can one see those in practice and their effects? Again we are confronted with tacit matters and awareness of people in an organization.

What is the origin of values? The question is not easy to answer, and there are also different and opposite schools with different approaches to explain the issue. So called Hume's guillotine is a philosophical instrument to express that values cannot be found from the factual world but they are orginated from the subconsciousness. There are different forms for the Hume's quillotine statement: "From what is, does not follow what should be." "No logical inference could be drawn from what is to what ought to be." "Values cannot be traced from facts." "Between the factual premises and the practical conclusions there is a gap, bridgeable only by an agent’s willingness to engage in relevant activity or practice." However, the recent scientific research has revealed that even in physical world one should accept the existence of some kind of irrationality or individually conscious intention.

Example 2. Quality policy is an important concept for a professional integration. Quality policy means what is the overall intention and direction within an organization related to quality. Again the genuine quality policy can be seen only in the awareness and actions of people, not in documents. Documented quality policy statement issued and signed by the top management of an organization is only a tip of iceberg of the actual policy. It may, however, be a useful managerial tool. Anyway, it is not necessary to use the term "quality policy" in practical business operations although people have always certain quality policies.

Consciousness is difficult to define or locate, and it involves a lot of disagreements depending on one's philosophical paradigm. Nobody can say surely whether consciousness is located in brain, mind, soul, or somewhere else.

In biological psychology awareness implies somebody's perception via physiological senses and reaction through mental information processes to a condition or event. This type of awareness does not necessarily imply profound understanding. Awareness is a relative concept. One may be partially aware, may be subconsciously (unconsciously) aware or may be acutely aware of an event. Awareness may be focused on an internal state or on external events by way of sensory perception. Awareness provides the raw material from which one develops subjective ideas about his/her experience. Phenomenal consciousness consists of mental events of experience, including forms with different qualities, sensations, emotions and feelings with us and our responses. In access consciousness a mind is directed at something. That is like "intentionality". When we perceive something, we are conscious of what we perceive; when we introspect, we are conscious of our thoughts; when we remember, we are conscious of something that happened in the past or of some piece of information that we learnt; and so on.

Quality of an entity is always a perception of someone who has something to do with that entity. Quality is the degree that the entity with its inherent characteristics fulfils one's needs and expectations that may be specifically stated, generally obligatory, or implied. Kenneth Johnston expressed the individuality in quality realization with his phraseology: "If you treat everyone the same, what varies is satisfaction. To achieve equal satisfaction, you must vary treatment". In realizing quality, awareness both of the producent and the recipient of the entity are in close reciprocal relation. In order to be successful this relation should create a mutual win / win awareness. This ultimate intention of quality is multifariously related to the abovementioned phenomena of consciousness and also to the unconsciousness.

Quality integration means that quality is achieved naturally without any additional or artificial tricks, procedures, or systems in natural and real operational environments. This style of operating is fundamentally based on awareness within the responsible resources or organization(s) as clearly expressed by an old Chinese principle of wu wei. Wu wei involves knowing when to act and when not to act. Wu may be translated as not, and Wei as do, act, serve as, govern. The literal meaning of Wu Wei is "without action", "non-doing", or "nonaction". Sometimes it is also used a paradox statement wei wu wei, "action without action". Wu wei implies action that is spontaneous, natural, and effortless. Wu wei refers to behavior that arises from a sense of oneself as connected to others and to one's environment. It is not motivated by a sense of separateness, and not to be considered inertia, laziness, or mere passivity. An old poem by Ray Lankester crystallizes this idea:
"A Centipede was happy, quite
Until a toad in fun
Said, 'Pray which leg comes after which ?'
This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
She fell exhausted in the ditch,
Not knowing how to run."

Wu wei implies the need to consciously experience ourselves as part of the unity of life. We must be quiet and watchful, learning to listen to both our own inner voices and to the voices of our environment in a non-interfering, receptive manner. In this way we also learn to rely on more than just our intellect and logical mind to gather and assess information. We develop and trust our intuition. And we learn through our own experience. All of this allows us to respond readily to the needs of the environment, which includes ourselves. Our actions performed in the spirit of wu wei promote harmony and balance. The aim of wu wei is to obtain an irresistible form of "soft and invisible power" over things, i.e. not forcing. Wu-wei is thus the life-style that must be understood primarily as a form of intelligence - that is of knowing the principles, structures, and trends of human and natural affairs so well that one uses the least amount of energy in dealing with them. And that is also the aim of modern professional quality approach.

As there is not any clear definition of consciousness, no empirical tests currently exist to test consciousness as a whole. Some have even argued that empirical tests of consciousness are intrinsically impossible.

Events that occur in the mind or brain that are not within phenomenal consciousness are unconscious events. We have always complex and unidentified transactions between one's consciousness and unconsciousness. Carl Jung introduced the concept collective unconscious. That related essentially to his idea of archetype. The archetype implies common psychological predispositions of humans. Archetypes are stored in the collective unconscious; the collective unconscious is composed of archetypes. Archetypes can not be adequately understood through quantitative modes of research. Instead it can only be revealed through an examination of the symbolic communications of the human psyche, and the themes of human relational/behavioral patterns. Archetype is defined as the original model of which all other similar objects or concepts are merely derivative, copied, patterned, or emulated. The term is to refer to something that goes back to the fundamental origins of style, method, or structure. Social networking, communication and imitation are the major processes related to sharing in the archetypes.

The archetype of quality is goodness and love as they have existed in all world-religions and philosophies through the whole life of mankind. The archetype of quality integration (or quality management) is related to the concept love, e.g. according to the Bible: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Mat 22:39) This equals with the win / win principle of the modern quality integration.

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"Proposition 1. The world is everything that is the case.
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Proposition 6.362. What can be described can happen too, and what is excluded by the law of causality cannot be described.
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Proposition 7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

- Ludwig Wittgenstein

 



Juhani Anttila