Quality means perfect product
No, it most definitely does not. If quality meant a perfect product, it would be impossible to ever achieve, because perfection doesn’t exist. It’s only a theoretical goal, an ideal to strive to, not something you can actually achieve.
Quality on the other hand is achievable.
I do agree with everyone else that quality can be subjective/relative.
I especially liked how @pmichielsen put it, because quality is not always tangible, but something implicit or even intuitive.
That said, as a product team, you can absolutely create a list of criteria or attributes that define the level of quality your team is trying to achieve and maintain.
So while quality in general is not a list of attributes, it can made into one in specific cases.
But I tend to disagree that quality can change over time.
It’s just the focus or object that changes. To take that example of the ad company:
Their quality criteria for ads being directed at the right person are still valid even after they switched their focus to the look of the ads. Because the level of quality of the former still needs to be maintained. Otherwise a “change of quality” as proposed would mean their ads would start being directed to the wrong people while looking prettier than before.
Keep in mind that, once a desired quality of something has been reached or improved, it doesn’t mean you can forget about it. That is - apart from improving quality, of course - the essence of quality assurance.
While developing new features, you always have to make sure the quality of existing ones doesn’t drop. Because software is a complex system in which one part can directly or indirectly influence the other.
This is certainly an interesting topic/discussion!
And I really enjoyed that article, thanks @nilanjanb.
That whole concept of ‘not quality’ pretty much represents my experience. It might be difficult to define quality, but it’s pretty apparent and easy to point out the lack of it in a product.
So defining things around ‘not quality’ might actually be the better approach.