We expect an elevated level of excellence when we assess quality, a finished product that stands out from the crowd. To achieve this mark we have to establish high standards and an approach to thoroughness, a regiment of rigor to oversee our practices. We know shoddy, slapstick work rarely, if ever, randomly creates the quality we aspire to. A rigorous undertaking conveys precision and accuracy. It establishes a repeatable approach, yet with little room for improvisation. It carries the connotation of learned craft — honed to a master's skill — and downplays the importance of artistic exploration. Quality is assessed of the end result, where rigor is measured of the work. Here we find a paradox in three parts:
- we cannot have quality without rigor;
- a project may have rigor and fail to achieve quality;
- establishing rigor may hamper the solutions ability to adapt and respond to the market
To balance these competing themes the result must allow for reflection and a path to nuance, it acknowledges and supports the cultural context of the solution. Our rigorous process can incorporate real-world feedback, empower iterative changes from the lessons we learn, and set thresholds for quality measurement. It is a waste of time and energy to produce high quality products that no one wants to use. With our open-minded recognition, we can operate within the subtle tensions of rigor, quality, and nuance to celebrate strengths from our process and virtue from our creativity.