Is Quality Better Than Quantity

Here is a thought-provoking story, from the book Art and Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland that challenges the old adage that quality is better than quantity:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced; all those on the right would be judged solely on the quality of their work. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.
When grading time came, a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

The teacher’s experiment reveals the power of taking chances and risking failure when you’re trying to achieve something of quality. Perhaps the fastest path to quality is through quantity.

Although Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, “One home run is better than two doubles”, it may be the other way around. Sometimes two doubles are better than a home run because you gain momentum and have another runner in scoring position.

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