Arjun Badola

Quality Curve

Maintaining the quality of one’s output is extremely crucial.

Output of your work acts as your branding. Any output one creates gets associated with your name and gets you positive/negative recognition.

The risky bit here is that the law of averages don’t help much here - one poor quality output and the branding goes for toss. There will be times when one is under pressure and the situation is time crunched, at such moments quality does get compromised. This is inevitable but the aim should be to protect whatever we can.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” - Warren Buffett

Quality at work

The level of quality standard you maintain reflects upon one’s self - it reflects upon your attitude towards certain things. People can improve at various aspects like skills, behavior, knowledge, etc. but attitude is something which is cultivated over the years. Hence, your output of work, indirectly, portrays your attitude - that is why we see stark difference in quality of work when one is passionate about it. But setting aside the debate about what quality means, for the sake of this essay we can reasonably call it putting 100% effort without being casual about it/creating integrity doubt.

Further, maintaining quality output at your job pays you a long way - it builds trust and reliance, these things can’t be built over night. Avoid taking something casually, even if one thinks it is a one time event. There is always something which pops up and bites you back - that’s when low quality work is revealed and you are under the bus.

Setting a standard of quality is difficult and one cannot reach the highest standard overnight - but all we need to do is have the right mindset. Having the right mindset will eventually lead you to the path of quality.

Quality at relationship

It’s hard to find quality people in general. People preaching such practice might often be spotted with having a very close friend circle, reason in most cases - deficiency of finding quality people.

Spotting quality features is quite difficult and one has to look into minor details to spot quality. Going by the words doesn’t suffice. Even the big picture actions don’t suffice. The answer lies in the details.

I have written about a few quality filters I generally have observed (see - Core values, Efforts, and Importance) but there is no hard and fast rule here. The filters are very fluid and situation based but the backend of it is an attempt to figure out the attitude.

Quality in investing

Prof. Sanjay Bakshi had written in 2013, What Happens When You Don’t Buy Quality? And What Happens When You Do?, where he presents the idea how quality over time outperforms. He highlights the consistency their wonderful businesses come with and they maintain their quality. The reason why such wonderful businesses still trade at reasonable prices is because the market tends to discount instant gratification.

I don’t have much to write here - if you have seen multiple cycles, one knows how quality protects during down time.


In the best case scenario you look for the perfect quality to be maintained. The next best option is to keep a spectrum in mind - one extreme end being lowest quality with highest risk and the other end being best quality with lowest risk.

In situations where quality is getting compromised see where the output is lying in the spectrum and how comfortable you are with taking that risk. In terms of people there could be few not so great qualities with which you are fine to live with (Refer - When to walk away). In other areas, one has to estimate the quantum of risk being involved if things go south.