We hear a lot about how quality can make a project management world full of butterflies and rainbows. But I have a bone to pick with quality.
C.F. Martin has making guitars since 1833. The company's quality is legendary -- and so is its price.
It was Martin that developed the Dreadnought body style, so called because its size was increased dramatically to boost volume and bass response. The resulting models, the D-18 and D-28, became the standard by which all other acoustic guitars are measured.
Sir Paul McCartney played a D-28 at his recent White House performance. Elvis Presley started off with a D-18 and moved up to the D-28 as soon as he could afford to. And from the time I started playing acoustic guitar, I wanted one.
I finally scraped together enough for a D-28, and my obsession started before I even left the store.
The custom cases are so precisely made that you can't leave the strap on the guitar. So, I bought a quick-disconnect device for it.
Then, my salesman informed me that Martin's lifetime guarantee doesn't cover cracks for guitars because of low humidity. In my home state of New Mexico, that's a problem. So, I bought an advanced humidifier and after-market insurance.
And, of course, I needed new strings. (One does not put medium-grade strings on a D-28.)
The beginning of my enslavement to this highest of high-quality musical instruments had begun.
The first time I used it in public, I was aware of a certain sense of dread. I realized that I was walking around with US$2,300 worth of fragile wood strapped to my torso. Microphone booms, chairs and other instruments loomed dangerously close by. My proximity bubble -- that area around your person where you're not comfortable with others -- had just grown significantly.
In past writings I've been a tad harsh on the quality fanatics, primarily because they can (and often do) place project managers in a position of being vulnerable to cost and schedule variances should high standards prove elusive. Those project managers should take heart: The ultimate consumers of your projects are held hostage to these same high standards, as I have come to realize.
I tried playing my other guitars, but it's too late. I have been spoiled. I have also reached the conclusion that quality has a distinct downside.