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>I checked my dictionary (The Macquarie Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1990)...
>"world-class, adj. sufficiently good to be acceptable anywhere in the world."
>A minor problem. On the one hand the above definition holds true only if the
>documentation is translated into many languages -- a sizable percentage of
>the world's population doesn't understand english. On the other, is it safe
>to assume the company's global audience understand english?
I think that this definition misses the mark in terms of the intended
meaning of "world class" in popular and even academic business writing.
"World Class" as an annoying buzzword started out, like most cliches, as a
meaningful phrase back when the field of quality management really took off
in the US (well behind the Japanese).
The way I most often see the terms used goes something like this (although I
don't recall seeing them defined so I'm making these up and would welcome
better statements from anyone):
"World class" is a benchmarking term used in a scale of descriptors for the
quality of services and manufactured goods (industry best/best of
Industry best means the best widgets, considering only widgets made
by you and the firms you compete with. (Comparing only widgets, and only
among active competitors in your market.)
Best of class means best anything (widgets or whatever) made by you
or your competitors using similar processes. (Comparing things made using
similar processes to the widget-making process, among active competitors in
Assuming widgets are made with punch presses, the best of that
particular class is the best anything made with punch presses. By comparing
my widgets to other products made with punch presses, I might learn how to
make better widgets. A radical concept in its day.
Finally, there's "world class"--the best of best of class entries,
in all markets, in the whole world. Now you're comparing your goods or
services to people who are the best in their class--even if you don't
compete with them directly, even if the products and services differ
(because the underlying processes used are comparable).
John Gear (catalyst -at- pacifier -dot- com)
The Bill of Rights--The Original Contract with America
Accept no substitutes. Beware of imitations. Insist on the genuine articles.