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I Know It When I See It

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I Know It When I See It

A Modern Fable About Quality


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Once upon a time, there was a company that sought Quality. It urged workers to try harder. Didn’t work. It tried lots of inspections. No go. Of course, in the end they all lived happily ever after — but you have to read the story to find out why.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Overview
  • Engaging


John Guaspari’s instructive and amusing fable about "Quality" has been a favorite in the business world since it was first published in 1985. As it points out what to do and what not to do in the pursuit of quality and market share, the book illustrates the ups and downs of Punctuation, Inc., the mythical company founded by the inventor of punctuation. This thought-provoking and entertaining little book takes only an hour or two to read, but the author intends for its message to stick with you for a lifetime. getAbstract recommends this book to executives, managers, customer-service employees and those who run their own businesses.



Once upon a time the English language was boring and dull. It had no zing until a man named Rufus Punctum wrote the following sentence late one night when he couldn’t sleep: "Why must the language be so inadequate for communicating true feeling and emotion?" What made this sentence most unusual was the curving mark at its end. No marks like that had ever been written before. Rufus Punctum stopped and read his sentence again and smiled. He had just invented punctuation.

The Corporate Story Begins

Punctuation Inc., was an extremely successful company, since any time people wanted to "do anything more daring than capitalizing the beginning of a sentence, they needed punctuation." The company offered a wide variety of products, including commas, apostrophes, periods, question marks, exclamation points, dashes, parentheses, brackets, semicolons, colons and "even luxury items like ellipses." The company also had a variety of markets. Consumers bought a lot of exclamation points to put after words like "Wow!" Lawyers bought tons of commas to use after all those "whereas" clauses in their millions of contracts. Doctors bought a special line of punctuation ...

About the Author

John Guaspari is vice president of Rath & Strong, Inc. and is the author of of The Customer Connection and Theory Why. His ideas have been translated into three widely used video training programs for the American Management Association: : I Know It When I See It, Why Quality? and The Quality Connection.

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    H. R. 5 years ago
    quality is very importance
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    T. F. 1 decade ago
    Quick read and cute story line. Worth 2 hours of your time. Bought it off Amazon for $0.01, but paid $3.00 in shipping.

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