July 17. “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” (John Ruskin)
I can do something right once by accident. In fact, I can have a happy accident and fall into doing something amazing once. But doing something right once isn’t quality, it’s just luck. To me quality implies repeatability. When I can consistently get results that are first rate, then I have achieved quality. And to achieve quality takes definite, intelligent, effort.
I was mentioning this quote to my wife this morning as I was getting dressed for work. At the time I didn’t know what I was going to write. She said this would be right up her ally. My wife works in a lab for a chemical company. She spends her day designing, conducting and evaluating experiments on how to make better coatings. When I told her about this quote, she immediately thought about her work. She mentioned that she works had to keep all of her equipment in top working order so that there is never a doubt about her results. For her, having properly calibrated, perfectly running machines means that when she gets a result she likes, she doesn’t have to wonder if the result is real, or if the machine is just being kind to her.
That got me thinking throughout the day about my work life, and the job I do. In project management, predictability is the key. And, that predictability only comes when we have finely honed our processes so that we truly know our status at any given time. When our processes are tight, and we deliver something on time, we know that when called upon to do it again we’ll be able to repeat the results.
It is intelligent effort, applied consistently, that drives quality.