Quality Feels Like Being in Love

(Image credit: Doug Buckley of http://hyperactive.to)

I love Paul Borawski’s August discussion topic on ASQ’s View from the Q. Among other questions, he asks:

When you’re in a culture of quality, how does it feel? Or, how do you feel? At the moment I’m intrigued by feelings and think more organizations are turning their attention to feelings. Feelings, after all, are at the heart of experience and emotional attachment, which we all understand to drive loyalty and success.


I totally agree with Paul that we are upon a revolution of feelings in the workplace, and understanding the critical role our individual well-being plays in the success of defining and carrying out a shared vision – so this question of how does quality feel really resonates with me. Of course many of us know of Garvin’s definitions of quality, outlined in the mid-80’s, which include transcendent quality – we know it when we see it!

I believe that it goes a little deeper than this – that we know quality when we feel it.

And to me, the feeling of quality is the same feeling as being in love. Everything is sparkly and optimistic. Music sounds better… food tastes better… time flows with ease and contentment when you are around your beloved. You feel inspired and alive and on fire. You have hope for the future! You feel supported and appreciated! You have energy, and interest, and enthusiasm! It feels warm and inviting and fluttery and all your needs are satisfied! It feels like someone got into your head and your heart and totally understands you – cares about you – and continues to try to understand you day by day (it’s starting to sound a lot like Voice of the Customer, huh)?

I’m reminded of Simon Sinek’s keynote at WCQI 2012 in Anaheim – where he told us the cute story about people with their Mac computers. How Mac owners shine and polish their machines… how they always have them open in airports… how they share “secret glances” with other knowing Mac users. What unites them? They are all in love with their technology. The shared feeling of love breeds a camaraderie and interest and sense of community and understanding. And a whole lot of motivation and inspiration.

The ultimate measure of quality, in my opinion, is how much in love you are with something – and it can be a product, a process, a person, or even an idea. And how do you know when you’re in love? You know it when you feel it.


I have some research coming out in the October 2012 Quality Management Journal outlining the most significant articles in that journal since its inception in 1993, so I looked to my results first to see what references are the most influential in terms of quality culture. I found these two, which I’ll follow up on to see if they shed light on the feelings question. For now, you can peruse them on your own.

  • Kujala, J. & Lillrank, P. (2004). Total Quality Management as a Cultural Phenomenon. QMJ, 11(4), 43-55.
  • Cameron, K. & Sine, W., (1999). A Framework for Organizational Quality Culture. QMJ, 6(4), 7-25.


  • Nice post Nicole – food for thought. I’ve experienced the euphoria of quality of which you speak – just awaiting the same thing in real life. 🙂 Keep up the great posting.

  • Nicole, you have the exact words there. “the feeling of quality is the same feeling as being in love.”

    Because at the end of the day, quality is about measuring customer’s perspectives which is also a human. So, its really important to know if the customers are actually in Love with our products or services. But your sentences seems just right to summarized the point. keep posting

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