Tag Archives: love

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.

Why I <3 R: My Not-So-Secret Valentine

My valentine is unique. It will not provide me with flowers, or chocolates, or a romantic dinner tonight, and will certainly not whisper sweet nothings into my good ear. And yet – I will feel no less loved. In contrast, my valentine will probably give me some routines for identifying control limits on control charts, and maybe a way to classify time series. I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time today with this great positive force in my life that saves me so much time and makes me so productive.

Today, on Valentine’s Day, I am serenading one of the loves of my life – R. Technically, R is a statistical software package, but for me, it’s the nirvana of data analysis. I am not a hardcore geek programmer, you see. I don’t like to spend hours coding, admiring the elegance of the syntax and data structures, or finding more compact ways to get the job done. I just want to crack open my data and learn cool things about it, and the faster and more butter-like the better.

Here are a few of the reasons why I love R:

  • R did not play hard to get. The first time I downloaded R from http://www.r-project.org, it only took about 3 minutes, I was able to start playing with it immediately, and it actually worked without a giant installation struggle.
  • R is free. I didn’t have to pay to download it. I don’t have to pay its living expenses in the form of license fees, upgrade fees, or rental charges (like I did when I used SPSS). If I need more from R, I can probably download a new package, and get that too for free.
  • R blended into my living situation rather nicely, and if I decide to move, I’m confident that R will be happy in my new place. As a Windows user, I’m accustomed to having hellacious issues installing software, keeping it up to date, loading new packages, and so on. But R works well on Windows. And when I want to move to Linux, R works well there too. And on the days when I just want to get touchy feely with a Mac, R works well there too.
  • R gets a lot of exercise, so it’s always in pretty good shape. There is an enthusiastic global community of R users who number in the tens of thousands (and maybe more), and report issues to the people who develop and maintain the individual packages. It’s rare to run into an error with R, especially when you’re using a package that is very popular.
  • R is very social; in fact, it’s on Facebook. And if you friendR Bloggersyou’ll get updates about great things you can do with the software (some basic techniques, but some really advanced ones too). Most updates from R Bloggers come with working code.
  • Instead of just having ONE nice package, R has HUNDREDS of nice packages. And each performs a different and unique function, from graphics, to network analysis, to machine learning, to bioinformatics, to super hot-off-the-press algorithms that someone just developed and published. (I even learned how to use the “dtw” package over the weekend, which provides algorithms for time series clustering and classification using a technique called Dynamic Time Warping. Sounds cool, huh!) If you aren’t happy with one package, you can probably find a comparable package that someone else wrote that implements your desired functions in a different way.
  • (And if you aren’t satisfied by those packages, there’s always someone out there coding a new one.)
  • R helps me meditate. OK, so we can’t go to tai chi class together, but I do find it very easy to get into the flow (a la Csikzentmihalyi) when I’m using R.
  • R doesn’t argue with me for no reason. Most of the error messages actually make sense and mean something.
  • R always has time to spend with me. All I have to do is turn it on by double-clicking that nice R icon on my desktop. I don’t ever have to compete with other users or feel jealous of them. R never turns me down or says it’s got other stuff to do. R always makes me feel important and special, because it helps me accomplish great things that I would not be able to do on my own. R supports my personal and professional goals.
  • R has its own journal. Wow. Not only is it utilitarian and fun to be around, but it’s also got a great reputation and is recognized and honored as a solid citizen of the software community.
  • R always remembers me. I can save the image of my entire session with it and pick it up at a later time.
  • R will never leave me. (Well, I hope.)

The most important reason I like R is that I just like spending time with it, learning more about it, and feeling our relationship deepen as it gently helps me analyze all my new data. (Seriously geeky – yeah, I know. At least I won’t be disappointed by the object of MY affection today : )