Quality is a word we all toss around. We use it when we talk about restaurants, venues, products, people, and so on. We stress the importance of quality. We bemoan its absence. And we regularly whip out the metaphorical yardstick that measures quality over quantity.

But what do we mean when we say something is “quality”?

I heard several recipients of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige Award speak at a recent event, so I’ve been thinking about quality and asking myself what it means.

The conclusion I’ve come to is . . . it depends. Quality means something different to everyone.

We view quality – like so many things – through the lens of our own background, experience, expertise, biases, and wants. (I certainly eye a bottle of red a lot more critically now than when I was a college student.)

However, even though the concept of quality is a tad nebulous, we should still try to define it for ourselves. Here are some questions to think about:

  • What does it mean for your organization?
  • How does it show up in your work product? Your relationships?
  • Is it possible to strive for it in everything you do? What does that look like?
  • Does your definition match the expectations of your clients?

At EPI, we’re keeping these questions front of mind as we re-evaluate our course development processes. Because any quest for quality begins with the process itself. In fact, that’s what quality assurance is: the systems put in place to ensure the desired level of quality can be met consistently.

That’s what we all want to do, isn’t it? Deliver quality – whatever that entails – again and again and again. Get your process right, stay true to it, and good results will follow.

Until they don’t. When that happens – and the law of inertia says it inevitably will – it’s time to reexamine . . . to innovate . . . to begin again. Even if you haven’t been asked or you’re the only one who’s noticed.

Because, as Henry Ford once said, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”

EPI's CEO and founder, Michelle Kelly

Michelle Kelly, CEO (Chief Enjoyment Officer)


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