Good Idea Feature: Quality
As part of the Good Project’s Newsletter, we write a feature on a different idea drawn from The Good Project’s range of initiatives. For the February 2015 issue, we featured ‘Quality’, and the excerpt from the newsletter is featured here:
The concept of “Quality” is one that drives our decisions as workers, consumers, and people. We look for quality in every aspect of life, from the tools we use, to the garments we wear, to the healthcare we seek. Even app developers have jumped into the quality game, providing means for us to see which restaurants, companies, and even tourist attractions are well-rated by others. Through the Quality Project, Good Project researchers sought to understand what underlying connotations of quality matter to individuals and reported their findings in the “Quality Survey: A Global Study of Quality.” They surveyed approximately 1000 people in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United States on their perceptions of quality in the areas of service, paid work, durable and non-durable goods, and leisure time, and the factors that influence these perceptions across professional and personal realms. Participants’ views differed on what affects a company’s reputation, what values (such as aesthetics and utility) contributed to an object’s quality, what excellent work means, and how technology impacts quality.
However, a definition of quality that resounded with most participants was that of “time well spent.” Often time well spent was related to spending time with family and friends but was also discussed in terms of personal leisure time and time spent on work. Time appears to be the “currency” for our understanding of quality; for instance, we may purchase certain items because of the time they save us in completing certain tasks, and we may invest in certain experiences because we view them as optimizing the way we use our time. Our quality of work may also be valued by its relation with time: an operations manager may be assessed by the way he maps out processes to be more efficient with time, while the musician’s performance is a product of the time they spent practicing.
Other projects under the Good Project, such as The Family Dinner Project and the Good Collaboration Project, focus on aspects of quality in terms of time spent with families and professional terms. Ultimately, the question of “What is quality?”, even as it’s understanding differ across cultures and in areas of professional and personal life, may essentially be a question of “What is time well spent?”