Over time, innovations change the way life gets lived and the ways work gets done. Even over the course of our fifteen-year study of Good Work, it has become clear that rapid advances in technology have changed the ways that individuals manage their time, complete their tasks, and engage with one another. These changes quicken the speed and broaden the available resources with which people are able to work, play, shop, and even relax. However, it is important to consider whether the care, precision, and ultimate quality of the work being produced are at risk of being altered or diminished.
Funded by Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell of Faber-Castell AG, the Quality Project sought to understand how our daily experiences and the objects available to us are impacted (positively and negatively) by such changes. What does quality look like in a fast-paced world where goods and experiences are readily available and accessible to so many individuals? What factors shape how people judge quality? Does quality matter, and, if so, what are the kinds of objects, services, and experiences individuals will “go out of their way” for, and when are they willing to compromise?
During the first phase of this project, we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with individuals of varying ages and backgrounds to understand how they gauge the quality of objects, experiences, and work, why quality is important to them, and when quality matters to them most. Themes that emerged in these interviews were used to develop a detailed, online survey that investigates issues and questions related to quality judgments in contemporary life. Responses from almost one thousand participants in the United States were compared with surveys administered in several other countries, including Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, and Turkey.
Interestingly, in each phase of research, the concept of time emerged as critical to individuals’ understandings of quality. Quality may always matter, but how we use our time is particularly important. Individuals value time well spent in many contexts. Quality objects take time to produce and last longer; memories from quality experiences endure. Individuals care less about the quality of objects and more about the quality of how they spend their time; in particular, they value memorable experiences with family and friends and seek a balanced life that includes both work and play.
The Quality Project spawned several resources, available at the links below.
Quality Through the Ages: Forty-five examples of quality achievements in medicine, technology, knowledge, living space, transportation, communication, governance, and eras throughout time. In this report, find different demonstrations of how humans have elevated the quality of their life and the lives of society through achievement. This publication is meant to inspire conversation among readers (including students and teachers) about what quality means to individuals and society and how these definitions evolve over time.
Quality Course: The curriculum from the course taught on the Quality Project at the 2012 Project Zero Summer Institute.
Quality Survey: Here find the survey participants in our study responded to when thinking about quality in their lives.