The Secret To Quality

Do all things lovingly. That is the secret to quality.


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Do all things lovingly. That is the secret to quality.

In manufacturing, that means applying a kind of care that goes beyond scrupulously following best practices such as lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management and the like. It means directing one’s inner being toward the good that flows from achieving certain measurable characteristics in parts and products. Quality comes from putting your heart and soul into the work. It is no accident that kaizen means more than “continuous improvment”—it’s a Buddhist term said to mean something like “renew the heart and make it good.”

So do all things lovingly. I say “lovingly” because that word is precisely right in both the meaning and the feeling that it carries. Most of us know someone out in the shop or on the plant floor who “loves his work” or “is really good at what she does.” In fact, we usually say these things about the same kind of person. They do good work because they love it.

I’ve seen toolmakers, machine operators and NC programmers who are like that. There is a watchfulness in how they handle every cutting tool, workpiece and measuring instrument. You can see it in how they check the geometry or code at the CNC or CAD/CAM screen. They welcome having parts measured or processes monitored because the numbers prove and verify the rightness of their intentions. When parts pass inspection, it is personally gratifying to them. For quality’s sake, they do all things lovingly.

I say “all things” because this kind of devotion seeks to be universal and comprehensive. It allows no detail to be overlooked. It wants everything to be just so. Nothing can be neglected or regarded as trivial if it might affect that which makes the workpiece good. An urge to be tidy, orderly and well organized is a natural impulse in the workplace where quality is taken to heart.

Do all things lovingly because quality lies in what you do. Action is essential and inevitable. Meeting the demands of quality in manufacturing takes energy and motion. You can’t hold tolerances by holding still. It takes a constant effort to keep all variables under control and to make a process stable. Quality is the pursuit of perfection, and because perfection is ultimately an unattainable ideal, this pursuit is endless. There is no rest. Quality has to be an obsession.

Our lust for quality in manufacturing should be a model for the rest of our lives, too. Do all things lovingly. That is the secret to virtue.