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Quality, Sustainability and Happiness

There are many wise sayings from different scholars and professionals about quality including: that quality is not an act, but a habit; that it is never an accident but always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; and that most importantly that it means doing it right when no one is looking.

Indeed a discussion on sustainability especially with regards to avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance, cannot be held in isolation from the quality conversation. Sustainability is linked to ‘endurance’ whether in relation to economics, processes and systems, culture or ecological terms; and sustainable development is therefore required to pursue the desired outcome of durability and persistence for successful outcomes.

Organizations need to embrace quality as a central governing principle, to ensure that all operations are kept in check, and that the outcome of all activities do not have a detrimental activity either to the environment or to humanity. Instituting quality means examining each process undertaken to establish compliance to quality standards either defined by the organization itself, or measured against already established global quality standards. The specifics of the quality system adopted are not as important as the decision to embrace quality and to ensure stringency in compliance.

A quick poll conducted amongst team members from C&E Advisory whose main agenda is to partner with stakeholders to create a resilient and sustainable environment for improved livelihood and accelerated social economic development, reveals a new context around quality where it has been linked directly to happiness.

“When the team either individually or collectively can give quality (Excellence) in our duties, responsibilities etc, the reward is happiness. We can afterwards sitt back and say ‘’Yes!....... We did it’’ Lavenda Masinde

 There’s similarity between Quality as a theme and Happiness as a theme. When implementing organizational changes, it’s important for leadership to provide guidance to ensure work quality is not compromised (change can be overwhelming and could compromise the ability to have quality thoughts)..  Sherri Habwe

The big global debate continues to rage about the best way to measure quality, especially for non-tangible things that are perceived and appreciated from a humanistic view point. The hard facts of the outcome of a community project may be measured by a recording of the number of households reached, or the direct result of a food security intervention in terms of the before and after situation documented. However, the quality of a soft result such as: the smiles on a community’s face after training is delivered that empowers the womenfolk; or the sense of pride through the restoration of dignity that is felt by a group who have previously been ravaged by floods or other vagaries of weather who can now hold their heads up owing to adaptability initiatives undertaken is not quite measurable in solid terms.  This Happiness as a result of Quality projects is an area that needs further exploration to define the measurement model for internal human emotional outcomes. Social impact research fellows have some more work to do towards creating this matrix.

By Carolyne Gathuru - Director, Strategy & Business Development