QUALITY IN THE FIRST PERSON
Husband and wife use quality tools to sweeten union
by George Mouradian
Marriage is a system: it has inputs, processes and outputs. While marriage is more complicated than manufacturing a product, I believe couples can learn a thing or two from the shop floor. I’ve enjoyed 62 years of successful wedlock and 55 years in the quality and reliability arena. Perhaps unknowingly, my wife, Marguerite, and I applied the quality principles and tools I used on the job to improve our marriage.
Don’t get me wrong—I may have been extremely fortunate in picking the right mate. Sometimes you just get lucky. Still, all marriages, even the most perfect unions, involve decision making, problem solving, change management, attention to stakeholder requirements and teamwork. I think quality principles helped strengthen the bond my wife and I share and helped us navigate life’s inevitable ups and downs.
Finances and large purchases can ignite destructive marital arguments. When my wife and I thought about buying a new car, we sat at the kitchen table and drew a fishbone diagram. We listed all of the factors we would need to consider, such as our current car’s condition and mileage and whether we could afford a new car. After we analyzed each factor, we determined we could postpone our purchase for another year. Instead of focusing on wants, we focused on the facts and made a cohesive decision without an argument.
Another example of using a quality tool involved a more serious decision. One of us had a non-life threatening condition that could be corrected with surgery. We made a double checklist and recorded the factors that could affect the results of the operation as well as the consequences of not undergoing the procedure.
To make our decision, we discussed these results and consulted with several doctors for expert advice and individuals who experienced a similar problem. After careful consideration, we decided to proceed with the operation (thankfully, everything turned out fine). As a team, we made the right choice by weighing risks and consulting with knowledgeable experts.
While every couple is unique, you still can learn from others. When my wife and I were younger, we benchmarked older and successful married couples and learned about their lifestyles, how they communicated with each other, how they spent time together and how they handled life’s surprises. To have the marriage we both wanted, we applied the best practices we gathered to our life together.
Culture of quality
We also ensured there was a culture of quality supporting our union. We encourage communication to flow freely and openly, we do not have secrets, we always work as a team, and we align our goals and objectives. Trust is as essential in a marriage as it is in the workplace.
While you must have conviction, sincerity and passion toward your spouse to make marriage work, quality tools have a place in your relational toolbox. Quality can’t create compatibility, but it can help spouses connect with and understand each other and provide a systematic way to work through challenges.
While this is only a brief look at what makes a marriage successful and how quality can be used to enhance unions, I hope you will find a few helpful tidbits in Marguerite’s and my journey.
George Mouradian is a reliability and quality engineering consultant at MAG and Associates in Commerce Township, MI. An ASQ fellow, he holds a master’s degree in statistics and industrial engineering from Wayne State University in Detroit. Mouradian has authored several books, including QS-9000 Tooling and Equipment Certification (Taylor & Francis, 1999), Quality Revolution: A History of the Quality Movement (University Press of America, 2002) and Guideline to Your Magical Marriage (Publish America, 2010).