Improvement Approach

The most effective approach to quality improvement is to tackle one project at a time, but one project after another. The project with the most impact should be tackled first, then the problem with the second most impact, and so on.

Use a team approach, with a team leader and a coach. (The leader and coach can be the same person, so long as the skills are there.) There are two main reasons:

  1. Although teams typically take longer to decide what to do, they actually make it easier to implement changes.
  2. Significant problems typically involve multiple groups or departments and require multiple different sets of skills to solve.

The people who work in the process know the most about it. Having an outsider or two involved helps get a fresh point of view.

The team should be told up front what they are to focus on. They should be allowed to work out the details, but they need to know where the organization is trying to go. Make the goal aggressive, like a 50% or 75% improvement.

The team should be given a timeframe. They need to know when ell them when the result is needed. It may be necessary to change the target, but set one.

The team should have short (30 - 45 minute) team meetings, at least once a week.

The team should use a structured improvement process, like the PDCA cycle or DMAIC. A number of variations have been described by different authors. Lots of companies have developed their “own”. The number of “steps” vary, usually between four and eight. It doesn’t matter much. Just pick one.

Establish and track a metric that shows progress (or lack thereof).

If you aren’t the leader, ask the leader for an update at least once a week.