Standardize Improvements to Achieve Results

Guest post by John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog (since 2004).

Part 2 of True Improvement vs Illusion of Progress, a presentation by Peter Scholtes. Peter gave this presentation at George Washington University in 1990. See our post on part 1 of the presentation.

Peter discusses using the Joiner 7 step improvement process and what quality tools are often useful in the stages of that process.

Peter does a good job of explaining how the quality tools support a process improvement effort. The presentation isn’t meant to explain how to use each of the tools (though he does provide some detail on process flow charts), but he does illustrate how to integrate various tools into the improvement process. Quality tools alone don’t do much good. But using those tools well within a well designed management system provides great value.

In this presentation Peter discusses levels of fix. Scraping burnt toast is a first level fix. An airline hiring trainers to train their staff on dealing with irate customers is a first level fix. Of course it is better to fix the system so that you don’t burn toast and don’t create irate customers.

To improve future results (not just better deal with the problems the system is creating) you must learn more about your processes using data and then adjust the system. Asking why 5 times and using the PDSA improvement cycle are two useful strategies to achieve reliable improved results for the long term.

The first of 5 key ingredients of true improvement:

The proposed change is rooted in deep awareness of your customers: their concerns and how they apply to what you supply.

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