Hi, I’m Greg Jacobson from KaiNexus, where we make improvement happen.
Sometimes when you go to the doctor, they immediately know what’s wrong and how to fix it, so the diagnosis and treatment are obvious and straightforward. There are other times, though, when they have to investigate further, getting some labs or maybe an xray to help figure out what’s going on. The same is true with improvement work. Sometimes we just know, while other times we have to dig deeper.
There are many process improvement ideas that can be considered “Just Do Its.” If there’s a printer that’s in a really inconvenient place, just do it. If an improvement is low-cost and low-risk, meaning it’s unlikely to cause any side effects, just do it, and then observe to see if the change really addressed the underlying problem. Other changes require us to gather data to better gauge the impact of our change. Let’s say we’re trying to improve customer satisfaction changes related to our customer support. We could test different changes in a more methodical way, making one change and then seeing the impact on scores for the next month. We study the impact of change to see if we got the expected results. Once we find something that works, we can share the idea throughout the company so others can implement the idea, or even build upon it.
In process improvement, we follow a similar approach called the PDSA cycle, which stands for Plan, Do, Study, Adjust. After planning, doing, understanding the problem, and putting a change in place, we test to see if the change really worked. We don’t assume; we test and confirm. Some changes are quick and easy, some things need to be studied more deeply. Either way, we have to properly evaluate the effect of our changes to see if they’re really improvements or not.