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Measuring improvement

Improvement cannot happen without measurement.

  • We cannot try a solution until we understand the problem.
  • We cannot test a solution unless we are measuring its effect.

There is no substitute for looking at the system personally, seeing where any measurements come from and how they are made.  Using ‘run charts’ is a simple way to help analyse information, and a statistical process control chart will help you look at your information and understand any variation in the process you want to improve.  ‘Plotting the dots’ is very effective because it helps us to spot trends and patterns.

The frequency of measurement, often carried out weekly, is a major difference between measurement for improvement and more traditional forms of measurement.

Traditionally, figures are smoothed out to get to ‘the real underlying trend’ by taking an average of the period.  The problem comes when comparing the previous average with the current one to see if there’s been improvement.  Simply comparing two numbers and knowing that one will be bigger than the other gives a 50% chance of being better (or worse)!

In contrast, run charts and statistical process control charts have rules which provide confidence that when a change has been spotted, it reflects a genuine improvement.

The How To Guides produced by Ko Awatea, provide more information and practical examples of how to measure change.

Improving Together - 7 steps for measurement for your project

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Improving Together - Measurement for Improvement and the Model for Improvement

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