Last updated: March 15, 2012
Current Research and Development Interests
Our goal is to advance the science of
improvement as we serve our clients. We look for opportunities to design
new methods for developing innovative ideas. We explain concepts relating
to improvement, for example, the business case for focusing on the
improvement of quality.
The results of our R&D efforts are put into the public domain through publications and presentations.
The following topics are currently the focus of our R&D efforts:
An organization that has strong
leadership focused on improvement has the will to make changes,
innovative ideas on which to base the design of an improved
product or system, and the capability to execute the changes so
that sustainable improvement results.
Will, ideas, and execution are the outcomes of a strong leadership process. What are the elements of that process?
Members of API, in cooperation with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) (www.IHI.org), are defining a leadership system by interviewing effective leaders and recalling the actions of effective leaders with whom we have worked. At present, the processes in the system have been classified into two categories: those relating to the leaders personal preparation, for example, establishing operating values, and those relating to enhancing the leaders impact on the organization, for example, developing future leaders.
|Making the Business Case for Improvement|
Consider these two questions:
If clear, understandable, and supportable arguments supported an answer of "yes" to the first question and "no" to the second question, modern approaches to improving quality and value would be spreading at a faster rate among companies, industries, and countries.
Recently, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), formerly the Bureau of Standards, released an important report. This report concluded that the stock of the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award Winners from 1988 1997 produced 2.5 times the return on investment as did the S&P 500, a measure of overall performance of the US stock market. If leaders of publicly held companies believed this report, why would they not use the award criteria as a guide for running their company and apply for the award. If business school professors believed the report, why would they not make the award criteria an integral part of the curriculum?
Click each item to see the types of questions addressed in this effort:
|Spreading Good Ideas|
challenge for urban educators is not to build more pilot programs,
but to find a way to replicate selected reforms to create an
entire system that works."
Slight adaptation of the quote from Rudy Crew would describe the challenge facing executives in any industry or government organization trying to lead improvement. Incredible levels of improvement are available to the organization that can close the gap between what is being achieved somewhere in the industry, or at a few of its locations, but not in the others. The aim of this project is to identify existing methods and develop new methods to accelerate the spread of good ideas throughout an organization.
|Running Multi-Organization Collaborative Projects|
The Institute for Healthcare
Improvement (IHI) (www.IHI.org)
and API have developed an approach for spreading good ideas within
an industry. Using collaborative projects focused on a single
topic of interest to multiple organizations as a model, for
example, reducing delays in a hospital or caring for patients with
a chronic disease, IHI and API hope to standardize their current
approach and extend it beyond health care.
This approach applies:
|Designing and Redesigning Large or Complex Systems|
The Model for Improvement developed
by API and published in numerous papers is based on three
It is easy to see how these questions could be used to guide an improvement effort of small scale. However, the approach to answering the questions needs to be enhanced when the system under study is large or complex.
The aim of this effort is to build on the methods such as Quality Function Deployment and Re-engineering and to develop an effective approach to designing or redesigning large or complex systems.
Scheduling decisions are often made in a reactive mode, with little regard
for the efficient use of resources. For example, a patient may call with a medical emergency, or a
product must be backordered. Click here
for other examples.
The aim of this project is to review and classify the current methods of scheduling and develop a coherent approach to scheduling that optimizes the use of resources, reduces delays, and applies to many settings. The existing approaches to scheduling are being classified into four categories (based on the ideas of James Meteer of the Sigma-Aldrich Corporation):
The familiar economic order point and quantity is an example of a variable frequency/ fixed quantity approach to scheduling. As the project has progressed, it is becoming apparent that an effective scheduling approach will be a combination of all four of these types.
|Designing Multi-Factor Experiments|
Building on work dating to the 1920s
on methods of designing experiments for situations in which
multiple factors are involved, API has developed a system of
experimentation that has been applied primarily in manufacturing
and products development settings. Members of API have described
the system in Quality Improvement through Planned
The aim of this project is to extend the system of experimentation to more complex situations and to applications in the service industries.
|© 2012 Associates in Process Improvement|