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"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."


This chapter focuses on the application of appropriate performance-improvement tools to achieve the desired results. Depending on the nature of the improvement opportunities, specific toolsets and methodologies are used. These include quick hits, rapid improvement workshops, Six Sigma projects, and Constraints Management solutions.

Project Chartering and Execution

Opportunities for performance improvement present themselves in many ways. In the assess phase, numerous improvement opportunities should have been identified and documented. As a result of the investigation into the identified gaps, improvement actions will be initiated. There are numerous approaches to performance improvement. The following will be addressed:

  • Quick hit improvements

  • Process-based value-stream analysis (ProcessVSA)

  • Rapid improvement workshops

  • Six Sigma projects

  • Constraints Management applications

  • Executive actions

  • Critical chain project management (CCPM)

Project Chartering

All improvement efforts should be viewed as a project. In Juran's Quality Control Handbook, Joseph M. Juran contends that all improvement happens project by project and in no other way. When improvement efforts are viewed as projects, then basic principles of project management should apply. Each project should have a charter. Without a written charter, team members cannot be sure that they understand the sponsor's expectations and are in proper alignment with organizational needs.

In an early article on the use of charters in quality improvement in healthcare, Nancy Wilkinson and John Moran defined a charter as a document developed by the sponsor that empowers the team to act. The team charter sets the foundation and direction for the project and the team.

In the article, "Six Sigma and Beyond," Thomas Pyzdek maintains that the project definition is made explicit in the project charter. He further reinforces that the project sponsor is responsible for developing the charter and that it then provides the practitioners with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities.

Charters are useful to the team and contribute to the overall efficacy of the performance-improvement effort in several ways. Charters are often used as a facilitation tool. Viewing the life cycle of a project in human terms, Richard Roble cites specific uses of the charter during adolescence as a focal point to keep the team on track, as well as during adulthood to monitor performance against objectives. If a charter is not given proper attention, the chips are stacked against a successful performance-improvement event from the outset.

It is the responsibility of leaders at all levels of an organization to serve as champions. Within their respective area of operational control, they are directly responsible for the outcome of a business unit's performance-improvement efforts. In this role, they sponsor improvement activities and develop project charters in coordination with the project ...

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