Most people agree that an effective quality improvement effort requires a combination of leadership, commitment, and belief in the possibility of change. The difficulty is how to design an approach that is simple, clear, and consistent while leaving room for creativity. Many quality improvement efforts get bogged down in the technical application and statistical measurement processes of Total Quality Improvement or other change programs. People struggle to carry out technical quality processes like bench-marking competitors, strategic planning, and process analysis only to eventually lose touch with priorities.
Consistency in the communication and measurement of quality improvement priorities is especially critical to the success of change efforts in service organizations. Lack of clarity about the focus and purpose of services creates chaos in practice. Service process requirements can override the person-centered rationale for services. The presence of requirements to monitor everything from records to water temperature can also help to skew activities in many directions. When many different activities occur in the name of quality, employees get confused and feel pulled in many directions. A comprehensive and consistent approach helps to link quality to all internal and external activities.
The Personal Outcome Measures® communicate priorities for people with simplicity and clarity. They provide a way to explore and measure issues important in people’s lives. Organizations use the measures as the foundation for staff training and development activities. In addition, the design and structure of the measures and review process provide the perfect structure around which to build an internal quality enhancement process.Using Outcome Measures keeps measurement and changes for quality improvement focused on the most important variable in the service industry – the customer. Although there are other variables to measure, if the ultimate measure is the impact of the service on the people supported, the rationale and motivation for change is clear. But because the measures are not prescriptive, there is plenty of room for creativity.
A focus on creating or identifying meaningful supports for people shifts attention away from existing service barriers to potential and possibility.
The Personal Outcome Measures® direct staff attention to the critical issues for people without requiring any specific action. Supported by a set of values about people, the Personal Outcomes serve as a guide to help staff think through the most difficult and challenging service dilemmas. As a leadership tool, Personal Outcomes assist managers to express commitment to people as a priority. Using Outcome Measures in quality efforts provides a structure that remains responsive to individual needs, yet supports consistency in principle and action.
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