Process Improvement: Having the Right Tools

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Have you ever heard anyone describe themselves as a creature of habit? I have! If I am being honest, that statement might have been made for me. As a matter of fact, most of us are guilty of being such a creature from time to time. Even if you’ve successfully avoided that rut, I can assure that you work with people who haven’t. Don’t believe me…I’ll prove it to you. Have you ever tried to change a process at work? Has anyone ever told you that the new way “isn’t how they do it around there” or some variation of that? If so, you have creatures of habit within your circle of influence.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

I am not trying to convince you that all habits are bad. Of course they aren’t. However, all opportunities aren’t the same either. Knowing this, we must seek to equip ourselves with the right problem solving tools for the job. Our habits will naturally draw us towards using tools that we are familiar with and that have helped us achieve success in the past. These tools should be considered in evaluating an opportunity, but we must be certain that we have the right tool for the job. I’m particularly fond of the expression “you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole.” I think it applies to this discussion quite nicely.

How can you do it? 

  1. Seek advice from other leaders. Consult with your colleagues when faced with an opportunity that you aren’t sure how to solve. Leveraging your collective experience for the good of the organization will help produce the best results.
  2. Seek advice from your professional organization. I am a member of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering. We have multiple resources, including a listserv and publications, that allow people in my field to share opportunities and solutions. I am sure that most of you have such resources as well. I would encourage you not to underestimate how helpful they might be.
  3. Put tools in your tool belt. Over the next few weeks, I am going to focus on some of the most basic process improvement tools. It is my hope that by introducing you to some simple tools, you will be better prepared to handle opportunities as they arise.


What are some of your favorite tools to use for process improvement?  Log on and join the conversation at  We learn best from each other’s experiences.

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