How Will We Know That a Change Is an Improvement?

An effective answer to this question lays the foundation for learning that is fundamental to effective improvement. Changes to large and small businesses, government, or social systems are frequently made without thoughtfully answering this question. Consequently, valuable opportunities to learn and accelerate improvement are lost.
In simple systems, it is often easy to discern a change is an improvement by informally observing the system. In more complex systems, measurements or other types of data are almost always necessary to answer this question. For example, measures of improvement in redesigning a hospital’s medication system might be medication error rate, patient satisfaction, timeliness ...

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