Fixing Special Causes is NOT Improvement

Improvement Insights Blog

Fixing Special Causes is NOT Improvement

I have noticed that many Quality Improvement teams focus on special causes, not common causes. That’s not Quality Improvement. Here’s why:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“I was out working with one brewery, and they brought me into where the team was, and the team talked about all their little projects and everything else, but guess what? They were all doing special cause analysis.

“Workarounds are anti-improvement, focusing on nothing but special causes. That’s not improvement, that’s just dealing with day-to-day chaos. Improvement is when you start to reduce defects and errors, or increase patient satisfaction, or do something else.

“Don’t pretend that special cause analysis is Quality Improvement. Don’t get caught up in that whole anxiety, that craziness that comes with that. It’s exciting to put out fires, but let’s prevent some.

“That’s my Improvement Insight. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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