By what methods will you reach your goals?

The following description of “IHI-QI” is from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement white paper “Comparing Lean and Quality Improvement”, which can be found in its entirety here: 

In the past 25 years, improvement in health care has grown from demonstration projects into a worldwide movement. Dominant in this movement has been an improvement approach grounded in the work of Walter Shewhart, W. Edwards Deming, Joseph Juran, and Associates in Process Improvement, and shaped in practice by the staff and faculty of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Today, this “IHI approach” to quality improvement provides a framework for thousands of improvement practitioners around the globe.

The “IHI-QI” approach to quality improvement developed by Associates in Process Improvement and promulgated by IHI, grounded in the work of Walter Shewhart, W. Edwards Deming, and Joseph Juran. IHI-QI emphasizes rapid-cycle testing in the field in order to learn which interventions, in which contexts, can predictably produce improvements.  The specific methods of IHI-QI have evolved, based on learning from their application within health care by API, Improvement Advisors, IHI Fellows, faculty and staff, strategic partners, as well as thousands of participants in IHI projects and initiatives. IHI’s clinical and technical leaders learned quality improvement from API, who in their turn worked closely with Deming.

Image from The Improvement Guide: A Practical Approach to Enhancing Organizational Performance by Gerald J. Langley, Ronald Moen, Kevin M. Nolan and Thomas W. Nolan (Apr 20, 2009)

IHI-QI is a vibrant discipline. It has not ossified into dogma, thanks in good measure to the diversity, energy, and idealism of its adherents, and to the “open source” approach that IHI has promoted with regard to methods and content.

IHI-QI is often confused with one of its core elements, the Model for Improvement.  The Model — three clarifying questions and the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle — has formed the mainstay of IHI’s teaching and improvement methodology over the years. But despite its fame, and despite its manifest utility in almost any life situation, the Model for Improvement is not synonymous with IHI-QI.

The Model for Improvement, developed by Associates in Process Improvement, is a general-purpose heuristic for learning from experience and guiding purposeful action. More simply, it is an “algorithm for achieving an aim” at any scale. As a tool for gaining practical knowledge, it represents a radical distillation of pragmatic epistemology into a habit of immediate, sequential testing of changes.

A science to solve problems NOW in reality, the “real messy world” we work in.