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The Improvement Guide: A Practical Approach to Enhancing Organizational Performance Hardcover – April 20, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0470192412 ISBN-10: 0470192410 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 2 edition (April 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470192410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470192412
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This book is a major milestone in our understanding of the science of improvement. It is destined to be a classic in the field. It offers leaders not only a comprehensive framework, but also dozens of useful specific suggestions for achieving new levels of quality and productivity." (Donald M. Berwick, Institute of Healthcare Improvement and author of Curing Health Care)

"The Improvement Guide is a rare jewel of a book packed with powerful ideas and knowledge; it should be required reading for every student and should be on every corporate bookshelf. This book fills a major void in the Quality literature by combining fresh insights, practical guidelines, and compelling examples on improvement in a captivating and easy-to-understand manner." (Paddy Meskell, senior vice president of human resources, Silver Diner Development, Inc.)

"The Improvement Guide provides a proven framework for quality as business strategy by linking improvement to methods of managing change. It clearly will assist leaders in making permanent improvements." (Robert Tusch, manager, Quality Development and Organizational Effectiveness, Exxon Chemical Company)

"The Conrad Company has been able to double its sales while reducing operating costs during the last five years. I attribute much of our success as an organization to the theories and methods discussed in this long overdue book. People who are interested in learning -- and in making improvements and money while having fun -- should take the time to study this material." (Robert Butts, president, The Conrad Company)

The Improvement Guide can be used by anyone in an organization to successfully integrate improvements into their system while achieving results in customer satisfaction, quality, lower costs, and productivity." (George Haefner, former president and CEO, Conegra Poultry Company) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

The Improvement Guide

In today's tumultuous global marketplace, making effective changes in how organizations are run has become more important than ever. Performance improvement continues to be a key focus for leaders in business, healthcare, education, and government concerned with long-term success and sustainability. Executives, managers, and workers need practical methods and techniques that produce lasting results.

This second edition of the best-selling book, The Improvement Guide, offers an integrated approach to learning and improvement, one that is designed to deliver quick and substantial results. Using straightforward stories to illustrate core ideas, the expert authors introduce a flexible model for improving quality and productivity in diverse settings. They draw from research conducted in a variety of areas—manufacturing, healthcare, government, and schools—to present a practical tool kit of ideas, examples, and applications.

Since the book was first published more than a decade ago, the authors have expanded the use of their Model for Improvement¿through work on improvement efforts at multinational companies as well as in different industries such as healthcare and public agencies. This thoroughly revised and updated edition includes new information that shows how to accelerate improvement by spreading changes across multiple sites—for example, spreading improvements in cardiac care across multiple hospitals; spreading set-up efficiencies across multiple manufacturing sites; or spreading approaches to reducing homelessness across multiple cities.¿In addition, the book contains an explanation of how other approaches such as Six Sigma and Lean production are related to the Model for Improvement framework.

Designed to be highly approachable, the book's Resource Guide to Change Concepts is updated so that even beginners can utilize the tested techniques of some of the world's most experienced practitioners. Like the first, this second edition offers a practical tool kit filled with dynamic ideas, illustrative examples, and useful applications.

More About the Author

Clifford L. Norman is a partner with Associates in Process Improvement (API). API develops methods and provides consulting, education and training to help organizations improve the value of their products and services.

Customer Reviews

I was required to read this for class.
Kelly Gustafson
A very easy to follow practical guide, the language is simple and the tool implementable.
Hasheem M Saidu
Highly recommended to use as a reference for projects in the service areas.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Thomas on July 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Whether involved with improving products/processes within a business or coaching little league baseball, The Improvement Guide provides a practical and fundamental approach for improving performance. The book serves as an excellent reference for those involved with change, specifically, change that will result in improvement.
A few of the items from the book which ring in my mind continuously include:
Improvement can be viewed as a science (in fact, some of us do!).
Three questions provide the framework for improvement: 1. What are we trying to accomplish? 2. How will we know if we if a change will result in an improvement? 3. What changes can we make that will result in improvement?
While there are many opportunities to change, there are only 70 change concepts (included in the Appendix) available to us today.
Any system for improvement will include five activities: 1. Establishing and communicating the purpose of the organization/team. 2. Viewing the organization/team as a system. 3. Designing and managing the a system for gathering information for improvement 4. Planning for improvement and integrating it with business planning. 5. Managing individual and team improvement activities.
Leaders are required to implement change that will result in improvement and they draw their power from three sources (the informal leader gets his/her power from sources 2 and 3 below). 1. Authority or position 2. Knowledge 3. Personality and persuasiveness (caring about people)
These items and many more, are introduced in the book via an easy-to-understand model that uses proven methodology for developing, testing, and implementing change that produces specific, identifiable improvements.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. W. Edwards Deming, whose management ideas and Profound Knowledge provide the theoretical underpinnings of this book, continually asked the question to anxious audiences: "By what method? How do you go about it?" As a professional in the quality sciences field, I believe this book has the answer to those questions as it relates to improvement. The Improvement Guide defines improvement and describes in complete detail workable, easy to use techniques that are effective and time-tested. The book is based around the Improvement Model, an expanded and improved version of the Deming-Shewhart cycle, whose historical roots trace are grounded in applications of the scientific method and applied scientists since Roger Bacon. The principle of testing on a small scale, learning using the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle, and building knowledge sequentially using the Improvement Model are some of the most practical and useful aspects of the book. Part I is written on an introductory level and provides lots of simple examples that guide the beginner through theory and practice. The heart of the book, and some of its most useful content, describes ways to develop, test, and implement a change. The insights provided, based on decades of experience and knowledge of the authors, are invaluable. They are followed up by thoroughly documented and easy to understand case studies that ring true using real life examples related to manufacturing, services, health care, and a variety of standard business and educational processes. Finally, the third section describes an integrated approach to various standard improvement goals and useful strategies for achieving them.Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By on May 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The Improvement Guide has brought to our business and my life a simple and easy methodology for making improvements regardless of the scope of the process.
The guide is based on a systems approach to improvements, which allows a better understanding of how the improvements that you are working on effect your system.
I teach an operations class and I use this book and its ideas as a semester long improvement project. The students have come to understand that an improvement must begin with an objective for the improvement and that you run a cycle (plan, do, study, act) to test your prediction. The students have commented they really enjoy learning this methodology and can easily apply it to their daily lives.
The book is easy to read and has useful examples of real life improvement efforts. I use this book on a daily basis. It allows me the opportunity to manage our company's, my students as well as my own improvement efforts.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Aldous Wong on August 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a very practical and powerful guide for improvement.
1. The first revelation this book brings is: improvement is a change. From this viewpoint, the fundamental questions faced by the improver (e.g. Green Belts and Black Belts) are:
(1) What are we trying to accomplish? (Define phase)
(2) How will we know if a change will result in an improvement? (What are the key Y's?)
(3) What changes can we make that will result in improvement?
(What are the key X's and their settings to affect Y's)
Appropriate tools from `6-sigma' tool sets can be used to seek answers to (2) and (3).
2. The Guide emphasizes testing a change in small scale before full implementation so we can learn and improve the proposed change using the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle. This significantly improves our typical `trial-and-error' approach.
3. The Guide classifies improvement into 3 categories:
(1) Eliminate Quality Problems (the aim of many `6-sigma' projects)
(2) Reduce Costs while maintaining or improving quality (the goal of many internally focused improvement efforts)
(3) Expanding Customer Expectations
Specific advises and examples are presented for each of these categories.
4. Best of all is a list of 70 Change Concepts categorized under 9 sessions, e.g. standardization under Manage Variation, Synchronize under Improve Work Flow.
Using these change concepts can significantly reduce the time to develop the specific changes.
This book is very easy to follow and contains a lot of examples. It is a must read for all improvement practitioners including Green Belts and Black Belts.
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