A Theory is a Theory, Not a Plan

A driver diagram is a method to help you build an improvement theory. It’s about predicting the changes needed to create a result, not laying out all the actions that are needed, like a to-do list. There’s a difference. This article (open) articulates the role of theory in improvement.

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Like many things we do in quality improvement, Deming has something to say about it.

“Experience teaches nothing. In fact there is no experience to record without theory… Without theory there is no learning… And that is their downfall. People copy examples and then they wonder what is the trouble. They look at examples and without theory they learn nothing.” The Deming Institute

See What’s Your Theory (PDF) for a good discussion of driver diagrams as theory.

Pernicious Simplistic Approach to Data

This attractive, simple approach to measurement is probably not helpful and likely harmful.

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Root Cause - time for a metaphor reflection


Recently, root cause analysis (RCA) has been he subject to review and critique.

I think we would be better served if we approached our analysis with more consistency to the metaphor. A root is a system — often fibrous, tangled and more dispersed than we imagine. It's also underground and when difficult to ever know when it ends. Furthermore, a root system very often will relies on microbial symbiosis — a dynamic process not discoverable with cursory examination.

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