How do people sustain their enthusiasm for quality improvement over time?

David M. Williams, PhD, Improvement Advisor, TrueSimple

I think a lot of people don’t appreciate how hard quality improvement can be, but, yet, how satisfying it is. So when I’m working with folks who are engaged in improvement work, I think one of the biggest challenges they have is that, in spite of all these tools and the excitement that we talk about, it really is hard work. There’s no silver bullet; there’s no single answer. It frequently is rolling your sleeves up. It’s diligent, day-by-day activity.

I think that the bonus, though, that I tell a lot of people [about] is that it also becomes very engaging — because now people go from a place where they’ve been looking at this complex problem and not knowing how to fix it, but being uncomfortable with the results that [they’re] getting, to now being extremely informed about what works and what doesn’t work and knowing that [they’re] making efforts that are pursuing an aim that’s something worthy of putting all the effort into.

So as you make progress and you move along, that really builds a lot of will and enthusiasm, and it gets people engaged and wanting to do more, wanting to do more hard work. So even though it is hard work, people appreciate it and want to aspire to pursue it further.