While W. Edwards Deming is best known for helping Japan emerge from the post-World War II defeat by introducing quality concepts and process flow methods to their manufacturing companies, his methods can also have relevance in driving engagement strategy for health and well-being improvement.
Deming was a statistician by training who believed that quality was the result of having appropriate inputs to a defined process and the having effective implementation of that process on a correct and repeatable basis.
He told the Japanese to treat manufacturing as a system rather than “bits and pieces.” He advised them to include the supplier and the customer in the system and to use feedback from the customer to continually improve products, services and processes.
His teachings led to the Japan’s economic resurgence in the ’50s as their leading export companies adopted his methods.
Consider the way that many health and well-being improvement programs are put together – often with multiple vendors, an array of communications from different sources, and many “teachable moment” opportunities. There are actually several processes that comprise effective engagement. If we were to “map out” all that goes into the engagement process, we’d see an array of flows, including these:
The participant screening and assessment that leads to various intervention options or other types of support, some of which have multiple stages:
- The marketing process that guides individuals to the interventions
- The incentive design and delivery process
- The method for collecting metrics to determine program impact
All these elements combined represent a giant puzzle of moving parts that need to be coordinated and optimized in spirit of continuous improvement. Think of the various inputs and outputs and how they could be enhanced with a true commitment to quality in the process flow, rather than simple “silo hand-offs.” There is much to be done to better integrate vendor partners in areas other than technology platforms and data sharing.
We need to both listen to and understand the customer (employee) and integrate their feedback. Many more lessons from Deming’s work can inform and improve the ability to move employees along the continuum toward improved health and well-being. And when we think of the “quality of life” that can result from such an approach, we can thank Dr. Deming for another contribution.
And to ensure success, companies also need to have better peripheral vision across the many processes that make up their health and well-being improvement offer. We have too many silos that limit effectiveness and that hinders quality and performance as well.
Frank Hone is managing director of Healthcentric Partners ( http://www.healthcentricpartners.com ), the first and only engagement strategy and marketing consultancy for employee health and well-being improvement. The firm supports companies committed to encouraging health behavior change in their workforce. Our strategic frameworks and consumer marketing orientation help increase participation in your programs. “We don’t create health and well-being improvement programs, we help ensure they connect and perform better.” Contact Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 917 375-7716.