Adult Development research helps us understand that the skills/competencies for successful improvement work may be too rarely available, in contrast to commonly held assumptions.
Sofia Kjellström, of Sweden’s Jönköping Academy for improvement of health and welfare, will share her research around improvement and Adult Development, and how insights from Adult Development are needed to make Deming’s ‘system of profound knowledge’ complete. (She spoke during the respected Jönköping Microsystem Festival (Improvement Science Day) recently, alongside Helen Bevan, Nigel Edwards, Glenn Roberts, Erik Hollnagel and others.)
Her research has found that “professionals with more complex meaning-making capacities are needed to create successful transformational changes and learning”.
“Competencies that are taken for granted in QI [Quality Improvement], which according to Adult Development require rather high complexity in meaning-making, are system knowledge and being able to work in inter-professional teams and truly appreciate other perspectives.”
We may need to support the emergence of these later ‘post-Heroic’ and more complex meaning making capacities – along the journey of adult development – if we are to give transformational quality improvement work its best chance of success. They are also crucial to enabling systems-aware leadership and co-creation.
These research findings have potential implications for workplace processes, training and development, culture, recruitment and much else.
Sofia’s conclusion that “the mental demands of several QI practices are both high and neglected within QI and IS [Improvement Science]” are supported by an influential recent book of three organisation-level case studies by Harvard’s Prof Robert Kegan et al, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization (2016).
The authors write: “The demand for higher levels of education and training is well known. What is not understood is that these developments also create new demands on our psychological resources.
“Admitting people’s interior life into the realm of what can be improved, acted on and managed is what makes a Deliberately Developmental Organisation’s culture truly developmental, namely the development of mental complexity.
“Unlike quality improvement approaches such as Lean Six Sigma, a Deliberately Developmental Organisation’s focus on improving processes is as likely to be about improving the quality of work done on members’ interiors (the development of individual psychological selves) and communities (how people relate to one another in collective responsibility) as it is on the external (such as measures of production-process errors and anomalies.”
- This the second meeting of the Q Special Interest Group ‘Closing the gap: developing improvers for a complex world’, convened by Esther Hall (read Esther’s ‘My Improvement Journey’ interview). Please join if you are interested (logged-in Q members can click to join; others should request an invitation to the group).
- Read Sofia Kjellström and Ann-Christine Andersson’s article ‘Applying adult development theories to improvement science’, International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance (2017).
INSTRUCTIONS FOR JOINING THE CALL
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