Getting Wrong Right

PDSA action story

I was walking down the hallway with an assistant principal of a very large high school.
Making conversation I said to him, “What is your job?” He answered, “For the last eleven years I have been the tardy czar. I keep track of lateness for thousands of students and staff.” I replied, “That is a huge task. How do you manage it?” For the next few minutes he described the sophisticated system they had developed to monitor lateness, which included punishments, detention centers, automated call centers, hallway cameras, security guards, rewards and the extra central office staff it took to manage it all. I said, “In the last eleven years how have you significantly reduced or eliminated lateness?” He looked at me stunned and said, “That’s not my job.”

As Dr. W. Edwards Deming stated, “Most people don’t know what their job is.”

Is your job continual improvement or do you find yourself managing systems that need improving or eliminating?

Do you think you have a tardy problem? Use the following tools in this simple PDSA action story and see what you discover.

  • Define what it means to be late. operational definitions
  • Collect data. run chart
  • Is it a common or special cause problem? How do you know? control chart
  • If it is a common problem to the system, share the data and ask students and/or staff, “What causes tardiness fishbone diagram and why should students be on time? five whys
  • Prioritize the causes. ngt
  • Put people to work identifying new solutions. matrix pi
  • Create a new plan with the help of people involved. pilot project Did the plan create improvement?  run chart
  • If the solution caused improvement, standardize it in policy, training or practice. flow chart deployment
  • Now, move on to other opportunities. If the solution did not work as well as expected, re-evaluate if lateness is still the most important problem? interrelationship digraph
  • If the answer is yes, start the process over. If the answer is no, prioritize new opportunities. multi-voting hot dog

Does this sound like too much work? Well, there is always a big demand for tardy czars!

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