Date: May 17th, 2016
By: Deborah Chilcoat
Pssst! I gotta ask you something….come closer….a little closer. Okay, good.
Do you do it? C’mon, be honest. Do you do it as much as you should? Do you do it every single time?
I bet you are no different than everyone else. You say you’re going to do, you even block time in your calendar, but when it comes right down to it, other things on your to-do list get in the way of doing it.
I’m talking about continuous quality improvement (CQI). Oh! You thought I was talking about S-E-X, didn’t you? No, but I’m sure that would be a titillating blog post, “Sex and CQI: Ways to Enhance Your Performance.” Seriously, though, CQI is an essential part of making your program, team, and organization amazing!
When you implement a program, don’t you want to know what is working well and what needs improvement? Of course you do! But you have to make the time to do it. When you are planning your program, be certain your team knows CQI is an essential part of your work and a non-negotiable activity.
Consider this scenario: Your program implementation ends on the last day of the month, and it takes the evaluation team about two weeks to input and analyze data. You can estimate that your CQI session should happen sometime after the 15th of the month following implementation. Book it! Send your entire team an invitation to the CQI session.
When your team comes together, use data that were collected before, during, and after program implementation to determine how to improve the program’s performance. And promise me that you won’t just focus on the things that didn’t work well. It is human nature, I know, but it’s also really important to celebrate your team’s efforts and the specific things that worked well in your program.
Once you make CQI a routine part of every program implementation cycle, your team will get better at it and expect to do CQI every single time. In fact, they may even get a little testy if you don’t do CQI! Your team wants to know that their work matters and that they are making a difference in the lives of the youth they serve. They also want to know how they can do their work better, that leadership is aware of their successes, and how their work and the program can be sustained.
CQI is good for organizations, too. Support from leadership can make a huge difference in how seriously and how well programs and teams do CQI. Imagine if your leadership adopted CQI as a norm for all programs and teams. The culture of your organization could be transformed! The office chatter would be all about strategic initiatives for performance improvement. Doesn’t that sound fun?! Of course the transformation would not happen overnight, but with the proper structures in place, staff buy-in, and a regular dose of motivation, your organization could be an “11” on a 10-point scale!
All this to say, when CQI is institutionalized, it is a mighty tool that can inspire your program, team, and organization to be the very best.
Want help planning or facilitating a CQI session? Complete a Service Request Form. And, check out more CQI resources in Healthy Teen Network’s Evidence-Based Resource Center.
About the Author
Deborah Chilcoat, M.Ed., brings over 16 years of experience in adolescent sexual and reproductive health and an unyielding commitment to improving the health and well-being of young people to her current position as Senior Training and Technical Assistance Manager at Healthy Teen Network. Deb’s extensive experience in project management, capacity-building assistance, collaborative partnerships, as well as evidence-based and innovative approaches has served to meet the needs of diverse youth and communities across the United States.