The Human Side of Quality 2.0
By Michael R Basso, Ph.D., MBA,
During the latter half of the 20th century, the Quality revolution was reborn into modern industrialized nations. While quality metrics (what we measure to see if we are doing things correctly) have been around for eons, it was not until the 1900s that they began to be applied more dynamically. Quality gurus such as Deming, Juran, and Crosby had their differences, but as the quality revolution was reborn many common themes emerged. Manufacturers were taught how to ‘do things right the first time’, practice prevention, and to work together in efficient and effective teams. As the quality revolution continued to thrive, the concept of quality had new and socially important meaning. Japanese quality expert Genichi Taguchi taught the meaning of quality from an almost spiritual perspective. He believes that to do things other than correctly was a loss not only to one self or to the organization we may belong to, but that poor quality was a loss to society. We all lose when things are done wrong.
Many believe that the drive towards higher quality is the way the nature assures that all living things survive, and is part of our natural instincts. Ishikawa brought important concepts from social and organizational psychology into the evolving science of quality leadership. He believed that the best way to solve problems was to get agreement from both the highest levels of management and those who are doing the job. In more modern industrial settings, fitness programs, color planning, and even art and music are being used to help workers be more productive, produce higher quality goods and service, and reduce sick time.
As new ideas in quality leadership have ‘continued to improve,’ quality programs are being used in a wide variety of fields, including education, corporate leadership, and healthcare. Well, what has this go to do with holistic wellness? Plenty! As we can see, the holistic concept of body/mind/spirit is an important part of quality, and has been for many years.
Whether you choose to call it ‘integrative’ or ‘complementary medicine’ or the much broader ‘holistic medicine,’ the concept of holism is clearly an application of quality methods to wellness and healthcare excellence. Even the basic rules of holistic healthcare are similar to ideas from the world of quality. Prevention, team approaches, and building relationships with patients may be new to modern conventional medicine, but these ideas have been used in quality management for decades. I consider holistic medicine to be an important part of the ‘human side of quality.’
In innovative hospital settings, ‘integrative medicine centers’ are becoming the rule rather that the exception. Throughout Connecticut, it is now common to find a varitey of therapists (including psychotherapists and occupational), Reiki masters, traditional practitioners, chiropractors, and herbalists working together on teams with the best practitioners from conventional medicine and surgery. The goal is prevention, continuous improvement, and ‘doings things right the first time.’ The result is usually faster and more complete recovery and less stress for both patient and practitioner. The results are measurable and consistent, while minimizing ‘losses to society.’ As these results continue to be communicated to leaders and doers (those who get things done rather than just talk) in healthcare, education, and other organizations, further agreements will surely lead to ‘continuous improvements’ in holistic wellness and ‘healthcare excellence!’
These are exciting times as current holistic insights evolve into even better ones and wellness continuously improves throughout society.