confessions of an eclectic pragmatist

What does ‘groundwork’ mean?

Over the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of learning about multiple approaches to improving systems and processes, from the Model for Improvement to Lean to Clinical Microsystems, and more.

Each offers a slightly different emphasis and all have their strengths. For me, all of these approaches come back to the heart of W. Edwards Deming’s teachings and philosophy. You can go back further still, but I find Deming to be the most useful foundation for the work. One reason is that his fourteen points for transformation of management offer the what but not the how of change – this allows for context sensitivity, i.e. adaptation and interpretation that respects the unique nature of organization. I also love Deming, because if you read him carefully, you will see that he emphasizes the relational side of improvement, while many specific strategies tend to focus on the technical.

So that is why I named my company the groundwork strategy. I want to get underneath the specific approaches and the sometimes-confusing language to help you understand the basis of systems improvement. From this strong footing, we can reach into whichever methods or approaches make sense to you, your organization, and the types of problems you are trying to solve. So no, I am not a purist when it comes to methods, let’s let the nature of the problem determine the best way forward and understand that in complex human service environments, it’s often best to bring all appropriate tools and techniques to bear.