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Maset News
July 28, 2010

We described this process to you in two articles in September 2009. This article describes the success that our customer achieved by using our consultants on three of their processes.

Quick Change Process –
For When You Absolutely Positively Have to Improve Your Process Overnight

By: George Angelucci and Diane Prange

What can you do when your organization has a critical mission – to help more transplant patients live longer, healthier lives – and you know that your processes desperately need improvement?

This was the dilemma faced by the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR). The CIBMTR was recently created by the merger of two leaders in the field of blood and marrow transplant, with facilities in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

CIBMTR Vice President Roberta King and Senior Management recognized this critical issue. King contacted Charles Loew, president of Maset LLC, and discussed the benefits of using the Quick Change Process which focuses on results that can be achieved in 30 days or less.

"The impetus for CIBMTR to go through the Quick Change process was that we recently merged two different campuses together and the processes were being done differently in both. We needed to get joint agreement on how to do things and wanted a thorough process review," explained King. "Our goal," she continued, "is to unify the staffs, standardize the processes, and to be more efficient while improving teambuilding and enhancing the quality of communications between the staff and management."

The Quick Change Process was developed by Joe Wexler, Business Process Improvement at Dell Computer Company during the early days of Dell’s rapid growth. The purpose of the Quick Change Process is to quickly identify process improvement opportunities and move rapidly toward resolution and implementation. It is most useful when the team members come from the people who actually do the work because they know the process better than anyone else. It is such a quick activity that it works best where root cause data analysis are not prime factors in a successful effort, but speed of solving the situation is.

The entire process, which can take less than thirty days to complete, includes the following steps:

Quick Change

  1. The Senior Management Team must first commit to the initiative and sets boundaries and clear cut expectations. The Senior Management Team is also responsible for selecting team members, a team leader for each, and ensuring the availability of all required players. Team members must include representatives of all key functions that touch the process (preferably those actually doing the work) as well as appropriate customers and suppliers.
  2. A two (2) day intensive session follows. This session is facilitated by two impartial, preferably outside facilitators. During this work session, the team will follow the following agenda identifying the components of the COPIS model – Customer, Output, Process, Input, Supplier:
    • Identify suppliers and their input(s) to the process
    • Identify customers and their desired outputs
    • Identify all the steps in the process
    • List problems and causes and then brainstorm possible solutions
    • Prioritize the brainstorming ideas and rank by:
      • Cost/benefit
      • Speed to implementation within the 30 day timeframe
      • Probability of quick success
      • Develop a list of implementable solutions, action items, with identified action item owner, team members and steps required to complete the action item
  3. The results of the session are reviewed by senior management and their commitment of the required resources and support of the changes must be given.
  4. The team completes the Action Items chosen and presents their results at the end of the 30 days.

Three two-day sessions were conducted off site with three different CIBMTR teams. Teams consisted of seven to eleven participants. Two Maset consultants stressed the parameters and expectations of the efforts, described the steps, and helped the teams through the process. Soon after the completion of sessions, the team leaders presented their findings to management and were given the approval to put their plans into place.

"It was really interesting to see the dynamics of the two groups – Milwaukee and Minneapolis representatives – change over time," observed Diane Prange, one of the Maset facilitators. "Tellingly, the participants initially sat with only their team members; the room’s U formation allowed them to at least see the other group and greatly simplified communication. Most of them had never physically met the participants from the other organizations. By dinner of the first evening, they were sitting with members of the other teams and sharing experiences and frustrations. In fact, these dinner discussions led to some rethinking and redoing of the maps we were working on and some really thoughtful brainstorming of solutions and actions the next day."

What were the results of these sessions? Team #1 tackled the burdensome form changing process which was inefficient and inconsistent. This process involves a number of external and internal stakeholders and users. There are over 100 different forms in place that serve as the data collection tools for the observational database. Forms frequently change to reflect changing technology and advances in the field. Team #1 Leader Marie Matlack stated: "Management recognized that our two recently joined campuses needed to work more efficiently with a unified process. We knew we needed to improve our teamwork, open ourselves up to brainstorming ideas, and enhance the quality of communication among staff and management." Asked how she would evaluate the process, Matlack said: "I feel the overall experience was extremely positive. It was great to see the team starting to think outside of the box and reach out and involve people from other areas. Most of the action items have already been completed and have made a difference." There is now a consistent methodology to follow by the cross-campus team responsible for any required changes to the forms.

"Our two campuses had competing processes for Data Management. How each campus dealt with the data was different – this slowed the process time and added to the number of errors. We needed for the processes to be "mirrors" of each other. The Quick Change process was most effective because it involved the people who actually do the job. It was a non-judgmental environment. It took a while before we all realized there are no stupid suggestions; then everyone started to build on each other's ideas. I think we all recognized the benefit of brainstorming," observed Team 2 leader Gretchen Bruner. The team implemented a 30 day action plan which included cleaning up error files, creating a data query tracking system, reviewing forms and identifying required training. Again the result was a single methodology that was used by both locations.

The third team included statisticians and physicians who focused on the observational study process, which starts with the study proposal and ends with publication. Tanya Pedersen, team member, noted: "One immediate benefit was that the physicians learned what the statistical staff does and how the processes work. The opportunity to improve our own process and then be able to present our results to management was also one of the beneficial outcomes of the process. The Action Items should also make a difference in the long run. We learned that we really need, with empowerment and management support, to address the barriers. Numerous bottlenecks and repeated steps were identified and rules put into place to speed up the observational study process from the beginning to the end."

Other team members noted that additional outcomes of the Quick Change sessions included:

  • Solutions that could not be achieved within the 30 day time constraint, but can be implemented later
  • Teams chartered to work on developing further detailed and tested solutions
  • An improved understanding of the need for better communications, particularly listening and responding in a timely manner
  • Better understanding between management and the two campuses

"The Quick Change Process is ideal for fixing current existing issues within a large process. It is not an attempt to completely change or improve a large process", explained Charles Loew, the Maset lead facilitator. "A more rigorous methodology called Cross Functional Process Mapping is available to make major changes to a process. Cross Functional Process Mapping results in significant process improvement, with at least a 50% reduction in Cycle Time, a major reduction in the defect level, and a measurable increase in Customer Satisfaction. In fact, during the three sessions, we identified a number of issues that we could not be resolved in a Quick Change session. Many of these were candidates for Cross Functional Process Mapping.

However, for quick fixes to processes that are broken, one cannot beat the Quick Change Process", stressed Loew, "and it is a valuable process for identifying "low hanging fruit" and areas for more analysis and work."

In conclusion, King stated: "The Observation Team took on ten projects that made or will make a significant difference. The Data Management Team was able to try out some of the new processes right away. All were needed changes and already completed."

"Senior leadership was impressed with how quickly the interaction and communications of the two campuses evolved and improved; empowerment flourished within the teams, team members took ownership of the processes and we experienced an enhanced interaction with management."

If you missed our original two articles about Quick Change please read them at : and

If you are interested in achieving similar results on some of your processes please contact us at

Maset has the ability, the resources, and a history of successes, making us confident in our ability to deliver superior results for your organization.

Contact Charles Loew today to begin the journey.

Charles Loew
Maset, LLC

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