A developmental view on implementation of quality management concepts
Journal article, 2014
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the value of a developmental learning view on
implementation of quality management (QM) concepts. QM concepts are common in various
organizations; some implement them smoothly, others struggle and sometimes even abandon the
initiatives. What is then a successful implementation – is it the use a specific QM method as a standard
problem solving approach, or is it that learning has occurred during implementation?
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on an illustrative case study carried out at a
hospital in western Sweden. The data have been collected through about 130 hours of participation in
project work by the first author and through seven face-to-face interviews of about one hour each.
Findings – It is shown that a Design for Six Sigma pilot project with a narrow view on implementation
could be regarded as a failure, but it gave rise to much learning and new improved ways of working.
Hence, it is argued that a developmental view on implementation can support learning by an emergent
and experimental approach to implementation processes.
Originality/value – Much research has been done on how to increase the success rate of
implementations of QM initiatives, e.g. procedures to follow to reach an outcome where the new way of
working is standard procedure. Less research has problematized the implementation process,
questioning what a successful outcome of an implementation is.
Keywords Implementation, Quality management, Health care, Design for six sigma, Deterministic
implementation logic, Developmental implementation logic