Human-centered continuous improvement is a learning journey that is guided by mindsets and methodologies that center the human experience. This approach seeks first to deeply understand the diverse experiences, motivations, and values of those who are impacted the most by the systems we are trying to improve.
The continuous improvement process involves examining the systems we are trying to improve to find the root cause of an issue in order to design and test problem-specific changes. Design teams then develop and test changes on a small scale in rapid, iterative cycles that allow for revision and fine-tuning based on the learning. This process not only informs system changes that can then be scaled at a building, district, or regional level, but is shared within our networks to accelerate learning within our field.
Continuous Improvement Model in Action
WREN coaches, with local improvement teams, use the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle as the main vehicle for identifying improvement ideas directed towards supporting our aim statement. PDSAs provide discipline and structure to our inquiry. The process enables us to test out changes on a small scale, build on the learning in a structured way, and try various contexts before full implementation. PDSAs help teams make data-based decisions that avoid one-size-fits-all solutions.
To be human-centered means that our improvement process prioritizes the perspectives and experiences of the people we are designing for.
When done well, a human-centered approach drives the creation of products and services that resonate more deeply with an audience and, thus, have greater impact. To be human-centered requires teams to diversify and be inclusive. And it means developing empathy for the users in our system. In other words, we need to deeply understand the diverse experiences, motivations, and values of students, families, and educators themselves. (Nelsetuen, K., Gillet, J., Overton, B., Smith, J., Tronco, A., & Whitlock, E. (n.d.). Human-Centered. Coaching for Improvement.)
As an educator-led, improvement-focused network that elevates and embraces teachers' voices, the WREN emphasizes the Oregon Equity Lens to interrupt historical patterns of inequities and support educators through every stage of their career, from recruitment through retirement.
We value taking the time to pause and reflect on our processes. Whose voices have been included and who has informed the problem(s) we are trying to address? Are we doing this with the community who is being impacted or for? If the answers to any of these questions elevate additional actions that should be taken, how might we ensure all the voices are at the tables? What steps need to be taken?
From OEA Educator Empowerment Academy
It's ok to take risks and learn from "failure." We define failure as learning that doesn't work.