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Developing Measures to Capture the Health of Your System

It is really easy to overthink the development of measures. One of the hardest parts of starting an improvement initiative is establishing a set of easy to collect and easy to understand measures that can support learning. Measures are how improvers monitor the impact of changes made and help capture different views of the system to understand if and how improvement happens.

Developing easy to track and easy to understand measures can be difficult because often our improvement aims are straightforward but complex.

developing measures blog frame from animation


Developing measures for the hybrid advising co-op was a big undertaking, and our team got a taste of our own medicine as we tried keeping it as simple as possible.

During the design phase of this project, our partners brainstormed a list of over 60–yes, six-zero–potential measures that could theoretically help us learn about different aspects of our theory of change. It took a few months of collaborating and learning with our six participating organizations to tighten our theory of change and agree to a more reasonable list of 22 measures, 16 of which were ‘required’ for all organizations. 

The goal of measurement for improvement is to capture useful snapshots of a system’s health from multiple perspectives as frequently as possible, and adapt our testing based on what we learn. This helps build a culture of learning while working collaboratively towards the aim. With the hybrid advising co-op, some of our measures are available monthly, others are quarterly, and others are annually, but together, they paint a picture of the overall health of each organization’s hybrid college advising model. In conjunction with the PDSA cycles and 90-day projects, each team is engaged in the improvement process and can use their data and learning to tell a story greater than the sum of its parts.



Are you ready to learn more about developing measures?

These videos were produced in a response to the need for digital/virtual resources during the pandemic. Shift created a series of 16 videos focused on core ideas, methods, and practices of Continuous Improvement.

Video: Developing Measures

If you're interested in working with Shift to develop measures for your improvement project, please reach out to us at hello@shift-results.com.

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