Shift recognizes that improvement projects don’t unfold in a linear fashion. Our team emphasizes ongoing learning and involves continually fine tuning the solutions so that they have the highest possible likelihood of success.
Those introduced to the world of improvement science have described the experience as walking into Home Depot after only relying on a hammer, nail, and a couple of screw drivers to build an entire home.
For Theresa Todd, an improvement advisor at Shift, this is the eye-opening experience she wants participants to have when using the tools that improvement science offers.
“That’s what I love about improvement. It’s so simple. It’s so accessible, and it can really address 80% of the issues that are out there,” Todd said.
Todd’s work involves helping clients identify where there are opportunities for improvements in their respective systems – especially opportunities to increase equity. The tools and processes used to get there, however, are different depending on where each client or organization is in their improvement journey. From PDSA Cycles to Root Cause Analysis to SMARTIE Aims, there’s a whole host of tools that organizations can pull from to make the necessary changes they want to see.
“We design with people,” Todd stated. “We Incorporate their emotions and their perspectives to explore how change can happen. My role is to support the organizations and people who are trying to make these changes.”
Centering people in this process is a key signature of the way Shift approaches improvement science. This means bringing different — and often overlooked — voices, perspectives, and roles into the work.
Right now, Todd is supporting the Student Experience Project (SEP), which is aimed at increasing positive experiences for racially and numerically underrepresented students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) on six college campuses. Shift's approach involves working not only with campus administrators, advisers, and STEM leads, but also with instructors and students to help address the drivers that will lead to positive change.
“I believe in creating improvement with people and not just for them, and my Shift teammates believe this as well,” Todd said, “We’re here to help those on the ground be arbiters of the change they are trying to make.”
Working with an improvement advisor allows participants in an organization to better achieve their aim or the outcome that they’re going for. It’s a fluid task for someone like Todd, who has spent more than 10 years in this field, and has seen this science work in a variety of contexts – from healthcare to education to the social sectors.
“There’s not just one way to do this,” Todd said. “Just like every person is unique, every organization is unique, and so is our approach.”
Shift recognizes that improvement projects don’t unfold in a linear fashion. Our team emphasizes ongoing learning and involves continually fine tuning the solutions so that they have the highest possible likelihood of success. Every project that Shift supports means investing in the organization’s cause, maintaining inclusivity, and adapting their approaches to complexities that may arise. It also means making equity a priority.
“Shift’s dedication to focusing on equity is foundational to our culture,” Todd said. “There’s also an unrelenting desire to collaborate with others to do this important work. The desire is present and pressing at this organization.”
This cultural ideology reveals itself in the many projects Todd has supported through her work with Shift. For example, Networks for School Improvements is focused on removing barriers to student achievement. Likewise, in the Improvement Methods For Equity project, Shift teaches improvement approaches in service of creating equitable outcomes.
In whatever sector Todd – or Shift – is implementing the tools, techniques, and processes of improvement science, the purpose remains the same.
“Giving people agency is an inspiration. I love putting the right tools in their hands to make equitable change. It’s this people power that makes all the difference.” Todd said.