I was doing some work for an upcoming talk when I came across this diagram. It is used in project quality management. It is a standard flowchart for designing continuous improvement. There are hundreds of examples of things like this. What I found particularly interesting is that if you look at it from the point of view of personal therapy, it is the basis for almost all therapeutic interventions.
The diagram starts off by asking "where are we today?" in comparison with where we want to be, or where we think we should be. You are then asked to visualize where you want to be. The next question is "how do we get there?". This gets the client to think about what has to be done to move in the direction of the desired state. The client is then invited to visualize exactly what the desired state will look like, and how they will feel, when it is achieved. This is the basis of most NLP therapy and the modelling of excellence.
The next stage is Gap Analysis. "Where are we now are versus where we want to be?". This determines the size of the problem. It naturally leads to an analysis of what has to be done to close the gap. From that, the gap can be broken down into smaller pieces and each tackled individually. Then the question is "what do we need to tackle first?". The various issues can be prioritised. You then focus your attention on those key features that will have the biggest impact.
Continuous Improvement Action Plan
Once you know what has to be done, in what sequence, you can begin to work on an action plan. For each action plan the client can decide whether they personally have enough resources, or whether they need help from other people. The client then lays out in detail everything that they have to do personally, and everything that they need to ask other people to do.
The action plan gets started, and then the client measures progress is that with the expected progress. If it isn't working, then they go back and change the action plan. The action cycle continues: measure the outcome, the back to the plan, to a new action, measure the outcome and check whether it is achieving the desired outcome. When all the planned actions have been finished, it is time to reassess the situation. At that point the therapist and the client discuss where they are compared with where they want to be. And the whole cycle starts again.
They say that there is nothing new under the sun. The things that we therapist do to try to improve people's lives are in no way unique. And certainly, looking at the therapy process from the perspective of quality management gives an interesting way of reassessing what we do.