The Role of Background Data in the Improvement Project

The Role of Background Data in the Improvement Project

Capella University


The Role of Background Data in the Improvement Project

This paper discusses the role of background data in the improvement project using the Harlem Children’s Home case study. The paper explains the ways in which an action researcher uses qualitative and quantitative background information to arrive at a decision regarding a project to improve an organizational process. The paper explains the situation of the organization after implementation of the improvement. Also described in the paper are the alternatives for improving the process, and a comparison of the risks, consequences, and trade-offs of alternative improvements. The paper finalizes by discussing the best course of action.

The organization after an improvement is implemented

According to the case study, Canada was highly committed to Rheedlen’s continued rapid growth. As the CEO, he felt that the HCZ was going to be the best model for its future. However, he had some unresolved questions concerning specific aspects or elements in the organization’s growth. Furthermore, he was short of critical information to champion fully informed decisions(Grossma & Curran, 2004).

Using the data and with careful decision making, the future organization would have a system of honing and monitoring its program mix inside the Zone. The organization would have best and strong infrastructure. Outside the organization, the HCZ would be a model organization for such other upcoming organization. There would be improved lives of the disadvantaged children living in the zone with excellent, accessible schools and social programs. The improved organization would also have an aligned management structure with key infrastructure to support its new strategy like a new COO position(Grossma & Curran, 2004).

Alternatives to Improving the Process

In reference to Reason, et al (2008), other than using an action research to improve a process there are other alternative ways. First it the A unified approach. This is a unified and combined approach to improvement uses the Deming philosophy. In this process, rather than learning and applying one technique the process improvement can take a whole system view for improvement. This can enable tackling anything complicated in the whole system.

The Flowchart could also help in improving the process. Though the flowchart, the HCZ can know if some stages are unnecessary. This can help in ensuring that time is spent only on the processes that improve the organization. It also helps to identify all the internal and external factors that can lead to organizational improvement. The flowchart process will enable the organization to spot the areas that wastes the organizations resources and remove them while keeping only those activities that ensures organizational improvement(Reason, et al., 2008).

The likely Risks, Unintended Consequences, and Trade-Offs of Alternatives

In reference to Reason, et al., (2008), the unified approach is more or less similar to action research. Both these processes take the whole system into account while considering improvement. However, the unified approach is not as exhaustive as action research. Action research designs and conduct data analysis for improvement of the whole system. The unified approach, on the other hand, is specifically designed to solve some problem within the whole system. Typically, both action research and the unified approach considers the whole system. However, while action research considers improving the whole system, the unified approach is concerned with on process in the whole system that works for the whole system or organization. But the two processes can be used to complement one another for effective results.

Reason, et al., (2008) explains that the flowchart approach has more risks with unprecedented consequences. First, its goal is to identify unnecessary steps in the process. Some steps can seem unnecessary but very important to the whole success of the organization. Additionally, it may not be clear how to sum up the necessary and the unnecessary processes in the organization while they were all designed to lead to the organization’s success. Moreover, the essentials of what is done or to be done can easily get lost in the technical details of the flowchart.Alterations and modifications are difficult in a flowchart that an action research because the flowchart may require complete re-drawing, which can waste valuable time and resources.

The Best Course of Action

With regards to Reason, et al., (2008) , and usually, in action research, the researcher identifies a serious need for adjustment in their existing practice and obtain a sense for that change, for all people involved, and within their context.This is the best course of action. An action that details the whole system with all its processes and improves the whole system with regards to ensuring improved processes. A unified approach could be a best action, if it focused on improving the whole process and not a single process in the whole system. The flowchart process has several unprecedented risks and that can consume most of the organization’s time and resources in improving the process (Reason, et al., 2008).

In conclusion, through action research the organization can attain the much needed and planned improvement of the process. There are alternatives, but action research stands out as the best approach among the available alternatives. After improvement, the organization would have improved systems, best infrastructure, and a generally improved and efficient organization(Grossma & Curran 2004).


Grossma, A. & Curran, D. (2004). The Harlem Children’s Zone; Driving Performance with Measurement and Evaluation. Harvard Business School, 9-303-109

Reason, Peter & Bradbury, Hilary (Eds.) (2008). Action research: Participative inquiry and practice (second edition). London: Sage.

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