Glossary: Quality Improvement

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Aim Statement: An aim statement is a written, measurable, and time-specific description of the accomplishments the team expects to make from its improvement efforts. More Information: Aim Statements


Brainstorming: Creatively and effectively generates a high volume of ideas on a given topic, in a non-judgmental way. More Information: Brainstorming


Cause and Effect Diagram: See Fishbone Diagram

Check Sheet: A method of recording and compiling data from archives or observations, to detect trends or patterns. More Information: Check Sheets

Control Chart: Helps to monitor, control, and improve process performance over time by studying variation and its source. More Information: Control Charts

Critical Path: The sequence of activities during a project that, if one is delayed, will delay the entire project. More Information: Gantt Charts


Fishbone Diagram: A diagram that resemble "fishbones" when mapped out, which help organizations narrow down root causes to problems. More Information: Fishbone Diagrams

Flowchart: Flowcharts identify the steps and sequence of events in a process so as to minimize duplication, address problem areas, and standardize work. More Information: Flowcharts

Force Field Analysis: A technique that helps organizations investigate the balance of power in resolving an issue, by pitting the "pros" and "cons" of a situation against one another. More Information: Force Field Analyses


Gantt Chart: A way of scheduling a project's activities, which shows the most efficient way of organizing/sequencing activities, to maximize output in the shortest reasonable time. More Information: Gantt Charts


Histogram: Summarizes process data over a period of time, and presents frequency in the form of a bar graph. More Information: Histograms


Impact Objective: An objective intended to measure a program's impact on participant attitudes, behaviors, or knowledge. More Information: Writing Meaningful Objectives

Interrelationship Digraph: Interrelationship digraphs identify and analyze relationships among critical factors that impact an issue so as to hone in on key drivers and outcomes. More Information: Interrelationship Digraphs


Kaizen: A Kaizen event is a facilitated group effort that looks closely at a process to target wait time, duplicative work, and other waste that makes your job more difficult than it needs to be. More Information: Lean and Kaizen


Lean: Lean thinking comes from the Japanese manufacturing industry and has been applied to many industries including health care and public health. The idea is to work smarter, not harder. More Information: Lean and Kaizen

Line of Sight Model: See Logic Model

Logic Model: Logic models illustrate how a project, program, or policy is understood or intended to produce particular results. More Information: Logic Models


Mission Statement: A mission statement allows a group to work toward a common purpose, in a unified manner. For help in creating or assessing a mission statement, visit:
Community Engagement: Mission Clarity
Community Engagement: Developing a Mission Statement

Multivoting: See Nominal Group Technique


Nominal Group Technique: A way of coming to a consensus based on the relative importance of issues or solutions. More Information: Nominal Group Technique


Objective: A measurable benchmark against which an organization can measure its progress toward a goal. More Information: Writing Meaningful Objectives

Outcome Objective: An objective intended to measure a program's quantifiable progress against benchmarks, grounded in measurable data. More Information: Writing Meaningful Objectives


Pareto Chart: Focuses on the problems that offer the greatest potential for improvement by showing their relative frequency or size in a descending bar graph. More Information: Pareto Charts

PDSA: Plan-Do-Study-Act: Also called Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA). An iterative, four-stage problem-solving model used for improving a process or carrying out change. More Information: PDSA

Performance Improvement: The concept that a process can be measured and then modified to increase efficiency, efficacy, or output.

Performance Management: A method of working together to ensure that goals are achieved efficiently, best using an organization's resources.

Prioritization Matrix: A tool that can help an organization make decisions by narrowing options down by systematically comparing choices through the selection, weighing, and application of criteria. More Information: Prioritization Matrices

Process Objective: An objective intended to measure the steps an organization takes in working toward meeting a goal. More Information: Writing Meaningful Objectives


Quality Improvement: Quality improvement (QI) methods and tools are resources for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of public health processes and activities.

Quality Improvement Collaborative: A partnership between the Local Public Health Association, MDH, and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, intending to build a cultural of continuous quality improvement within the state's public health system.


Radar Chart: Radar charts show the gap between current and optimal performance for a variety of factors related to organizational or team performance. More Information: Radar Charts

Rapid Cycle Improvement: See PDSA

Run Chart: Tracks data over time to identify trends or patterns. More Information: Run Charts


Scatter Diagram: Tracks data to identify the relationship between two variables. More Information: Scatter Diagrams

Smart Chart: A communication tool, used to help organizations plan communications strategies. More Information: Smart Chart

Social Network Analysis (SNA): A method to assess the informal staff relationships that exist in an organization, with the end goal of using pre-existing relationships to build stronger teams and useful redundancies. More Information: Social Network Analysis

Steering Committee: A group that prioritizes an organization's or program's goals and business objectives.

Strategic Planning: The process of defining an organization's mission, vision, and values, and translating them into actionable goals. More Information: Strategic Planning

SWOT: Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats. A tool used to analyze the internal and external factors that might contribute to an organization's success or negatively impact its work. More Information: SWOT


Tree Diagram: A planning tool that helps link goals and sub-goals to activities. More Information: Tree Diagrams