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CareTrek and PROOF™: Innovation, TQM and Reengineering

Posted by Joe Antle on May 3, 2021, 9:40 AM EDT
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In earlier blog posts, I have tried to make the case that CareTrek and PROOF™ together are practical and evidence-based innovations that...

...depending on how an organization deploys them, many innovations can be described either as a "disruptive" innovation, if done at scale, or a "sustaining" innovation if done in very targeted ways or using component parts of the overall solution set.  By component parts, I mean to suggest that either CareTrek can be provided as a sustaining innovation around traditional substance abuse recovery or prevention models, doing alcohol and drug testing verification testing in traditional ways.  Correspondingly,  PROOF™ can be deployed in place of various drug-free workplace practices, whether implementing CareTrek as a comprehensive and affordable recovery effectiveness program or not.  In this instance, PROOF™ is a sustained innovation implemented as a "point solution" replacing traditional location-based specimen collection, lab processing administration and results reporting models.  Of course, telehealth substance abuse counseling can be leveraged in either model-whether implementing CareTrek with traditional testing or CareTrek and PROOF™ as an "end-to-end" integrated telehealth solution.  Another way to differentiate between the two is that with disruptive innovations (also known as "market-creating" innovations, a new label given by author/innovation researcher Dr. Clayton Christensen) the innovation actually competes against non-consumption, usually providing decisive and discernible value in all or most of the following benefits-convenience, affordability, reliability, effectiveness and/or simplicity.  Sustaining innovations can be differentiated by enabling an existing process, service, product, or organization to have a significant competitive advantage in existing markets around at least one of the above benefits.

Nonetheless, I prefer to think of the combination of CareTrek and PROOF™ or as individual services as providing enormous flexibility for serving existing markets in a better way or for serving markets that are currently not served at all due to inconvenience, high cost, poor quality, not reliable or complex and complicated.

In more recent blog posts, I have sided on the side of thinking of CareTrek and PROOF™ as a "Third Way" innovation whereby PROOF™ is the core solution and is dramatically enhanced by the SUD counseling, meeting attendance, and activities tracking, monitoring, and reporting services of CareTrek.  Or conversely, CareTrek becomes an innovative replacement to core products and services, and PROOF™ becomes a complementary supporting product set.  In either angle, the concept of the Third Way of innovation is to leverage a better overall outcome than the individual elements might bring if not fully compatible, integrated and coordinated, or administered in tandem.

So, a question emerges as to how do such innovations compare with prior business processes and strategic organizational execution concepts such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and business process reengineering of the recent past.  There could be many qualified responses from others to this question who are far more educated and enlightened than I am to each one or all of these concepts that underpin bold and sustainable improvements in methodology or organizational or community-based outcomes.  

However, since I am writing this particular blog post and have spent some time thinking through these concepts I will offer an opinion to a reasonable question.

TQM emerged largely from the manufacturing world and gained traction as a way to improve processes through statistical analysis and the input of the experts who do that actual work.  Within time it became a tool that would be effective at building employee engagement through the use of teams in participative management activities and input in the work that they do, thus leading to improved outcomes.  TQM was then proved to be effective in making improvements in service work as well.

Reengineering in my very simplistic view was often put in place by either management, consultants, or by participatory management techniques, in some cases evolving from TQM efforts.  Reengineering often was leverage by the deployment of new technologies, tools, or strong organizational redesign efforts based on technology, external strategic partnerships, and/or outsourcing tasks to external vendors.  So, in this view of organizational process changes, reengineering often provided an "order of magnitude" improvement in quality, costs, scale, or output than the slower,  more participatory model of TQM.

As time went by, many reengineering efforts took on the more humanistic characteristics of TQM, meaning that employees affected by the work changes would play roles in the research and implementation of bolder changes.

TQM and reengineering in the context of innovation are more likely to be seen as sustaining innovations.  They rarely change the core offering or open new markets. Instead, when done well and correctly, they are techniques that provide substantial and sustained improvements in costs, quality, cycle time, or process execution.

CareTrek and PROOF™ together as an integrated "platform" or as component parts can be strategically used to provide modest improvements and bolder "scalable" improvements, depending on the needs of organizations, groups of people, or communities.

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