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Developing a Workforce with Profound Knowledge

Co-authored by Paige Thompson and Eric Budd

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Our goal at Emergent Biosolutions: Create a sustainable culture of organizational excellence. 

Our leadership recognized that the foundation of our development strategy required a focus on thinking in systems within a culture of a continuous improvement learning lifecycle (PDSA2) culture. W. Edwards Deming's System of Profound Knowledge3 meets this foundational need, allows us to bring systems thinking to all levels of the company, and respects our people and core values. The Capital Quality and Innovation (IQI) Academy for Quality Management Fundamentals4 provides a venue for this to take place. 

Our initial obstacle to overcome was that employees mistakenly perceived the curriculum as best suited for our “quality” teams. This is far from the truth. The emphasis in the title is better placed on Management rather than Quality.  The IQI Academy applies to all levels of organizational experience and applies to every business function. Our investments in IQI Academy participation also pays dividends by:

  • Increasing individuals’ joy in work

  • Developing leadership skills for the good of the organization

  • Teaching a deeper understanding of variation in operations and business support systems

When defining our strategy for employee participation we did not believe that mass enrollment would be successful from a cultural change perspective. Nor did we expect that everyone in the organization would be available to make the commitment of six sessions spaced across 12 weeks. We made a key decision to enroll employees from all areas in manageable cohorts of 7-10 people. 

Strategically selecting participants (high performers willing to learn from each major functional area) has helped to obtain the "thinking in systems" buy-in and support in each area for which we had hoped. These individuals have become champions “in-place” for the principles learned in the IQI Academy. It has also been vital for us to obtain sponsors in each functional area.  

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Tina M