Throughout the world, personal resolutions (commitments) are made as the year comes to an end. From ancient Babylonians returning borrowed objects and paying debts to medieval knights taking the “peacock vow” and re-affirming their commitment to chivalry, starting fresh with each New Year is a timeless practice. Surprisingly, it is estimated that as many as 75-88% of resolutions made for the New Year are not successful. We think it’s possible that incorporating quality tools are just what we need to bring those numbers down and make the positive changes successful. Here are several quality tools we find applicable for both personal and professional development. S.W.O.T. Analysis One of the most effective tools for both organizational and self-assessment is the S.W.O.T. analysis. As a starting process for developing New Year’s resolutions, it is an introspective way of evaluating personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Worksheet Resource Brainstorming It’s been said that deciding is half the battle. If that were true, it would be helpful to have a comprehensive list of potential resolution candidates – or anything that you could do to see a positive result in the coming year. Use mind-mapping to sort it all out. Mind-Mapping Resource Affinity Diagrams With the list generated through the brainstorming process, group the items into more specific, similar categories. How-To Resource Bar Charts Use bar charts to provide a visual representation of the situation. Excel is an ideal tool for creating quick and easy charts. They can be used to identify areas of focus and monitor progress throughout in support of continuous improvement actions. Excel Column Chart Resource Pareto Analysis Using the categories determined from the affinity diagram and possibly the information from the histogram, pick those that represent 20% of the total. With this, we can assume improving on this 20% will reap us 80% of the benefits. S.M.A.R.T Goals Once you have primary issues or resolutions notes, make each one a S.M.A.R.T. goal that you record and share with others. Studies have shown sharing a resolution with others increases the success. S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. How-To & Template Resource Flowcharts Flowcharts are great for continuous improvement. Map out the process of reaching the resolution. It’s beneficial to visually see how a goal is being met. Complete Tutorial w/ Examples PDCA Drucker may not have been thinking about New Year’s resolutions when he spoke of Plan-Do-Check-Act, but it certainly applies. The tools listed above have laid out a plan, so it becomes important to follow-up and take corrective actions where necessary. Plan – Identify what you want to do and how you can achieve the results. (See above) Do – Put your plan into action. Keep track of efforts and results. Check – Compare results to expectations at regular intervals. Act – Keep doing what works and improve on what’s not. To learn more about these and other quality tools, the Quality Toolbox is a must-have. To get kids involved with using quality tools, look at Thinking Tools for Kids. For this article, we used the following reference, in addition to the other links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_resolution This article was originally published in Pro QC’s December 2012 quarterly newsletter.