Mr Potato Head 

As part of a workshop on June 7, I led 100 people through an experience of the Model for Improvement.

We used the Mr. Potato Head exercise developed by my colleague Dr. Dave Williams at TrueSimple, LLC.   Dave has prepared a clear and complete instructor’s guide, available for free on his website,

The idea is that each team aims to build a Mr. Potato Head in the least amount of time, with high fidelity when they compare their version to the standard version in the photo. Teams are asked to explicitly identify the change they want to test to improve performance and then predict the time and accuracy values for the build.

We stress the point that knowledge about a system can be measured by your ability to predict performance.

As part of the exercise, I asked each of the 14 teams to share their performance data after each test cycle.   I showed the data using the meeting room's projector via an R script running on my laptop.

When I got home from the workshop, I converted the R script into a Shiny app, which takes a CSV file of the Mr Potato Head data and shows a “small multiples” display of time and Accuracy.

The app allows the instructor or participants to download a .png image of the graph to review and annotate.


Taking my own advice: Using the Model for Improvement to (re) design a workshop session on the fly 

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