Bamford, D. & Greatbanks, R. OR Insight (2010) 23: 44. doi:10.1057/ori.2009.13
Most mature organisations regularly undertake varying forms of business improvement activities, from specific operationally focused project activities to organisation-wide change initiatives. While the success of business improvement approaches is often debated, such initiatives always leave some form of trace or legacy behind, often in the form of specific processes and procedures, individual or group behaviours, or even a different organisational culture. We refer to the residual traces of previous quality improvement initiatives as quality deposits, and suggest that where an organisation has gone through several change processes over an extended period, it would be useful to examine and recognise the cumulative effect of these quality deposits when considering future strategy development. This article expands on the existing, but limited, quality deposit theory by reviewing potential methodologies that may be adopted when considering quality deposits within any organisation. The article briefly reflects on quality deposits theory, and locates this concept within the current change management literature. The quality deposits approach is then used to analyse a case organisation, and discussion of the potential benefits of this approach is provided before highlighting aspects of potential future research. The article concludes that through examining past operational initiatives, important knowledge can be gained that will be of value in planning future business improvement activities.