Since this was a classroom situation and this was a first exposure to CQI for most of the students, we did a couple of simple exercises I like to do. One was the ball passing exercise. I put the students in a circle and then have them toss a ball across the circle to someone else progressively until everyone has had the ball. We then do it for time. They get marginally better with a few iterations, then I encourage them to think about how to improve the process. Eventually they realize that if they reorganize the circle they can simply hand the ball around the circle, which dramatically decreases process time and error rate (fewer dropped balls). The improvement requires no additional resources, which is an important part of the lesson.
I then showed them a few slides about PDCA with an example of a hospital that has an out of control length of stay situation for a given DRG. We talk about that and how we might apply iterative improvements.
I then showed them one of my favorite innovation examples, the IDEO Shopping Cart video:
Then we did an iterative improvement exercise where I gave them a can of play dough and a pile of popsicle sticks and told them that they were competing in teams to build the tallest tower they could from just those two materials, and they had only 3 minutes to do it.
The simple task and short time frame allowed for four iterations - one practice and three for time. (You can see some of the students working on a design above.) The rapid cycle allowed them to revise and improve on previous experiences. One of the processes most of them adopted was preparing balls of play dough before the clock started (I told them the play dough and sticks had to be separate before the time started, but not that the play dough had to be in one lump).
I think these are good, inexpensive means with high involvement for introducing the concept of CQI.