Welcome to the Cove, Ric!
Great question to start things off.
In my experience, the larger the organization, the more likely the process for preventive action (changing a process to prevent occurrences of a nonconformance regardless if there have actually BEEN any nonconformances)
will follow these basic steps:
- an individual spots an opportunity for preventing a nonconformance
- individual reports opportunity formally or informally to a designated person or to a committee which will appoint a designated person to investigate
- designated person explores potential of the idea (up to and including a model DOE [Design of Experiments])
- designated person reports results of investigation to management committee which may allocate funds to implement or determine not enough economic benefit can be derived.
- a report goes back to the initial individual regarding final action/no action
the best organizations have a formal communication process to inform affected parties of pending investigations and results of those investigations to avoid repetitive suggestions or to elicit ideas to enhance the original proposal.