The PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) is not just another quality tool or quality notion. The PDCA cycle is sometimes linked with PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) which basically are both the same in my eyes. The PDCA/ PDSA cycles are not merely quality tools but are how we deal effectively with life. PDCA is used in more areas than most of us think. For example – in getting to work in the morning we must PLAN what time we need to get up, the best route to get there and prepare our needed items in advance. Next comes the DO which merely means we implement our plan and get to work (car, bus, etc…). The 3rd step is to CHECK (or study) the effectiveness of the results. Did we get to our destination on time and safely? Lastly comes ACT which means that – based on the results of our planning and implementation efforts we either correct the results or possibly refine/ improve how we will do it the next time. If we did not meet the goal we call it corrective action. If we did and we look to improve the results it is called continual improvement. Either way action based on data/ results is taken.
This can be applied to other life processes as well such as cooking dinner. In this case we (PLAN) the meal (what, when, how many people, etc…), We (Do) prepare the meal after which we (CHECK) the results by eating it and then (ACT) decide if we need to either make it over, add some seasoning or make it different next time.
The PDCA is also commonly usd in the quality field as an improvement tool. After an opportunity for improvement is selected a definitive PLAN is developed to attack it. The plan is again implemented (Do) and the results verified (Check) for effectiveness. Did we achieve the goal (reduce an event from occurring, remove a defect, increase the throughput of a process, etc…). At this point we either determine we need to reformulate our plan or conclude that we achieved the goal and move onto improve the process further or move onto another process altogether.
As you can plainly see the PDCA/ PDSA cycle is not just another “Quality tool”. It is how we effectively deal with life and improve things.
Here is to effective problem solving.
Posted on January 21, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
Mark, this is a great article. I use PDCA all the time in my process training work. Since pdca is the foundation of many quality management processes and is therefore easier to explain.
What about the CAP-Do Concept?
When to use the CAP-Do concept?
You should really get a life outside work…… (lol)
Next you will tell us about supplier assessments (how was the quality of the butcher’s meat, was the grocery store clean, was the wine as good as you expected it to be) perform customer satisfaction surveys (interviewing guests @ dinner parties) and start a Kaizen project to minimize waste on food by joining the leftoverfood group.
But I have to say, I use similar examples to explain Deming circle, KPI, OCAP and policy deployment to staff and it works really well!! (Try the toaster story with toasting white loaf which does not come out the way you want it…)
And it’s true, if we all use our blackberry and PDA, why not use the PDCA??
That will be in the next blog – LOL.
Thanks for the feedback.
Nice article!!! it is really helpful especially when you are developing new processes (products. This can be very useful in R&D. Hope all can begin to use it and monitored its effectiveness.
In the application of the PDCA loop you must be careful to account for your process intrinsic variability. In your example of getting to work suppose you arrive 10 minutes early so you decide to ACT and leave for work 10 minutes later the following day: you might arrive 15 minutes late!
This means you must take several readings of your process (say starting several days at the same time) to evaluate the intrinsic variability of getting to work before you decide to ACT: change starting time.
Changing the process after every outcome would lead you to over-reaction which would increase the process variability: you would arrive too late or too early more often.
Agree 100%. This was just a simple explanation of the concept. You are correct though. The Nelson Funnel experiment is a great example of reacting after each trial vs looking at the data over time.
This is a simple and straightforward article on PDCA. I agree that, it has larger role in life then confined to the quality field. I use PDCA in project proposal and indicate what need to be done in each step of the project. J. Liker in his recent book on Continuous Improvement in Toyota has elaborated on widespread use of PDCA. In fact, I will be presenting a paper on using PDCA in equipment turnaround project.