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PDCA

PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act, and is the basic principle for continuous improvement.

  • Planning means understanding what you are trying to achieve, understanding how things work, focusing in on the problem, finding root causes and creative solutions and planning their careful implementation.

  • Doing is not always as easy as it might seem. It may include training of people and other project management activities, but the biggest and simplest traps are often last minute changes. The problem with these is that if things go wrong, you cannot backtrack to the decision that led to the action and consequently have to start all over again.

  • Checking means checking the results and also comparing them with what you were expecting. When things go wrong and good results are not found, this is the part where courage, honesty and integrity is required to stick to the process. The key question when things go wrong is 'Why'. With a well documented process you will be able to go back to the exact point where an incorrect decision was made.

  • Acting means acting on what you found during the 'check' phase, which either means holding the gains and standardizing the process (e.g. within an ISO9000 system) or acting to learn from the experience and start again at the appropriate place.

PDCA is often called the Deming Cycle or Deming Wheel, although Deming attributed it to his teacher, Walter Shewart and called it the Shewart Cycle, which properly is Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA), which emphasizes the detailed approach during the Check phase.

The cynic's version of PDCA is Please Don't Change Anything.

 

 

See also:

Kaizen

Toolbook chapter: Processes

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