The Deming cycle
Posted by isoeasy on May 12, 2006
The Deming cycle, or PDSA cycle, refers to a logical sequence of four repetitive steps for continuous improvement and learning: Plan, Do, Check (also known as Study) and Act (or Action).
Planning ('Plan') the improvement of an activity should be followed by execution ('Do') of the activity according to the plan. One should then measure and study ('Check') the results and the improvement. Action ('Act') should then be taken toward adapting the objectives and/or improvement. The consequent learning should be implemented in planning the new activities.
The Deming cycle allows an organization to manage improvement initiatives in an disciplined fashion. When confronted with this model for the first time, many realize that they are steering, but not really managing their organization.
Systematically go through the four steps when pursuing improvement in specified activities.
Plan ahead for change. Analyse the current situation and potential impacts of adjustments before doing anything else. Predict what different results are expected, with or without a theory. How can you measure the impact, if and when the desired result has been achieved? Plan to include result measurement in the execution. Make an implementation plan with assigned responsibilities for participants.
Experience shows that it doesn't hurt to ask the following questions:
* What are we trying to achieve?
* How can this be linked to the higher purpose of our organization?
* Where will it happen?
* When will it happen?
* What is the step-by-step procedure?
* How can we measure the improvement, if at all?
When executing, do take small steps in controlled circumstances in order to be able to attribute improvements (or failures) to the planned changes in the activity.Study the results of your experiment. Did the desired result occur? If not, why not?
Take action to standardize the process that produced the desired result, or, in the event that the result proved to be different from that which was desired, use the experience as input for new attempts at improvement.Many organizations are unable to specify objectives, activities and desired results, let alone to systematically and consistently manage their own improvements, Deming cycle or not.
There have been several adaptations of the Deming cycle. For example, Plan can be split up into: determine goals and targets, and determine methods of reaching goals. Do can be split up in training and education, and implementation. The Deming cycle constitutes an important part of kaizen thinking described another post.