2000px-PDCA_Cycle.svg
Above is an illustration of the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) process.

When it comes to innovations, it’s all about the “proof in the pudding”; results. That’s why the Peak Academy and so many others turn to the A3 and PDCA methods. Scientifically supported, PDCA and A3 thinking are repetitive management methods used in science, government and private enterprises to identify and eliminate systematic defects, as well as manage, continuously improve and sustain systems at every level.

So what does it mean to ‘plan’ (phase 1)?

  • Ask yourself and team: why is change needed? Why are we doing this? What is the burning platform? What is the chief complaint?
  • Quantitatively & qualitatively describe & document attributes of your system’s current state (baseline) and graphically present it.
  • Quantitatively & qualitatively describe & document attributes of your systems’ target state and goal, and graphically present it.
  • Identify the root causes, wastes, problems and points; areas of improvement for your system.
  • Identify and generate experiments/treatments designed to eliminate your system’s root causes, problems, pain points, etc.
  • Confirm that the current and target state goals and metrics are defined and achievable – SMART (simple, measurable, realistic and time based)?

What does it mean to ‘do’ (phase 2)?

  • Create & implement a plan that will facilitate and hold members of your team accountable for running experiments and gathering results.

What does it mean to ‘check’ (phase 3)?

  • Study & document your results and compare them against the expected results (target state and goals) to determine any improvements or failures (learning opportunities).
  • Look for completed and defective action items.
  • Document the outcomes – metrics/data to see trends over 90 days (3-30 day cycles).
  • Several PDCA/A3 cycles may be needed in order to convert the collected data of your experiments into documented results
A3 & PDCA METHOD COMPARISON
Above is an illustration of how A3 and PDCA thinking can align. .

What does it mean to ‘act’ (phase 4)?

  • If the results gathered show that the experiments generated during phase 1 were actualized during phase 2, then the improvements to the system (current state) become the new system (baseline & standard) for how the enterprise should act going forward.
  • If the results gathered show that phase 1 was not actualized during phase 2, then the experiments tested do not become the new system (baseline & standard) for how the enterprise should operate moving forward, and the PDCA/A3 cycle should start over.

Some believe that at this point (phase 4) treatments, or corrective actions can be made just off the cuff, without metrics, data or a thoughtful hypothesis. However, it is contradictory to the principles of A3 and PDCA thinking. Proposing and deciding upon changes to a system without using the PDCA or A3 method is problematic and doesn’t facilitate continuous results.

PDCA_Process
Above is an illustration of how A3 and PDCA thinking work to generate continuous improvement.

Globally, today, and continuously over time, A3 and PDCA thinking have engaged staff at every level, improved systems from every angle, and have expanded the collective understanding of humanity. The A3 and PDCA process generate results, and let’s face it, who doesn’t want continuously improved results?

 

Resources: Rother, Mike, Shewhart, Deming, Ronald Moen, and Jeffrey Liker. “PDCA.” Wikipedia.org. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc, 25 Nov. 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015. < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDCA >.

 

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