One More Reason to Use the Deming Cycle

PDCA-Kreis (Qualitätsmanagement)

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[tweetmeme]Regular readers of this blog and Lean practitioners are aware of Plan – Do- Study – Act (PDCA) which is also known as the Deming Cycle.  There are several reasons to follow the PDCA formula.  Previous posts have stressed the need to follow-up, i.e. Check, after implementing changes.  Follow-up is needed to ensure that the new procedures are being followed, there are no unintended negative consequences, and that desired results are there.  There is another reason not to neglect the follow-up, one that is potentially more powerful that the others.

One of the teams that I am currently working with demonstrated that follow-up can lead to further Continuous Improvement.  The team was discussing the effectiveness of the countermeasures implemented the previous week.  The discussion indicated that these countermeasures were at least as effective as anticipated.  Instead of just saying, “Great, let’s move on to the next problem,” the team started discussion how the new best practice could be standardized even further.  The newest best practice will double the life of the knife blades involved.  Clearly this would cut the cost of the blades in half and reduce the downtime required to change the blades by 50%.

[tweetmeme]Have you seen promising initiatives that didn’t deliver the expected results due to inadequate follow-up?  Have you seen projects that could have been even better with some tweeking of the best practice?  It is natural to want to move on to the next issue once you have implemented a new procedure.  More Doing without adequate Planing and Checking turns the Deming Cycle into the Silly Cycle.  Resist that temptation so you and your team can enjoy the benefits of further Continuous Improvement.

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Related posts:

What Could Be Easier (PDCA)?


5 Reasons You Need to do a DMAIC

DMAIC part 2

Lean Learning Cycle


About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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9 Responses to One More Reason to Use the Deming Cycle

  1. Redge says:

    Hi Chris, I don’t consider the PDCA process to be a one time activity. Indeed, it is a continuous cycle and as such is it’s own inherent follow up process. This cyclic process is also exemplified in Mike Rother’s “Toyota Kata” where the PDCA cycle is never ending, knowing that the elusive goal of perfection is never achieved.

    Targets are set for each iteration of the PDCA cycle. Hits and misses should be subject to the same degree of scrutiny to demonstrate the result was neither luck or a one time misfortune.

    I’m glad to see this topic discussed as it is literally the engine that drives every improvement initiative regardless of scope or scale. Great topic, excellent series.

    • Hi Redge,

      Thank you for your insightful comments. You are absolutely correct. Completing the PDCA is not like crossing home in baseball. Instead of going to the dugout, you go back to the top and continue the process. Most significant improvements will need some further improvements to the original plan when you follow up in the “Act” stage. Naturally, there needs to be more follow up once the latest improvements have been tested which could lead to more changes. In the spirit of Continuous Improvement, it’s never quite written in stone. I also like your comment about setting goals for each iteration of the PDCA. This would provide more focus on the right results. Thanks again.


      • Frances says:

        This is a really great post. I even posted this link to my Facebook page. You write concisely about a process that should be obvious to me but somehow I get lost in the maze sometimes. Thank you for your clarity!

      • Frances,

        Thanks for the kind feedback. I’m glad you find it helpful.


  2. Pingback: Continuous Improvement Projects: Expectations and Reflection « The Lean Logistics Blog

  3. Pete N. says:

    On top of the PDCA cycle I would add “Whip the W.I.P”. In order to have a successful cycle you need to have a minimal amount of time pass. The faster you can whip through the cycle the faster you can start the next cycle with the improved method. W.I.P. can be any type of work in process from manufacturing parts to an engineering design process. I hope this helps.

  4. khalid abdul waheed says:

    I thing this is very good practically applicable tool for industry people for planning,leading,organizing and monitoring .
    please send me urher detail on my email address.

  5. Pingback: Continuous Improvement Projects: Expectations and Reflection | The Lean Logistics Blog

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