PDCA…Plan, Do, Check, Act
I like the PDCA cycle for three reasons:
- It’s simple
- It provides a pathway for teaching
- It works
I love teaching. For me, seeing the light bulb over a lean student’s head illuminate for the first time is highly rewarding. Because of this disposition, early years of my lean journey were filled with many moments of frustration. If co-workers entrusted to me by management did not become fully engaged with the topics at hand, training sessions would lack enough enthusiasm to gain success. Without proper training and understanding of key concepts, lean initiatives would oftentimes stagnate. As a lean leader, this trend became personal…a little learning only gives a little reward.
During my years of learning, sharing, and teaching lean concepts, these situations led me to an important discovery. Not everyone asked to become part of a lean transformation is personally on-board …especially at the beginning.
Thinking through this over time, I found that my teaching/coaching success could be greatly increased by purposefully ‘tweaking’ what I was teaching so it could be absorbed by those involved personally.
To help illustrate the idea, here’s how I best relate to the PDCA cycle:
PLAN: Can I be honest? I’m not very good at planning…at least in the way I’ve been forced to plan projects throughout my career. Too much office time…I need to be in the trenches. For me, planning is better understood as Scale or Shape. I PLAN best by making a simple SKETCH.
DO: Now we’re talking. Skip plan, let’s DO something! What does DO mean to me? Perform, Persist, Practice, Pursue? Maybe…but I get more things done when I’m having fun. I’d rather PLAY.
CHECK: Seems too easy. We all know the importance of measuring what we’re trying to improve. Inspect and Investigate. Lots of things to look at, including people involved. In order to CHECK what people are doing, I need to INQUIRE.
ACT: Not the final act! The process only works if we keep going through the cycle. Numbers are set, and we Negotiate. That’s fine, but unless I NOURISH what’s been discovered, the cycle stops.
My personal ‘SPIN’ on the PDCA cycle: Sketch, Play, Inquire, Nourish. Those four words I relate to personally…so I enjoy going through the process again and again.
Sometimes life is easier when you’re dizzy.
What’s your SPIN?
This lean PDCA story was originally shared on the Lean Career Compass, a private and professional platform that is free to those actively involved in lean transformation.