From problem-faced to problem-solved
The PDCA Cycle is a checklist of the four stages which you must go through to get from `problem-faced' to `problem solved'. The four stages are Plan-Do-Check-Act, and they are carried out in the cycle illustrated below.
The concept of the PDCA Cycle was originally developed by Walter Shewhart, the pioneering statistician who developed statistical process control in the Bell Laboratories in the US during the 1930's. It is often referred to as `the Shewhart Cycle'. It was taken up and promoted very effectively from the 1950s on by the famous Quality Management authority, W. Edwards Deming, and is consequently known by many as `the Deming Wheel'.
Use the PDCA Cycle to coordinate your continuous improvement efforts. It both emphasises and demonstrates that improvement programs must start with careful planning, must result in effective action, and must move on again to careful planning in a continuous cycle.
Also use the PDCA
Cycle diagram in team meetings to take stock of what stage improvement
initiatives are at, and to choose the appropriate tools to see each stage
through to successful completion.
Here is what you do for each stage of the Cycle:
You have now completed the cycle to arrive at `problem solved'. Go back to the Plan stage to identify the next `problem faced'.
If the experiment was not successful, skip the Act stage and go back to the Plan stage to come up with some new ideas for solving the problem and go through the cycle again. Plan-Do-Check-Act describes the overall stages of improvement activity, but how is each stage carried out? This is where other specific quality management, or continuous improvement, tools and techniques come into play. The diagram below lists the tools and techniques which can be used to complete each stage of the PDCA Cycle.
This classification of tools into sections of the PDCA Cycle is not meant to be strictly applied, but it is a useful prompt to help you choose what to do at each critical stage of your improvement efforts.
Many authors have
written about the PDCA Cycle or variations of it. For a sample of the
different approaches see the books listed below.
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