13 Apr Continuously Improving the PDCA Cycle
Recently, we attended a health and safety forum, where WorkSafe NZ presented a program for employee involvement, via what is known as the PDCA cycle. This is not a new concept – in fact, Gordon has been teaching this process to first line managers for over 30 years!
What is the PDCA improvement cycle?
It’s a process that came out of continuous quality improvement. You take a problem, situation, incident or improvement idea, and through a structured continuous improvement process, solve a problem.
It means to:
- Plan the change by way of information about an incident, accident, product, or contract failure, etc.;
- Do or Implement the planned change;
- Check on the outcomes of the change by using quantitative facts and data;
- Act on the recommendations for change.
This is best illustrated by visualizing a slope. One PDCA cycle is completed, and then moves up the slope. An imaginary wedge (an improvement) is then placed under the PDCA sphere, and the process continues. The key to the success of this cycle is the collection of data and measurement. Another key is the use of brainstorming to make it effective.
By Johannes Vietze – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26722308
I would like to add another D to this cycle, and this is Documentation. Unfortunately, too many businesses do not have documented systems to cover all parts of its operations.
So why is this important? Its ok to Plan for the change, but the question is, what is going to be used as the benchmark to measure against? The objective is to implement a continuous improvement process for the business, so if the systems are documented, then as the PDCA is activated, the outcomes can be measured against the standard documents (e.g. standard/safe operating procedures, etc.). They are then amended to close any gaps to reduce any rework, waste, scrap, loss of customers product, etc., and to improve quality and the bottom line of the business.
So, next time, try the PDDCA cycle! You’ll see that this makes this management tool even more effective, for the continuous improvement of a business.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss.