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What is Pdca?

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Posted 02 January 2014 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

Personal Development Courses

We offer both:
• Bespoke in-house training.
These can be tailored to your specific needs.
• Open training courses at locations near you.
You may find the following will help with your Decision Making and Problem Solving skills training.

What is PDCA?

PDCA is an acronym for a change management, and continuous improvement process. PDCA stands for: Plan, Do, Check, Act.

PDCA is a common model and it is known by many people. We believe, however, that the model is deficient, and that it is easy to improve it. PDCA misses out too much detail and is therefore not a good enough model for you or your delegates.

We want to present a more refined and improved version of the PDCA process.

First question; what is wrong with PDCA?

Answer: PDCA omits the word goal, and starts on the word plan.

But you would agree that before you can plan to do something, you must first know what that "something" is. Meaning, the first step in a process of change management is not to ask, "What is the plan?" but rather: the first step is to ask, "What is the goal?" All planning presupposes an agreed goal.

Question: What would happen if you asked the team to formulate a detailed written plan, without first agreeing the exact nature of the goal?

Answer: Each member of the team would have a different vision of the goal, and would thus come up with radically differing plans of action that would immediately bring the team into an unnecessary conflict of ideas and interpretations. This is due to the fact that you have missed a step.

If you start with planning, you have missed a vital step.

Don't start with planning. Start with setting a clearly defined, well worded and objectively measurable goal.

For our model we use the words, "Write out your purpose statement" or, "Set a smart target". Any one of these statements will do.

Step one: State the purpose

Purpose, (goal, SMART target) is the first step. Smart target means: "Write down a Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. And Time limited, target".

Step two: Plan

Now you have the goal, now you can ask the team to formulate a plan of action.

  • Identify all the steps that need to be taken.
  • Identify how long each step will take.
  • Identify what resources will be required.
  • Identify the correct sequence of tasks.
  • Figure out the critical path analysis.
  • Put it all in writing and distribute it for critical evaluation and improvement.

Step three: implement the plan

Obviously the plan won't work unless you do. The plan must be implemented with skill, precision, accuracy and with honest hard work.

Next Step is to: Check the feedback.

For us, we split this checking into two major subsets;

Step four: Identify where the plan is working

Meaning, the results you are creating by the implementation of your actions are the results you wanted, or even better than what you wanted.

Step five: Identify where the plan is not working

Meaning, the results you are creating by the implementation of your actions are NOT the results you wanted, or even worse, damaging your prospects for the achievement of the goal.

Step six: Change in the light of negative feedback

On the areas that are not working, you must ask and answer the following question, "What adjustments or changes do we need to make to the plan, (step 2) in order to rectify the situation and get this project back on track?"

Summary of the comparison between standard PDCA and the more advanced form

PDCA = Plan. Do. Check. Act. (We suggest that there is a missing vital element: Agree the GOAL!)

Our more advanced Success Formula is:

Purpose. Plan. Action. Positive Feedback. Negative feedback. Change.

  1. Purpose: define the goal.
  2. Plan: formulate the best plan in writing.
  3. Action. Implement the plan.
  4. Positive Feedback. Find out what is working.
  5. Negative feedback. Find out what is not working.
  6. Change. In relation to what is not working, what changes need to be made to the plan.

Please note. The goal remains stable over time.

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In our more advanced model, it is important to note that: The goal remains stable over time. The goal does not change. The plan changes, but the goal posts don't move.
This is important because if you are using PDCA, the model equivocates and blends goals, with plans.
And therefore the Check then act, means that you may change the goal-plan, in response to feedback. But you must not keep changing the goal.

You must keep changing the plan, but you must not keep changing the goal!

What if you keep changing the goal? First you tell the engine room you are sailing to Sydney, and then you tell them you are sailing to Tokyo, and then you tell them you are sailing to Port Stanley?

You will sail round in circles and in the end; the crew will stage a mutiny.
You must make a keen distinction between the goal and the plan.

PDCA fails to make this distinction and therefore is deficient.

Don't use PDCA.

Use Purpose, plan, action feedback, (positive, negative) change.

If you want to learn more about our improved ways of doing things, please follow the link to the Leadership and Management Training course

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