A July musing from a Quality Manager:

Using PDCA or PDSA is not difficult for the quality professional.  All of the improvement processes that we learned, starting with how to do an experiment in sixth grade science, have taught us to use the scientific method, to plan before we take action.  Then, to look at the experimental results and draw our conclusions – conclusions that may satisfy our need to know – or that my tell us to do another experiment or to redo the one we just did (replication).  But, not everyone thinks this way.  So, how to encourage process thinking? 

Be proactive.  Use the terms: plan, do, check (or study), and act when talking about process implementation or change.  Open the door to having people ask you what you mean by that.  Show the PDCA steps in everything you document.  Does you organization’s quality manual have sections on vision and strategy (P), operations (D), performance evaluation (C) and continual improvement (A)?  Have you labeled them PDCA?  Do you have Standard Operating Procedures for your processes?  If they include self-checks, then you can probably find and show the PDCA in them, too.

Shewhart and Deming knew what they were doing when they promulgated this simple but powerful approach to thinking.  Now it’s up to us.


.………Jim August