The PDCA cycle is commonly used to improve the quality of projects undertaken. It is a structured approach to any and all change efforts, whether personal or business in nature. Credited to Walter Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming, the PDCA cycle is also referred to as the Deming Cycle.
What PDCA Stands For
P - Plan
The first thing you want to do when approaching anything-a new project at work, a change of habit-is to make a plan using all reasonable resources and available knowledge. Make sure you clearly define your goal, your expectations and your commitment level. Run the plan by others; compare the plan to the efforts of others who have gone before you. Decide upon an actual plan.
D - Do
Put your plan into action. Keep track of your efforts and the results. Document the experience.
C - Check
Compare results to expectations. Look for differences between expectation in resource use, effort required and success achieved or failure.
A - Act
If you reached your goals in a satisfactory manner, consider yourself done. If you did not reach your goals, repeat the cycle starting with P-making a plan.
An Example Of PDCA In Action
Let's say you want to lose weight. You can use the PDCA cycle to help you reach your goal.
Decide upon a goal weight. If this will include measurements of body fat or circumferences, take measurements and establish goals for these factors also. Decide how you will tackle this issue. Will you diet? Exercise? Combine both? What diet will you follow? Low carb? Low fat? Whole grain? Vegan? What kind of exercise will you pursue? Aerobic? Weight lifting?
Follow your plan for a pre-established amount of time. Follow your plan as closely as possible.
At the end of the pre-determined time, check your results. How close are you to your goal weight? How close are you to your goal measurements? What parts of your plan worked? Which parts were the hardest or least pleasant?
If you've met your goal, celebrate! If you haven't, revise the plan, improving upon it as you embark on attempt number two. Repeat the cycle until you reach your goal.
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