Continuous Improvement - PDCA - The ACT Phase

Andrew Gowans

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We have now reached the fourth phase of the PDCA cycle. This article completes the loop (as well as setting the foundation for beginning at Phase 1 again - Continuous Improvement.

As mentioned in the previous articles of the set, some benefits may be derived from reading this article in isolation. However, if you get the chance, please read and use the complete set. The article ids follow. . .

Make Continuous Improvement One Of Your Goals - As Soon As You Possibly Can (ID: 74077)
Continuous Improvement - PDCA - The PLAN Phase (ID: 76694)
Continuous Improvement - PDCA - The DO Phase (ID: 78506)
Continuous Improvement - PDCA - The CHECK Phase (ID: 81089)

O. K.

  • We have Planned in Phase 1
  • We have Done in Phase 2
  • We have Checked in Phase 3
  • Let's Act in Phase 4. . .

    Congratulations! are in order. The process has been followed and the desired improvement or project implementation has been successful, even if only in part - YES, you've got it - that's the whole point of continuous improvement.

    Remember the famous question, how do you eat an elephant?


    So, what do we do with this improvement? We certainly don't want to lose it or return to whatever root cause(s) existed before.

    There are a few but fundamental actions - in summary. . .

  • Standardize the effective changes
  • Stay in complete control by documenting your improvements
  • Make the improvement the new norm BUT continually monitor the effect using the same measurement techniques
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
  • "Do not be afraid to make decisions,
    do not be afraid to make mistakes. "
    Carly Fiorina

    STEP 6 Standardize and Stay in Control

  • Document your changes
  • If others involved, communicate changes
  • Discuss any issues or objections if they arise
  • Solicit feedback
  • Plan ongoing monitoring of your changes
  • Plan to collect ongoing feedback
  • If your results are uneven or if you identified other potential improvement areas within your current theme or project,
    you may need to start the cycle again by revisiting your original data.

    As with any good, solid process, we can return to any point in that process and determine where we need to pick up

    Use all your experiences gained throughout the cycle.
    Take time to reflect and consider what worked, what didn’t.
    How can you apply this PDCA Improvement Cycle to your future plans or other improvement opportunities.

    STEP 7 Your Next Steps

  • If you led a team to achieve the desired results, please make sure you celebrate your joint success, and promote your team’s success.
  • Enjoy the benefits resulting from your improvements (but remember to monitor)
  • As you now know that PDCA works and you have had so much fun in the process! You can continue with other improvement opportunities.
  • "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree. " Jim Rohn

    In Summary

    Documentation, Standardization, Communication and Celebration are paramount!

    O. K. we have looked at the complete PDCA process and each of its component steps. We realise following this process takes time.

    This process or methodology identifies flaws / defects in a defined process or activity, and identifies the means by which we can improve the results of the activity or process.

    However, we can also see that the same PDCA process can be used effectively to plan for the introduction and implementation of a new project or business idea.

    Let’s say we have a significant personal problem that we wish to resolve. Depending on its severity, we can apply the whole PDCA process. Maybe all it will take is creatively using some of the related tools and techniques to identify root causes and possible solutions.

    "Persistence is the twin sister of excellence.
    One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time. "


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