PDCA Revisited

Revisiting Plan, Do, Check and Act.

Hector Peña works to support the advancement of lean efforts at PalletOne. He sent me a note thanking me for talking about PDCA and shared with me an observation.

He likes the bias for action exhibited by our teams in the Plan and Do stages. He thinks we do a good job identifying issues and doing something different to address them.

But, he observes that we can be better at Checking and Acting. Here’s what I think he means:

When trying an experiment to improve a situation, we should take more time to study the results. We tend to do an experiment and classify it simply: worked/didn’t work.

If it works, we declare the problem solved and move on. If it doesn’t work, we abandon the idea and move to another.

Hector is an engineer. In his world, solutions aren’t so “black and white.”

Something that didn’t work might actually be pretty close to working. With some study and modification, you might be able to move the strategy to a new level.

On the other hand, something that “works” might be studied and modified to become even better.

In either case, we can “milk” the Doing stage for much better results if we Check and Act in a more deliberate fashion.

Hector was reminding me to give each of the areas equal weight.

Without the careful analysis that comes with checking, our problem solving can be half baked.

Without carefully documenting what we learn, making sure of a plan to teach it going forward and sharing results so the learning can be multiplied, our Planning and Doing becomes just a band-aid rather than a solution.

Thanks, Hector, for improving the teaching.

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PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
PalletOne Inc.
Company President, Howe Q. Wallace

Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.


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