<< Transcript >>
Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma Black Belt.
I talked about the PDCA cycle in the last episode. Since this is a really important and very profound concept, I would like to talk once again about this topic.
In the last episode, this was called the absolute principle of improvement activities. Actually this is not only for improvement activities, but also for making any and all activities successful.
Briefly here’s a recap of the PDCA: P is for ‘Plan’. Before you do anything, first prepare and make a plan. D is for ‘Do’. Execute the plan. C is for ‘Check’. At some point evaluate how well you achieved your plan.
And A is for ‘Act’. Address or improve the situation based on the evaluation. Then, continue to the next round’s ‘Plan’ and repeat this cycle. That’s why this is named the PDCA ‘Cycle’.
Generally speaking, successful people practice this PDCA cycle whether they know this concept or not. In contrast, the average person is only practicing ‘Do’, or maybe ‘Plan’ to some degree. However, there aren’t many people who practice the ‘Check’ step clearly.
Also there is this kind of people as well: they plan vaguely, do vaguely, check vaguely and act vaguely. That isn’t successful in the end. What can we do to change this to a successful PDCA cycle?
Actually, there is a simple way to do this: It’s by writing it down on paper. You can even type it on your smartphone. The point is to save the information on something other than your brain. Then, you can refer to it later.
As a result, what you have to do becomes clear and it becomes easy to move on to action. And what you haven’t done also becomes clear, then that will lead to your next action.
Especially on the ‘Plan’ and ‘Check’ steps, don’t only think it in your head, but also make sure to write it down on paper. Practice this in your daily routine and make it a habit. If you work on organization activities or projects, documenting is a must.
Now, what does the PDCA cycle look like from the perspective of management or executives? It should look like this: ‘Plan’ translates to ‘Train’, which is to train or educate your employees. ‘Do’ translates to ‘Field Practice’, which is letting the employees practice what they learned.
‘Check’ translates to ‘Monitor’, which means to assess their performance. ‘Act’ translates to ‘Advise’, which means to advise or recognize the employees’ actions. The first cycle’s feedback should be reflected in subsequent training and education. Let’s call this cycle Management’s PDCA cycle.
Let’s effectively get the PDCA cycle carried out in all job positions and departments in your company. You can plan many Lean Sigma projects with this subject alone. How about that? Isn’t this PDCA cycle pretty important?
This is common practice in the manufacturing industry, but it’s not well-known in non-manufacturing operations, is it? We are missing a great opportunity. I think all managers should know about this concept clearly and utilize it to supervise their direct reports.