The PDCA cycle: the virtuous circle for quality improvement


The PDCA cycle

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When it comes to project or team management, are you looking to continuously improve your performance? If so, try the PDCA cycle, also known as the Deming Wheel, which comes from the Kaizen approach to continuous improvement, and guides you through 4 steps: plan, do, check and act. Each step leads to the next, and creates a virtuous circle. This way, the team improves constantly, and so does your performance!

The PDCA cycle: 4 steps to continuous improvement as a team

The PDCA cycle or Deming Wheel is a continuous improvement method that takes its name from its inventor, a statistical quality guru in the industry. Now commonly used in countless other areas and team management, it consists of improving project performance by following 4 steps:

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Check
  • Act

This is why the Deming wheel is also known as the Deming cycle or PDCA cycle.

This method comes from the Japanese Kaizen approach, a continuous improvement process based on concrete, simple and inexpensive actions. The principle is to work as a team to apply small incremental changes that, over time, will create a profound change and improve the quality of your service, your product, and even your organization.

By spinning the Deming Wheel, your team acquires new knowledge and skills at each stage, which they can reuse in the next one. This way, you create a real virtuous circle, where you set out your quality standards.

At each step, keep clear track of your collective thinking!

Why include the PDCA cycle in your team management?

Not only can the Deming Wheel, or the PDCA method, be applied to all business sectors, but this Klaxoon template can also be used with all types of teams, even extremely large ones, and even for hybrid working. In person, on the go or working remotely, Klaxoon’s whiteboard gives you the freedom to spin the wheel from anywhere.

This freedom means the whole team can really get involved in project management. Be it for technical, manufacturing, design, or customer relations departments, all your employees list their tasks to be completed or fixed, throughout the cycle, to guarantee the quality of the project. Here, collective intelligence is used to improve the project as a whole!

This management method, which focuses on quality management, allows you to anticipate problems rather than spend time fixing them once they arise. No more lost efficiency, time and money as a result of problem-solving in dribs and drabs!

What's more, the virtuous circle created by the Deming Wheel avoids you having to readjust every time there's a problem. Your improvements are continuous and long-lasting. So, you constantly improve your management, at well as your products and your customer satisfaction!

How to use the PDCA cycle with Klaxoon

Start by inviting all your team members to your Board, and then launch the “Plan” stage.

As you can see on the template, this stage takes place in 3 steps to work properly:

  • First, define your problem using the 5W2H method. You can ask yourself "who, what, where, when, how much and why" directly on your Board, or use the Klaxoon template as a guide.
  • Then, go back to the root of the problem by asking yourself the question "why?" at least 5 times. You can also use a Klaxoon template specifically designed for this 5 Whys method, if you need some help at this step.
  • That’s it, now you’re ready to create an action plan! Everyone sends their ideas to the specific area on the Board. If you need to make a decision about a large number of ideas, ask everyone to like no more than one or two actions.

Copy the selected actions to the “Do” section, using drag and drop. In Dimensions, enter the names of the action owners, and the implementation date defined as a team.

Each participant can then spend the time they need to accomplish their tasks, before the team agrees on a synchronous meeting to move on to the next stage.

Copy the selected actions into the “Check” section, and launch a Poll Question under each action, to assess its effectiveness together. If an action does not get the maximum number of stars, discuss it in the text box so you know how to change it later in a way that suits all the team.

Finally, in the “Act” section, check together if all the actions selected are effective and useful enough to be long-lasting.

  • If yes, list the new procedures to be implemented in your team, and create a good practice guide and/or a suitable process.
  • If not, repeat the Deming cycle, checking that the goal is still the same, or adapting it in light of what you observed during this phase.

If you have to restart the wheel, be reassured: this doesn’t mean you have failed, because you’re not starting from scratch! Your team has learned a lot, and you’re well on the way to continuous improvement together!

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