Known as the Deming Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle, this concept was invented by Shewhart and popularized by Deming. This approach is a cyclic process for planning and testing improvement activities prior to full-scale implementation and/or prior to formalizing the improvement. When an improvement idea is identified, it is often wise to test it on a small scale prior to full implementation to validate its benefit.
Additionally, by introducing a change on a small scale, employees have time to accept it and are more likely to support it. The Deming PDCA Cycle provides opportunities for continuous evaluation and improvement.
The steps in the Deming PDCA or PDSA Cycle as shown in Figure 1 are as follows:
- Plan a change or test (P).
- Do it (D). Carry out the change or test, preferably on a small scale.
- Check it (C). Observe the effects of the change or test. Study it (S).
- Act on what was learned (A).
- Repeat Step 1, with new knowledge.
- Repeat Step 2, and onward. Continuously evaluate and improve.
Deming was trained as a mathematical physicist, and he utilized mathematical concepts and tools (Statistical Process Control) to reduce variation and prevent defects.
However, one of his greatest contributions might have been in recognizing the importance of organizational culture and employee attitudes in creating a successful organization.