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PDCA - Plan Do Check Act

Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) was the topic for our first LPAS learning session of 2020. President Stewart Bellamy led participants through the evolution of PDCA and then gave them the opportunity to study a process, in real time, using PDCA cycles. Evolution of PDCA PDCA was initially developed to maintain or re-establish predetermined standards for quality or productivity. In the early 1960's Toyota adjust the PDCA methodology to help them raise levels of quality and productivity. How did they go about doing this?

  1. Develop a systematic approach at the planning stage

  2. Establish concrete improvement targets

  3. Confirm target attainment

  4. Evaluation the overall approach and share the knowledge

  5. PDCA becomes "the" Kaizen methodology

Some may ask whether Plan is really the right place to start in the cycle. One can easily argue that the cycle needs to start with Check with the need to surface facts to better understand the current state. Whatever stage you think it might be, it is important that you first identify the problem or opportunity that you want to work on. For some real "hands on" experience running a number of PDCA cycles the participants were placed into a process where they were responsible for processing paper clips. After the first production run, the team was asked to note their observations. A target based on increasing customer demand was set and the team asked how they were going to reach it. Based on their observations they started their first PDCA cycle.


  • Review the present situation

  • Understand the process

  • Identify potential causes

  • Set specific improvement targets

  • Develop potential countermeasures

  • Confirm consensus


  • Implement the plan

  • Ensuring countermeasures are implemented in sequence

  • Record the results

  • Move to the next countermeasure

  • Compare the results

Based on Plan and Do the team re-ran the process with the planned changes. They were challenged to only implement one countermeasure at a time to really understand the impact that each countermeasure had on the process. This proved to be hard! Once given the opportunity to improve the process the team wanted to implement all of their ideas at once so that they could meet their target. Once the first countermeasure was implemented the team moved into the Check and Act part of the cycle.


  • Study the actual results of each countermeasure

  • Were the targets achieved?

  • Yes - move to Act

  • No - re-evaluate, return to plan and develop new countermeasures and repeat the process.


  • Observe the new process over time to confirm consistency and repeatability

  • Document or update standard work

  • Develop and provide training as needed

  • Share the learning

The important thing to remember when it comes to PDCA is that it is a cycle that is meant to be repeated! Each PDCA cycle moves you closer to your target condition. It is also essential to implement standards along side your cycle to sustain your improvements.

In review, here are some important tips/considerations when moving through the PDCA cycle:

Plan - Allocate sufficient time, energy and resources to cover the whole cycle

Do - proceed sequentially, record results as you go

Check - confirm a complete understanding of what has changed

Act - ensure the new standard is sustainable and share the learnings.

Next month we will be building on our learnings from this month's PDCA session with "Using an A3" This session will be held both in Regina and Saskatoon.

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