PDSA applied to PDSA

I was once at a meeting of consultants and we had got to the end of an interesting day learning about new ideas regarding organisations and how to improve them. The volunteer chair of the meeting got to the part of the meeting where we would suggest things that were good and things that we should improve upon for next time. He decided to divide the flip chart into four quarters and label them each Plan, Do, Study, Act.

Now Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) is the Shewhart Cycle (some know it as the Deming Cycle) which is a generalisation of the scientific method as applied to improvement in general.

Plan: make a plan or a hypothesis about what you are going to do.
Do: try it out, run the experiment.
Study (sometimes called Check): see how the plan came out.
Act: implement the findings. Either embed the new way or throw it out.

Then you cycle back to Plan with new information.

Anyway, back to this meeting. We tried our best to fill in the four quarters of the chart with our good and bad points about the meeting but try as the chair could he couldn’t explain what he meant in this context by the four quadrants in this context. As far as we could all see we were in Study. We had just Done the meeting and were Studying what we had done for the next Plan for the next meeting. A big row broke out because apparently the chair applied PDSA to everything without problems.

The only new information I gained was that you should never force a technique on a group of people if it is irrelevant and you can’t communicate it properly.



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