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PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act), also called the Deming Cycle, PDCA Cycle, Deming Wheel, Shewhart Cycle, or Continuous Improvement Spiral, is a Continuous Improvement model that is used to plan, implement, and improve processes and practices. It is one of many Problem Solving tools available in the Lean Management toolbox. PDCA is a 4-step cycle that involves:

PDCA originated in the 1920s with statistics expert Mr. Walter A. Shewhart, who introduced the concept of Plan, Do and See. Deming modified the cycle of Shewart towards: Plan, Do, Check, and Act. The Deming Cycle is related to Kaizen thinking and Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing. The concept of PDCA is also based on the Scientific Method (which can be written as Hypothesis-Experiment-Evaluation-Do-Check), developed by Francis Bacon.

The PDCA model is useful because it provides a systematic approach for continuously improving processes and practices. It encourages organizations to regularly evaluate their processes and make small, incremental improvements, rather than waiting for major overhauls. This can help organizations to identify and address problems or opportunities quickly; and can lead to significant improvements over time.

PDCA can be used in a variety of situations, including Process Improvement, Quality Management, and Risk Management. For example, an organization might use PDCA to improve the efficiency of its manufacturing process, reduce defects in its products, or mitigate the risks associated with a new product launch.

There is another version of this PDCA cycle is OPDCA. The added "O" stands for "Observation" or, as some versions say, "Grasp the current condition." This emphasis on observation and current condition has currency with Lean Manufacturing and Toyota Production System (TPS) literature.


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