Developed in the 1950s, Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s process cycle is not a new idea. But ideas don’t have to be new to work. Dr. Deming pioneered a set of steps for process improvement that revolutionized manufacturing, ultimately leading to what we know today as the Lean Process or Lean Manufacturing. The Deming cycle consists of four steps:

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Check
  • Act

In the planning stage, individuals and teams work together to create a system or a process that achieves a specific goal. Moving on to the next stage, “Do”, the team implements that plan and measures the results. Next in the “Check” stage, results are reviewed and analyzed. Finally in the “Act” stage, changes are made to the process to improve it incrementally.

As we think about goal planning in the context of performance management, we often think about developing SMART goals and about scheduling meetings and check ins to make sure the team is on track. But one of the most powerful ways to use PDCA is in training.

When an area of the business process is problematic, often the problem can be resolved through training individuals and teams to operate in a different way that creates efficiency. The Deming cycle is a good model to identify training (in the planning stage), implement the training (in the “Do” stage), evaluate the results (in the “Check” stage), and then determine whether additional training is required.

The Deming cycle is a great way to be sure that any process analysis is completed in a way that creates the opportunity for continuous, incremental improvement. For more on our performance management training solutions, check out our performance management eLearning solutions