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The PDCA cycle is a method for making changes to work processes and improving standards. The letters PDCA stand for Plan, Do, Check, and Act. The PDCA cycle
is employed by people at many levels of an organization. Leaders use it to improve and check in on standard work procedures, teams can use it during a kaizen event to make changes, and managers might use it after a gemba walk to try out improvement suggestions.
During the 4 phases of the PDCA cycle, people do the following:
- Plan: Assess the current state and look for improvements. If a problem exists, examine it in detail. Develop possible solutions and means of execution.
- Do: Try out the plans, making sure everyone involved understands the changes.
- Check: Follow up to see how effective the changes are.
- Act: If the changes work, continue using them and make them the new standard.
The PDCA cycle is continuous. This means once it’s completed, people can begin looking for further solutions to implement in the future. This tool is an important part of kaizen, as it provides a framework for carrying out continuous improvement.