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Smart Ways to Turbocharge PDCA for your 2020 Lean Program

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Lean Manufacturing 2020

With trade disruptions and declining investments slowing economic growth to levels akin to the Great Recession, the forecasted outlook for global economic growth in 2020 seems grim. Projections based on the Oxford Economic Model (OEM) anticipate that modest annual manufacturing GDP growth levels may be taper off in 2020. One of the most practical moves during a time of adversity is to revisit basics. In this blog, we look at how to leverage the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle to accelerate your Lean Program and improve the quantity, quality, and velocity of ideas.

When implemented properly, PDCA can create an endless flow of 1% compounding improvements over time. This concept has been applied and proven by Toyota who implements an average of nine ideas per employee per year. Read on to learn how to set a ‘new normal’ for the contribution of team members to overall company performance improvement.

PDCA Refresher

All lean experts are familiar with the four-step continuous improvement management method PDCA which comprises of: Plan, Do, Check (Study), and Act (Adjust). The purpose of PDCA is to create sustainable performance that can be improved upon. While it is a key tool commonly used in lean manufacturing, the PDCA cycle can be applied in many different instances to drive progress such as:

  • Driving a cultural shift
  • Identifying root causes of problems to determine solutions
  • Improving process efficiency in a new project
  • And more

How to Turbocharge PDCA

To turbocharge PDCA, you need to make it accessible to every employee and easy to implement, to have the best chance at succeeding.

Shrink the Cycle: Don’t think of PDCA as a single fix type of cycle. If you make PDCA a complex cycle, you will never be able to make it accessible and feasible for your company. The concept of fractals, how snowflakes are actually comprised of smaller snowflakes, can be applied toPDCA. Each step of PDCA can be broken down into a smaller cycle of PDCA. Your big projects with long cycles are large PDCA cycles. These large projects can be broken into mid-size initiatives. Those can be broken down even further into smaller actionable steps. The biggest impact from this process is not derived from the large PDCA cycle, but from understanding how to properly act on those small PDCA cycles at any given moment.

Democratize it: Train every single member of your organization, from accounting to the shop floor, to break down larger problems into a series of smaller problems, results, and assessments that can be addressed immediately by answering these questions:


  • What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • What is your idea?
  • What do you predict the result to be?


  • What did you do?


  • What was your result?


  • What are the next steps?
  • Can this process be standardized?

Focus on Experimentation: Keep in mind, PDCA for continuous improvement works best when your culture embraces an experimentation mindset, where new ideas, successes, and failures are all celebrated. This means making sure your people can feel comfortable with failing their experiments. Learning only happens when you fail.

To learn more ways to turbocharge your lean program today with more ideas, higher implementation, and faster execution, register for our webinar on ‘7 Ways to Turbocharge PDCA for your 2020 Lean Program’ hosted by Errette Dunn, founder and CEO of Rever. Errette will share fail-proof recommendations based on learnings from his work at Toyota, Airbus, Wrike, and his work with Rever’s industrial customers developing cultures of non-stop improvement.

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