Continuous improvement is of necessity in the very DNA of our shops.

Continuous improvement is in our DNA
Continuous improvement is in our DNA

In ISO 9000:2000 Section 8.5.1 read :
The organization shall continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system through the use of the quality policy, quality objectives, audit results, analysis of data, corrective and preventive action, and management review. 
In TS16949:2009 it read: Continual Improvement of the Organization
The organization must define a process for continual improvement . Manufacturing Process Improvement
Manufacturing process improvement must continually focus on control and reduction of variation in product characteristics and manufacturing process parameters.
The standard defined continual improvement as : “recurring activity to increase the ability to fulfill requirements.”
Recurring activity. To me that means cycle.
It is not a wheel, PDSA is a continuous cycle of cycles!
It is not a wheel, PDSA is a continuous cycle of cycles!

Karen Martin shared this graphical representation of PDSA in her book The Outstanding Organization.
Plan. Do. Study. Adjust.
This is the process of continuous (continual) improvement.
Plan. Do. Study. Adjust.
It’s what we do.
If this sounds familiar, it is because I first wrote about this here Karen Martin
DNA Photocredit

Karen Martin spoke at PMPA’s Management Update meeting earlier this year. Her presentation was based on her book, The Outstanding Organization

It turns out that  her book The Outstanding Organization won a 2013 Shingo Research Prize.

Shingo Prize worthy.
Shingo Prize worthy.

The book and its message are heavily pointed at achieving institutional clarity through reducing chaos.

That is a great takeaway, but was not the best one for me.

The One Lesson that I took from Karen’s presentation was that the Shewart Cycle- Plan- Do- Study- Adjust- is the authentic model for continuous improvement.

First proposed by Walter Shewart,  and edited, published, and improved by Deming,  the Shewart cycle  was recast by Japanese executives into PDCA- Plan-Do-Check-Act- and this is how many of us have learned it.

According to Karen Martin

  • In the 1980’s Deming felt that the model had been corrupted by translation difficulties.
  • Deming recommended replacing PDCA with PDSA- which he felt was closer to Shewart’s original intent.
  • “Deming continued to refer to the cycle  as PDSA and dubbed it the “Shewart cycle for learning and improvement.” (The Outstanding Organization, pp.128-129.)

So why am I a fan of Karen Martin’s PDSA reframing?

Certainly not because of this little bit of historico-semantic revisionism?

Actually, it is because unlike all of the other graphics that you can find on PDSA on google images, Karen Martin’s book  has depicted this cycle as Shewart and Deming have relayed it- a continuous, ongoing process of continuous feedback- ongoing process improvement.

It is not a wheel, PDSA is a continuous cycle of cycles!
It is not a wheel, PDSA is a continuous cycle of cycles!

This is the One Lesson I Learned from Karen Martin.

  • Ditch  the PDCA wheel visual-Embrace the continuous cycle of cycles model of PDSA.

Here is a whiteboard trailer for the book.

And, congratulations on the Shingo Research Prize.