By Prof. Vicente Falconi, FALCONI’s fouding partner
I’m always invited to talk about PDCA. It’s difficult to get a good understanding on this topic because we, human beings, are stuck to symbols. When I show the PDCA figure, the circle divided in four parts, I’m sure that most of the people think: “that I already know!” And that’s what it takes to keep people from learning the rest. On those moments I usually say: “Be careful, if you think you know this figure, I guarantee you that you may know how to draw it, but use it on a daily basis is a whole different thing”
The first point is that it’s not possible to use the PDCA (improvement cycle) to improve without the SDCA (cycle to sustain). It’s hard to improve what’s aleatory random. We need consistence to improve. Another very important point is that achieving goals is a learning process for human beings, very motivating if people are involved by heart and mind. The team must be united on the challenge to achieve continuous improvement.
The first step at any company is to guarantee operational discipline or good execution on standardized tasks. This is only achieved by outstanding standardization of processes and tasks, in addition to exhaustive training and a voluntary participation of the team. The team has to be part of the game. At that point it’s good use think of the “Pit Stop” example of the Formula 1, That’s that’s what I’m talking about. It’s also necessary to track results to verify the stability of the process results. The team itself has to solve it’s own problems, that’s the highpoint critical point of SDCA. When you have a good SDCA you can copy the good practices more easily because people are used to the disciplined execution of standards. You can change an old standard to better standards, you train people and discipline is achieved easily. A company like this learns fast.
The PDCA, when applied over a good SDCA, has the function to alter the way to work (standards) to achieve better results. To change tires of a Formula 1 car consistently in 3 seconds must have been achieved by using simultaneously the SDCA and PDCA cycles through the years. New proposed practices by problem solving by the means of the PDCA (creation) are absorbed the same way the best practices are (copy). For that reason some companies get better results than other when applying black belts (advanced PDCA method that uses statistical to analyze data). When the SDCA is good, any improvement works well, be it a copy of a best practice or a solution of a complex problem using the advanced techniques of the black belts.
The application of the PDCA with the SDCA, combined with an organizational environment, in which people feel part of the team is the true Execution Machine! When this combination is established, unexpected results are achieved.
A company with a good SDCA cycle is an authentic “Learning Organization. When you are able to establish an operation focused on the SDCA, you can use all the learning resources: hire the best technicians and use all advanced resources available. Like the Sunday Formula 1 races, it’s a celebration to break records and achieve levels of results never seen before. Ask the alpinists!
Published on Nov. 10, 2015 at LinkedIn Pulse.