Concluding the two-part blog Continuous Work Product Improvement with the Deming Cycle, here, we will explain the final two steps of the Deming Cycle and how they can be used by a company’s employees to continually improve work processes, products and services.
After the Planning phase and the Doing phase of the Deming Cycle have been completed, the next phases will involve:
- Step 3: Checking – Following the “Doing” phase, this next step can be initiated to analyze the various pilot tests, experiments, etc. to help evaluate what doesn’t work, what revisions need to be implemented and what is most likely to work when a plan, program or strategy is rolled out to a larger group of people. As part of this assessment process, employees can ask themselves (and each other) the following questions:
- How successful was the test program or process?
- What specific problems may have arisen during the pilot test?
- At what stage of the process did these problems or issues occur?
- What can be done to avoid such problems or issues in the future?
Depending on the nature of an issue, challenge or problem, employees may cycle back and forth between the “Doing” and “Checking” stages of the Deming Cycle multiple times as they refine their plans and get them ready to roll out to the business’ or firm’s clients (or suppliers, satellite offices, etc.).
- Step 4: Action – In this final phase, a specific course of action developed, tested and selected from the previous stages is officially set into motion. As action is formally taken and the plan is carried out, employees are called to evaluate whether the plan is effective and whether additional improvements can be made in the future.If the plan ultimately has the desired effects, then it should become part of the standardized work process (or product); if not, then it’s back to the drawing board for another round of improvement.
As the Deming Cycle is implemented and repeated, the work processes and resulting products will continually improve, and employees are more likely to take ownership of and pride in their improved work products.
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