The continuous cycle of Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) is a mantra often repeated here at the Office of Continuous Improvement. It can be thought of as the origin of all the other tools and ideas that we use for improvement. As our Director of Continuous Improvement, Ruth Archer likes to point: if tomorrow we forgot all the tools and process aside from PDCA we would eventually create each one over again. PDCA is a cycle because once the planning and the doing have been done, one checks the process, and then acts on their observations, with the goal of reaching the target state.
Part of the process of PDCA is recognizing that one cannot get from step 1 to step 100 instantaneously, but rather through taking several small steps. This allows one to check each part of the process individually, as each step can be thought of as an experiment. As an experiment, a positive result is not guaranteed. Thus, by checking each step one can find errors in the process one by one, rather than as a whole. After each cycle, a standard is set in place to prevent the quality of the process from slipping.
Overall, PCDA is an effective customizable tool that can be used for any process, whether it be in the workplace or home life.