FOCUS PDCA is a methodology that is used to identify improvement opportunities and creates a systematic approach to implementing changes. This problem solving model was first used by one of the early quality gurus by the name of Walter Shewhard. The model was then adapted by W. Edwards Deming as the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. The model is used to learn by doing and experimenting with improvements, examining what is learned and implementing what was learned into further improvement efforts.
FOCUS PDCA is an acronym for:
Find - An improvement opportunity.
Organize - A team who understands the process.
Clarify – Current knowledge of the process.
Understand – The causes of variation in the process.
Select – The improvement that needs to take place.
Plan – Study the improvement opportunity and develop a plan based on what needs to be done.
Do – Execute the plan.
Check – Study the results of the plan to determine whether the plan worked.
Act – If the plan worked, write a policy and standardize the change. If it didn’t work, go back to the drawing board and try something else while going through the cycle again.
Ok, now let’s walk through the process to see how this works. Let’s say you’re a small organization who hires occasionally but not often enough to have a designated Human Resources Department. You hire employees occasionally but because it is not part of a larger system, important information that an employee should be aware of is missed in the process. This results in a less than ideal experience for the new employee. So in this example, using the FOCUS PDCA cycle, you would:
Find – The opportunity to improve the new hire experience.
Organize –A team of employees who have gone through the hiring process.
Clarify – The understanding of the process for newly hired employees.
Understand – Collect data to paint an accurate picture of what the hiring experience is like.
Select - The action to be taken.
Plan – Plan what needs to be done to improve the hiring experience. This may include creating a new employee orientation check list. This can be done by asking employees what information would have been helpful for them when they started their job.
Do – Roll out the plan and test it on new employees as they are hired.
Check – Follow-up with new employees who have used the new process and collect data on how well that process worked for them and if they could suggest any other changes that could help improve the new process.
Act – Incorporate what was learned into the new process and implement.
Repeat the process again.
This is a very simplified example of FOCUS PDCA but I think it’s important to understand that this does not have to be a difficult process; just one that keeps on task and is followed-up on.
photo courtesy of: peet-astn