How to Change your Life with the PDCA Cycle

PDCA (aka the Deming Cycle, Shewhart cycle, or...

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What’s the PDCA Cycle anyway?

The PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Adjust) cycle was developed by Edward Deming, famous for developing the quality control process and teaching the Japanese to beat our asses.  It uses the scientific method  to understand the impact of changing the inputs. It can be applied to any process and helps identify the effectiveness of different inputs  in producing the desired results. It sounds technical and complicated and sometimes it is. But once you understand the principles it is easy to isolate and measure the impact of changing any process from mowing the lawn to changing your life.

PDCA incorporates four simple steps:

1. Make a Plan

2. Take Action on that Plan

3. Check your results

4. Revise your plan and repeat.

Each iteration of the PDCA cycle increases your knowledge and mastery of the process and helps you accomplish your goals.

Why is the PDCA Cycle so valuable?

The PDCA Cycle is valuable because it will work on small and large processes; complicated processes and simpler ones. It can help you save time and be more efficient doing things that are already important in your life. More important, it can help you make changes that take your life into a different dimension. It helps you understand the way the pieces of your plan interact and provides you with intimate knowledge about the process itself. It makes you an expert.

Where can I use it ?

Use it anywhere you would like to improve a process or change a state of being. Maybe you have some tasks that are essential for you but they take too much of your time. Use the PDCA process to help you improve the process in some way that makes it more efficient and saves you time.  Maybe you are bored with the life you have now. It has become monotonous and routine. It doesn’t make you eager to bound out of bed in the morning and one day seems very much like another.  Then use the PDCA cycle to change your life.  Imagine a different kind of day that would make you excited and then use the PDCA process to change some things you do; grow and evolve as a result and then measure the progress. Where ever you desire a different result, PDCA is your tool.

What if I mess it up?

Relax! The PDCA process is self-correcting. It is designed to identify the impact of changes. Each time you cycle through the process, you measure the impact on reaching your goal. You use those measurements to identify what helps you move faster or what slows your process. Real specific measurement of progress helps you make objective judgment. It keeps you from clinging to emotional responses that feel good but don’t make things better. Even if you start with a “bad’ plan, the process will steer you to make improvements that eventually will make your plan a winner. Messing up is just part of the PDCA cycle and there is a built-in correction. Don’t worry about being good when you start, just take action

How do I  start?

There are plenty of good resources to help you get started but don’t get hung up about mastering the process. Getting started is much more important than mastering every subtlety. You can follow the process specifically applied to Lifestyle Design through videos that I prepared for each step. They give more details about each step . You can follow these videos from the links below:






Think about your life when you watch and pick some part of your life you want to change. Is it worth making the commitment to applying PDCA to make that change? What would that change be and are you ready to get started? Don’t waste another minute settling for a life that doesn’t excite you. Put the PDCA cycle into action.



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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Hansi June 18, 2011, 6:37 am

    Never heard of PDCA before, but it makes sense, and is probably what really successful people do intuitively.

  • Ralph June 18, 2011, 3:16 pm

    Applying a system is better than just having the instinct. Anybody can apply a system and learn.

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