Circling Back

Abstract:W. Edwards Deming developed the Deming cycle, or Deming wheel, in 1950. He evolved it into what he started calling in the 1980s the plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle or the Shewhart cycle for learning and improvement. He strongly objected to conflating the PDSA cycle with the Japanese plan-do-change-act or PDCA cycle, which he saw as a corruption. While the PDCA cycle has been largely unchanging since the 1960s, a number of significant refinements to the Deming cycle have been introduced, including the addition of a model for improvement to guide all four steps of the …

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I found your article very interesting, especially in light of the fact that a lean consultant hired by our medical group uses PDCA, while we use the PDSA language. I convinced the consultant to use PDSA but didn't realize the history that played into the two versions. I thought PDSA evolved from PDCA due to increased rigor from check to study. Thanks for the history lesson. I'll definitely use it with some of my teams.
--Ryan Darke, 12-01-2010


Excellent article indeed! This clears up even existing lectures about PDCA and PDSA. It's time to put the distinction in proper perspective.
--Jocelyn M. Reyes, Chairperson - Digileaf Inc. (Philippines), 11-21-2010


Ron and Cliff, excellent article! I had made a similar attempt way back in 1999, tracing the evolution of the PDSA wheel. I found two links in addition to what you mentioned in your article. Alfred North Whitehead in his book, "Process and Reality," and John Smeaton, who first documented the Scientific Method in 1755. But I think this is the most comprehensive article to have traced the evolution of the PDSA wheel. Thanks.

Balaji S. Reddie
Founder
The Deming Forum (India)
--Balaji S. Reddie, 11-16-2010


This is an excellent article. Having worked at Motorola in the early days of Six Sigma's development, it is easy to see PDSA as a foundation for DMAIC that came a few years after the launch of Six Sigma. The reference to PDCA/PDSA is widespread across hospitals, yet few know of the history or of the prominence of data and analytical thinking to the scientific method of improvement.
--Edward Popovich, 11-08-2010


Just excellent! So good to finally and really know the evolution of PDCA to PDSA. This puts many misconceptions to rest. Thank you!
--Pat Lee, 11-08-2010


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