From circle of fool to spiral of success

Learn the “secret formula” that boosted the Japanese economy in the 1950`s
I know, this title is very BS like but I guess you would not be here if I wrote: here is a post about the Shewhart cycle also known as PDCA cycle. Working in process improvement and quality management for so many years when it comes to business I can think in processes manly. But what’s in it for a solopreneur? Let me show you:


This statistical method was developed by Walter A. Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming to control quality variation (waste) and reduce quality problems in telecommunication equipment production.
In 1950 it was introduce in Japan by Deming and adapted very quickly by the manufacturing industry, the rest is history…
Later Deming changed the name to PDSA as Plan Do Study Act, but for our use I would keep the Check because solopreneurs usually have only time for that. It revolutionized quality management and not only for manufacturing. All management standards, quality models, development methodologies, process improvement systems today have this simple but very powerful idea stated or hidden but incorporated in them. You most probably heard about it, but I give you a new way to use it in your professional life.

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Under the hood of this miraculous vehicle:

Plan: always start with planning. We are programmed to do it naturally but time to time skip it for whatever reason we can justify. How it is working: Imagine you get into your car to drive your son to a party. You know the address but have been there only once. Before you hit the road what do you do? Yes, program you GPS. Either physically or if you forgot it at home than mentally. You draw a line between your current position and your target (goal). Oops sounds like all the preaching on blogs about how to start a business isn`t it?
Do: I do not think we need explanation for that. You are driving.
Check (in later versions study) in internet marketing terms it translate to measure. (Your kid on the back seat: Are we there yet? I know too much Shrek can kill you…) Yes, you are there, but the party is not at the house but in the shopping center six blocks away.
Act: compare the measured results to those determined in the Plan phase and adjust your action. Re-plan and drive another 15 minutes in heavy traffic. Now you are there.

The upward spiral

What fascinates me in PDCA is that you can apply it to any process or steps independent of the size. Furthermore each element of the PDCA cycle can be a small PDCA cycle itself and the big cycle usually represented as an upwards moving spiral.
The iterative nature of the method gives us the opportunity of starting to Do things even after quick planning phase because Check-Act steps ensures that we can refine not only our process but also our goals!

How to change your thinking

As solo professionals I advise you to “implement” it as a habit. Use as framework, template for any activity. As wrote above human mind tend to work this way naturally. What you have to do is bring this behavior from the unconscious level to the conscious.
First start by identifying your activities as PDCA cycles. Play with it, make certain, that you always know what phase you are in. Practice.
You’ve just completed your first step on the upward spiral.

Want to know more about the method and how to apply it to your work?

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Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee /