Deming and the PDCA Cycle

Do you PDCA?

You probably do, but you may not think of it in these specific words. The PDCA cycle has gone by many names – The Deming Cycle, the Shewhart Cycle and Plan-Do-Study-Act.


The 4 steps in the Deming Cycle are: Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) and I think that most everyone that has ever done a science experiment has used these basic steps. This is because they are analogous to the Scientific Method. I am an engineer by my education and a business development and alliances guy by profession which might be why I have been a Deming Disciple for many years. I continue to use the PDCA cycle to setup and evaluate products, partnerships, and to some extent people.

In the past two weeks I’ve come across two people on Twitter that mentioned PDCA. It surprised me and prompted me to write this blog post. Are there others out there? Inquiring minds want to know. Reply to me or comment on this blog post. If there are groups and hashtags being used please share.

The two people I learned were PDCA advocates via Twitter are Michael Deutch and Tab Pierce. I had already been following them, but I did not know about this little proclivity in their personalities. I mean that is a VERY GOOD way guys.

If you want more information about W. Edwards Deming take a image look at wikipedia entries, his writings as well as the books and videos about him and his work. There is also a Deming Prize for excellence in the advancement of Quality. One of the more famous videos is from the work he did in Japan in the 1950’s. It was a seminal effort and I would argue some of the same core elements are still in place today at some of the best run firms in the world.

Video --- If Japan can … why can’t we?

The first book I read about W. Edwards Deming was by Mary Walton. At the time she was a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The book was called The Deming Management Method and it remains one of my favorite books about Deming and the subject of TQM as a whole. Yes, I’ve read Juran, Shewhart, Taylor, Taguchi, and many others. Yet, this book set the tone.


Walton, Mary (1986). The Deming Management Method. The Putnam Publishing Group. ISBN 0-399-55000-3. OCLC 13333772.

Note: Dr. Deming called the PDCA cycle the Shewhart Cycle, in deference to the pioneering work Walter A. Shewhart did in the 1920’s.

I am proud to say that I am a Deming Disciple and an advocate for the PDCA cycle. Are you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and how your use the PDCA cycle or how the works of W. Edwards Deming influences your life.

Thinking Points

  • Is quality still important?
  • What companies have the highest levels of quality today?
  • If you have to choose Quality over Price – which do you choose?

clip_image002 About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM space. I spent time at
Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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Anonymous said…
I am a big fan of Deming's ideas. For those interested in more on Deming's ideas, I have put together some thoughts on Deming's Management philosophy. Also my Curious Cat Management Improvement blog Deming category includes many posts on the topic.