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The Plan-Do-Check-Adjust Cycle, also known as PDCA, is a planning/cause & effect cycle that will improve your work by means of being an indicator when adjust. The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, also known as the Deming wheel or the Deming cycle, is an iterative method for continual improvement of processes, products, or services and is a. What Does the PDCA Cycle Mean? Explained briefly, the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a model for carrying out change. It is an essential part of the lean manufacturing philosophy and a key prerequisite for continuous improvement of people and processes. First, proposed by Walter Shewhart and later developed by William Deming, the PDCA cycle became a widespread framework for constant. What is the purpose of the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust cycle as applied to iterations? To create a continuous flow or work to support the delivery pipeline b. To allow the team to perform some final backlog refinement for upcoming Iteration planning c. To provide a regular predictable developement cadence to produce an increment of value. What is the purpose of the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust cycle as applied to Iterations? To provide a regular, predictable development cadence to produce an increment of value.

  1. Quality Plan Do Check Act Cycle Pdca
  2. Plan Do Check Adjust

None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes.

—Thomas Edison

Iterations are the basic building block of Agile development. Each iteration is a standard, fixed-length timebox, where Agile Teams deliver incremental value in the form of working, tested software and systems. The recommended duration of the timebox is two weeks. However, one to four weeks is acceptable, depending on the business context.Check

Iterations provide a regular, predictable cadence for teams to produce an increment of value, as well as to refine those previously developed. These short time periods help the team, Product Owners, Product Managers, and other stakeholders regularly test and evaluate the technical and business hypotheses in a working system. Each iteration anchors an integration point, a ‘pull event’ that assembles various system aspects—functionality, quality, alignment, and fitness for use—across all the teams’ contributions.

Since the shortest sustainable lead time is a significant goal of Lean-Agile development, Agile teams execute a full plan-do-check-adjust (PDCA) cycle as quickly as possible. The PDCA learning cycle (shown in Figure 1) represents the following iteration events:

  • Plan –Iteration Planning is the plan step
  • Do – Iteration Execution is the do step
  • Check – Iteration Review is the check step
  • Adjust – Iteration Retrospective is the adjust step

Plan the Iteration

The iteration planning is the ‘plan‘ step of the PDCA cycle. It aligns all team members to the common goals described by the Team PI Objectives and to the outcome to be demoed at the iteration review and system demos.

During this event, all team members collaborate to determine how much of the Team Backlog they can commit to delivering during the upcoming iteration based on the available team capacity. The team summarizes the work as a set of committed Iteration Goals.

The specifics of planning, however, will differ based on whether the team works in ScrumXP or Kanban.

Execute the Iteration

Iteration execution is the process of how the work takes place. During the iteration, the team completes the ‘do‘ portion of the PDCA cycle by building and testing the new functionality. Teams deliver Stories incrementally, demoing their work to the Product Owner as soon as they are done, enabling teams to arrive at the iteration review ready to show their completed work.

The daily stand-up (DSU) represents a smaller PDCA cycle within the iteration. Every day, team members meet to coordinate their activities, share information with each other about progress toward the iteration goals and raise blocking issues and dependencies. It is also common for Agile teams to spend some time during the iteration refining the backlog ahead of the next iteration planning event.

The iteration cadence occurs within a larger Program Increment (PI), which itself is another PDCA cycle. The PI aggregates the value developed by each Agile team and measures the solution under development objectively at relevant Milestones.

Iteration Review

The iteration review is the ‘check‘ step in the PDCA cycle. This review is where the teams demonstrate a tested increment of value to the Product Owner, and other relevant stakeholders, and receive feedback on what they’ve produced. The iteration review provides the opportunity to assess progress as well as make any adjustments ahead of the next iteration. Some stories will be accepted; others will be refined by the insights gained during the iteration. The team will then do some final backlog refinement for the upcoming iteration planning.

Following the iteration review, the team prepares and participates in the System Demo that gives an integrated view of the new Features for the most recent iteration, delivered by all the teams on the Agile Release Train (ART). This demo serves as a ‘pull event’ to ensure early and regular integration and validation. Additionally, within the iteration, the system increment is continuously integrated and evaluated as their system context allows.

Improve the Process

The iteration retrospective is the ‘adjust‘ step for the overall iteration. Here, the team evaluates its process and reviews any improvement stories it had from the previous iteration. They identify new problems and their causes—as well as emphasizing bright spots—and create improvement stories that enter the team backlog for the next iteration. This regular reflection is one of the ways to ensure relentless improvement (one of the pillars of the SAFe House of Lean) is happening within each team. Iteration retrospectives may also identify systemic problems that will need to be addressed at the next Inspect and Adapt (I&A) event.

Before the next planning cycle begins, the backlog is refined to include the decisions from the iteration review and retrospective. The Product Owner refactors and reprioritizes new and old backlog items as needed.

Learn More

[1] Cockburn, Alistair. Using Both Incremental and Iterative Development. STSC CrossTalk 21, 2008.[2] Maurya, Ash. Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works. O’Reilly Media, 2012.

Last update: 10 February 2021

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The words 'hoshin' and 'kanri' mean 'direction' and 'management', respectively. Used together, they bring the meaning of “How do we manage our direction” or “How do we make sure we go the right way”.

Hoshin Kanri is (essential in the Lean management) 7 step planning process for ensuring that the strategy of a company gets executed across the hierarchy.

The Hoshin Planning Process

The Hoshin Kanri method can be summarized with a 7-step process, also known as the Hoshin Planning:

  1. The company's leadership develops a strong vision answering the question “Why does the company exist?”.
  2. The leadership team defines key objectives or also a mission. If achieved, they will create a competitive edge for the company. These are major objectives usually requiring every person's effort in the company, not monthly or quarterly objectives.
  3. The leadership team, along with the senior management, breaks down the objectives into annual goals.
  4. Once the annual goals are crafted, they need to be “deployed” across all levels of the organization. This is the process of “goal-setting,” which starts at the top and is propagated to each employee.
  5. With the next step, the real execution starts. This step goes hand in hand with the next two.
  6. The monthly reviews make sure that the plan is being executed according to the plan.
  7. At the end of the year, there is an annual review, which validates the end result that has been achieved.

Continuous Improvement – Integral Part of Hoshin Kanri

As shown in the image above, the Hoshin Kanri planning is not only a top-down approach. It has built-in continuous improvement mechanisms, which are a key element to making the method successful. These are the Catchball and PDCA tools.

Hoshin Kanri Catchball

A crucial detail about the Hoshin Planning is that it is not executed strictly top-down. On the contrary, it is a joint effort between a manager and a subordinate who have to mutually agree on the optimal set of goals.

If management directs people into achieving certain goals without collecting feedback first, they risk demotivation and costly errors, should some details happen to be missed.

The benefit of discussing the goals with the people who will be actively working on them is that they will think through the details much more thoroughly than the management. Practically speaking, this is the essence of the Catchball.

Having well-communicated, realistic, and agreed-upon goals is important because it enables ownership and motivation, creates a valuable feedback loop, and improves the commitment to the execution process.

Plan-Do-Check-Adjust / Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)

The Deming Cycle (PDCA / PDSA) was first introduced by Deming as a continuous quality improvement model. It consists of four steps:

  1. PLAN: plan an experiment and forecast what the results will be
  2. DO: implement the plan
  3. CHECK: validate the hypothesis
  4. ACT: if successful, standardize the experiment results and restart the sequence.

The PDCA model can be considered as the scientific approach to continuous improvement, and as such, it requires some additional practices:

  • Achieving continuous improvement is only possible if you make PDCA a continuous effort. If you try it a few times, PDCA is likely to generate improvements, but unless you iterate constantly, it will be of less value.
  • It is important to execute the experiments in a (somewhat) controlled environment. If the experiment results do not lead to meaningful results, the experiment is of no value, as the results cannot be treated as the baseline of a future PDCA cycle.
  • When running PDCA experiments, always pursue the system optimum and not the local optimum. Local optimums might be dangerous on the system level because they can lead to excessive levels of work in progress (WIP).

Why Hoshin Kanri?

It has never been easier to start a business and reach a seven-digit revenue. However, in the history of mankind, it has never been harder to make people care about your products. There is severe competition in every market, and only the smartest and the most dedicated survive. That is why companies need to make sure they have a well-thought-out strategy and can execute relentlessly. It is not about having a strategy or execution. It is about both!

Additionally, alignment is among the big enterprise's greatest challenges, where thousands of people do thousands of jobs every day. It is often a challenge even for smaller companies, where work is much more dynamic, and the big picture can easily be lost.

When Hoshin Kanri is implemented effectively, it forces the leadership team to develop a vision and a list of breakthrough goals, creates a cascade of complementary goals, which ensures alignment, and provides the necessary leverage for successful execution.

Quality Plan Do Check Act Cycle Pdca

In other words, Hoshin Kanri bridges the gap between strategy and execution by creating alignment and focus.

How to Implement Hoshin Kanri?

The first logical question to ask once you get convinced about the benefits of Hoshin Planning is “Where to Start?”. And this is an excellent question because there is not much practical advice out there. If you Google “Hoshin Kanri Tools” you will most likely find information about the “Hoshin Kanri X Matrix”, which looks like that:

Image Credit: LinkedIn

Mapping everything on such a spreadsheet is definitely going to help you during the planning process. However, there is not much help as far as the actual execution goes. One of the methods for Hoshin Kanri execution that has been successfully tested and validated is Portfolio Kanban.

The Portfolio Kanban is a holistic method that aims to improve your organization’s ability to deliver by applying visualization principles, limiting work in progress, and flow management on a system level.

Hoshin Planning with Portfolio Kanban

Portfolio Kanban is a convenient tool for executing the Hoshin Kanri goals because it allows mapping them on a Kanban board and tracking the progress visually. In reality, the breakdown of the goals looks like this:

Plan Do Check Adjust

When the CEO and the leadership team come up with the vision and the breakthrough goals, they work with the Program Level to define the programs that will deliver on these goals (they play the Catchball).

On the next level, the program management layer works with the project layer to define the necessary projects to deliver on the program's goals (again, Catchball).

The process continues until all levels in the hierarchy have clearly defined goals. Then, the execution starts.


Executing the Hoshin Planning with Portfolio Kanban

With software like Kanbanize, you can represent all the goals and the related work items with Kanban cards on team or management (Portfolio Kanban) boards. The benefit of the software is that it makes it visible when work items and goals get completed. This saves hundreds of hours for status meetings and eliminates the possibility of human error and reporting bias.

The automated way of status reporting makes the monthly reviews easy ands strategy gets executed across the hierarchy.

  • An integral part of Hoshin Kanri is the pursuit of continuous improvement via tools such as PDCA and Catchball.
  • When Hoshin Kanri is implemented effectively, it forces the leadership team to come up with a vision and a list of breakthrough goals, creates a cascade of complementary goals, which ensures alignment, and provides the necessary leverage for successful execution.
  • Portfolio Kanban can help with implementing the Hoshin Kanri planning and the actual execution of the goals.
  • Hoshin Kanri must be adapted to the dynamic world of today by shortening the communication cycles and creating a more fluid way of information sharing.