How to Improve (at just about anything)

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

There are two ways to improve:

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The classic way:

  • Do – make an improvement
  • Do – change a process
  • Do – implement some training
  • Do – install a system

When you have been through the 4 do’s keep right on doing.

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The recommended way:

  • Plan – develop an idea or innovation, work out how you will implement it.
  • Do – carry out the plan on a small-scale, test it to see if it works.
  • Check study what happened, did the plan work? If not why not? What can you change?
  • Act – adopt the change and roll it out, abandon it or learn from it and adapt it.

When you have finished the cycle, circle back to Plan.

The outcome:

The two methods drive different results.

Do, do, do, do causes rapid jerky movements in performance.

Plan, do, check, act drives a slow steady ratcheting up of performance.

Check and act lock in the good and abandon the bad…  Do, well do just keeps on doing.

Pro’s and Con’s

The do, do, do, do method has the advantage that you feel that you are making progress and it is clear to the world that you are doing something.  Lots of things even.

The plan, do, check, act method has the advantage that you know you are making progress. 

The choice of method is — of course — yours.

A couple of nuances:

Plan do check act…

  • Separates the changes you make so it easier to see what worked.
  • Builds critical thinking skills in your workforce, rather than reactive acting skills.
  • Is iterative, so you continually improve, always building on what you have done so far.

About the author:

James Lawther

James Lawther is a problem solver with a talent for getting to the heart of the issue. Uses data, analysis and improvement techniques to develop creative solutions to expensive, complicated and emotive operational problems. For more than 20 years, James have worked for large organisations in all sorts of operational roles, from counting frozen peas to chasing tax avoiders.  Currently he works as Head of Operational Excellence for a FTSE 100 financial services company. View James full profile on Linkedin.

This article was first published on and has been reproduced here with permission. Title picture is not associated with the original writing.



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