Improving your solution
Let's assume the team has created something, but they aren't happy with it. It's a device or component of their solution that could be better.
One quality improvement tool they can use to improve things is the PDSA cycle. Plan, Do, Study, Act.
For example, the team might want to get their small vehicle to travel 1 yard, and then stop. At present it is pretty random, with little accuracy. Let's see how using a series of PDSA cycles could help improve this device.
PLAN: The first step is to set a planned goal.
- in this example the team might choose for the vehicle to travel 36" plus or minus 1 inch.
- important constraints need to be defined, e.g. does the vehicle need to stop all by itself, or can an outside device or force be used?
DO: The next step is to come up with a series of actions that will allow your vehicle (or device/process) to achieve the stated goal - in this example the team wants the vehicle to stop by itself automatically.
- the team tries a clockwork mechanism that moves the vehicle a varied amount depending on how much it is wound up
STUDY: After making a modification to the vehicle to hopefully achieve the planned goal, the next step is to test it out.
- the team does a series of runs of the vehicle and determines that winding the mechanism up 4 complete times allows the vehicle to achieve the planned goal 8 out of 10 tries. However, when the floor surface is changed from smooth to carpet, the vehicle only travels the required distance 4 times out of 10.
ACT: The final step of the PDSA cycle is to look at the results obtained in the study and make some changes if the team hasn't achieved its previously stated improvement goal.
- this could be a revision of the goal, or a change to the design or operation of the device or process.
- in this case the team decides that the original goal is still desired, but that the design will need to be altered to improve accuracy, and be unaffetcted by the floor surface that the vehicle travels on
OK, so now what?
After the initial PDSA cycle fails to achieve the stated quality improvement goal, the team now needs to repeat a further cycle or series of cycles, refining the goal, making modifications to the vehicle, device or process, studying the outcome of the changes and reassessing what needs to be done. This iterative procedure continues until the required improvement in quality is achieved.