Working closely with LEAN principles at work made me realise that there is value in applying methods found in business to our personal lives. Particularly, I have found that the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle can be useful tool for self improvement and personal growth.
So what is the PDCA Cycle?
In short, PDCA is a four-step model used in business to carry out change or to control for continuous improvement of processes and products. It´s all about planning for change, carrying it out, analysing the results, and then identify what has been learned. Finally, actions are taken based on what was learned. However - should change not be successful the first time, we try again and go through the cycle with a different plan.
1. PLAN your mission statement. This part is about what and why, and might take weeks or even months. But, once identified, it is easier to at break this down into smaller goals and also act in certain ways (i.e., habits) - that eventually bring about success.
2. DO (it). Perform, experiment, and test. Walk the talk and work hard to achieve your planned activities. Become proactive by executing every week in your life around what really matters. It´s about prioritising and staying focused on your plan.
3. CHECK. Reflection and introspection is key. Following a mission statement and/or staying motivated to achieve goals can feel daunting. And depending on the complexity of these, you may want to apply different tools and techniques for this step in the PDCA cycle. Fortunately for us, there are several techniques and tools to be used, e.g., Fishbone diagram, brainstorming, and mind-mapping. Also, on a personal level, keeping a journal is a must. There is so much power in putting our thoughts into words.
4. ACT. Implementation and corrective action. Time to act! What type of behaviour and daily activities did/did not result in desired outcomes? Do we need to adjust our mission statement and goals? By checking consequences of our behaviour (step 3), we can act accordingly. Keep in mind that it is important to act in a positive manner. Results may not always meet our expectations, so we end up feeling bad about it. If this is the case, I usually take the best out of the situation, I tell myself that we learn by doing - and then I move on. There is always a way.