How to Teach PDCA to Your Staff

imagePrior to the activity you will need to presort several decks of cards. Arrange the decks so that each deck has eights aces, eight 2s, eight 3s, and so on through eight 10s. Do not use the face cards. There should be 80 cards in the deck. Eight of each number ace through 10.



Give out one deck to each team. Don’t tell them anything about
the cards yet, like total number of points or anything else.
They may not touch the cards at all until the trainer says “GO”.
Tell them the object is to divide the cards as evenly as possible
among the team members according to point value on the face of
the cards. Ace counts 1 point, 10 counts 10 points, all others
count the actual number (2 counts 2, 3 counts 3, etc.). Member
totals may vary by one point. Say “GO” and stop them after 30
seconds. Did they get them all divided evenly? Probably not.

Put the cards back in the middle of each table and tell them
once again that they can’t touch the cards until you say “GO”.

Go on to the plan stage.


Briefly explain the concept of PDCA. Tell them they will now
have a chance to “plan” how to divide the cards equally before
actually doing it. Tell them anything they want to know about
the cards now. Give them about 5-10 minutes. Be clear that they
are not to touch the cards until you say “GO”. Most teams will go
to great lengths to get their hands on the cards. After most of the teams have their plan
together, tell them they have 2 minutes to execute their plans,
say “GO”.


Let them execute their plans and time them (you may want to put
a grid on a flipchart to record their times). They will probably
take 1.5-4 minutes here.


Have the teams discuss at their tables how they can improve
their process. Again, they may not touch the cards until you say
“GO”. After 3-5 minutes, say “GO”.


Let them execute their improved plans. Many will come very
close to the original 30 second time allotment. Record the new
times, almost everyone will improve.

Discuss as a large group the various processes and improvements.

Review the concept of PDCA.

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