Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?
We are committed to producing results. We observe. We interpret. We take action. That is what we do as a leader. In some cases, we identify our opportunity, we solicit input from key stakeholders, we develop a plan, and we implement the plan. The temptation might be to think that our work is complete with respect to this specific opportunity. However, when using the PDSA cycle, we have two more steps to consider. The third step is the study step. Study is a hardwired check and balance for our interventions. It forces us to study or observe our change to make sure that it is in fact achieving our desired outcome. Some leaders may have already moved onto the next project before completing this phase.
What is the case for doing it anyway?
The study phase is vital to the success of intervention. It requires us to determine how to measure the success of our plan. If we fail to complete this phase, we will be placing all of our trust in the assumptions we made in developing our plan. This is why taking the time to analyze our outcomes is so important. It allows us to assess the success of our intervention and make an informed decision about whether or not to roll it out to all areas or pull it back and tweak the process again.
How can you do it?
- Know your plan. Be sure that you understand what you are trying to address and how your plan will help you achieve success.
- Know what you’re going to measure. What does success look like? How can you measure it? Be sure that you have measurable indicators related to your plan so that you can clearly analyze it.
- Collect data. Collect the data from your test.
- Analyze your data. How does the data stack up to what you expected? Is it evidence of a successful test? Did something happen that you didn’t expect? The answers to these questions will lead you into the final step of the PDSA cycle.
Have you ever used a PDSA cycle?