Thursday, 10 October 2013

KM and the Deming cycle - "Learn-Plan-Do-Measure"

The Deming cycle is at the heart of continuous improvement.

Variously described as "Plan-Do-Check-Act", or "Plan-Do-Measure-Learn" (the latter being a common oil-sector variant), it is a cycle of action, or a cycle of mindfulness, that drives learning and continuous improvement.

Knowledge Management is a key component of this cycle.

The picture here is taken from the 2006 publication, "Implementing a Framework for Knowledge Management", written by me, Peter Gibby, Walt Palen, and Sarah Hensley. It shows how Knowledge Management is an expansion of the "Learn" component of the Deming cycle. In fact, it is hard to see how you can operate the Deming cycle as an organisation, without KM.

Here we break out the KM element into "Learning Before, During and After" - that well-known basic model of activity focused KM. The link here between the Deming cycle and the "Learning Before, During and After" cycle emphasises three things.

  1. Learning comes after doing. You need experience from which to learn, and that needs to be either your Doing, or someone else's.
  2. Learning comes after measurement. It is through measurement (of whatever indicators you use to determine success) that you know whether the Doing was successful, and you know what needs to be improved or repeated in future.
  3. Learning comes before planning. Although the Deming cycle is usually described as "Plan-Do-Measure-Learn", it can equally well be described as "Learn-Plan-Do-Measure"

In fact, "Learn-Plan-Do-Measure" is a great way to look at the cycle, because, to be honest, all planning should be based on learning.

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