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PDCA stands for Plan Do Check Adjust. It can also stand for Plan Do Check Act or Plan do Study Act. It is a rapid improvement method based on testing a potential countermeasure in four quick steps.


Plan: Plan or outline a problem.
Do: Do or apply countermeasure to address root cause.
Check: Check or assess if the problem is fixed.
Adjust: Adjust or fine tune the fix.

PDCA is a method developed by Dr. Deming that favors trial and error over extensive planning and trying for perfection up front with the assumption the each test allows for essential fine tuning. PDCA is often paired with A3 Documentation.

Infographics - PDCA Cycles Over Time

For a better understanding of PDCA/PDSA and an overview of Lean Six Sigma, check out our Free Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Training, Green Belt Training or Lean Training.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner & Executive Advisor at For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.