Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Playing the card game - PDCA ..

Edward Deming (1900-1993) is one of greatest
quality and process thinkers

Edwards Deming (1900-1993) is responsible in the Management world to think of everything in terms of processes, to initiate process thinking. Though Taylor's scientific management brought in for the first time the focus of processes, the practical thought processes in this direction were initiated by Deming. 

This PDCA cycle of Plan-do-check-act is a systematic and documented part of the continuous improvement cycle of any organisation. (also called Deming cycle, Shewhart Cycle)

Japanese have named their top quality prize after Deming,
Deming Prize
It is an important step in the quality cycle in any organisation. It is also observed to be a great step in the lean journey of any company. Toyota makes PDCA a part of its life, in each and every act it undertakes, be it a new design, redesigning a process, a product etc.. Toyota is one of the greatest implementers of the PDCA cycle in their daily activities.

The whole PDCA cycle in Toyota is given in an A3 sheet (click here for my writing on A3 thinking..) so that at any point of time it is easy to trace the genesis of the improvement, how it started, what were the iterations involved, who all contributed, what were the cost savings involved at each stage. It is a living document which will undergo change in the future cycles of improvement. etc..

The PDCA concept can be best explained with the help of this game.  

(This game was played and improvised by Prof. George Easaw, at the Alliance School of Business, Bangalore, India)

Card Game : 

Items : Take a pack of 52 cards.  
Having proper metrics for every process is the key !!

Value : For each symbol, A - 1, 2 to 9 and 10, King, Queen and Jack each 10 each, ie 

Players : It is ideal to have four teams of ideally three players each playing this game 

Venue : Any classroom 

Procedure : Shuffle the cards well and divide the pack into four groups. 

Task : Ask each of the team to have equal total value of the cards with it.
Each team should have a total value of cards with it to be equal to 85.  

First PDCA cycle

a. Give 4 minutes of planning time (simultaneously) to each team to chalk out a strategy to have equal total value. Let them record this strategy (PLAN)
b. As per the plan let them execute the plan (DO)
c. After their strategy is executed as per the previous step, let them check the total value of cards each team has with it. (CHECK)
d. There will be a change and now the team has to decide to redo their strategy. (ACT)

Second PDCA cycle :

Repeat the steps given earlier. PLAN for 4 minutes and DO. In the check phase, CHECK whether all teams have equal value of cards.

If not, ACT to repeat the PDCA cycle a third time and so on till all the teams have equal value of cards with it.

Throughout the game, each team should have a piece of paper (A4 sheet) on which they note down systematically for each cycle,
  • all the cards with them, 
  • the total value, 
  • decide which cards to exchange, 
  • which cards to accept, 
  • keep record of cards exchanged and 
  • new total value in each cycle, 

The steps are carried out in the different iterations till the sum total with each team equals 85.

This is a game which gives you the meaning of what is PDCA cycle and tells how how to use the PDCA cycle repeatedly for continuous improvement.


Developed, played, improvised and documented at Alliance University, Bangalore, India. 2017.

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