Total Quality Management

February 25, 2009

Deming Cycle: The Wheel of Continuous Improvement

Filed under: Management of Process Quality — Tags: , , — Ferhan Syed @ 7:01 pm
The essence of continuous improvement lies in employees involvement. This happens when they improve their process, product or services by applying their creative faculties on  their work related problems and routine jobs. Kaizen (Japanese word meaning continuous improvement) provides these employees a platform to unleash their creativity.

Dr. J.Edward Deming, the famous quality guru, provided a simple yet highly effective technique that serves as a practical tool to carry out continuous improvement in the workplace. This technique is called PDCA Cycle or simply Deming Cycle. PDCA is acronym of Plan, Do, Check and Action. Deming Cycle provides conceptual as well as practical framework while carrying out Kaizen activities by the employees.  Let’s understand the concept with following illustration:

Deming/PDCA Cycle

Deming/PDCA Cycle

 The four steps Plan, Do, Check and Action should be repeated over time to ensure continuous learning and improvements in a function, product or process.

For example if employees want to improve either of the above areas, they should ask themselves about following question during the PLANNING phase of this cycle:

  1. What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. What changes can we make that will result in improvement?
  3. How will we know that a change is an improvement?

PLAN stage involves analyzing the current situation, gathering data, and developing ways to make improvements.

The DO stage involves testing alternatives experimentally in a laboratory establishing a pilot process, or trying it out with small number of customers.

The CHECK stage requires determining whether the trial or process is working as intended, whether any revisions are needed, or whether is should be scrapped.

The ACT stage focuses on implementing the process within the organization or with its customers and suppliers.

Once all this stages are completed to the fullest satisfaction, the improvement is standardized. The standardized work or product is the result of improvement initiative but it is not stopped here. With the changing circumstances or new techniques this standardized work, process, product or service is again subjected to further improvement thus repeating the  Deming Cycle again and again.



  1. Thanks for the lucid summary. I used your visual in a presentation and have your web page URL on the visual so people can check you out. You have no other data for me to use to give you credit but they will find you if they want–thanks. Bob

    Comment by Dr. Robert Wright — September 15, 2009 @ 10:21 am

    • Dr.Wright

      You are welcome to use whatever you find useful from my blog.

      Ferhan Syed

      Comment by ferhansyed — September 15, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

  2. I am presenting a powerpoint on continous Improvement and would love to be able to use your visual.
    For purposes of not infringing copyright I seek your approval to use this impressive visual.
    Thankyou Rae Stephens QI Cordinator for Saudi Arabian Medical Services. ARAMCO.

    Comment by Raelene Stephens — December 26, 2009 @ 7:28 am

    • Please go ahead. I would appreciate your efforts in spreading the message of quality. This is not my intellectual property, in fact, I have also learned it as student of total quality management.

      Comment by ferhansyed — December 26, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

      • Hi,
        I also learned this model as a part of my TQM course at University, however, I cannot find the source of this particular model, where the Deming-cycle moves up the “quality-hill”. Would you happen to know who first developed it? Also Deming? Juran? Some other smart quality guru? Would be nice for me to be able to use the actual source.. Thanks!

        Comment by Liz — March 9, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  3. Hi Ferhan. Thank you for your posting and for the nice visual. I too would like to use the visual in a white paper on the integration of Demings work on quality with the concepts of Agile software development, Lean and Theory of Constraints.


    Comment by Tom Looy — February 11, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

  4. Thank you for the visual, definitely helps solidify the Deming model.

    Comment by Claudia — January 14, 2011 @ 3:12 pm


    Comment by JOSEPH — August 5, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  6. Hi, I like your slide and would like to ask your permission if I can use it in my QMS Wiki for my company. Thanks.

    Comment by Evelyn — September 20, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  7. Hi thank you for posting this, currently revising our Health and Safety Management System document and would like to request permission to use your slide.

    Thank you


    Comment by Keith Locke — February 13, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  8. Hi, I would like to use your visuals and information to share with a Vietnamese university group. They are interested in TQM and your continuous improvement process is clear and easy to understand. Seeking your approval….DJCURRIE

    Comment by DJ Currie — April 18, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  9. Like so many before me I’d like permission to use your graphic in various sessions that I have to educate students quality sciences. Currently I have a graphic but it certainly isn’t as expansive as the one in your column. Thanks for the insight…

    Comment by Jim Smith — May 8, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

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    Comment by description — May 23, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

  11. […] or process through slow continuous incremental improvement activities (See Edward Deming  and the TQM – Deming Cycle), but as a protection measure, shuts out additional radical activity that could produce new […]

    Pingback by ArCompany › Vision: A Declaration To “Just Do It!” — May 28, 2014 @ 3:40 pm


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