Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.
Among the most widely used tools for continuous improvement is a four-step quality model—the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle, also known as Deming Cycle or Shewhart Cycle:
Plan: Identify an opportunity and plan for change.
Do: Implement the change on a small scale.
Check: Use data to analyze the results of the change and determine whether it made a difference.
Act: If the change was successful, implement it on a wider scale and continuously assess your results. If the change did not work, begin the cycle again.