23 de mayo de 2011

The Fractal Nature of PDCA cycle

Well, I think this is going to be my first post in English in this blog (I gently ask to my English readers to forgive me this daring :-D ). A few days ago I submitted a simple and innocent tweet that generated a conversation with Ken Gonzalez ,and finally derived to this blog post. Everything started as you can see in the image:


When I explain the PDCA cycle both in ITIL® and (more intensively) in ISO/IEC 20000 training (Foundations Level and in the specially focused class called Process Management and Improvement according to ISO/IEC 20000 ) we start reading the chapter 4 of the standard, called “Planning and Implementing Service Management”. In this chapter, the standard describes a giant PDCA cycle needed to carry on the “project” of implementing the Management System, so we have 4 sub-chapters that describes the detailed requirements of the standard in order to build and run the SMS (Service Management System).

Students see a very nice graphic that explain the different PDCA steps and different inputs and outputs needed for the process. I explain them the requirements using a whiteboard where I draw a circle and move my hands following the line while I explain… the result is quite similar to what you can see in our first animation

As you can see in the animation, the IT organization is like a planet doing a complete set of orbits around the center of the Solar System (Service Management Quality in this example?) but this approach is too simple to try to represent the reality. Demming didn’t invent the PDCA cycle for such a big and complex change like putting in place a Management System for IT Service Management, a “project” that can last at least one complete year (just like a complete cycle around the Solar System!); he invented it for micro-changes, and in fact when you use it or when you imagine how an organization will manage to guide and continuously improve the Management System you can not imagine a BIG PLAN with a BIG DO followed by a GIANT CHECK with a MONSTER ACT

Well… some companies do; they imagine a BIG PLAN and then they sign for the BIG PROJECT and then there appear the Big Hordes of black_suite_with_white_shirt_and_dark_ties called “the consultant team”… they work hard for about 60 days and then the go out of the room with… THE PLAN, a book thicker than a Holy Bible plenty of drawings, RACI matrixes and workflows… but in fact this does not work, and times times of multi-million bucks contracts are finished.

So let’s imagine that we are doing things like people who has a little of common sense and then we will discover that we have a lot of small PDCA cycles that are collaborating together to build that first image of a big PDCA.. different teams, different knowledge areas, different practices but a single project in mind. Then we can imagine this as the second derivative of the first image: now, we are not in the Earth doing an orbit around the Sun, but we are in the Moon (as always! :-D) orbiting around Earth, building small PDCA cycles; you can visualize this situation in our second animation:

But you don’t need to stop in the second derivative… you can imagine a very small PDCA cycle for each small initiative and then one more time a small PDCA for each activity until you reach your level of micro-change. If you draw this infinite (well… it MUST be finite if you want to finish your cycle some day before Doom’s Day!) you will see the Fractal Nature of the PDCA cycle, and once you have seen this light, you will never see the cycle as a simple circle never again.

1 comentario:

Emilio dijo...

Dear Antonio:

Great post. The greatest in fact. I'm happy to see we are in the same wavelength.