When is PDSA Season?

When is PDSA season?

We all know when it’s cold and flu season and what precautions to take to get back to health or at least dial down the symptoms. However, do we recognize when it’s time to conduct a Product Development System Assessment (PDSA) to get our organization back to health?

To analogize a real life situation, if someone is sick and goes to the doctor, the doctor would want to treat the immediate sickness and then propose a physical to determine what else is going on within the patient’s body. The doctor then sets a diagnosis for continuous improvement of health. A PDSA lends itself to something close to this from a product development standpoint.

An organization must first acknowledge a problem from a department stakeholder (i.e: Vice President, Director, Manager). They must obtain an understanding of how this problem effects downstream departments and create a sense of urgency that this one problem, is only one problem, and more problems are likely to be a major inhibitor to reaching goals.

Sure, organizations can operate with these inefficiencies and still make products, but we want them to know that they could make even more products or run more projects by taking part in a PDSA, which is when we come in to align an organization’s goals and measure achievement recognition through a secure and obtainable continuous improvement plan. PDSA’s are our way of measuring an organizations pain in their processes and providing a long-term solution to provide continuous improvement and maintain a healthy organization.

PDSA’s are the only way for EAC to truly understand the heartbeat of a company and the only way a customer or prospect can become a partner. Their goals become our goals for that organization.

Why would you want a PDSA?

PDSA’s are valuable for two reasons. First we, EAC, help clients to see their product development operation as a system which is a critical first step in making the operation better (i.e. more systematic).  Secondly, we provide, as the output of the assessment, a set of high leverage improvement initiatives that will directly lead to increased productivity of their product development system.

Organizations may know something is not right with their product development operation – maybe for instance due to the number of recurring fires they fight – but they don’t know where to focus their improvement initiatives until they learn to see their operation as a system as opposed to a process.

The PDSA aligns a company’s business strategies and objectives to product development initiatives to determine areas of improvement. This is so valuable to be able to motivate a company or the internal champion to see how an improvement to a product development system would be tied to or contribute to a portion of the company’s objectives.

For example, an organizations objective or value opportunity is to reduce product development cost. Then we would streamline the product development system by making sure the people, process, and technology within a product development process are all working together without disrupting another part of the product development process thus taking waste out of the system enables reduction in cost.

During a PDSA, we engage with multifunctional groups within a company to extract process information and where waste is.  Over and above that, a continuous improvement strategy will be set in place for the company to achieve the desired state or desired maturity level. Without an investment in continuous improvement, a one-time fix to a process or system will not sustain in the long term.

What’s so great about PDSA’s?

PDSA’s are learning events and EAC consultants learn something new with every PDSA because of the uniqueness of each client we work with. Beyond spreading our understanding of seeing operations as systems, it is exciting to be able to learn the details of the client’s operations and then provide critical improvement information.

The ability to tell an internal champion or the economic buyer that their organization is “leaking oil” or specifically being able to quantify to them the dollars being wasted, and that we, EAC are here to help reduce that and get them in a better state excites me. The ability to whiteboard the organizations processes and ask them why they would perform a certain task in that fashion. The ability to ask the tough questions, like “what is the biggest headache or challenge they have right now?” and “what is working well for you?” The ability to help the champion to present to their executive board is what is rewarding in the end.

We live and breathe to make a difference for our customers. PDSA’s are a mental marathon that test every part of a person’s attention to detail, savvy, note taking, and overall listening abilities. The challenge is what we get revved up for. We never know what we are going to find.

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