Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Check & Act

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Check & Act

W. Edwards Deming is a popular name in both the scientific and management community and he had a major impact on the way we live today. Amongst other things Deming was an engineer, professor, statistician and a management consultant. He effectively created the concept of Total Quality Management and continuous improvement.

Deming is credited as the creator of the Deming cycle more commonly known as PDCA. Created in the the 1950s, PDCA stands for plan, do, check, act. It is a 4-step cycle that is the basis for most continuous process improvement efforts undertaken yet today. In very simple terms, the kind I like, it works like this:

  • Plan: define a goal, targets, objectives and processes
  • Do: work your plan and apply what you defined above
  • Check: measure whether your work is producing the intended result
  • Act: take corrective measures to improve your process and start again

Done correctly this cycle never ends. Whether it be leadership, operations, project management or just life you can always improve. If your goal is big enough you will need to keep adjusting to make it come to life.

Let’s skip forward to today.

This is the first week of April which means that the first 25% of 2019 is now complete and we are in the second quarter. This means you only have 9 more months, or 75% of the year, left to achieve those big goals that you set in January.

Are you on track? This first week of the second quarter is the perfect time to focus on the second half of the Deming cycle. Check and Act.

Leaders check! That is, they pause to measure progress. When you set those SMART goals at the beginning of the year they included specific measurements you were going to use to evaluate progress. Have you stayed on course?

Take the next week or two to give yourself a performance review. Evaluate every goals that you have set. Find out where you are on track and where you are not. Also look for places that you are on track but could do even more.

Leaders act! Once you have finished checking yourself it is time to act. Identify some steps you can take to get yourself back on track where you have slipped. Use a critical lens to see if any of your goals are no longer relevant. Then figure out some ways to celebrate your progress where you are meeting or exceeding your goals. Celebrating success is an important yet often overlooked part of the process.

If you are leading a team this would be a good exercise to do with your team too. When I led teams I would have a quarterly offsite with the team to check, act and celebrate.

Call to Action: take this first week of the quarter to Check your progress and Act to make sure you are killing it in Q2.

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

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