Agile PDSA

Dr. Deming encouraged the use of the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle to improve. Agile Management encourages a similar mindset – to test out ideas in practice and adapt quickly. A key to both strategies is to quickly iterate over possible solutions. Tesco provides an example of this strategy:

This was our first opening since we took our 12 week pause, after we had opened 61 stores at breakneck speed. We used that time to reflect on what customers had told us they liked, and what they’d like to see improved – and then to improve the shopping trip for them.

For example, customers told us that they really liked our prepared meals, made fresh daily in our purpose-built kitchen, but they wanted a wider selection to choose from. So we’ve developed and introduced a number of new products for them.

Of course, you could argue that this is all a sign of weakness, that we had got things wrong. But that would be to misunderstand the way we do business.

Listening, and then acting on it, is in our view the way to build long-term relationships with customers. It means our shopping trip is always improving, and staying in tune with changing needs. It’s a simple win-win. Customers get a better and better shopping trip, and we become more successful.

At the time Tesco paused the expansion I mentioned it seemed to me they should have allowed more time for PDSA.

To me, it is enormously important to design management systems that support and encourage continual improvement. That is much more important than superior results today. Results today are also, important, but a choice between an inflexible system that produce good results today and a flexible system with results not quite as good is not a close choice. Good management improvement requires continual improvement and therefore systems must be designed to support and encourage continual improvement.

Related: Experiment Quickly and OftenI own Tesco stockmanagement improvement tipsTesco: Lean Provision

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