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  • Delna Avari

PDCA circles or just circles – choice is yours!

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

In the corporate world, we extensively use the PDCA model. If it is the engineering field, fairly expected, everyone works through control charts.

It is true even in the creative field, sometimes explicitly in terms of steps, client deliverables, review checkpoints, and sometimes, almost subconsciously. Yet, when it comes to one’s own life, people just don’t exercise the PDCA model.

I hear things like making plans or loyalty is passé; today, one has to move around to gain experience. So if in the corporate world, some people jump companies every 2 years; in the start-up world, it is pivoting constantly to apparently stay nimble & relevant even before building a strong foundation. Maybe time to understand the difference between skimming the surface and actually building a solid experience!

It is important that when you are exploring, you are leveraging the PDCA model to the logical point to make an observation, take a decision and then explore again.

One of my favorite concepts in economics is the ‘Point of Diminishing Returns.’

I have thoroughly enjoyed extrapolating the concept for everything from advertising spending to employee productivity to a personal favorite; how many cakes can I eat before the point kicks in! It does apply to life as well.

The way I look at it, if you abandon before you reach the point, the effort that you have put in is also largely wasted. After a certain stage, if you are stagnating or the value-add is not in line with expectations, then abandoning or changing course makes sense, much like the benefits of control charts in monitoring processes.

Even in one’s career, it is important to think through whether I have done enough, whether I am growing or stagnating, is my decision based on adequate empirical evidence before I decide to stay or decide to leave.

A strong foundation is always the key; whether you are a corporate executive or an entrepreneur, or a professional, the principle of personal development in the corporate world stays the same. Of course, you have to keep learning and staying relevant to the changing landscape but without a solid base, and it will count for far less.

Today it is easier to get caught out. I used to often wonder & with all due respect, without naming them, there were certain people I looked at & thought how they had ever become VPs & Presidents. Could people not see that the person was rather superficial?!

Honestly, in earlier times, it took much longer to get caught out; you could be average, but by playing brilliant politics or sometimes by just not playing any but sticking around long enough for others to kill each other – whatever the method; you survived. You survived by playing the game or by being a silent spectator, not ruffling any feathers; either way, you prevailed in spite of being average.

Today it is not that simple. More & more, especially in the last few years, at least at senior levels, if you are shallow, you will get exposed. Ambition can take you quite far but without consistent performance, only that far. So the aspect that bothers me is whether people are spending enough time acquiring that foundation, the fundamentals that will see them through life. Skimming the surface is not the same as exploring options to build your career.

Exploring the option at the end of the day involves leveraging the PDCA model and staying the course long enough to factually understand whether what I am doing is really working, whether it is in the space I want to be in, what more I need to do, or this is it. The risk otherwise is that you are just running after fads & things you believe will give you the next big buck.


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