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Plan > Do > Check > Act

This framework is as much about leadership as it is good business and as much about data science as good process. Plan Do Check Act can power enterprise projects where timelines span years and budgets exceed millions/billions, or is a framework for measuring and improving something as simple as which route to take to the grocery store.

Plan do check act is about creating a feedback loop for further improvement and enhancement of a given process. This idea is very akin to Machine Learning.

Machine learning (ML) is the study of computer algorithms that can improve automatically through experience and by the use of data.[1] It is seen as a part of artificial intelligence. Machine learning algorithms build a model based on sample data, known as training data, in order to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to do so. -Wikipedia 1/21/2022

In short machine learning uses a training data set to create a plan, run models against the plan, check the performance of those models against the plan, and then acts by improving the models based on previous performance. Machine learning is the epitome of Plan Do Check Act.

Plan

Planning is an important part of achieving success. I truly believe that planning creates preparedness and preparedness results in optimal outcomes. A couple of important quotes related to planning come to mind and these highlight the criticality of planning:

“The war is won in the general’s tent.” — Unknown

“If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail” — Benjamin Franklin

Do

Do what you say your going to do. Execute your plan. Going back to the quote listed above about wars being won in the general’s tent — equally, wars cannot be won without executing plans. Doing/executing what you plan is equally important to creating a sound plan.

Check

Validate that you executed your plan. Self-reflect on a few key points:

  • Where did you have weaknesses in your plan?
  • Why and how did you fail to execute?
  • What can you change if you had a do-over in order to achieve a better result?

This phase of the framework is the first step in creating the feedback loop for improvement.

Act

The Marine Corps talk about improvising — adapt and overcome. This last part of the framework refers to taking the feedback or results thus far and employing actionable takeaways. To adapt and overcome you need to take the information gleaned from the Check step of the framework to make changes for a different and more excellent outcome/result. Quite simply — do something to make better.

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