Tyler: WK 4—Initial Post

Answer the questions and respond to tyler and the figure 4.1 file will be down below.

Review Figure 4.1 (problem-solving steps) on page 67, PDSA, and DMAIC. How do they differ, and how are they similar? What is familiar, what is not? Is it a good – or bad – idea to have specific steps? Why? How does your organization solve problems, and is this method effective? Please explain. In what situations might one work better than the other? If you have an example you can share from your organization about how problems are solved, please do.

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Add any comments you wish about Baldrige 3 & Baldrige 5 as they relate to your current or previous organization.

Tyler: WK 4—Initial Post

Review Figure 4.1 (problem-solving steps) on page 67, PDSA, and DMAIC. How do they differ, and how are they similar?

When attempting to solve any problem, it’s essential to have a sense of where one currently is to identify and embark on the best direction to resolve or get to the root of the problem. Summers (2018) asserts that problem-solving is the “isolation and analysis of a problem, and the development of a permanent solution, is an integral part of the quality improvement process” (p. 66). Yet, one doesn’t go about this journey by “shooting in the dark” hoping hit its target, but by following a logical and systematic method. Failure to make such efforts to eliminate the root or cause of a problem increases the probability of masking the symptoms associated with the issue instead of eradicating the problem at its origin (Summers, 2018). Two popular systematic approaches to problem-solving are Dr. Deming’s Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle and Six Sigma’s Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) cycle, which share both similarities and differences.

Regarding similarities, both PDSA and DMAIC emphasize analyzing current conditions and plans to approach the problem. They also share the same tools, such as flowcharts, Pareto charts, cause-and-effect diagrams, check sheets, force-field analysis, WHY-WHY graphs, and scatter diagrams, control charts, histograms, and design of experiments. In contrast, DMAIC has eight problem-solving steps, whereas the PDSA has ten steps (Summers, 2018). DMAIC can also be a bit more complicated as it can be heavily data-driven, whereas PDSA can be a better fit if an organization is continuously going through improvements in an iterative manner (Laverentz & Kumm, 2017).

What is familiar, what is not?

Firstly, recognizing that a problem exists is familiar, as I feel this has been the first step in implementing many change models to identify what needs to be changed. It also reminds me of goal setting by first asking oneself where they currently are, where they want to be, and finally, how do they get there. As mentioned above, one has to know where they are to figure out where they must go and how to get there. Secondly, determining the baseline performance (DMAIC) or developing performance measures (PDSA) was also familiar with past change implementation or problem-solving systematic efforts. Regarding what was not familiar, I didn’t come across anything in Figure 4.1 that I hadn’t run across previously regarding systematic approaches to problem-solving.

Is it a good – or bad – idea to have specific steps? Why?

I believe having specific steps is a good idea. I feel it provides efficient guidance to effectively analyze and measure a problem to identify realistic solutions with desired outcomes. Instead of shooting from the hip per se, or risk addressing an issue prematurely, one can utilize tools such as brainstorming and Pareto charts to identify where problem-solving efforts should be honed. In turn, this effort can increase productivity and sustain long-term performance aligned with organizational objectives. A step by step process also allows top-management to reinvestigate or reanalyze a possible problem without getting lost not knowing where to begin, or what to reanalyze due to lack of a developed performance measure.

How does your organization solve problems, and is this method effective? Please explain. In what situations might one work better than the other?

My current organization solves problems similar to PDSA, which I believe is sufficient. For example, we engage in weekly meetings regarding the safety of the different waterways we oversee. During these meetings, we discuss multiple problems regarding waterway navigation safety. If a problem is a high risk for mariners on the channels, we will brainstorm and draft a document to effect changes and repairs to the waterway. Many stakeholders are involved, and therefore becomes a legal document and process we have to observe and monitor. Essentially, the legal document routed for approval is a package with narratives explaining the problem, how we’re going to monitor it, solutions, how the waterway currently/should be, feedback received, etc. I believe the PDSA process would work better in this situation than the DMAIC due to its emphasis on working with complex external data, such as bottom-line numbers being that its Six-Sigma’s counterpart.

Add any comments you wish about Baldrige 3 & Baldrige 5 as they relate to your current or previous organization.

Both Baldrige 3 (Customers) & Baldrige 5 (Workforce) relate to my current organization. Regarding Baldridge criteria three, we work very hard to keep up our service reputation with the public and our current and future stakeholders. We hold numerous town hall meetings for local mariners and other organizations to discuss current and future operations and allot time for anyone to ask any questions or stress any concerns. We also ensure that all problems are addressed through a public web platform designated for mariner/stakeholder interactions (feedback, gratitude, complaints, etc.). These efforts help us hear our customers to ensure we are adhering to the highest standards in serving their needs, expectations, and requirements. Our workforce environment also adheres to the same high standards displayed to the public and stakeholders, which reflects the service our workforce provides internally. Also, leadership works very hard to ensure the workforce has ample resources to effectively do their job and cultivate a climate of teamwork, which has increased retention rates over the years. Training and education opportunities are provided to as well to ensure personnel is remaining Ready, Relevant, and Responsive in such a dynamic society we are living in today.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful beginning of the week so far and continuing to press-on in an optimistic mindset! Take care and be safe!


Laverentz, D. M., & Kumm, S. (2017). Concept evaluation using the PDSA cycle for continuous quality improvement. Nursing Education Perspectives, 38(5), 288–290. doi.org/10.1097/01.nep.0000000000000161


Summers, D. C. (2018). Quality (6th ed.). NY, NY: Pearson Education

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