Continuous improvement methodologies

​​Graphic showing how the stages in the PDCA, DMAIC, and A3 methodologies overlap Which methodology should I use?

There are many improvement methodologies used in Wisconsin state agencies. However, almost all of these methodologies are nearly identical. Other than the 5S approach, which is used to clean and reorganize a work space, the methodologies follow the same basic steps.

These steps include:

  1. Identifying a problem
  2. Collecting 'before' data
  3. Determining root causes
  4. Implementing solutions​​
  5. Collecting 'after' data 

Because these methodologies are so similar, we recommend using whatever methodology is most popular in your organization while recognizing that the methodology itself is not what's important. What's important is that you're solving problems so that Wisconsin's state government can better serve its citizens and taxpayers.  

To see how the most common methodologies overlap, please see the figure on the right.

Are there any important differences?

Not really. The main differences often relate to what tools are used or how quickly the projects are completed. For example, the terms "Kaizen Event" and "Rapid Improvement Event" are often used to describe a continuous improvement effort that occurs in a week or less. Other than the shortened timeframe, these projects still follow the same steps as any other improvement effort. As a result, we avoid using these terms to reduce confusion. 

For more precise definitions that detail the minor differences between these methodologies, please see our terminology page.