Craft & Test An Intervention

The PDSA Cycle. 


a. Plan:pdsa_trans

Planning here refers to planning your test of a single change you have decided to start with. Determine the following:

  • Who will need to be involved in implementing this test and who, precisely, will do what, and when?
  • How much time should be allocated for this change effort?
  • Who will need to be informed or briefed?
  • Who will need to be more extensively trained?
  • What else can you do to make sure that different team members do what needs to be done in the same, “correct” way?
  • How will you ensure that adequate amounts of the right resources are available throughout the testing period?
  • Do any other preparations need to be made?
  • What data needs to be collected during or following the test so that you can figure out with some confidence the impact the change is having on the situation?
  • Who will collect the test data?

For many changes, your plans can be spare and quite straightforward. A quick run through of these questions can help you avoid obvious omissions in your preparations and ensure you are being as systematic as you want to be.

b. Do:

Doing” refers to trying out the change you have planned. It helps to have one person monitoring the implementation.

c. Study:

Study” is looking at the intervention and the data it generates both while the project launch is occurring and once it is completed. It includes looking closely at informal feedback and qualitative data (such as notes or observations of experiences) as well as analyzing data from the key measures you identified.

Because this is about improvement and not basic research, there will be times when it is sensible to make mid-course corrections. For example, if something is preventing the change from being consistently implemented, you may want to jump in and fix that. On the other hand, you don’t want to make it impossible to determine the impact of your change by making too many changes or modifications at one time. Too many often turns out to be more than one.

d. Act:

This is where you decide what to do next based on what you have learned during your study of the test data. Do you want to keep pursuing this? Do you want to launch another PDSA cycle with a significant modification to the change you have implemented or an additional change? Involving a key leader, champion, and/or collaborator in your discussions at this point can prove most helpful. (See Chapter 6 for more on the Act step.) [Click here for a PDSA Worksheet]