Posted by: JC Gatlin | December 27, 2009

Idea Kaizen, Mini-PDCA and PDCA B6

So you’ve run into a problem, got an idea for an improvement or have identified waste in the system. What do you do next? Here’s a guideline to follow when trying to decide whether to write an Idea Kaizen, a mini-PDCA or a PDCA B6. 

Idea Kaizen

An Idea Kaizen is a simple improvement. One-time or continuous, large or small, it aims to eliminate waste & rework, increase safety or improve quality. It’s an action that you, personally, will take. Any idea that allows YOU to deliver on the promise of providing a pleasurable home buying, building and ownership experience is a Kaizen.


  • After reading the book Close Every Sale without Fail by Myers Barnes and Shirley Mozingo, a Sales Professional wrote a Kaizen about improving her sales presentation with tie-down words.  
  • A Construction Professional, who consistently had to replace blue prints on his jobsite, wrote a Kaizen about keeping the prints in a protective bag.


When a problem occurs in the homebuilding system, we initiate a PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust), an iterative four-step problem-solving process. This problem-solving process follows the steps laid-out on the PDCA-B6. The B6 format includes a formal problem statement and goal statement, data collection (which graphically illustrates the problem then breaks it down to a Point of Cause). It also includes problem investigation, which includes brain storming, a fishbone & 5-Why analysis mining down to several root causes. There are counter measures with set target dates to implement, and follow-up which shows if the counter measures succeeded in eliminating the root causes.

A strong PDCA group includes 4 to 6 people, and every position affected by the problem must be represented. This includes multiple positions within the organization, as well as Building Partners, Market Partners and other stake holders.


  • When 50% of the homes in a six month period required the painter to return to complete interior window caulking, two Construction Professionals initiated a PDCA B6 with the QI inspector and the painter.
  • When 30% of the Sales Professionals were not using the online pricing memorandum to reference community pricing guidelines, two company presidents, the IT programmer and the Director of Finance initiated a PDCA B6.


The mini-PDCA is a hybrid of the PDCA and Idea Kaizen. It is a watered down version of the PDCA B6 that was designed to be filled-out quickly and efficiently on the Gemba. It follows the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust format, providing space for a problem and goal statement, a point of cause, root causes and counter measures. It walks you through the steps but sacrifices data collection and problem analysis, including the fishbone and 5-Why.

The Mini-PDCA includes a group of two to four people and are most often used for initial problem investigation, or when a great deal of problem investigatin and data collection would seem like overkill. But don’t use the Mini-PDCA as an excuse to mountain jump — you should never approach any PDCA with the root causes or counter measures already determined.

Warning: The mini-PDCA format should be used sparingly, as depending on the problem and analysis, it can make the statement, “We only spent 10 minutes on this.”


  • A Construction Professional worked a mini-PDCA with a Building Partner who consistently missed turning-in FTQ inspection sheets and devised a counter measure to help his crew complete and turn-in the sheets on the jobsite.
  • A Production Planner worked a mini-PDCA with two Construction Professionals who consistently emailed vague or incomplete take-off information to her.
  • A Sales Professional worked a mini-PDCA with the printer/graphic artist when the design of an inventory flyer wasn’t producing the expected number of inquiries.

All problem solving tools – from Idea Kaizen, Mini-PDCA and PDCA& B6 — require follow-up.

© December 2009 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. The “B6” is confusing sometimes because in books and articles about problem solving, they refer to it as the “A3.” But since the A3 in our company refers specifically to our strategic planning form, we renamed the PDCA A3 to the PDCA B6. I think Anthony came up with that term…

  2. Thank you for that JC. This was the “topic of discussion” at the December Construction Meeting. All of us at Inland have grow up with the company in it’s PDCA evolution. This has changed quite a bit over the past few years. Thank you for the clarification. The Construction Manual handouts describe the 3 methods in detail and are extremely useful. You might want to think about adding this blog to the Manual as I am sure this will be a popular question with new teammates in the future.

  3. Good post. I think having a range of tools is important. Otherwise, (a) people want to improve but really don’t know how to get started, and (b) try to force fit their one tool into every situation.

    One fair warning to people is don’t get too hung up on the form itself. People often struggle to use a form when the form becomes a prescription. Instead it is just a guide to help us structure our thinking. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to have 1,001 different versions, but as-needed tweaks and leaving fields blank is fine. I write about that and other problems people have with A3s and templates in my series of Q&As on A3s:

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Lombard, Michael Lombard. Michael Lombard said: Idea Kaizen, Mini-PDCA and PDCA B6 […]

  5. Interesting this is how some see it. This is a good post.

  6. […] the PDCA form, list the Root Causes from your Fishbone 5-Why Analysis. Every root cause must have at least one […]

  7. […] your PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust) feels complete: The problem statement is written. The Point of Cause is […]

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