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Coaching PDSA cycles

These resources focus on how coaches can help teams build efficient and effective inquiry routines using PDSA cycles. Materials include a tool to help a coach to reflect on a PDSA artifact as well as short video clips.

Improvement coaches play a critical role in supporting individuals and teams to develop their improvement practice. They help to foster a safe space to inquire, take risks, and learn. Coaches also invite reflection, provide thought partnership, and help improvers to see their own practice more clearly in order to identify next actions.

Coaches often support improvers to structure and reflect on their inquiry cycles so that those cycles lead to deeper learning. The checklist linked below is one tool a coach can use to analyze and reflect on a PDSA cycle in order to identify strengths as well as opportunities to further refine the inquiry. Video clips describe how the checklist  can be used, as well as how a coach might understand and enact their role in support of the person or team with which they are working.

This material was shared in the coaching installment of the Living Improvement blog series.

Learn about models and approaches to improvement coaching, with a focus on how coaches can help teams build efficient and effective inquiry routines using PDSA Cycles. These resources were included in the “ The Engine for Improvement: Coaching PDSA Cycles” session at the 2021 Summit.

  • Alicia Grunow, Co-Founder and Improvement Specialist, Improvement Collective; National Faculty, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Emma Parkerson, Co-Founder, Systems Design Lab
  • Camila Velasquez, Improvement Analyst, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Inquiry in PDSA Cycles

In this segment, presenters describe inquiry skills that coaches might focus on as they help network teams accelerate learning while implementing PDSA Cycles. Watch for suggestions on identifying key learnings and successes while running PDSAs.

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(Watch from 29:28–32:07)


PDSA Checklist

Use this checklist as a tool to reflect on a PDSA cycle and, as a coach, to identify and prioritize areas to focus with an improver or improvement team. The clip above highlights key elements identified in this checklist and provides context for using the tool in a coaching context.

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Coaching Perspectives During PDSA Cycles

Improvement coaches often focus on supporting teams to learn together. In this clip, hear the presenter describe two lenses coaches may hold to help a team learn about a change through running a PDSA.

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(Watch from 16:25–18:05)


What is a PDSA?

Watch this clip to learn more about PDSAs and theory-based learning in improvement efforts. In this clip, presenters explain how PDSA cycles can be used as tools to make small changes, collect data and study the impact that these changes have on a system. Watch to learn more about facilitating theory based learning and coaching PDSA cycles.

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(Watch from 7:30–9:44)

See the full Living Improvement: Coaching Resources from the 2021 Summit blog post to learn more about other improvement coaching resources.