The Ramp of Improvement

1 hours

Short overview:

In an offline environment, this activity tests productivity, accountability, improvement and reaching a set goal in a reflective environment.
This exercise gives a practical approach on the PDCA CONTINUOUS QUALITY IMPROVEMENT CIRCLE. PDCA stands for: Plan Do Check Act and it is a theory developed by Edwards Deming. PDCA Card game for the tool visit:

Objectives of the workshop:

  • To be able to generate learning from failures and overcome and understand the prospect of improvement, aiming for success.
  • To develop problem solving ideas and ways to find solutions
  • To utilise mathematical thinking
  • To contribute as a team member in fast moving / stressful situation
  • To understand the concept of progress and improvement through efficiency

In the case of literacy / mathematical challenges – we suggest observing this model “The Egg Challenge” under the same format below. All corresponding resources and instructions are contained in the link.

Group size: 16+ – large group most beneficial

Methods: Group Activity
Materials: Cards Flipchart paper Markers Stopwatch/Timer
10 mins.
Material usage/Remarks:

8 packs of Cards (remove Jacks, Queens and Kings)

Cards. There should be 80 cards in the deck. Eight of each number Ace through 10.
PDCA Instructions

Have observers with each group to assist with debrief


The Ramp of Improvement

Introduce the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) plan and the stages of team development

*Prior to the activity you will need to presort several decks of cards. Arrange the decks so that each deck has eights aces, eight 2s, eight 3s, and so on through eight 10s. Do not use the face cards (Kings, Queens, Jacks)

30 mins.

FIRST: Give out one deck to each team. Don’t tell them anything about the cards yet, like the total number of points or anything else. They may not touch the cards at all until the trainer says “GO”. Tell them the object is to divide the cards as evenly as possible among the team members according to point value on the face of the cards. Ace counts 1 point, 10 counts 10 points, all others count the actual number (2 counts 2, 3 counts 3, etc.). Member totals may vary by one point.

Say “GO” and stop them after 30 seconds. Did they get them all divided evenly? Probably not.
Put the cards back in the middle of each table and tell them once again that they can’t touch the cards until you say “GO”.
Go on to the plan stage.

PLAN: Briefly explain the concept of PDCA. Tell them they will now have a chance to “plan” how to divide the cards equally before actually doing it. Tell them anything they want to know about the cards now. Give them about 5-10 minutes. Be clear that they are not to touch the cards until you say “GO”. Most teams will go to great lengths to get their hands on the cards. After most of the teams have their plan together, tell them they have 2 minutes to execute their plans, say “GO”.

DO: Let them execute their plans and time them (you may want to put a grid on a flipchart to record their times). They will probably take 1.5-4 minutes here.

CHECK: Have the teams discuss at their tables how they can improve their process. Again, they may not touch the cards until you say “GO”. After 3-5 minutes, say “GO”.

ACT: Let them execute their improved plans. Many will come very close to the original 30 second time allotment. Record the new times, almost everyone will improve.

Methods: PDCA Circle Graphic (for debrief)
15 mins.

Debrief: Discuss as a large group the various processes and improvements. Review the concept of PDCA.


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