PASS Cycle (Plan-Act-Study-Select)

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The PASS Cycle for Optimal Learning, Continuous Improvement, Growth and High Achievement

Leadership Alliance’s PASS Cycle (Plan, Act, Study, Select): An open-loop cycle for robust continuous learning, improvement, innovation and growth. The PASS cycle was designed by Leadership Alliance founder Matthew Cross, inspired by Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s PDCA/PDSA (Plan-Do-Check/Study-Act) quality/learning cycle. Dr. Deming’s cycle was based on his mentor Dr. Walter Shewhart’s PAS (Plan-Act-Study) Cycle, which was in turn based on educational pioneer John Dewey’s DIPR (Discover-Invent-Produce-Reflect) optimal learning cycle. The PDSA cycle is also the foundation for the DMAIC cycle in six sigma.

1.  PLAN

The essential First 15%, where we define our: AIM (What do we want to achieve and Why?), theory, strategy, methods, roles, resources and timelines. This is also where we make our initial PREDICTION(S) as to what we think we can achieve and when we think we can achieve it.

2.  ACT

Act on/test the PLAN—preferably on a small scale to start—over a specified amount of time, with defined milestones. Ideally, act guided by your best theory and deploy your strategy, methods, people and resources with the aim to get as close to the prediction from your PLAN phase as possible.


Study/review the results of acting on the PLAN. Compare difference(s) between predicted and actual outcomes achieved in the previous ACT phase. ASK:

1. How close did we come to our prediction(s)?

2. What did we learn?

3. How could we do it better/faster next time?

Use this feedback for the next phase (SELECT).


Select/score results of the STUDY phase to select/adjust the best course of action going forward:

1. Continue our efforts as before, or

2. Intensify certain aspects, or

3. Abandon certain aspects, or

4. Back-burner or abandon the effort

5. Embed the learnings/new processes as

6. Set the stage for the next PLAN phase.

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