Adjust Step in CAP-Do

In response to a few comments that have surfaced on LinkedIn picture I posted about CAP-Do and captioned with:

How do you start applying Lean to sales and marketing? I use CAP-Do, it seems practically to simple, but it’s like PDCA…how simple is it? Do you ever master it?

The post found a variety of responses and a fair amount of likes. Two of the remarks challenge the idea specifically addressing innovation and CAP-Do as being too lengthy of a process and adjust should be the focus. Since LinkedIn has limited space for a comment, I thought I would address it in my blog as bother are valid points of discussion.

My Innovation Response:

I believe we are in agreement, but I would like to clarify why I use CAP-Do maybe a little better. Though marketing is certainly about innovation and exploring the unknown (EDCA), I think for most companies, outside of a start-up, have the ability to apply incremental improvement (PDCA) to markets & products to gain market share. We also need to standardize work (SDCA) on what is working to become more effective and efficient.

I think applying Lean to Sales and Marketing allows us to use that 3-legged stool of EDCA-PDCA-SDCA. I think you need all three to be successful. The percentage of each is, of course, differs with each company, and that is what CAP-Do does it help define that. CAP-Do was popularized by Akao in his Hoshin Work, later by Brian Joiner in Management and Terninko in Product Development.

I do not think Lean replaces any marketing efforts or the latest greatest technology; I just believe it enhances the way we go about and derive pleasure from our work.

My Response to Adjust as the main focus and the Length:

Adjust is a key during this cycle. CAP-Do is very similar to Boyd’s OODA Loop. Which both may escape present day terminology but OODA was one of the major influences of the Ries’s Lean Start-up. OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of observe (check), orient(Act/Adjust), decide (plan), and act(do).  If you understand the OODA Loop, you realize that Orient is the central focus of the loop. I could dare say the other parts were window dressing.

CAP-Do is a starting point for a major initiative before we break it down to EDCA, PDCA, SDCA. It is a way to orientate yourself with your customer rather than just adjusting to outcomes. The speed or the rate that you go through the cycle is, of course, dependent on the Adjust – step. How well you relate and learn from your customer. The speed at which you can do that is your competitive advantage in the marketplace.


I think the focus of CAP-Do is to establish a starting point for the other iterations of EDCA-PDCA-SDCA. It is a starting point and an evaluation point. It is not the tactical implementation part as the OODA Loop was not Boyd’s way of reacting in a cockpit. It is the preparation before you get into the cockpit and what you do after returning and getting out of the cockpit. However, the most important part of CAP-Do is bringing the Adjust cycle to the forefront.  It is worthwhile repeating:

How well you relate and learn from your customer and the speed at which you can do that is your competitive advantage in the marketplace.