Coin Spin PDSA Exercise

in Measurement

By David M. Williams, PhD

Several years ago, I was facilitating an improvement learning session and planned to use an exercise to help the participants learn how to do proper PDSAs and track data over time in a run chart. Normally, I would use my Mr. Potato Head PDSA exercise, but I didn’t want to carry the toys with me and I wasn’t sure what the set up of the space was like, so I came up with a new PDSA exercise…the Coin Spin PDSA Exercise.

I grew up in Western Massachusetts in the 80’s. When I was in school, we used to bring money and buy our lunch from the school cafeteria. The meals were less than a dollar, so we always carried change. After eating, we usually had time leftover before we had to return to class and my friends and I would play games of Coin Basketball. The game involves spinning a coin, which is then caught and used as a “ball” to score a basket. You can find a description and silly video here.

This PDSA exercise has now been adopted by many of the improvement advisors and customers of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and my friends Niñon Lewis and Rebecca Steinfield even created an instructional and debrief video.

For the exercise, you need a pencil, four (4) coins of different denominations (penny, nickle, dime, quarter), and this handout: Coin Spin PDSA Run Chart Tracker

Here’s the first video that sets up the exercise.

After you’ve run the exercise, the next video can support you in your debrief.

This is a great alternative to the Mr. Potato Head PDSA exercise and the simplified materials make it easy to transport and set it up. It also lends itself to teaching more advanced concepts of improvement like Planned Experimentation. Try the exercise for yourself and let me know what you think. Enjoy.

You can download a free Coin Spin PDSA Exercise facilitator’s guide here.

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