Tips and Techniques for Statistics and Quality Improvement

Blog posts and articles about using Minitab software in quality improvement projects, research, and more.

Dawn Keller

My background is in quality and reliability engineering, and there I developed my dedication to both the quality profession and to Minitab Statistical Software.
Dawn Keller

Generally speaking, I have a problem with authority. I don’t like being told what to do or how to do it. I’m not proud of that.

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Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis. That was the diagnosis given to my then 8 year old daughter last January. In short, it means that she’s young (under 10), she exhibits an abnormal amount of spinal curvature, and there’s no identified cause (aside from some bad luck).

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I really can’t make this stuff up.

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I spend a majority of my time entrenched in statistics. Using statistics. Studying statistics. Developing and testing statistical software. Statistics guide many of my decisions at work and in life. That’s the world of an engineer.

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As I sat down to examine Cost of Quality (COQ) at Minitab, I flashed back to my CQE exam almost 20 years ago. I can still vividly remember staring down at a particularly difficult Cost of Quality question and wondering why I didn’t just follow my 4th-grade career assessment and become a novelist.  

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Like most families, the Kellers have a host of holiday traditions that make this time of year special. There's the annual trek to get our family Christmas tree. Christmas decorating that is sure to include some inflatable eyesore. Family holiday movie nights. Christmas plays. Our visit with Santa (followed by the endless threats to have him withhold a gift of our choosing). Impromptu parties with family and friends....

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I’m a quality engineer, so it probably goes without saying that I like gathering and analyzing data. Minitab and I spend a significant amount of time together. Some might say that our relationship is unhealthy—perhaps even co-dependent. But Minitab and I have been together for almost 20 years. That’s a long time for any relationship, especially one between a software application and an engineer.

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I love product development and quality engineering. There are days when I can’t believe that I actually get paid to do this. Between you and me, I’d do this work for a lot less money.  In fact, even on the days that I hate the particular circumstances of my job, I still love my job. If that makes any sense.

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I remember a time in my career when I mistakenly thought I knew statistics—really knew statistics. It was before I met Yanling Zuo, Michelle Paret, Eduardo Santiago and a whole host of other Minitab statistical experts. I was a Quality Engineer and I’d been applying statistics for years. I assumed that the ability to design and run an experiment meant that I understood DOE. I assumed that years of process control...

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I am 100% certain that, on the day they asked me to manage at Minitab, they did not tell me I would have to do so much process work. They didn’t clearly articulate that, as a manager, I’d spend a considerable part of my time discussing how we develop software rather than actually developing software. Perhaps I should have known. A better engineer probably would have known. But, me? Nope, I didn’t see it coming.

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