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Tips and Techniques for Statistics and Quality Improvement

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

  The NFL recently announced that after scoring a touchdown, teams will be required to kick the extra point from the 15 yard line as opposed to the 2 yard line. This is a pretty big change. And whether you’re trying to improve the quality of your process, or simply trying to make a sporting event more exciting, it’s always good to know what kind of effects your change will have. So I’m going to use... Continue Reading
In my previous post, I showed you that the coefficients are different when choosing (-1,0,1) vs (1,0) coding schemes for General Linear Model (or Regression).  We used the two different equations to calculate the same fitted values. Here I will focus on showing what the different coefficients represent.  Let's use the data and models from the last blog post: We can display the means for each level... Continue Reading
Since Minitab 17 Statistical Software launched in February 2014, we've gotten great feedback from many people have been using the General Linear Model and Regression tools. But in speaking with people as part of Minitab's Technical Support team, I've found many are noticing that there are two coding schemes available with each. We frequently get calls from people asking how the coding scheme you... Continue Reading
Earlier, I wrote about the different types of data statisticians typically encounter. In this post, we're going to look at why, when given a choice in the matter, we prefer to analyze continuous data rather than categorical/attribute or discrete data.  As a reminder, when we assign something to a group or give it a name, we have created attribute or categorical data.  If we count something, like... Continue Reading
Over the past few years, the average length of an MLB game has been steadily increasing. We can create a quick time series plot in Minitab Statistical Software to display this: As games have been lasting longer, there's been a feeling shared by many that this was a negative. Games seemed to drag on, with a lot of unnecessary stoppages and breaks. To combat this trend, and to try to speed up games to... Continue Reading
In my previous post, I wrote about the hypothesis testing ban in the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology. I showed how P values and confidence intervals provide important information that descriptive statistics alone don’t provide. In this post, I'll cover the editors’ concerns about hypothesis testing and how to avoid the problems they describe. The editors describe hypothesis testing... Continue Reading
If you’ve checked out What’s New in Minitab 17, you’ve had the chance to see that Conditional Formatting leads the list. If you’ve been reading the Minitab blog, you’ve had the chance to see demonstrations with Marvel’s Avengers and the Human Development Index. But you might not have had a chance to see that you can highlight large standardized residuals from a regression model and that the... Continue Reading
All processes have some variation. Some variation is natural and nothing to be concerned about. But in other cases, there is unusual variation that may need attention.  By graphing process data against an upper and a lower control limit, control charts help us distinguish natural variation from special cause variation that we need to be concerned about. If a data point falls outside the limits on... Continue Reading
The first summer blockbuster of 2015 was released two weeks ago—The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The first Avengers film featured a pretty well known cast of superheroes (if, of course, you’re a superhero fan). However, in the 40-year run of the Avengers comic book, that team has evolved to keep the material fresh and to allow some characters to go their solo ways. I want to use Minitab's statistical... Continue Reading
In previous posts, I discussed the results of a recycling project done by Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology last spring. (If you’re playing catch up, you can read Part I and Part II.) The students did an awesome job reducing the amount of recycling that was thrown into the normal trash cans across all of the institution’s academic buildings. At the end of the spring... Continue Reading
By Erwin Gijzen, Guest Blogger In my previous post, we assessed the out-of-spec level for a process with capability analysis and visualized process variability using a control chart. Our goal is to reduce variability, but when a process has a multitude of categorical and continuous variables, identifying root causes can be a huge challenge. Analyzing covariance—using the statistical technique... Continue Reading
by Erwin Gijzen, Guest Blogger People who work in quality improvement know that the root causes of quality issues are hard to find. A typical production process can contain hundreds of potential causes. Additionally, companies often produce products with multiple quality requirements, such as dimensions, surface appearance, and impact resistance. With so many variables, it’s no wonder many companies... Continue Reading
by Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger.  The old saying “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, then it must be a duck” may be appropriate in bird watching; however, the same idea can’t be applied when observing a statistical distribution. The dedicated ornithologist is often armed with binoculars and a field guide to the local birds and this should be sufficient. A... Continue Reading
This week I'm at the American Society for Quality's World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Nashville, TN. The ASQ conference is a great opportunity to see how quality professionals are tackling problems in every industry, from beverage distribution to banking services.  Given my statistical bent, I like to see how companies apply tools like ANOVA, regression, and especially... Continue Reading
Before cutting an expensive piece of granite for a countertop, a good carpenter will first confirm he has measured correctly. Acting on faulty measurements could be costly. While no measurement system is perfect, we rely on such systems to quantify data that help us control quality and monitor changes in critical processes. So, how do you know whether the changes you see are valid and not just the... Continue Reading
Banned! In February 2015, editor David Trafimow and associate editor Michael Marks of the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology declared that the null hypothesis statistical testing procedure is invalid. They promptly banned P values, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing from the journal. The journal now requires descriptive statistics and effect sizes. They also encourage large... Continue Reading
Did you ever show up to your hotel room at the end of a long day of traveling and find the covers turned down with chocolates on the bed? When something's ready for you to use right when you're ready to use it, it's a good thing. If you’ve never changed any options in Minitab, then the session window and data window always open the same way. The session window covers the top half of the project... Continue Reading
It’s usually not a good idea to rely solely on a single statistic to draw conclusions about your process. Do that, and you could fall into the clutches of the “duck-rabbit” illusion shown here: If you fix your eyes solely on the duck, you’ll miss the rabbit—and vice-versa. If you're using Minitab Statistical Software for capability analysis, the capability indices Cp and Cpk are good examples of... Continue Reading
As a Minitab trainer, one of the most common questions I get from training participants is "what should I do when my data isn’t normal?" A large number of statistical tests are based on the assumption of normality, so not having data that is normally distributed typically instills a lot of fear. Many practitioners suggest that if your data are not normal, you should do a nonparametric version of... Continue Reading
The NBA playoffs are under way, and all eyes are on LeBron James to see if he can finally bring a championship to Cleveland. But one could argue that there is even a bigger storyline going on: whether Tim Duncan can equal Michael Jordan’s six NBA Championships. Duncan is currently in his 18th season in the NBA, and he is still playing at a very high level. Yet, he’s never in the conversation when... Continue Reading