Tips and Techniques for Statistics and Quality Improvement

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

When I was in middle school, I picked up the newspaper to read an article on the opponent our varsity football team was playing that night (for our younger audience, this is what a newspaper is). The article said the opposing team’s running back was averaging almost 6 yards per carry, which is very high. I decided that I wanted to keep stats during the game to see if he was able to average 6 yards... Continue Reading
"Gimme a latte grande with a double shot of statistical analysis. Hold the sugar."If I tried ordering that the next time I go to Starbucks, my barista would probably just give me a blank look. But the fact is that the world's best-known coffee company applies a great deal of statistical know-how to making sure customers get the best possible coffee, whether they're getting it at a Starbucks... Continue Reading
I was reading an article recently about Jackson Pollock, an abstract artist famous for his “drip paintings,” and I became intrigued when I found out his art falls under the category of “process art.” As I learned more about Pollock and his “process,” I started to think about what he could teach us about process improvement.The process Pollock took to make his artwork was very calculated, hence the... Continue Reading
Thanks to my desire to understand the deeper mechanics that lie behind what we observe in the world, I suppose it’s natural that I love data analysis. Observation is great, but I can only observe a small slice of reality. I really want to understand the larger picture and know how it all works. Data analysis gives you the keys to do just this whether you are studying how to manufacture the best... Continue Reading
Because I’m constantly surrounded by Lean Six Sigma methodology, value stream mapping, and endless bounds of quality tools, I can’t help but bring these ways of thinking into my everyday life. Gas is expensive! I’m always thinking of ways to streamline my trips when I run errands. While I would love to go to Starbucks and have my iced coffee to enjoy while I go from place-to-place—it is... Continue Reading
My name is Andy Cheshire, and I currently work in Minitab's Technical Support department. Every day, I assist professionals who have questions about how to use Minitab to accomplish their analyses. Sometimes the call can be as simple as how to find a specific menu in Minitab. Other times, it can be more statistical in nature, as I try to explain how one Gage tool differs from another. The range of ... Continue Reading
Value stream mapping is a tremendously valuable tool for improving a process, but it requires patience and careful attention to details.  In an earlier post, I shared some value stream map guidelines to help ensure that the energy you invest pays off.  Here are some additional items to consider.  Identify critical paths and bottlenecks.Your map may reveal a number of potential areas... Continue Reading
Value stream mapping is a cornerstone of the Lean process improvement methodology, and also is a recognized tool used in Six Sigma. A value stream map illustrates the flow of materials and information as a product or service moves through a process. Creating a “current state” value stream map can help you identify waste and also makes it easier to envision an improved state for process in the... Continue Reading
Today we announced the winner of the Minitab Experiment ContestFord, Bobcat, Smith & Nephew, Metalor, and more than a dozen other companies from many different industries entered the contest, which focused on using a statistical technique called Design of Experiments (DOE) to solve business problems.Quality improvement professionals use DOE to create experiments that provide insight into how... Continue Reading
Careful data analysis is always important, but sometimes we need to quickly get a sense of the relationship between variables or factors.  It’s also true that pictures speak louder than raw data – you may have analyzed every last scrap of your data and run every possible test to confirm your analysis, but an effective graph shows people what your data mean in much less time than a collection of... Continue Reading
Some people take to statistics and data analysis naturally. They're attracted to numbers and aren't intimidated by formulas full of arcane symbols drawn from long-dormant languages. That's not me.  My name is Eston Martz, and I gravitate to words, not numbers. In school I was the kid completely unfazed by William Faulkner and James Joyce. But Statistics? It stupefied me. I feared it. And that's a... Continue Reading
We use statistics because it's usually not practical to collect all of the data from an entire population. Instead, we sample the population, and then use statistics for that random sample to draw conclusions about the whole population.Many common statistical procedures require data to be approximately normal -- in other words, to roughly follow the bell curve.  But what happens when you have a... Continue Reading