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Project Tools

Blog posts and articles about tools and techniques that help keep Lean and Six Sigma projects on track.

Whether you’re just learning statistics or you're already using data analysis on the job, there are not many tools more straightforward than a bar chart. Bar charts are effective at getting across their message, and are used in a diverse number of fields, from service quality to pharmaceuticals to manufacturing. However, I’ve noticed recently that a lot of customers looking to create a bar chart... Continue Reading
The Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology are at it again! A few months back, we blogged about the Six Sigma project they did to reduce food waste at the on-campus dining center. This time, the students—lead by Dr. Diane Evans, Six Sigma black belt and associate professor of mathematics at Rose-Hulman—are performing a Lean Six Sigma project to reduce the amount of recycling... Continue Reading
We received the following question via social media recently: I am using Minitab 17 for ANOVA. I calculated the mean and standard deviation for these 15 values, but the standard deviation is very high. If I delete some values, I can reduce the standard deviation. Is there an option in Minitab that will automatically indicate values that are out of range and delete them so that the standard... Continue Reading
Control charts are some of the most useful tools in statistical science. They track process statistics over time and detect when the mean or standard deviation change from what they have been. The signals that control charts send about special causes can help you zero in on the fastest ways to improve any process, whether you’re making tires, turbines, or trying to improve patient care. I’ve menti... Continue Reading
There is more than just the p value in a probability plot—the overall graphical pattern also provides a great deal of useful information. Probability plots are a powerful tool to better understand your data. In this post, I intend to present the main principles of probability plots and focus on their visual interpretation using some real data. In probability plots, the data density distribution... Continue Reading
Toolbars are there to make your life easier, but if you don’t take the time to hover over each button and wait for a description, it’s pretty easy to never know that there’s a faster way to do something. The toolbars in Minitab Statistical Software include some pretty nifty shortcuts. Here are my favorite 6: StatGuide As soon as you have results in Minitab, the StatGuide button becomes active on... Continue Reading
Remember "The Little Engine That Could," the children's story about self-confidence in the face of huge challenges? In it, a train engine keeps telling itself "I think I can" while carrying a very heavy load up a big mountain. Next thing you know, the little engine has done it...but until that moment, the outcome was uncertain. It's a wonderful story for teaching kids about self-confidence. But... Continue Reading
In Minitab, the Assistant menu is your interactive guide to choosing the right tool, analyzing data correctly, and interpreting the results. If you’re feeling a bit rusty with choosing and using a particular analysis, the Assistant is your friend! Previously, I’ve written about the new linear model features in Minitab 17. In this post, I’ll work through a multiple regression analysis example and... Continue Reading
Minitab graphs are powerful tools for investigating your process further and removing any doubt about the steps you should take to improve it. With that in mind, you’ll want to know every feature about Minitab graphs that can help you share and communicate your results effectively. While many ways to modify your graph are on the Editor menu, some of the best features become available when you... Continue Reading
Minitab Statistical Software offers many features that can save you time and effort when you’re learning statistics or analyzing data. However, when we demonstrate many of these short cuts, tools, and capabilities at shows and events, we find that even some longtime users aren’t aware of them. I asked members of our sales team and technical support staff to list some of Minitab’s most helpful, yet... Continue Reading
There is high pressure to find low P values. Obtaining a low P value for a hypothesis test is make or break because it can lead to funding, articles, and prestige. Statistical significance is everything! My two previous posts looked at several issues related to P values: P values have a higher than expected false positive rate. The same P value from different studies can correspond to different false... Continue Reading
Minitab Statistical Software was born out of a desire to make statistics easier to learn: by making the calculations faster and easier with computers, the trio of educators who created the first version of Minitab sought to free students from intensive computations to focus on learning key statistical concepts. That approach resonated with statistics instructors, and today Minitab is the standard... Continue Reading
If betting wasn't allowed on horse racing, the Kentucky Derby would likely be a little-known event of interest only to a small group of horse racing enthusiasts. But like the Tour de France, the World Cup, and the Masters Tournament, even those with little or no knowledge of the sport in general seem drawn to the excitement over its premier event—the mint juleps, the hats...and of course,... Continue Reading
I wrote a post a few years back on the difficulties that can ensue when you’re just trying to get started on your Lean Six Sigma or quality improvement initiative. It can become especially difficult when you have many potential projects staring at you, but you aren’t quite sure which one will give you the most bang for your buck. A project prioritization matrix can be a good place to start when you... Continue Reading
It’s common to think that process improvement initiatives are meant to cater only to manufacturing processes, simply because manufacturing is where Lean and Six Sigma began. However, many other industries, in particular financial services and banking, also rely on data analysis and Lean Six Sigma tools to improve processes. Rod Toro is a business process improvement manager at Edward Jones, and I... Continue Reading
Now that you’ve seen how to automatically import data and run analyses in my previous post, let’s create the Monthly Report! I will be using a Microsoft Word Document (Office 2010) and adding bookmarks to act as placeholders for the Graphs, statistics, and boilerplate conclusions. Let’s go through the steps to accomplish this: Open up an existing report that you have previously created in Microsoft... Continue Reading
As a member of Minitab’s Consulting and Custom Development Services team, I get to help companies across a variety of industries create many different types of reports for management. These reports often need to be generated weekly or monthly. I prefer to automate tasks like this whenever possible, so that new or updated reports can be created without much effort. A little investment up front can... Continue Reading
In April 2012, I wrote a short paper on binary logistic regression to analyze wine tasting data. At that time, François Hollande was about to get elected as French president and in the U.S., Mitt Romney was winning the Republican primaries. That seems like a long time ago… Now, in 2014, Minitab 17 Statistical Softwarehas just been released. Had Minitab 17, been available in 2012, would have I... Continue Reading
The 2014 ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement is coming up in early May in Dallas, and this year’s International Team Excellence Award Process (ITEA) will also come to a close at the conference, as winners from the finalist teams will be chosen for ASQ gold, silver, or bronze-level statuses. What’s ITEA? The annual ASQ ITEA process celebrates the accomplishments of quality improvement... Continue Reading