Project Tools

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

Design of Experiments is an extremely powerful statistical method, and we added a DOE tool to the Assistant in Minitab 17  to make it more accessible to more people. Since it's summer grilling season, I'm applying the Assistant's DOE tool to outdoor cooking. Earlier, I showed you how to set up a designed experiment that will let you optimize how you grill steaks.  If you're not already using it and... Continue Reading
Design of Experiments (DOE) has a reputation for difficulty, and to an extent, this statistical method deserves that reputation. While it's easy to grasp the basic idea—acquire the maximum amount of information from the fewest number of experimental runs—practical application of this tool can quickly become very confusing.  Even if you're a long-time user of designed experiments, it's still easy to... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

Do you know how to avoid them?

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Earlier this month, PLOS.org published an article titled "Ten Simple Rules for Effective Statistical Practice." The 10 rules are good reading for anyone who draws conclusions and makes decisions based on data, whether you're trying to extend the boundaries of scientific knowledge or make good decisions for your business.  Carnegie Mellon University's Robert E. Kass and several co-authors devised... Continue Reading
by Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger Control charts plot your process data to identify and distinguish between common cause and special cause variation. This is important, because identifying the different causes of variation lets you take action to make improvements in your process without over-controlling it. When you create a control chart, the software you're using should make it easy to see where... Continue Reading
You often hear the data being blamed when an analysis is not delivering the answers you wanted or expected. I was recently reminded that the data chosen or collected for a specific analysis is determined by the analyst, so there is no such thing as bad data—only bad analysis.  This made me think about the steps an analyst can take to minimise the risk of producing analysis that fails to answer... Continue Reading
Businesses are getting more and more data from existing and potential customers: whenever we click on a web site, for example, it can be recorded in the vendor's database. And whenever we use electronic ID cards to access public transportation or other services, our movements across the city may be analyzed. In the very near future, connected objects such as cars and electrical appliances will... Continue Reading
Remember the classic science fiction film The Matrix? The dark sunglasses, the leather, computer monitors constantly raining streams of integers (inexplicably in base 10 rather than binary or hexadecimal)? And that mind-blowing plot twist when Neo takes the red pill from Morpheus' outstretched hand? Well to me, there's one thing even more mind-blowing than the plot of the Matrix: the Matrix Plot.... Continue Reading
What does the eyesight of a homeless person have in common with complications from dental anesthesia?  Or with reducing side-effects from cancer? Or monitoring artificial hip implants? These are all subjects of recently published studies that use statistical analyses in Minitab to improve healthcare outcomes. And they're a good reminder  that when we improve the quality of healthcare for others, we... Continue Reading
Suppose you’ve collected data on cycle time, revenue, the dimension of a manufactured part, or some other metric that’s important to you, and you want to see what other variables may be related to it. Now what? When I graduated from college with my first statistics degree, my diploma was bona fide proof that I'd endured hours and hours of classroom lectures on various statistical topics, including l... Continue Reading
Over the past year I've been able to work with and learn from practitioners and experts who are using data analysis and Six Sigma to improve the quality of healthcare, both in terms of operational efficiency and better patient outcomes. I've been struck by how frequently a very basic analysis can lead to remarkable improvements, but some insights cannot be attained without conducting more... Continue Reading
This is an era of massive data. A huge amount of data is being generated from the web and from customer relations records, not to mention also from sensors used in the manufacturing industry (semiconductor, pharmaceutical, petrochemical companies and many other industries). Univariate Control Charts In the manufacturing industry, critical product characteristics get routinely collected to ensure... Continue Reading
Do you recall my “putting the cart before the horse” analogy in part 1 of this blog series? The comparison is simple. We all, at times, put the cart before the horse in relatively innocuous ways, such as eating your dessert before you’ve eaten your dinner, or deciding what to wear before you’ve been invited to the party. But performing some tasks in the wrong order, such as running a statistical... Continue Reading
While many Six Sigma practitioners and other quality improvement professionals like to use the Fishbone diagram in Quality Companion for brainstorming because of its ease of use and integration with other Quality Companion tools, some Minitab users find an infrequent need for a Fishbone diagram. For the more casual user of the Fishbone diagram, Minitab has the right tool to get the job done. Minitab... Continue Reading
Among the most underutilized statistical tools in Minitab, and I think in general, are multivariate tools. Minitab offers a number of different multivariate tools, including principal component analysis, factor analysis, clustering, and more. In this post, my goal is to give you a better understanding of the multivariate tool called discriminant analysis, and how it can be used. Discriminant... Continue Reading
by Laerte de Araujo Lima, guest blogger The NBA's 2015-16 season will be one for the history books. Not only was it the last season of Kobe Bryan, who scored 60 points in his final game, but the Golden State Warriors set a new wins record, beating the previous record set by 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. The Warriors seem likely to take this season's NBA title, in large part thanks to the performance of... Continue Reading
You can use contour plots, 3D scatterplots, and 3D surface plots in Minitab to view three variables in a single plot. These graphs are ideal if you want to see how temperature and humidity affect the drying time of paint, or how horsepower and tire pressure affect a vehicle's fuel efficiency, for example. Ultimately, these three graphs are good choices for helping you to visualize your data and exa... Continue Reading
The Pareto chart is a graphic representation of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. If you're a quality improvement specialist, you know that the chart is named after the early 20th century economist Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered that roughly 20% of the population in Italy owned about 80% of the property at that time. You probably also know that the Pareto principle was... Continue Reading
In the first part of this series, we looked at a case study where staff at a hospital used ATP swab tests to test 8 surfaces for bacteria in 10 different hospital rooms across 5 departments. ATP measurements below 400 units pass the swab test, while measurements greater than or equal to 400 units fail the swab test and require further investigation. I offered two tips on exploring and visualizing... Continue Reading
Working with healthcare-related data often feels different than working with manufacturing data. After all, the common thread among healthcare quality improvement professionals is the motivation to preserve and improve the lives of patients. Whether collecting data on the number of patient falls, patient length-of-stay, bed unavailability, wait times, hospital acquired-infections, or readmissions,... Continue Reading
We often receive questions about moving ranges because they're used in various tools in our statistical software, including control charts and capability analysis when data is not collected in subgroups. In this post, I'll explain what a moving range is, and how a moving range and average moving range are calculated. A moving range measures how variation changes over time when data are collected as... Continue Reading