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Project Tools

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

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 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
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
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. I recall debating with my High School Trigonometry teacher regarding the value of the homework “process.” Specifically, in those situations where the student in question did not require practice to get an A. And, if said student was getting a 98% on the exams, why spend... Continue Reading
Many of the things you need to monitor can be measured in a concrete, objective way, such as an item's weight or length. But, many important characteristics are more subjective, such as the collaborative culture of the workplace, or an individual's political outlook. A survey is an excellent way to measure these kinds of characteristics. To better understand a characteristic, a researcher asks... Continue Reading
The 2016 presidential race is becoming more real. We’ve had several announcements with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Marco Rubio officially entering the race to be President. While the prospective Democratic candidates are down to one, or at most a few, the Republican field is extra-large this election cycle. The first order of business for a GOP candidate is to survive the nomination... Continue Reading
In 1898, Russian economist Ladislaus Bortkiewicz published his first statistics book entitled Das Gesetz der keinem Zahlen, in which he included an example that eventually became famous for illustrating the Poisson distribution. Bortkiewicz researched the annual deaths by horse kicks in the Prussian Army from 1875-1984. Data was recorded from 14 different army corps, with one being the Guard... Continue Reading
My previous post focused on manipulating text data using Minitab’s calculator. In this post we continue to explore some of the useful tools for working with text data, and here we’ll focus on Minitab 17.2’s Data menu. This is the second in a 3-part series, and in the final post we’ll look at the new features in Minitab 17.2’s Editor menu. Using the Data Menu When I think of the Data menu, I think... Continue Reading
With Minitab, it’s easy to create graphs and manage numeric, date/time and text data.  Now Minitab 17.2’s enhanced data manipulation features make it even easier to work with text data. This is the first of three posts in which I'm going to focus on various tools in Minitab that are useful when working with text data, including the Calculator, the Data menu, and the Editor menu. Using the Calculator Y... Continue Reading
As a member of Minitab's Technical Support team, I get the opportunity to work with many people using DOE (Design of Experiments). People often will call after they've already chosen their design, run the experiment, and identified the important factors in their process. But now what? They have to find the best settings, but with several factors and responses, what should they do? "I wish I had a... Continue Reading
In this series of posts, I show how hypothesis tests and confidence intervals work by focusing on concepts and graphs rather than equations and numbers.   Previously, I used graphs to show what statistical significance really means. In this post, I’ll explain both confidence intervals and confidence levels, and how they’re closely related to P values and significance levels. How to Correctly... Continue Reading
To choose the right statistical analysis, you need to know the distribution of your data. Suppose you want to assess the capability of your process. If you conduct an analysis that assumes the data follow a normal distribution when, in fact, the data are nonnormal, your results will be inaccurate. To avoid this costly error, you must determine the distribution of your data. So, how do you determine... Continue Reading
This is a companion post for a series of blog posts about understanding hypothesis tests. In this series, I create a graphical equivalent to a 1-sample t-test and confidence interval to help you understand how it works more intuitively. This post focuses entirely on the steps required to create the graphs. It’s a fairly technical and task-oriented post designed for those who need to create the... Continue Reading
What do significance levels and P values mean in hypothesis tests? What is statistical significance anyway? In this post, I’ll continue to focus on concepts and graphs to help you gain a more intuitive understanding of how hypothesis tests work in statistics. To bring it to life, I’ll add the significance level and P value to the graph in my previous post in order to perform a graphical version of... Continue Reading
Suppose that you have designed a brand new product with many improved features that well help create a much better customer experience. Now you must ensure that it is manufactured according to the best quality and reliability standards, so that it gets the excellent long-term reputation it deserves from potential customers. You need to move quickly and seamlessly from Research and Development into... Continue Reading
There are times when we are deep in a particular analysis and simply cannot seem to get past this dialog window, or that error message. Fortunately, the support team at Minitab is here to help. Here is a list of situations people have called us about when using Minitab, and how to solve them. If your situation isn't listed, please call Minitab Technical Support, and we will be happy to assist.... Continue Reading