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So Many Statistics, So Little Time

Statistics are everywhere! They are in our everyday jobs, in the news, and are working behind-the-scenes to ensure companies are running smoothly and their processes have been implemented for efficiency. I’m intrigued by all the ways statistics influence and touch our lives.

My name is Carly Barry and my role at Minitab is to collaborate with others to reveal the power of quality improvement and data analysis tools in all sorts of deliverable communications—from customer success stories to help resources.

My goal is to present statistics in a manner that can be easily related to real life. Why?...

“You’ve got a friend” in Minitab Support

I caught the end of Toy Story over the weekend, which is definitely one of my all-time favorite children’s movies. Now—unfortunately or fortunately—I can’t get Randy Newman's theme song,“You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” out of my head!

It's also got me thinking about the nature of friendship, and how "best friends forever" are supposed to always be there when you need them. And, not to get too maudlin about it, but just like Woody and Buzz eventually realize their friendship, all of us hope the professionals who use our software also realize that “you’ve got a friend” in Minitab.

Now what do I mean...

Quality Improvement in Healthcare: Showing if process changes actually improve the patient experience

Via Christi Health, the largest provider of healthcare in Kansas, operates a Center for Clinical Excellence that's made up of a team of quality practitioners, all who have Lean and Six Sigma training. I recently had the opportunity to talk with the team about the types of projects they're working on.

I learned not only about the areas of patient care where they are targeting improvements, but about one particular project the team completed to determine if process changes put into place in the hospital's emergency department actually improved the patient experience.

I thought it was an...

Some Stats on the American Statistical Association’s Membership in its 175th Year

Did you know that this year the American Statistical Association (ASA) is celebrating its 175th anniversary? That’s a pretty significant birthday!

On the ASA’s 175thanniversary webpage, they publish blog posts periodically that cover ASA happenings, such as anniversary events and celebrations, as well as interesting tidbits about the organization. Recently, they published a post covering the demographics of ASA membership during its 175th anniversary year. You can read the full post here.

I thought it’d be fun to show off this demographic data using Pie Charts in Minitab 17. I don’t know...

A Little Trash Talk: Improving Recycling Processes at Rose-Hulman

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 thrown in the normal trash cans in all of the institution's academic buildings, including the library. Unfortunately, the recycling bins Rose-Hulman has placed all over its campus are underused, and it’s...

Common Statistical Mistakes You Should Avoid

It's all too easy to make mistakes involving statistics. Powerful statistical software can remove a lot of the difficulty surrounding statistical calculation, reducing the risk of mathematical errors—but  correctly interpreting the results of an analysis can be even more challenging. 

No one knows that better than Minitab's technical trainers. All of our trainers are seasoned statisticians with years of quality improvement experience. They spend most of the year traveling around the country (and around the world) to help people learn to make the best use of Minitab software for analyzing data...

An Unlikely Statistician: Florence Nightingale

Many of my close friends and family members are nurses, and I’ve noticed (via Facebook of course) that many recently celebrated National Nurses’ Week, which ran Tuesday, May 6 through Monday, May 12—the actual birthday of Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale is known as the founder of modern nursing, but you might not know that she is also a celebrated statistician. When I started reading more about her contributions to statistics, I was surprised to find that she used statistics to not only learn more about how many people died during wartime, and why, but also as a way to visually...

Selecting the Right Quality Improvement Project

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 need to choose which projects to focus on, as it can help you logically select optimal improvement projects against their weighted value, based on your company’s predefined metrics. The matrix can...

“Hello, How Can I Help You?”- A Look at Quality Improvement in Financial Services

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 recently got the chance to talk with him about a Lean Six Sigma project the service division at his company completed to improve customer satisfaction.

Edward Jones has been increasing the number of...

ITEA Sneak-Peek: The Great Escape from Foam Defects

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 teams from a broad spectrum of industries from around the world. The ITEA is the only international team recognition process of its kind in the United States, and since 1985, more than 1,000 teams from...

Using Statistics to Show Your Boss Process Improvements

Ughhh... your process is producing some parts that don't meet your customer's specifications! Fortunately, after a little hard work, you find a way to improve the process.

However, you want to perform the appropriate statistical analysis to back up your findings and make it easier to explain the process improvements to your boss. And it's important to remember that your boss is much like the boss in Eston's posts -- he's not too familiar with statistics, so you'll have to take it slow and show lots of "visual aids" in your explanation. How should you begin?

Enter before-and-after process...

Creating a Shatterproof Process: Students Use Six Sigma to Improve Window Manufacturing

I had the opportunity to speak with a great group of students from the New Jersey Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology—a summer program for high-achieving high school students. Students in the program complete a set of challenging courses while working in small groups on real-world research and design projects that relate to the field of engineering. Governor’s School students are mentored by professional engineers as well as Rutgers University honors students and professors, and they often work with companies and organizations to solve real engineering problems.

The team of students...

Avoiding a Lean Six Sigma Project Failure, part 4

In my first post in this series, I mentioned that we reached out to our customers who are practitioners in the field of quality improvement to better understand how they complete projects, what tools they use, and the challenges and roadblocks they come across in achieving success with quality initiatives. One area quality leaders said they were struggling with was the training aspect of their programs—actually getting their belts and/or project team members up to speed with adequate training to complete projects independently.

Insufficient Training

They told us projects were failing because of...

Celebrating World Quality Month

It’s back! World Quality Month will be celebrated this month, and the American Society for Quality is again heading up this year’s festivities.

Quality is definitely our “thing” here at Minitab, and we’re excited to celebrate World Quality Month with quality professionals worldwide. It’s also a good time to remind our customers that we’re as dedicated as ever to providing the best tools for improving quality.

In honor of World Quality Month, be sure to check out the resources and learning opportunities available on Minitab.com:

Case Studies
We’re very proud to recognize the accomplishments of our...

Itchy, Sneezy, Stuffy: Delivering Relief with Nasal Spray and DOE

Recently, a customer called our Technical Support team about a Design of Experiment he was performing in Minitab Statistical Software. After they helped to answer his question, the researcher pointed our team to an interesting DOE he and his colleagues conducted that involved using nasal casts to predict the drug delivery of nasal spray.

The study has already been published, and you can read more about it here, but I wanted to highlight this use of the DOE tools in Minitab in this blog post.

Using Nasal Casts to Predict Nasal Spray Drug Delivery

The nose is a convenient route of administration...

Avoiding a Lean Six Sigma Project Failure, part 3

In previous posts, I’ve outlined some reasons why a Lean Six Sigma project might have been deemed a failure. We’ve gathered many of these reasons from surveying and talking with our customers.

I’d like to present a few more reasons why projects might fail, and then share some “words of wisdom” from Minitab trainers on how you can avoid these project failures.

Forcing Projects into DMAIC

Certain quality improvement projects were never meant to be Six Sigma projects that fit neatly into the DMAIC (Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control) methodology. Examples include:

1. Selecting a vendor...

Avoiding a Lean Six Sigma Project Failure, part 2

In a previous post, I discussed how to avoid a Lean Six Sigma project failure, specifically if the reason behind the failure is that the project solution never gets implemented.

In this post, let's discuss a few other project roadblocks that our customers cited when we asked them about the challenges they come across in completing projects. I’ll also go into detail about suggestions our industry-seasoned trainers at Minitab offer to avoid these failures.

Is the project scope too large?

One common reason quality improvement projects get started on the wrong foot is that their scope is too large.

In...

Avoiding a Lean Six Sigma Project Failure

Failure. Just saying the word makes me cringe. And if you’re human, you’ve probably had at least a couple failures in both your work and home life (that you've hopefully been able to overcome).

But when it comes to Lean Six Sigma projects, there’s really nothing worse than having your entire project fail. Sometimes these projects can last months, involve a large project team, and cost companies a lot of money to carry out, so it can be very upsetting for all involved to know that the project failed (for whatever reason).

At Minitab, we’re always talking to our customers and practitioners in the...

Analyzing a Process Before and After Improvement: Historical Control Charts with Stages

We tend to think of control charts only for monitoring the stability of processes, but they can be helpful for analyzing a process before and after an improvement as well. Not only do control charts allow you to monitor your process for out-of-control data points, but you’ll be able to see how your process mean and variability change as a result of the improvement.

You might create separate before and after control charts for each phases of the improvement project, but making comparisons between those charts can be difficult. You could also try analyzing all of the data over the course of your...

Spicy Statistics and Attribute Agreement Analysis

My husband, Sean, and I were recently at my parent’s house for a picnic dinner. As a lover of hot sauce (I’m talking extremely hot, hot, hot, HOT sauce!), my stepdad always has a plethora of bottles around to try. While I do enjoy spicy foods from time to time, I’ve learned not to touch his hot sauce selections. His favorites are much too spicy for my taste!

Unfortunately, Sean learned the hard way. He used Habanero hot sauce on his hot sausage sandwich – talk about double the heat! I saw him sinking in his seat, eyes watering … a few hoarse coughs …

Yikes!  Anyway, Sean is alive and well after...

How Lean Six Sigma Students at Rose-Hulman Reduced Food Waste

To promote ethical and moral responsibility in shaping its graduates, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology created a sustainability initiative to reduce its own environmental footprint.

As part of that team's efforts, Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman conducted a project to reduce food waste at the campus dining center. We got the opportunity to learn more about the project by talking with Dr. Diane Evans, a Six Sigma black belt and associate professor of mathematics at Rose-Hulman who led the students’ efforts, and Neel Iyer, a mechanical engineering student who was also on the project team.

Calc...