Carly Barry

My role at Minitab is to collaborate with others to reveal the power of quality improvement and data analysis tools in all sorts of communications—from customer stories to help resources. Continue Reading »

We all seem to have our favorite statistical or quality improvement tool.  I’ve always been drawn to process mapping, or what's sometimes referred to as ‘flow charting.’ Even before I started my work with Minitab and learning about quality improvement techniques, I’ve considered myself somewhat of a visual learner. I notice myself explaining things to others by drawing pictures—and when it comes to... Continue Reading
Process improvement through methodologies such as Six Sigma and Lean has found its way into nearly every industry. While Six Sigma had its beginnings in manufacturing, we’ve seen it and other process improvement techniques work very well in the service industry—from healthcare to more service-oriented business functions, such as human resources. However, Six Sigma seems to have had a slower rate of... Continue Reading


Smarter Process Improvement

with Companion by Minitab

Here are seven quality improvement tools I see in action again and again. Most of these quality tools have been around for a while, but that certainly doesn’t take away any of their worth! The best part about these tools is that they are very simple to use and work with quickly in Minitab Statistical Software or Companion, but of course you can use other methods, or even pen and paper. 1. Fishbone... Continue Reading
The DMAIC methodology for completing quality improvement projects divides project work into five phases: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. It’s also probably the most well-known and most used project methodology for projects that focus on improving an existing process. (Many other methodologies exist, such as DMADV, which focuses on using quality improvement techniques to create a... Continue Reading
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ken Jones, professor of operations and supply chain management at Indiana State University, about a business process improvement course he teaches at the university. The course covers a variety of Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques and gives students the opportunity to team with local businesses to complete real quality improvement projects. Upon... Continue Reading
For providers like Riverview Hospital Association, serving Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. and surrounding areas, recent changes in the U.S. healthcare system have placed more emphasis on improving the quality of care and increasing patient satisfaction. “In this era of healthcare reform, it is even more essential for providers to have a systematic method to improve the way care is delivered,” says... Continue Reading
We usually think of games as a distraction—just something we do for fun. However, growing evidence suggests that games can do much more, especially when it comes to learning in a classroom setting. Because statistics is a topic that doesn’t come easily to most, using properly designed games to teach statistics can become a valuable tool to spark interest and help explain difficult concepts. So what... Continue Reading
As we said in yesterday’s post, it’s been exciting for Minitab to be a supporter of the ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement taking place this week in Indianapolis. There have been many great sessions and an abundance of case studies shared that highlight how quality teams worldwide are improving the performance of their businesses. One session that generated a lot of interest from the... Continue Reading
Control charts are used to monitor the stability of processes, and can turn time-ordered data for a particular characteristic—such as product weight or hold time at a call center—into a picture that is easy to understand. These charts indicate when there are points out of control or unusual shifts in a process. Statistically speaking, control charts help you detect nonrandom sources of variation in... Continue Reading
You know the drill…you’re in Six Sigma training and you’re learning how to conduct a design of experiment (DOE). Everything is making sense, and you’ve started thinking about how you’ll apply what you are learning to find the optimal settings of a machine on the factory floor. You’ve even got the DOE setup chosen and you know the factors you want to test … Then … BAM! … You’re on your own and you... Continue Reading
Human resources might not be a business area where you’d typically expect to conduct a Six Sigma project. However, Jeff Parks, Lean Six Sigma master black belt, found the opportunity to apply Six Sigma to human resources while leading quality improvement efforts at a large manufacturer of aerospace engine parts. The manufacturer was suffering from high employee attrition, or turnover, and struggled... Continue Reading
Due to recent comments on this blog post (scroll down to view the comments section), I want to acknowledge that the definition of Lean in this post is incomplete. The goal of this post wasn't to offer definitions of Lean, Six Sigma, or any other methodology, but was rather to state that the focus of improvement efforts should be on using all the available tools, whether those be Lean or Six Sigma... Continue Reading
In honor of the International Year of Statistics, I interviewed Rob Kelly, a senior statistician here at Minitab Inc. in State College, Pa. Rob designs features you see in Minitab Statistical Software, and the focus of much of his work is on Design of Experiments. Check out what Rob had to say about how he became interested in pursuing a career in statistics. 1. What kind of reaction do you get... Continue Reading
I had the privilege of talking with Sue Schlegel, Lean Six Sigma black belt and quality improvement mentor at White Sands Missile Range, which is located just outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Schlegel and an improvement team at White Sands recently conducted a Lean Six Sigma project to streamline surveillance processes and they used Minitab to analyze the data. We found Sue’s story... Continue Reading
In honor of the International Year of Statistics, I interviewed Scott Pammer, a technical product manager here at Minitab Inc. in State College, Pa. Scott works to develop new product concepts and the accompanying prototypes and business plans. Before taking on the role of technical product manager, Scott worked for Minitab as a senior statistician. In this role, he designed and programmed various... Continue Reading
While value stream mapping, or VSM, is a key tool used in many Lean Six Sigma projects for manufacturing, it’s also widely used in healthcare. Value stream mapping can help you map, visualize, and understand the flow of patients, materials (e.g., bags of screened blood or plasma), and information. The “value stream” is all of the actions required to complete a particular process, and the goal of... Continue Reading
Have you ever been a victim of a statistical misconception that’s affected how you’ve interpreted your analysis? Like any field of study, statistics has some common misconceptions that can trip up even experienced statisticians. Here are a few common misconceptions to watch out for as you complete your analyses and interpret the results. Mistake #1: Misinterpreting Overlapping Confidence Intervals Wh... Continue Reading
Lean Six Sigma and process excellence leaders are often asked to “remove defects” from products and processes. This can be quite a challenge! Lou Johnson, senior Minitab technical trainer and mentor, has some tips that might help if you’re faced with this situation. I had the chance to talk with Lou, and here’s what he shared with me about how to first approach a DOE. How to Approach a DOE Before... Continue Reading
Planning on giving a bag of M&M's to your sweetie this Valentine's Day? Well, you can woo your Valentine with not only the gift of candy, but also the statistics behind those candy-coated chocolate pieces. Are there equal amounts of each color in a bag? You can record your counts of each color in the bag in a Minitab worksheet, and then use a pie chart (Graph > Pie Chart) to visualize the counts:     ... Continue Reading
Tickets to attend the Super Bowl are among the most coveted sports tickets in the world, and the high average price for even nose-bleed seats illustrates how low supply and high demand can result in  astronomical ticket pricing. After last year’s Super Bowl, the Bleacher Report published an article that ranked the average ticket price of every Super Bowl since 1966. Can you believe that the average... Continue Reading