Making the Office Coffee Better with a Designed Experiment for Optimization

NOTE: This story will reveal how easy it can be to optimize settings using the statistical method called Design of Experiments, but it won't provide easy answers for making your own office coffee any better.

After her team’s ultimatum about the wretched office coffee, Jill used the design-of-experiments (DOE) tool in Minitab 17’s Assistant to design and analyze a screening study. Jill now knew that three of the factors she screened—the type of beans used, the number of cups brewed per pot, and the amount of grinding time the beans received—had a significant impact on the bitterness of coffee.


Why Is the Office Coffee So Bad? A Screening Experiment Narrows Down the Critical Factors

NOTE: This story reveals how easy it can be to identify important factors using the statistical method called Design of Experiments. It won't provide easy answers for making your own office's coffee any better, but it will show you how you can begin identifying the critical factors that contribute to its quality.

At their weekly meeting, her team gave Jill an ultimatum: Make the coffee better.

The office coffee was terrible. Drinking it was like playing a game of chicken with your taste buds. Jill’s practice was to let someone else get the first cup of the day; if gagging and/or swearing soon...

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...

3 Things Baseball Can Teach Us About Control Charts

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 mentioned before that I’m a baseball fan. For the past several years, I’ve been noticing articles about the Year of the Pitcher in Major League Baseball (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). That repetition...

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...

Two-Way ANOVA in Minitab 17

After upgrading to the latest and greatest version of our statistical software, Minitab 17, some users have contacted tech support to ask "Wait a minute, where is that Two-Way ANOVA option in Minitab 17?" 

The answer is that it’s not there. That’s right! The 2-Way ANOVA option that was available in Minitab 16 and prior versions was removed from Minitab 17. Why would this feature be removed from the new version?  Shouldn’t the new version have more features instead of less? 

Two-Way ANOVA was removed from Minitab 17 because you can get the same output by using the General Linear Model option in...

What Is the Difference between Linear and Nonlinear Equations in Regression Analysis?

Previously, I’ve written about when to choose nonlinear regression and how to model curvature with both linear and nonlinear regression. Since then, I’ve received several comments expressing confusion about what differentiates nonlinear equations from linear equations. This confusion is understandable because both types can model curves.

So, if it’s not the ability to model a curve, what is the difference between a linear and nonlinear regression equation?

Linear Regression Equations

Linear regression requires a linear model. No surprise, right? But what does that really mean?

A model is linear...

Guest Post: Did Ma's Diabetes Get Cured by Back Surgery?

The Minitab Fan section of the Minitab blog is your chance to share with our readers! We always love to hear how you are using Minitab products for quality improvement projects, Lean Six Sigma initiatives, research and data analysis, and more. If our software has helped you, please share your Minitab story, too!

Once my Mom was diagnosed with Diabetes Type II, I began to track her blood sugar readings in Minitab Statistical Software.

I did it three times a day before meals...over weeks, then months, then years. At each doctor's appointment I would take in her 'book' of readings, and I would...

Blind Wine Part IV: The Participants

In Part I, Part II, and Part III we shared our experiment, the survey results, and the experimental results. To wrap things up, we're going to see if the survey results tied to the experimental results in any meaningful way...

First, we look at whether self-identified knowledge correlated to the total number of correct appraisals:

We have no evidence of a relationship (p = 0.795).  So we'll look at the number correct by how much each participant usually spends:

Again, no evidence of a relationship (p = 0.559).  

How about how many types each regularly buys?

There appears to be something here,...

The 6 coolest tools on Minitab's toolbars

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:


As soon as you have results in Minitab, the StatGuide button becomes active on your toolbar. Click the button, and the StatGuide opens directly to guidance for the analysis that you’re looking at. Minitab saves you the time you would have spent looking for information about your...

Blind Wine Part III: The Results

In Part I and Part II we learned about the experiment and the survey, respectively. Now we turn our attention to the results...

Our first two participants, Danielle and Sheryl, enter the conference room and are given blindfolds as we explain how the experiment will proceed.  As we administer the tasting, the colors of the wine are obvious but we don't know the true types, which have been masked as "A," "B," "C," and "D." 

As Danielle and Sheryl proceed through each tasting, it is easy to note that they start off correctly identifying the color of each wine; it is also obvious that tasting...

Blind Wine Part I: The Experiment

Already relaxed on his first day in Napa, Brutus and his wife Suzy decide to visit their favorite winery just before lunch to taste their new Cabernet Sauvignon. The owner recognizes them as they walk in the door and immediately seats them on the patio overlooking the vineyard. Two glasses appear, and as the owner tells them about the new Cabernet, Brutus prepares for an onslaught of blackberry and plum flavors, with some notes of vanilla and leather.

The wine is poured and as Brutus swirls it in his glass and breathes in the aromas, he picks up some of the oak infused into the wine as it aged...

Do the Data Really Say Female-Named Hurricanes Are More Deadly?

A recent study has indicated that female-named hurricanes kill more people than male hurricanes. Of course, the title of that article (and other articles like it) is a bit misleading. The study found a significant interaction between the damage caused by the storm and the perceived masculinity or femininity of the hurricane names. So don’t be confused by stories that suggest all female-named hurricanes are deadlier than male-named hurricanes. The study actually found no effect of masculinity/femininity for less severe storms. It was the more severe storms where the gender of the name had a...

Why Is this Yorkie So Irritated? Oversimplified Statistical Models

You know what really gets on my nerves? A lot of things.

That slow, slinky way that cats walk by. Grrrr.

The rude, abrupt arrival of delivery persons in their obnoxiously loud trucks. (Why do they always pull up just as I’m settling down for a nap?) Grrrr.

Total strangers who reach down and poke me with fat, clumsy fingers that reek of antibacterial soap. Grrrr.

And this one always gets my dander up: Me and the human are out on a walk when some passerby  stops and points at me.

“What a cutie. How old is she?”

"What insolence!" I'll yap back. "I’m a he! And how old are YOU!!?"

Then I’m told to shut up.


Bar Chart: Where to Start?

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 are surprised at how many different options are presented when you go to Graph > Bar Chart... in Minitab. There are, in fact, 14 different options based on 1) what you want your final graph to...

The 2-3-2 format vs. the 2-2-1-1-1 in the NBA Finals

From 1985 until 2013, the NBA Finals used a 2-3-2 format to decide the NBA Champion. That is, the first 2 games are played at one team’s arena, followed by 3 in a row at the other team’s, then the last two at the first team’s. However, this year they are changing to the 2-2-1-1-1 format, where each team plays 2 of the first four games at home, then they alternate each game for games 5-7.

So how does this change affect the series? Obviously, it doesn’t change the probability of either team winning or losing. At the end of the day there are still 4 games at one team’s home arena, and 3 at...

The Five Coolest Things You Can Do When You Right-click a Graph in Minitab Statistical Software

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 right-click your graph.

Here are the five coolest things you can do when you right-click a graph in Minitab Statistical Software.

Send graph to...

Once your graph is ready for your report or presentation,...

Multiple Regression Analysis and Response Optimization Examples using the Assistant in Minitab 17

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 optimize the response variable to highlight the new features in the Assistant.

Choose a Regression Analysis

As part of a solar energy test, researchers measured the total heat flux. They found that heat...

Can I Just Delete Some Values to Reduce the Standard Variation in My ANOVA?

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 deviation is low?

In other words, this person wanted a way to automatically eliminate certain values to lower the standard deviation.

Fortunately, Minitab 17 does not have the functionality that this person was...

Using Probability Plots to Understand Laser Games Scores

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 is transformed into a linear plot. To do this, the cumulative density function (the so-called CDF, cumulating all probabilities below a given threshold) is used (see the graph below). For a normal...