Blog posts and articles about statistical principles in quality improvement methods like Lean and Six Sigma.

If you’re in the market for statistical software, there are many considerations and more than a few options for you to evaluate. Check out these seven questions to ask yourself before choosing statistical software—your answers should help guide you towards the best solution for your needs! 1. Who uses statistical software in your organization? Are they expert statisticians, novices, or a mix of both?... Continue Reading
In 2011 we had solar panels fitted on our property. In the last few months we have noticed a few problems with the inverter (the equipment that converts the electricity generated by the panels from DC to AC, and manages the transfer of unused electric to the power company). It was shutting down at various times throughout the day, typically when it was very sunny, resulting in no electricity being... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

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In regression, "sums of squares" are used to represent variation. In this post, we’ll use some sample data to walk through these calculations. The sample data used in this post is available within Minitab by choosing Help > Sample Data, or File > Open Worksheet > Look in Minitab Sample Data folder (depending on your version of Minitab).  The dataset is called ResearcherSalary.MTW, and contains data... Continue Reading
So the data you nurtured, that you worked so hard to format and make useful, failed the normality test. Time to face the truth: despite your best efforts, that data set is never going to measure up to the assumption you may have been trained to fervently look for. Your data's lack of normality seems to make it poorly suited for analysis. Now what? Take it easy. Don't get uptight. Just let your data... Continue Reading
See if this sounds fair to you. I flip a coin. Heads: You win $1.Tails: You pay me $1. You may not like games of chance, but you have to admit it seems like a fair game. At least, assuming the coin is a normal, balanced coin, and assuming I’m not a sleight-of-hand magician who can control the coin. How about this next game? You pay me $2 to play.I flip a coin over and over until it comes up heads.Your... Continue Reading
I thought 3 posts would capture all the thoughts I had about B10 Life. That is, until this question appeared on the Minitab LinkedIn group: In case you missed it, my first post, How to Calculate B10 Life with Statistical Software, explains what B10 life is and how Minitab calculates this value. My second post, How to Calculate BX Life, Part 2, shows how to compute any BX life in Minitab. But... Continue Reading
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated their star ratings on July 27. Turns out, the list of hospitals provide a great way to look at how easy it is to get random samples from data within Minitab. Say for example, that you wanted to look at the association between the government’s new star ratings and the safety rating scores provided by hospitalsafetyscore.org. The CMS score... Continue Reading
Back when I used to work in Minitab Tech Support, customers often asked me, “What’s the difference between Cpk and Ppk?” It’s a good question, especially since many practitioners default to using Cpk while overlooking Ppk altogether. It’s like the '80s pop duo Wham!, where Cpk is George Michael and Ppk is that other guy. Poofy hairdos styled with mousse, shoulder pads, and leg warmers aside, let’s... Continue Reading
Figures lie, so they say, and liars figure. A recent post at Ben Orlin's always-amusing mathwithbaddrawings.com blog nicely encapsulates why so many people feel wary about anything related to statistics and data analysis. Do take a moment to check it out, it's a fast read. In all of the scenarios Orlin offers in his post, the statistical statements are completely accurate, but the person offering... Continue Reading
Often, when we start analyzing new data, one of the very first things we look at is whether certain pairs of variables are correlated. Correlation can tell if two variables have a linear relationship, and the strength of that relationship. This makes sense as a starting point, since we're usually looking for relationships and correlation is an easy way to get a quick handle on the data set we're... Continue Reading
The Olympic games are about to begin in Rio de Janeiro. Over the next 16 days, more than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries will be competing in 306 different events. That's the most events ever in any Olympic games. It's almost twice as many events as there were 50 years ago, and exactly three times as many as there were 100 years ago. Since the number of Olympic events has changed over time,... Continue Reading
My recent beach vacation began with the kind of unfortunate incident that we all dread: killing a distant relative.   It was about 3 a.m. Me, my two sons, and our dog had been on the road since about 7 p.m. the previous day to get to our beach house on Plum Island, Massachusetts. Google maps said our exit was coming up and that we were only about 15 minutes away from our palace. Buoyed by that... Continue Reading
Have you ever accidentally done statistics? Not all of us can (or would want to) be “stat nerds,” but the word “statistics” shouldn’t be scary. In fact, we all analyze things that happen to us every day. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are compiling data and analyzing it, but that’s exactly what we are doing. Yes, there are advanced statistical concepts that can be difficult to understand—but... Continue Reading
Statistics is all about modelling. But that doesn’t mean strutting down the catwalk with a pouty expression.  It means we’re often looking for a mathematical form that best describes relationships between variables in a population, which we can then use to estimate or predict data values, based on known probability distributions. To aid in the search and selection of a “top model,” we often utilize... Continue Reading
While some posts in our Minitab blog focus on understanding t-tests and t-distributions this post will focus more simply on how to hand-calculate the t-value for a one-sample t-test (and how to replicate the p-value that Minitab gives us).  The formulas used in this post are available within Minitab Statistical Software by choosing the following menu path: Help > Methods and Formulas > Basic... Continue Reading
When I blogged about automation back in March, I made my husband out to be an automation guru. Well, he certainly is. But what you don’t know about my husband is that while he loves to automate everything in his life, sometimes he drops the ball. He’s human; even I have to cut him a break every now and then. On the other hand, instances of hypocrisy in his behavior tend to make for a good story.... Continue Reading
You need to consider many factors when you’re buying a used car. Once you narrow your choice down to a particular car model, you can get a wealth of information about individual cars on the market through the Internet. How do you navigate through it all to find the best deal?  By analyzing the data you have available.   Let's look at how this works using the Assistant in Minitab 17. With the... Continue Reading
Here is a scenario involving process capability that we’ve seen from time to time in Minitab's technical support department. I’m sharing the details in this post so that you’ll know where to look if you encounter a similar situation. You need to run a capability analysis. You generate the output using Minitab Statistical Software. When you look at the results, the Cpk is huge and the histogram in... Continue Reading
If you've used our software, you’re probably used to many of the things you can do in Minitab once you’ve fit a model. For example, after you fit a response to a given model for some predictors with Stat > DOE > Response Surface > Analyze Response Surface Design, you can do the following: Predict the mean value of the response variable for new combinations of settings of the predictors. Draw... Continue Reading
Design of Experiments (DOE) is the perfect tool to efficiently determine if key inputs are related to key outputs. Behind the scenes, DOE is simply a regression analysis. What’s not simple, however, is all of the choices you have to make when planning your experiment. What X’s should you test? What ranges should you select for your X’s? How many replicates should you use? Do you need center... Continue Reading