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Eston Martz

I’m not a “math” person, but I've overcome fear of statistics and acquired a real passion for it. And if I can learn to understand and apply statistics, so can you. Continue Reading »

"Data! Data! Data! I can't make bricks without clay."  — Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Copper Beeches Whether you're the world's greatest detective trying to crack a case or a person trying to solve a problem at work, you're going to need information. Facts. Data, as Sherlock Holmes says.  But not all data is created equal, especially if you plan to analyze as part of... Continue Reading
Everyone who analyzes data regularly has the experience of getting a worksheet that just isn't ready to use. Previously I wrote about tools you can use to clean up and eliminate clutter in your data and reorganize your data.  In this post, I'm going to highlight tools that help you get the most out of messy data by altering its characteristics. Know Your Options Many problems with data don't become... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

Do you know how to avoid them?

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In my last post, I wrote about making a cluttered data set easier to work with by removing unneeded columns entirely, and by displaying just those columns you want to work with now. But too much unneeded data isn't always the problem. What can you do when someone gives you data that isn't organized the way you need it to be?   That happens for a variety of reasons, but most often it's because the... Continue Reading
Isn't it great when you get a set of data and it's perfectly organized and ready for you to analyze? I love it when the people who collect the data take special care to make sure to format it consistently, arrange it correctly, and eliminate the junk, clutter, and useless information I don't need.   You've never received a data set in such perfect condition, you say? Yeah, me neither. But I can... Continue Reading
A few weeks ago my colleague Cody Steele illustrated how the same set of data can appear to support two contradictory positions. He showed how changing the scale of a graph that displays mean and median household income over time drastically alters the way it can be interpreted, even though there's no change in the data being presented. When we analyze data, we need to present the results in... Continue Reading
Here's a shocking finding from the most recent ASQ Global State of Quality report: The higher you rise in your organization's leadership, the less often you receive reports about quality metrics. Only 2% of senior executives get daily quality reports, compared to 33% of front-line staff members.   A quarter of the senior executives reported getting quality metrics on a monthly basis, at least. But... Continue Reading
Halloween's right around the corner, so here's a scary thought for the statistically minded: That pattern in your time series plot? Maybe it's just a ghost. It might not really be there at all.   That's right. The trend that seems so evident might be a phantom. Or, if you don't believe in that sort of thing, chalk it up to the brain's desire to impose order on what we see, even when it doesn't... Continue Reading
Keeping your vehicle fueled up is expensive. Maximizing the miles you get per gallon of fuel saves money and helps the environment, too.  But knowing if you're getting good mileage requires some data analysis, which gives us a good opportunity to apply one of the common tools used in Six Sigma -- the I-MR (individuals and moving range) control chart to daily life.    Finding Trends or Unusual... Continue Reading
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... Continue Reading
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... Continue Reading
In his post yesterday, my colleague Jim Colton applied binary logistic regression to data on the current ebola virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and revealed that, horrific as it is, this outbreak actually appears to have a lower death rate than some earlier ones.  He didn't address the potential for a global ebola pandemic, but over the last few days more than enough leading... Continue Reading
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... Continue Reading
In an earlier post, I shared some great hidden helpers in Minitab Statistical Software that even many veteran users don't know about. Here are a few more! Everything In Its Right Place Minitab’s Project Manager allows you to navigate, view, and manipulate various parts of your project. Right-clicking either the folders or their contents lets you access a variety of menus that allow you to manage... Continue Reading
Remember "The Little Engine That Could," the children's story about self-confidence in the face of huge challenges? In it, a train engine keeps telling itself "I think I can" while carrying a very heavy load up a big mountain. Next thing you know, the little engine has done it...but until that moment, the outcome was uncertain. It's a wonderful story for teaching kids about self-confidence. But... Continue Reading
Minitab Statistical Software offers many features that can save you time and effort when you’re learning statistics or analyzing data. However, when we demonstrate many of these short cuts, tools, and capabilities at shows and events, we find that even some longtime users aren’t aware of them. I asked members of our sales team and technical support staff to list some of Minitab’s most helpful, yet... Continue Reading
Minitab Statistical Software was born out of a desire to make statistics easier to learn: by making the calculations faster and easier with computers, the trio of educators who created the first version of Minitab sought to free students from intensive computations to focus on learning key statistical concepts. That approach resonated with statistics instructors, and today Minitab is the standard... Continue Reading
Many Six Sigma and quality improvement tools could be applied in other areas. For example, I wonder whether my son's teachers could benefit from a little attribute agreement analysis.  He seemed frustrated the other day when I picked him up at school. He'd been working on a presentation that needed to be approved by his teachers. (My son attends a charter school, and each class is taught by a... Continue Reading
Why should you care about Minitab 17 Statistical Software, the newest version of the leading software used for quality improvement and statistics education?   Because important people in your life -- your co-workers, your students, your kids, your boss, maybe even you -- are afraid to analyze data.   There's no shame in that. In fact, there are pretty good reasons for people to feel some trepidation... Continue Reading
When we think about jobs with a romantic edge to them, most of us probably think of professions that involve action or danger.  Spies, soldiers, cops, criminals -- these are types of professions romantic leads have. Along with your occasional musician, reporter, or artist, who don't have the action but at least bring drama. But you know who never shows up as a romantic lead?  Quality improvement... Continue Reading
In my previous post, I shared a case study of how a small bicycle-chain manufacturing company in India used the DMAIC approach to Six Sigma to reverse declining productivity. After completing the Define, Measure, and Analysis phases, the team had identified the important factors in the bushing creation process. Armed with this knowledge, they were now ready to make some improvements. The Improve... Continue Reading