The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

Archive for the ‘understanding variation’ Category

Stratify Data to Hone in on Special Causes of Problems

We have a tendency to focus on special causes even when poor results are due to common causes within the system. To improve results that are due to the system trying to determine the specific problem with any bad result and fix that problem is an inefficient strategy. But there are times when seeking the […]

Eric Budd Presentation on Data and Operational Definitions

Eric Budd’s presentation at the 2016 Annual Deming Institute Conference: An Exercise in Operational Definition. The exercise Eric uses in the presentation shows how much variation can show up in data – just from how the data is collected. And in this example the data even has an operational definition used in collecting the data. […]

Using Checklists to Reduce Process Variation and Improve Results

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is a wonderful book about how to create systems that work. At the core the Checklist Manifesto is about determining the critical process conditions and creating a system to assure that the those process items are properly handled. In the book Atul Gawande paraphrases Daniel Boorman, veteran pilot who […]

Understanding Data is Often Challenging

Using data to understand the system and validate our theories and successful improvements is an important part managing well. In some cases it is fairly easy to understand and collect data that provides a clear and accurate measure of what we care about. But getting data that helps can also be very challenging. Creating a […]

The Real Lessons of the Red Bead Factory

The video shows a recorded webinar for the Healthcare Value Network by Mark Graban and Mike Stoecklein. In the video they explore the real lessons of Dr. Deming’s famous red bead factory demonstration and the principle of understanding and managing variation. Mark mentions how Bill Boller, with Hewlett-Packard, created the red bead experiment as a […]

Specification-based Management is Not Sufficient

Guest post by Bill Bellows (originally written as a comment about the question of how Dr. Deming viewed six sigma). While Dr. Deming was known for his appreciation of continuous improvement, he was also know for encouraging us to think of variation and improvement from a systems perspective. As such, I do not believe he […]

How to Use Data and Avoid Being Mislead by Data

One of the four areas of Deming’s management system is “understanding variation.” The core principle underlying that concept is using data to improve while understanding what data is and is not telling you. The mistakes in interpreting data are very often related to mistaking natural variation in data as meaningful. Combining this with our brains […]

Statistical Techniques Allow Management to do a Better Job

In this post I discuss another wonderful paper by Dr. Deming. The W. Edwards Deming Institute makes this paper, and many more, available on our website. As you would expect from a non-profit focused on promoting the application of his ideas these articles are freely available with no barriers to downloading them. On the Teaching […]

The Intellectual Foundation of Modern Improvement

The video above shows Don Berwick’s presentation at the IHI/BMJ International Forum on Quality and Safety in Health Care, 13 April 2016. He starts the presentation with the Red Bead Game (see related posts on our blog: Lessons From the Red Bead Experiment with Dr. Deming, The Red Bead Experiment with Dr. W. Edwards Deming). […]